Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Biography - French king's mistress Diane de Poitiers 1499-1566 killed by drinking gold or perhaps a plot of Catherine de' Medici?

1550 Diane de Poitiers after François Clouet

"Dying to look good - French king's mistress Diane de Poitiers (1499-1566) killed by drinking gold elixir of youth."  By Claire Bates,  Daily Mail, December 22, 2009

"Miracle beauty products may be a staple on women's dressing tables today, but they're not a recent invention. The mistress of the 16th-century French king, Henry II, drank gold in an effort to preserve her youth, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal. Unfortunately the remedy eventually killed her.

Diane de Poitiers (1499-1566)

"When French experts dug up the remains of Diane de Poitiers in 2008, they found high levels of gold in her hair. Since she was not a queen & did not wear a crown, scientists said it was hard to see how jewellery could have contaminated her hair & body. Experts now say she probably consumed drinkable gold, believed at the time to preserve youth & treat a host of other ailments.

Diane de Poitiers (1499-1566)

"The French court believed gold harnessed the power of the Sun, which would be transferred to the drinker. Alchemists often acted as apothecaries & prescribed solutions made up of gold chloride & diethyl ether. These were popular at the French Court.

Lady in bath (Portrait of Diane de Poitiers (1499-1566)

"It is very likely Diane de Poitiers was killed by her desire to look young. Unusually she was 20 years older than her royal lover. Gold was a popular 'miracle youth cure' in the 16th century. Contemporary reports mention the famed beauty had an unusually white face without the need for makeup & that she looked as fresh as a 30-year-old when she was over twice that age.

Henri II of France

"French forensic experts who analysed her bones found traces of mercury, which was used in the preparation of gold remedies. The noble was famed for her athleticism but her remains also revealed she suffered from thinning hair & fragile bones, which are common symptoms of chronic gold intoxication.

Portrait of Diane de Poitiers (1499-1566)

"The body of the French king's favorite was only discovered in 2008. After the king's death Diane de Poitiers had been banished from court by his widow Catherine de'Medici to the chateau in Anet given to her by the king.

Diane de Poitiers (1499-1566)

"She died there, aged 66, in 1566 & was buried in a grand tomb in a specially built funeral chapel. However her grave was desecrated during the French Revolution & her body flung into a common grave outside the chateau's walls.

Diane de Poitiers (1499-1566)

"Scientists Joel Poupon & Philippe Charlier, who usually work in hospital morgues in Paris, worked together to identify de Poitiers in the recently opened Normandy grave. The bones belonged to someone of her age & athletic physique. Crucially one of the legs revealed a healed fracture - de Poitiers was reported to have broken her leg in a riding accident."

Catherine de Medici (1519-1589)

Diane de Poitiers (1499-1566) was a French noblewoman & a prominent courtier at the courts of kings Francis I & his son, Henry II of France. She became notorious as the latter's favorite mistress. It was in this capacity that she wielded much influence & power at the French Court, which continued until Henry was mortally wounded in a tournament accident, during which his lance wore her favour (ribbon) rather than his wife's. Queen Catherine de' Medici, whom Henry had married in 1533, assumed control, restricting access to him as he lay dying. Although the king was alleged to have called out repeatedly for Diane, she was never summoned or admitted, & on his death, she was also not invited to the funeral. Immediately thereafter, Catherine de' Medici banished Diane.

1525 Diane de Poitiers