Visual History of the World
The Early Modern Period
16th - 18th century
The smooth transition from
the Middle Ages to the Modern Age is conventionally fixed on such
events as the Reformation and the discovery of the "New World,"
which brought about the emergence of a new image of man and his
world. Humanism, which spread out of Italy, also made an essential
contribution to this with its promotion of a critical awareness of
Christianity and the Church. The Reformation eventually broke the
all-embracing power of the Church. After the Thirty Years' War, the
concept of a universal empire was also nullified. The era of the
nation-state began, bringing with it the desire to build up
political and economic power far beyond Europe. The Americas,
Africa, and Asia provided regions of expansion for the Europeans.
Proportions of the Human Figure by Leonardo da Vinci (drawing, ca.
is a prime example of the new approach of Renaissance
artists and scientists to the anatomy of the human body.
France: From the Wars of Religion to the Eve of the Revolution
Mistress of the king of France
French royal mistresses
A royal mistress is the historical position of a mistress to a
monarch or senior Royal. Some mistresses have had considerable power.
The prevalence of the institution can be attributed to the fact that
Royal marriages were until recent times conducted solely on the basis of
political and dynastic considerations, leaving little space for the
monarch's personal preferences in the choice of a mate.
Favourite, a term sometimes used for mistresses, although also
used for court favourites of the monarch with no sexual element in the
relationship, often serving as ministers.
In European history the children of mistresses were not normally
included in the line of succession, except perhaps when secret marriages
were alleged. Hence Britain's Monmouth Rebellion when James Scott, 1st
Duke of Monmouth claimed the throne on the grounds that his mother had
been the wife rather than one of the mistresses of Charles II.
Arguably the most famous French royal mistress was Madame de
Charles V of France
Biette de Casinel (ca 1340 - ca 1380)
Biette Cassinel oder Biota Cassinelli (* um 1340; † um 1380)
genannt „la belle Italienne“, die schöne Italienerin, war die
Geliebte des Regenten und späteren Königs von Frankreich Karl V.
der Weise. Sie war die erste offizielle Mätresse eines
Biette Cassinel war die Tochter von François Cassinel (†
1360), einem Sergeanten in der königlichen Armee, und Urenkelin
von Bettino Cassinelli, der aus Italien nach Paris zugewandert
war, wodurch der landmannschaftliche Teil ihres Beinamens
erklärt wird. Sie war die Ehefrau von Gérard de Montaigu dem
Älteren, was sie (und Karl V.) jedoch nicht daran hinderte, ihre
Karl V. hatte im Jahr 1350 Johanna von Bourbon geheiratet und
von ihr in den Jahren 1357 bis 1360 drei Kinder bekommen,
darunter mit Johann (* wohl 1359) auch den erwarteten
Thronfolger. Gleichzeitig war er seit 1356, ab der Schlacht von
Maupertuis, in der sein Vater Johann II. in englische
Gefangenschaft geriet, in der Verpflichtung, Frankreich
stellvertretend zu regieren. Mit dem Frieden von Brétigny 1360
kam sein Vater wieder frei, und Karl konnte sich aus der
unmittelbaren Verantwortung zurückziehen.
In dieser Situation befand er sich, als er sich von seiner
Ehefrau ab- und Biette Cassinel zuwandte. Im Jahr 1363 bekam er
von ihr einen Sohn, Jean, der den Familiennamen von Biettes
Ehemann erhielt (de Montaigu), aber von Karl, der sich damit
öffentlich zu Biette als seiner Mätresse bekannte, anerkannt
wurde: Jean de Montaigu erhielt den Titel eines „Bâtard de
1364 änderte sich die politische Situation erneut, als König
Johann II. sich nach der Flucht seines Sohnes Ludwig von Anjou,
der 1360 als Geisel für die aufzubringenden Zahlungen nach
London gegangen war, freiwillig in Gefangenschaft begab. Karl
trat ein zweites Mal als Regent an und wurde kurze Zeit später
auch König, als Johann II. im April 1364 in London starb. Da
zudem sein Sohn Johann in der Zwischenzeit ebenfalls verstorben
war, sah er sich nun in der Verpflichtung, für den Erhalt der
Familie zu sorgen. Er wandte sich erneut seiner Frau zu, von der
er ab Juni 1366 weitere Kinder bekam, darunter im Dezember 1368
dann auch den ersehnten Thronfolger, den späteren Karl VI.
Es ist anzunehmen, dass Biette Cassinel die Beziehung zu Karl
für sich und ihre Familie zu nutzen wusste, und dass sie sie
auch aufrechterhalten konnte, nachdem Karl zu seiner Frau
zurückgekehrt war. Ihr Bruder Ferry Cassinel wurde im Jahr 1375
Bischof von Lodève, später dann Bischof von Auxerre und
schließlich sogar Erzbischof von Reims. Ihr Sohn mit Karl VI.
machte eine Karriere am königlichen Hof, die ihn unter Karl VI.,
seinem Halbbruder, bis an die Spitze der Regierung führte. Ihre
ehelichen Söhne traten wie ihr Onkel in den Kirchendienst und
wurden schließlich – lange nach ihrem Tod – Bischof von Paris
bzw. Erzbischof von Sens
Charles VI of France
Odette de Champdivers (ca 1384 - 1424)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Odette de Champdivers (b. about 1390, d. after 1424) was the
mistress of Charles VI of France (the Mad) and previously his
brother, the Duke of Orléans. She was called la petite reine
("the little queen") by Charles and contemporaries.
Mistress to royalty
Around 1387, her father, Oudin de Champdivers, was equerry
stableman (Latin marescallus equorum) at the court of King
Charles VI. Odette (sometimes Oudine or Odinette) was born
about 1390. Although her family was Burgundian (i.e., supporters
of the Duke of Burgundy), before 1407 she was a mistress of
Louis I, Duke of Orléans, Burgundy's rival. According to popular
rumor, Queen Isabeau of Bavaria was also having an adulterous
affair with the Duke of Orléans, her brother-in-law. When Louis
died in 1407, Odette became a mistress of his royal brother,
King Charles VI. She was about seventeen years old.
Queen Isabeau, the victim of beatings and abuse from her
violent, schizophrenic husband, allowed Odette to substitute for
her without difficulty. Isabeau feared and loathed the king. By
some accounts, she herself arranged for Odette to take her place
in the mentally ill king's bed; by others, Odette was put in the
position of royal mistress by higher forces as a means to
"ensure the influence of the Burgundian king".
Called la petite reine — "the little queen" — by Charles's
court, Odette is described as a lively, beautiful young girl
with a gentle disposition. Apparently she loved and cared for
her unhappy sovereign with the utmost patience and devotion. She
is credited for introducing playing cards into France, "for the
amusement of [Charles VI] during his paroxysms of insanity."
She had a manor at Créteil and the estate of Belleville in
Together, Odette and Charles VI had a daughter, Margaret. On
his deathbed, the last words of Charles VI were her name:
"Odette. Odette." She later passed into the service as mistress
of Charles VII of France, the son of Charles VI and Isabeau.
A breed of French rose has been named for her. Its color is
rose spotted with white.
Also, the nineteenth-century French novelist Balzac wrote a
historical novel inspired by her life titled Odette de
Charles VI et Odinette, gravure issue de l'ouvrage Histoire de France by
Odette de Champdivers by Delacroix
Charles VII of France
Agnès Sorel (ca 1422 - 1450)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Agnès Sorel (1421 – 9 February 1450), known by the sobriquet
Dame de beauté, was a mistress of King Charles VII of France.
Life in the royal court
The daughter of a soldier, Jean Soreau, and of Catherine de
Maignelais, Sorel was twenty years old when she was first
introduced to King Charles. At that time, she was holding a
position in the household of Rene I of Naples, Charles'
brother-in-law. As reflected in art of the day, she was an
extraordinarily beautiful young woman, and was also extremely
intelligent. The French king was immediately smitten by her
charms and took her as his mistress; he even gave her the
Château de Loches (where he had been persuaded by Joan of Arc to
be crowned King of France) as her private residence.
Soon, her presence was felt at the royal court in Chinon
where her company was alleged to have brought the king out of a
protracted depression. She had a very strong influence on the
king, and that, in addition to her extravagant tastes, earned
her a number of powerful enemies at court.
Agnès gave birth to three daughters: Marie de Valois and
Charlotte and Jeanne de France. (Charlotte's son, Louis de Brézé,
seigneur d'Anet, would in turn marry Diane de Poitiers, herself
ultimately a famous royal courtesan). While pregnant with their
fourth child, she journeyed from Chinon in deep midwinter to
join Charles on the campaign of 1450 in Jumièges, wanting to be
with him as moral support. There, she suddenly became ill and
died on 9 February at the age of 28. While the cause of death
was originally thought to be dysentery, scientists have now
concluded that Agnès died from being poisoned by mercury, making
it likely that she was a victim of murder, with suspects being
Charles' son, the future King Louis XI, had been in open
revolt against his father for the previous four years. It has
been speculated that he had Agnès poisoned in order to remove
what he may have considered her undue influence over the king.
It was also speculated that French financier, noble and minister
Jacques Coeur poisoned her, though that theory is widely
discredited as an attempt to remove Coeur from the French court.
In 2005 French forensic scientist Philippe Charlier examined her
remains and determined that the cause of death was mercury
poisoning, but offered no opinion about whether she was
murdered. Mercury was sometimes used in cosmetic preparations
and this could therefore have been the reason for her death.
Her cousin Antoinette de Maignelais took her place as
mistress to the king after her death.
Porträt Agnès Sorels von
Charles VII of France
Antoinette de Maignelais (ca 1430 - ca 1461)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Antoinette de Maignelais, baronne de Villequier (1434 — 1474)
replaced her deceased cousin Agnès Sorel as the favorite mistress of
Charles VII of France from 1450 until his death, and then became the
mistress of the Duke of Brittany.
She was the daughter of Jean II de Maignelais and Marie de Jouy. By
her father she was a first cousin of Agnès Sorel's, who served Charles
VII as his titular mistress from roughly 1441 until her sudden death in
Even before her cousin's death, Antoinette had caught the King's eye.
In 1448, when she was fourteen years old, he gave her the lands of
Maignelais for a possession. This estate had been the object of a long
lawsuit between the Duke de Bourbon and Raoul de Maignelais, an ancestor
of the young lady's, and had ended in its remaining in the hands of the
In her sixteenth year, shortly after the death of Agnès Sorel, he
married Antoinette to his first gentleman of the bedchamber, André,
Baron de Villequier, of Guerche, in Touraine; and, on this occasion,
presented her with the isles of Oleron, of Marennes, and Arvert, as a
marriage portion, with a pension of two thousand livres a year for life.
The letters granting these advantages are dated October, 1450. She
became a widow after only four years of marriage.
It was for them that the king ordered the construction of the Château
de la Guerche.
In 1458, Charles presented her daughter, Jane de Maignelais, with
eight thousand two hundred and fifty francs, on the occasion of her
union with the Sire of Rochefort. Antoinette had also another daughter;
but neither of them was acknowledged by Charles VII.
The king died in 1461 and she became the mistress of Francis II, Duke
of Brittany, with whom she had two sons and two daughters. She died
peaceably at his court in 1474.
Louis XI of France
Phelise Regnard (dite aussi Phelise Renard, Phelise Reynard,
Félise Regnard) (1424-1474), dame de la châtellenie de Beaumont
(en Trièves) ( de 1452 à 1456), et de la châtellenie de La Mure
à Mathésine (du 26 octobre 1461 à 1463), était la fille d'Aymar
Reynard seigneur de Saint Didier et fut la première maîtresse du
roi de France Louis XI.
Veuve en 1452 d’un écuyer, Jean Pic avec qui elle s’était
mariée le 2 novembre 1447, elle donna à Louis XI au moins deux
filles : Jeanne et Guyette.
Jeanne de Valois (1447-1519), « L'amirale de Bourbon, dame de
Mirebeau, comtesse de Roussillon et de Ligny en Barrois, dame de
Valognes et d'Usson » qui sera légitimée par louis XI et mariée
par lui à Louis bâtard de Bourbon, comte de Roussillon. La
lettre de légitimation de Jeanne porte la date de légitimation
(25 février 1465) et le nom de la mère, (Phelise Regnard). Le
texte est rédigé en latin comme suit :
"Johanna, filia naturalis Domini Regis per eum et Pheliseam
Regnard, domicellam,nuc viduam, genita, uxor Ludovici de
Borbonio Comitis Rossilionis, legitima per litteras datas
Aurelianis 25 feb.1465.Sinè financiâ.".
Ce document fut trouvé au Cabinet des Titres de l’ Ordre du
Saint-Esprit par Gabriel Brizard (1744- 23 janvier 1793), qui
fut premier commis à la chancellerie de l' Ordre du
Saint-Esprit, avocat, écrivain, éditeur et historien respecté du
XVIII° siècle, juriste au Parlement de Paris, proche des
Philosophes, connu sous le nom de « Abbé Brizard « ou même de "
Brizard " , admirateur et disciple de Jean-Jacques Rousseau,
Voltaire et Gabriel Bonnot de Mably dont il publia les oeuvres
complètes qu' il annota parfois.
Cette lettre de légitimation données à Orléans, dont on
trouve la trace dans d’ autres auteurs :
Gabriel Brizard Histoire généalogique de la Maison de
Beaumont, tome 1er, pages 518, 522, 523.(ouvrage commandé et
financé par Christophe de Beaumont, Archevêque de Paris)
Le Père Anselme , Histoire généalogique de la maison royale de
la France et des grands officiers de la couronne (1674, 2 vols.
4) - tome 1er, page 122.
Guillaume Blanchard "Compilation chronologique contenant un
recueil en abrégé des ordonnances, édits, declarations et
lettres patentes des rois de France", 2 vol. in folio, Paris,
1715 - tome 1er, folio.301.
Cependant cette filiation à Phélise Régnard est encore très
contestée par d' autres sources et d' autres auteurs qui
attribuent souvent Jeanne à Marguerite de Sassenage.Le sujet est
toujours en débat et la question reste toujours ouverte.
La seconde fille, Guyette de Valois, (nommée Guyette Durand
dans Les Valois de P. VanKerrebrouck) est assurément fille de
Louis XI et très probablement (mais sans certitude) de Phélise
Regnard, qui sera légitimée également.
Louis XI prétendit être le père d'une autre fille, une
certaine Marie de Valois (1449-1469) qui selon les sources
serait la fille de Marguerite de Sassenage ou de Phélisé Regnard.
Louis XI aurait eut trois autres enfants dont on ne connait
pas les prénoms de différentes maîtresses.
Félizé épousera en première noces Charles de Seillons puis
Grâce d'Archelles. Phélise retrouva sa châtellenie, après en
avoir été dépouilée en 1456 (année où Charles VII prit en main
le Dauphiné) en 1461, à l'avènement de Louis XI, et la conserva
jusqu'à sa mort.
Françoise de Foix (1495 - 1537), countess of
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Françoise de Foix, Comtesse de Châteaubriant (c. 1495 –
October 16, 1537) was a mistress of Francis I of France.
Françoise was the daughter of Jean de Foix, Vicomte de
Lautrec, and Jeanne d'Aydie. Her father was the son of Pierre de
Foix, Vicomte de Lautrec; Pierre had been a younger brother of
Gaston IV of Foix, who had married Leonor, Queen of Navarre.
Françoise was thus a second cousin of the Duchess of Brittany
and Queen of France, Anne, whose mother had been a daughter of
Gaston IV and Leonor. Françoise was brought up at Anne's court,
where she met Jean de Laval, count of Châteaubriant, to whom she
was engaged in 1505. On March 11, 1508, she gave birth to a
daughter, Anne, who would die on April 12, 1521. The couple
formally married in 1509, living together at Châteaubriant until
Francis I called them at court in 1516. Tall and dark-haired,
she was also cultured, spoke Latin and Italian, and wrote
Upon arriving at the royal court, Françoise's attributes and
gifts made her alluring to the equally gifted and cultured King,
who promptly attempted to seduce her. He began to give favours
and gifts to her family. Her husband became a commander of a
company. Her elder brother, the Viscount of Lautrec, received
the charge of governor of the Milanese duchy. Her two other
brothers, Thomas, lord of Lescun, and André, lord of Lesparre or
Asparros, were also promoted to high positions in the military
by the king. Françoise eventually became the mistress of the
king, after a period of resistance, circa 1518.
On April 25, 1519, the Dauphin François was baptised at
Amboise. Jean de Châteaubriant and his wife assisted in the
ceremony, and Françoise was placed near to the royal princesses,
which signified to the Court that she was La mye du roi ("The
Sweetheart of the King"). She was the first official mistress
that Francis had taken, and he made his affections for her plain
to the Court, against her wishes. This greatly displeased his
mother, Louise of Savoy, who disliked the de Foix family.
By contrast, Françoise's husband, Jean, though inevitably
aware of the affair, showed little interest in the matter: when,
in December 1519, Francis sent him to Brittany to negotiate a
tax, the Count thanked Francis, and did not raise the matter of
the affair. During this time, Françoise remained at the Court,
where she was made a lady-in-waiting of Queen Claude, the
Duchess of Brittany.
Françoise remained the official mistress of Francis for a
decade. She had no political influence, only managing to
persuade the King to not disgrace her brother after his defeat
at the Battle of Bicocca. However, in 1525, the King was
captured at the Battle of Pavia and held captive in Madrid. When
he returned to France, the young and blond Anne de Pisseleu
d'Heilly caught his attention. The two women battled for the
King's affections for two years before Françoise gave up and
returned to Châteaubriant in 1528.
Later life and death
After returning to Châteaubriant, Françoise continued to live
with her husband, Jean, who was made governor of Brittany and
received other favours. Françoise still continued to write
letters to the King, who visited Châteaubriant many times. His
last visit seems to be in 1532, when he stayed at the new castle
that Jean had constructed in May.
Françoise de Foix died on October 16, 1537. Her death is the
subject of rumours: one legend, related by the French historian
Varillas, and taking credence from the known brutality of Jean
de Laval, claims that the Count shut his wife in a dark, padded
cell and had her killed. In fact, it is considered more likely
that Françoise died of a sickness.
She is interred in the church of the Trinitarians of
Châteaubriant, where her husband erected a tomb in her memory,
with an epitaph by Clément Marot and a statue of her. Jean de
Laval died on February 11, 1543, aged 56 and bequeathing a third
of his possessions to Anne de Montmorency, including
Châteaubriant. He was succeeded in his charges of governor of
Brittany by Jean IV de Brosse, the husband of Anne de Pisseleu.
Brantôme also recounted many anecdotes about the countess. An
anecdote about an unnamed mistress of Francis I, where the lady
is almost surprised by the king when in bed with the admiral
Bonnivet, is often attributed to Françoise de Foix.
Françoise de Foix
Françoise de Foix, by
Françoise de Foix, d’après un dessin de Janet
Françoise de Foix
Anne de Pisseleu d'Heilly (1508 -
1580), duchess of Étampes
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Anne de Pisseleu d'Heilly, duchesse d'Étampes (1508 –
1580), mistress of Francis I of France, was a daughter of
Guillaume de Pisseleu, a nobleman of Picardy, who, with the rise
of his daughter at court, was made seigneur of Meudon, master of
waters and forests of Île de France, of Champagne and of Brie.
The life of courtesan to a king
She came to court before 1522 and was one of the maids-of-honour
of Louise of Savoy, the mother of Francis I, when she was
duchesse d'Angoulême. Francis made Anne his mistress, probably
upon his return from his captivity at Madrid (1526), and soon
gave up his long-term lover, Françoise de Foix, for her.
Anne was described as being sprightly, pretty, witty and
cultured, "the most beautiful among the learned and the most
learned among the beautiful"; she succeeded in keeping the favor
of the king until his death in 1547. The liaison received some
official recognition; when Queen Eleanor of Habsburg entered
Paris in 1530, the King and Anne occupied the same window. In
1533, Francis gave her in marriage to Jean IV de Brosse, whom he
created duc d'Étampes.
The influence of the duchesse d'Étampes, especially in the last
years of the reign, was considerable. She upheld Admiral
Philippe de Chabot against the Constable de Montmorency, who was
supported by her rival courtesan Diane de Poitiers, the
dauphin's mistress. She was a friend to new ideas, tolerant of
Protestants, whose beliefs she openly embraced after the King's
death and she co-operated with the King's sister, Marguerite
She used her influence to elevate and enrich her family, her
uncle, Antoine Sanguin (d. 1559), being made bishop of Orléans
in 1533 and a cardinal in 1539; her three brothers were made
bishops and two sisters were abbesses, the other sisters making
great marriages. The accusations made against her of having
allowed herself to be won over by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
and of playing the traitor in 1544 and in the lead-up to the
Treaty of Crépy (September 1545) rest on no serious proof.
After the death of Francis I she was dismissed from the court
by Diane de Poitiers, who was by that time mistress to Henry II.
Though her creatures at court were humiliated in every way upon
her dismissal, she was permitted to die in obscurity much later,
probably in the reign of Henry III.
Portrait of Anne attributed to Corneille de Lyon.
Sketch of Anne by François Clouet
Mary Boleyn (1500 - 1543)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mary Boleyn (c. 1499/1500–19 July 1543) was a member of the
English Boleyn family, which enjoyed considerable influence
during the reign of King Henry VIII of England. Mary was the
sister of Queen consort Anne Boleyn; some historians claim she
was the younger sister, but her children believed Mary was the
elder sister, as do most historians today.
Mary was one of the mistresses of King Henry VIII and
allegedly had two of his children. Mary was also, allegedly, a
mistress of Henry VIII's rival, King Francis I of France.
Mary was born at Blickling Hall, Norfolk and grew up at
Hever Castle, Kent. She was the daughter of a wealthy diplomat
and courtier, Sir Thomas Boleyn and his wife, Lady Elizabeth
Howard. There is no concrete evidence of her exact date of
birth, but it was sometime between 1499 and 1508. Most scholars
and historians now favour an earlier date of about 1499. There
is firm documentary evidence to suggest that she was also the
eldest of the three Boleyn children who survived infancy. The
evidence suggests that the surviving Boleyns believed Mary to
have been the eldest child; in 1597, her grandson, Lord Hunsdon,
claimed the title of “Earl of Ormonde” on the grounds that he
was the Boleyns’ legitimate heir. According to the strict rules
of aristocratic inheritance, if Anne had been the elder sister,
the title would have belonged to her daughter, Queen
Elizabeth—since a title descended through the eldest female line
in the absence of a surviving male line.
It was once believed that it was Mary who began her education
abroad and spent time as a companion to Archduchess Margaret of
Austria; but it is now clear that it was her sister, Anne. Mary
was kept in England for most of her childhood.
It was not until 1514 that she was sent abroad. Her father
secured her a place as maid-of-honour to the King’s sister,
Princess Mary Tudor, who was going to Paris to marry King Louis
XII of France. After a few weeks, many of the Queen's English
maids were ordered to leave but Mary Boleyn was permitted to
remain, probably because of her father's position as the new
English ambassador. Even when Mary Tudor left France after her
husband’s death on 1 January 1515, Mary Boleyn remained at the
court of Louis' successor, Francis I of France and his queen
Claude of France.
Royal affair in France
Mary was joined in Paris by her father, Sir Thomas, and also
her sister, Anne, who had been studying in the Netherlands for
the last year. Mary supposedly embarked on several affairs,
perhaps including one with King Francis I himself. Although some
historians believe that the reports of her sexual escapades are
greatly exaggerated, the French king referred to her as "The
English Mare" and as "una grandissima ribalda, infame sopra
tutti" ("a great prostitute, infamous above all").
She returned to England in 1519, where she was given the
position of maid-of-honour to Catherine of Aragon.
Soon after her return, Mary was married to Sir William
Carey, a wealthy and well-connected courtier, on February 4,
1520, and Henry VIII was a guest at the couple's wedding
ceremony. At some point, Henry VIII and Mary began an affair,
although the timing is unclear. The affair was never publicized,
and Mary never enjoyed the kind of fame, wealth and power that
acknowledged mistresses in France and other countries sometimes
had. The affair is believed to have ended prior to the birth of
Mary's second child, Henry Carey, in March 1526. Her first
child, Catherine was born in 1524.
During the affair or sometime after, it was rumored that one
or both of Mary's children were fathered by the king. One
witness noted that Mary's son, Henry Carey, bore a resemblance
to Henry VIII. John Hale, Vicar of Isleworth, some ten years
after the child was born, remarked that he had met a,'young
Master Carey," who was the king's purported bastard child. No
other contemporary evidence exists to support the argument that
Henry was the king’s biological son.
Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, had previously
been married to Henry's elder brother Arthur, but Arthur had
died only a few months later, when he was a little over 15 years
old. Henry later used that fact as the justification for the
annulment of his marriage to Catherine, on the grounds that her
marriage to Arthur (assuming it was consummated) created an
affinity between Henry and Catherine. When Mary Boleyn became
Henry's mistress, a similar affinity existed between Henry and
Anne. According to church law, because Mary had been Henry's
mistress, the subsequent marriage of Henry to Mary's sister was
just as illegal as that of Henry to Catherine of Aragon. As
Henry was a man who was educated in theology, it is likely that
he was aware of this impediment.
Sister’s rise to power
Mary Boleyn's sister, Anne, returned to England in January
1522, achieving considerable popularity at the royal court. The
sisters were not particularly close and Anne moved in different
Although Mary was alleged to have been more attractive than
her sister, Anne seems to have been more ambitious and
intelligent. When the king took an interest in her, she refused
to become his mistress, being shrewd enough to wait give in to
his sexual advances until it was the most advantageous.By the
middle of 1527, Henry was determined to marry her. This gave him
further incentive to seek the annulment of his marriage to
Catherine of Aragon.
A year later, when Mary's husband died during an outbreak of
sweating sickness, Henry granted Anne Boleyn the wardship of her
nephew, Henry Carey. Mary's husband had left her with
considerable debts, and Anne arranged for Henry to be educated
at a respectable Cistercian monastery. Anne interceded to secure
Mary a small annual pension of £100.
In 1532, when Anne accompanied Henry to Calais on a state
visit to France, Mary was one of her companions. Anne was
crowned Queen on June 1, 1533 and gave birth to her first
daughter (later to become Queen Elizabeth I) on 7 September. In
1534, Mary secretly married soldier William Stafford. Because
Stafford was a commoner with a small income, most historians
believe their union to have been a love match. When the marriage
was discovered, Anne was furious, and the Boleyn family disowned
her for marrying beneath her station; the couple were banished
from the royal court.
Mary's financial circumstances became so desperate that she
was reduced to begging the king’s adviser Thomas Cromwell to
speak to Henry and Anne on her behalf. Henry, however, was
indifferent to her plight; so, Mary asked Cromwell to speak to
her father, her uncle, and her brother, but to no avail. It was
Anne who relented, sending Mary a magnificent golden cup and
some money, but still refusing to receive her at court. This
partial reconciliation was the closest the two sisters came,
since it is not thought that they met after Mary's court exile.
Mary's life between 1534 and her sister's execution on May
19, 1536 is difficult to trace. There is no record of her
visiting her parents, nor did she visit her sister Anne or her
brother George Boleyn when the latter was imprisoned in the
Tower of London. There is also no evidence that she sent
correspondence. Like their uncle, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of
Norfolk, she may have thought it wise to avoid association with
her now-disgraced relatives.
Mary and her husband remained outcasts, living in retirement
at Rochford in Essex. After Anne’s execution, their mother
retired from the royal court, dying in seclusion just two years
later; her father, Thomas, died the following year. After the
deaths of her parents, Mary inherited some property in Essex.
She seems to have lived out the rest of her days in anonymity
and relative comfort with her second husband. She died in her
early forties, on July 19, 1543.
Madame Feron, genannt La Belle Ferroniere,
La belle ferronnière is a name that has been applied to two
Renaissance portrait paintings. The first (illustrated), though
sometimes simply known as Portrait of an Unknown Woman, may be
of Lucrezia Crivelli, a mistress of Ludovico Sforza, and is
attributed by the Musée du Louvre, where it is conserved, to the
school of Leonardo da Vinci in Milan; The other portrait, likely
to be of Cecilia Gallerani, another of Ludovico's mistresses,
and which is almost certainly by Leonardo, is more often called
Lady with an Ermine.
The painting's title, applied as early as the seventeenth
century, identifying the sitter as the wife or daughter of an
ironmonger (a ferronnier), was said to be discreetly alluding to
a reputed mistress of François I married to a certain Le Ferron;
the tale is a Romantic legend of revenge, in which the aggrieved
husband intentionally infected himself with syphilis, which he
passed to the king through infecting his wife. The narrative and
the title were applied to Leonardo's Lady with an Ermine when it
was in Princess Czartoryski's collection, and became confused
with this portrait by the presence in this image also, of a
jewel worn on a delicate chain across the forehead.
Bernard Berenson attributed this Leonardesque portrait to
Bernardino de' Conti. Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio was suggested
by Herbert Cook, who retracted his opinion, seeing Leonardo's
own hand, in 1904.
The painting was briefly featured in the opening sequence of
the 2006 film The Da Vinci Code.
A later version of the painting had been about to be sold to
the Kansas City Art Institute as the original, but was
identified as a copy by Sir Joseph Duveen, who permitted his
remarks to be published in the New York World in 1920; the
owner, Mrs Andrée Lardoux Hahn, sued for defamation of property
in a notorious court case, which involved many of the major
connoisseurs of the day, inspecting the two paintings side by
side at the Louvre; the case was eventually heard in New York
before a jury selected for not knowing anything of Leonardo or
Morellian connoisseurship, and settled for $60,000 plus court
expenses, which were considerable. The owner's account, Harry
Hahn's The Rape of La Belle (1946) is a classic of conspiracy
theory applied to the art world.
A nineteenth-century copy of La Belle Ferronnière is
conserved in the Musée des beaux-arts, Chambéry.
''La belle ferronière'' Leonardo da Vinci, 1490-1495
La Comtesse de Thoury
Claude de Thoury de Rohan-Gié dite comtesse de
Thoury, fut une des nombreuses et dernières maîtresses du roi
François Ier. Fille de Charles de Rohan-Gié compagnon d'armes du
roi à Marignan, et de Jeanne de San-Severin, elle est issue de
la grande maison de Rohan qui a depuis Louis XI pris le parti de
la réunification de la Bretagne à la France qui devient
définitive avec le mariage de Claude de France duchesse de
Bretagne, fille de Louis XII et de la duchesse Anne, avec
François d'Angoulème, futur François I. Pierre de Rohan-Gié,
grand-père de Claude, a été un acteur décisif de ce mariage en
s'opposant aux manœuvres de la reine-duchesse Anne qui tentait
de s'y opposer pour sauvegarder l'indépendance de la Bretagne.
Cette belle et riche comtesse Claude de Thoury de Rohan-Gié née
vers 1518-19 ne peut pas en conséquence être conviée par le roi
Louis XII à rejoindre la cour de France vers 1510; dans ce cas
il s'agirait d'une autre dame de Thoury ? (Il est aussi très
probable que cette comtesse -maîtresse de François Ier- soit
issue de la famille de Thoury du Nivernais-Bourbonnais).
Très épris, François Ier la fera comtesse de Thoury qui est
le nom d'une chatellenie de son premier mari épousé en 1537 :
Claude de Beauvillier, sire de Thoury par son père et comte de
Saint-Aignan par sa mère née Husson. Mais il ferait surtout
construire les extensions du très célèbre château de Chambord en
1540 (les armes de celle-ci figurent d'ailleurs dans le château
de Chambord), afin de se rapprocher de la comtesse qui épousera
en secondes noces Julien de Clermont (Clermont-Tonnerre), frère
d'Antoine de Clermont, le bâtisseur du château d'Ancy-le-Franc
en 1541 par Serlio, que le roi a appelé en France pour
reconstruire Le Louvre, frère également de Louise de Clermont,
épouse de François du Bellay qui obtiennent de Serlio des plans
pentagonaux pour leur château de Maulnes, au même moment ; Ancy-le-Franc
et Maulnes situés sur le comté de Tonnerre, en Champagne,
maintenant dans l'Yonne.
Ce clan Rohan - Husson - Beauvillier - Clermont - Poitiers,
avec Claude de Rohan jeune maîtresse de François I, Antoine
favori d'Henri II, parce que beau-frère de Diane de Poitiers, et
enfin Louise amie intime de la reine Catherine de Médicis et
ancienne gouvernante du futur Charles IX vont monopoliser une
grande partie de la faveur royale pendant 4 règnes, de 1537 à
1574, la mort de Charles IX, et être tous très actifs dans le
domaine de l'architecture.
Alors que François I agglomère les terres de Thoury au
domaine royal, après échange avec René de Beauvillier - Thoury
qui succède à son frère Claude mort fin 1539, Claude de
Rohan-Gié, et Julien de Clermont baron de Thoury son second
époux, propriétaires du château de Muides-sur-Loire, font
démolir par "leurs gens" un pan du mur de Chambord, parce que
François Ier avait compris dans l'enceinte du parc du château
une portion de leur domaine.
Claude de Thoury de Rohan-Gié,
comtesse de Thoury (anonyme du XVIe siècle)
Henry II of France
Diane de Poitiers (1499 -
Jane Fleming (or Jane Stewart) (ca 1508 - ca 1553)
Janet Stewart, Lady Fleming (or Jane, Jenny, Joan, Jean, or Johanna;
c.1505 – c.1563) was an illegitimate daughter of James IV of Scotland
who served as governess to her niece, Mary, Queen of Scots, and was
briefly a mistress to Henry II of France. Her daughter, Mary Fleming,
was one of the Queen's Four Maries.
James IV is known to have fathered several other royal bastards;
Lady Janet Stewart was a half-sister to, among others, James Stewart,
1st Earl of Moray and Alexander Stewart, Lord Chancellor of Scotland.
Another half-brother was James V, her father's only legitimate child to
The identity of her mother is a matter of dispute. She was either
Agnes or Isobel Stewart of Buchan, who were both daughters of "Hearty
James" Stewart, 1st Earl of Buchan, and both mistresses to James IV.
Isobel (or Isabella) was born legitimately, while Agnes, the more likely
candidate, was her illegitimate half-sister. Agnes was a daughter of the
Earl of Buchan's mistress, Margaret, Mrs. Murray, and became the
Countess of Bothwell after marrying Adam Hepburn, 2nd Earl of Bothwell.
Her son from this marriage, Patrick Hepburn, would have been Lady
Both Agnes and Isobel Stewart were distant cousins (specifically,
"half-first-cousins-once-removed") of James IV by a common ancestor,
Joan Beaufort, an English noblewoman with Plantagenet bloodlines.
Marriage and Issue
Lady Janet married Malcolm Fleming, 3rd Lord Fleming, even though
they were related within a forbidden degree of affinity. By Lord Fleming
she had six children:
James, 4th Lord Fleming. His only daughter and heiress, Jean
(1554–1609), would marry John Maitland, the younger brother of William
Maitland, his sister Mary's husband. His grandson by Jean was John
Maitland, 1st Earl of Lauderdale.
John, 5th Lord Fleming.
Janet, m. 1st, John Livingston, eldest son of Alexander, 5th Lord
Livingston and brother of Mary Livingston, one of the Queen's "Four
Agnes, m. to William, 6th Lord Livingston.
Margaret, m. 1st, to Robert Graham, Master of Montrose, by whom she had
a son, John, 3rd Earl of Montrose; 2ndly, to Thomas Erskine, Master of
Mar, younger brother of the 17th Earl of Mar, but had no issue; and
3rdly, John Stewart, 4th Earl of Atholl, high chancellor of Scotland, by
whom she had three daughters and a son, John Stewart, 5th Earl of Atholl.
Mary, m. 6 January, 1567, to William Maitland of Lethington.
Governess, mistress to royalty
Lord Fleming was killed at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547. The next
year, probably due to her membership in the royal House of Stuart, the
widowed Lady Fleming became a governess to the infant Queen Mary I of
Scotland. As Queen Mary was the daughter of Lady Fleming's half-brother,
Lady Fleming could be considered a "half-aunt" to the Queen. Her own
daughter, Mary Fleming, also joined the Queen's court as a
They accompanied the young queen to France in 1548, and there Lady
Janet attracted the attentions of King Henry II and became his lover.
She became pregnant by the king and bore him an illegitimate son. Either
before or after the child's birth, she was sent back to Scotland.
Her son, Henry de Valois or d'Angoulême (1551–June, 1586), was "the
chief and most highly favored natural son of the King". He was
legitimated and became grand prieur de France, gouverneur de Provence,
et Admiral des Mers du Levant.
Diane de Poitiers
Diane de Poitiers in the nude by
Diane chasseresse, tableau d'un artiste de la première école de
dont le modèle est réputé être Diane de Poitiers
Diane de Poitiers as huntress in the Salon de François Ier,
Chateau de Chenonceau in France
Diane de Poitiers
Master of the Fontainebleau School, Diane de Poitiers, c. 1590
Diane de Poitiers
Diane de Poitiers
Diane de Poitiers
The Bath of Diana
Diane de Poitiers
Henry II of France
Filippa Duci (ca 1520 - ?)
Filippa Duci (1520 en Italie- avant octobre 1586 en Touraine), dame
de Coui, fille de Gian Antonio Duci, est une courtisane Piémontaise de
la ville de Moncalieri, maîtresse du Dauphin Henri futur roi de France
Lors des campagnes d'Italie, le Dauphin Henri, passe quelques nuits
durant l'année 1537 chez un écuyer, frère de Filippa. Dès leur première
rencontre, le roi la séduit. Elle lui donnera une fille, Diane de
France, qui naît à Paris en 1538.
Cette naissance est capitale pour le dauphin (futur Henri II), car
elle prouve que le roi n'est pas stérile, alors même que marié depuis
cinq ans avec Catherine de Médicis, son mariage n'a pas donné d'héritier
François Ier accorde à la jeune italienne la somme de 400 livres
tournois par an sur l'Ordinaire de Touraine en 1541, toute sa vie durant.
Son nom est francisé en Philippa Desducs.
Elle épouse peu après un gentilhomme italien, Jean Bernardin de Saint
Severin, gentilhomme de la chambre du roi.
Lors de la légitimation de sa fille, on la dit dame de Bléré en Touraine.
En 1582, elle est dame d'honneur de la reine Catherine de Médicis.
Sa fille, Diane de France, est élevée par Diane de Poitiers qui lui
donne une éducation très pointue : elle parle l'espagnol, l'italien le
latin et joue de plusieurs instruments de musique.
Filippa Ducci meurt avant octobre 1586 près de Tours.
Henry II of France
Nicole de Savigny (1535 - 1590), baroness of Fontette
aus Wikipedia, der freien Enzyklopädie
Nicole de Savigny (* 1535; † 4. März 1590) war Baronin von Saint-Remy
und eine Mätresse des französischen Königs Heinrich II.
Die aus einer lothringischen Familie stammende Nicole heiratete
sehr jung Jean de Ville, Seigneur von Fontette, mit dem sie zwei Kinder
hatte. Ihr Sohn André II. de Ville starb ohne Nachkommen, und ihre
Tochter Elisabeth wurde Nonne.
Der Tod ihres Mannes 1552 machte sie mit nur 17 Jahren zur Witwe. Sie
zog an den französischen Königshof und wurde dort 1556 die Mätresse
Heinrichs II., bis sich dieser kaum ein Jahr später wieder Diane de
Poitiers zuwandte. Aus der kurzen Beziehung ging ihr Sohn Henri de
Saint-Rémi (1557−1621) hervor. Jedoch wurde er vom König nicht
legitimiert, da Heinrich II. an seiner Vaterschaft zweifelte. Deswegen
erhielt Henri den Beinamen Bastard von Valois. Die aus der
Halsbandaffäre bekannte Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy stammt von ihm ab.
Nicole de Savigny zog sich nach dem Ende ihrer Liebesaffäre auf ihre
Landgüter in Fontette zurück und machte noch einmal von sich reden, als
sie versuchte, den Erzbischof von Besançon, Claude de La Baume, auf
Einhaltung eines Eheversprechens zu verklagen. Diese Klage wurde aber im
Dezember 1567 von der Römischen Rota abgewiesen.
Durch Nicoles am 12. Januar 1590 verfasstes Testament wird deutlich,
dass Heinrich II. trotz der Zweifel an seiner Vaterschaft gut für seinen
möglichen Sohn gesorgt hatte. Ein von ihm 1558 gegebenes Versprechen,
Nicole 30.000 Écus sol als eine Art Mitgift für Henri zu zahlen, wurde
durch König Heinrich III. im Februar 1577 eingelöst.
Charles IX of France
Marie Touchet (ca 1553 - 1638)
From Wikipedia, the free
Marie Touchet (1549 – March 28, 1638), Dame de
Belleville, was the only mistress of Charles IX of France.
Humble origins, mistress to the king
Although born to a bourgeois family at Orléans, the daughter of
Marie Mathy and a Huguenot lieutenant Jean Touchet "held her row
at court as well as any of the first class ladies" (Le Laboureur,
historian). Her anagrammed name was even Je Charme Tout (the
letters I and J were then considered interchangeable) meaning "I
charm all." Henry III of Navarre was responsible for this clever
By her late teens, she was mistress to Charles IX. In 1573
she bore the king a son, Charles de Valois. It would be his only
son, for just one year later the king died, at which time his
and Marie's son was entrusted to the care of his younger brother
and successor, Henry III of France. The new king was faithful to
his dead brother's wishes and raised little Charles dutifully.
Marie Touchet received a pension for her services to Charles IX,
and continued as a part of the royal circle.
Marie went on to marry the marquis d'Entragues, Charles
Balzac d'Entragues, and in 1579 had a daughter, Catherine
Henriette de Balzac d'Entragues. Catherine Henriette would
follow in her mother's footsteps, later becoming the mistress of
Henry IV of France. Marie died in Paris.
Marie Touchet, mistress of Charles IX of France
Henry III of France
Louise de La Béraudière du Rouhet
Louise de La Béraudière de l'Isle Rouhet (1530 - 1586), parfois
surnommée "La belle Rouhet" (nom qu'elle tenait d'une seigneurie
de son père, Louis de La Béraudière), fut une dame d'honneur de
Catherine de Médicis. On lui prête des aventures avec des rois
D'une grande beauté, Louise de La Béraudière séduisit le roi de
Navarre Antoine de Bourbon dont elle devint la maîtresse. On
prétend qu'elle fut encouragée par Catherine de Médicis qui
espérait ainsi faire passer ses exigences auprès d'Antoine de
Bourbon par son intermédiaire. C'est ainsi qu'Antoine délaissa
peu à peu l'affection de Jeanne d'Albret, sa femme, et finit par
se convertir à la religion catholique. Jean Calvin, affolé de
cette conversion écrivit même:
"Il est tout à Vénus, [...] la matrone, qui est éxperimentée
en cet art, a extrait de son harem ce qui pouvait attraper l'âme
de notre homme en ses filets."
Louise donna à Antoine en 1554 un fils, Charles de Bourbon,
qui entra dans les ordres et devint archevêque de Rouen en 1594,
avant d'être délaissée par lui pour la maréchale de Saint-André.
Elle quitte la cour pour le château de Coulonges-les-Royaux,
dans le Poitou, où elle donne naissance à un fils, Charles, et
en 1564 à une fille, Claude, qui épouse le 27 mars 1587 François
IV de La Rochefoucauld. Dans sa demeure poitevine, elle reçoit
plusieurs personnalités importantes tels Catherine de Médicis,
Marguerite de France, Michel de Montaigne et François Rabelais.
Après la mort de son mari en 1565, elle est courtisée par
Brantôme, qui lui adressera quelques vers passionés:
"Je n'ai jamais, Rouet, souffert douleur pareille
Et si ai de mon sang vu la terre vermeille
De lance, arquebusade et épée en maints lieux,
Crois donc que l'on n'éprouve en guerre plaie telle
Que celle qui nous vient au cœur par les beaux yeux
d'une chaste beauté humainement cruelle"
Néanmoins, elle préfèrera accorder ses faveurs au célèbre
Michel de Montaigne. La rumeur et la propagande protestante
puritaine prétend que Louise de La Béraudière aurait servi à
déniaiser Charles IX, mais l’historien Simonin rappelle que le
retard sexuel de l'enfant roi rend impossible leur relation.
Plus sérieusement, elle aurait également été la maîtresse
passagère du fougeux duc d'Anjou, au point d'en être enceinte.
Toute sa vie durant, Louise aura de nombreux soupirants, dont
Claude de Clermont, vicomte de Tallard. Une nuit que Louise
était las des mots d'amours répétitifs du vicomte, elle lui
"Si vous m'aimez tant et que vous soyez si courageux que vous
dites, donner vous de votre dague dans votre bras pour l'amour
Enfin, en 1580, elle rencontre Robert de Combault, seigneur
d'Arcis-sur-Aube et maître d'hotel du roi, capitaine des garde
de la reine, dont elle a deux filles: Claude et Louise. Mais
après la mort de son fils lors d'un duel en 1586, elle disparait
dans la solitude et le repentir.
Louise de La Béraudière d'après un dessin de François Clouet.
Henry III of France
Renée de Rieux de Châteauneuf
La Belle Chateauneuf
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
La Belle Châteauneuf, the name popularly given to Renée de
Rieux, daughter of Jean de Rieux, seigneur de Châteauneuf, who
was descended from one of the greatest families of Brittany. The
dates both of her birth and death are not known. She was maid of
honor to the queen-mother Catherine de' Medici, and inspired an
ardent passion in the duke of Anjou, brother of Charles IX. This
intrigue deterred the duke from the marriage which it was
desired to arrange for him with Elizabeth of England; but he
soon abandoned Chateauneuf for Marie of Cleves (1571). The court
then wished to find a husband for her, whose singular beauty
gave her an influence which the queen-mother feared, and matches
were in turn suggested with the voivode of Transylvania, the
earl of Leicester; with Du Prat, provost of Paris, and with the
count of Brienne, all of which came to nothing. Ultimately, on
the ground that she had been lacking in respect towards the
queen, Louise of Lorraine-Vaudmont, Renee was banished from the
court. She married a Florentine named Antinotti, whom she
stabbed in a fit of jealousy (1577); then she remarried, her
husband being Philip Altoviti, who in 1586 was killed in a duel
by the Grand Prior Henry of Angouleme, who was himself mortally
Renée de Rieux de Châteauneuf. Auteur anonyme.
Renée de Rieux de Châteauneuf,
par Louis Marie Lanté (artiste), Georges Jacques Gatine (graveur).
Henry III of France
Veronica Franco (1546 - 1591)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Veronica Franco (1546-1591) was an Italian poet and courtesan in
16th century Venice.
Life as a courtesan
Renaissance Venetian society recognized two different
classes of courtesans: the cortigiana onesta, the intellectual
courtesan, and the cortigiana di lume, lower-class courtesans
(closer kin to prostitutes today) who tended to live and
practice their trade near the Rialto Bridge. Veronica Franco was
perhaps the most celebrated member of the former category,
although Franco was hardly the only onesta in 16th-century
Venice who could boast of a fine education and considerable
literary and artistic accomplishments.
The daughter of another cortigiana onesta, Franco learned the
art at a young age from her mother and was trained to use her
natural assets and abilities to achieve a financially beneficial
marriage. While still in her teens, Franco married a wealthy
physician, but the union ended badly. In order to support
herself, Franco turned to serving as a cortigiana to wealthy
men. She quickly rose through the ranks to consort with some of
the leading notables of her day and even had a brief liaison
with Henry III, King of France. Franco was listed as one of the
foremost courtesans of Venice in Il Catalogo di tutte le
principale et piu honorate cortigiane di Venezia.
A well-educated woman, Veronica Franco wrote two volumes of
poetry: Terze rime in 1575 and Lettere familiari a diversi in
1580. She published books of letters and collected the works of
other leading writers into anthologies. Successful in her two
lines of work, Franco also founded a charity for courtesans and
In 1575, during the epidemic of plague that ravaged the city,
Veronica Franco was forced to leave Venice and lost much of her
wealth when her house and possessions were looted. On her return
in 1577, she defended herself with dignity in an Inquisition for
witchcraft trial (a common complaint lodged against courtesans
in those days). The charges were dropped.
There is evidence that her connections among the Venetian
nobility helped in her acquittal. Her later life is largely
obscure, though surviving records suggest that although she won
her freedom, she lost all of her material goods and wealth.
Eventually, her last major benefactor died and left her with no
financial support. Although her fate is largely uncertain, she
is believed to have died in relative poverty.
In 1565, when she was about 20 years old, Veronica Franco
was listed in Il Catalogo di tutte le principale e più honorate
cortigiane di Venezia, which gave the names, addresses, and fees
of Venice's most prominent prostitutes; her mother was listed as
the person to whom the fee should be paid. From extant records,
we know that by the time she was 18, Franco had been briefly
married and had given birth to her first child; she would
eventually have six children, three of whom died in infancy.
As one of the più honorate cortigiane in a wealthy and
cosmopolitan city, Franco lived well for much of her working
life, but without the automatic protection accorded to
"respectable" women, she had to make her own way. She studied
and sought patrons among the learned. By the 1570s, she belonged
to one of the more prestigious literary circles in the city,
participating in discussions and contributing to and editing
anthologies of poetry.
In 1575, Franco's own volume of the poetry was published, her
Terze rime, containing 18 capitoli (verse epistles) by her and 7
by men writing in her praise. That same year saw an outbreak of
plague in Venice, one that lasted two years and caused Franco to
leave the city and to lose many of her possessions. In 1577, she
unsuccessfully proposed to the city council that it should
establish a home for poor women, of which she would become the
administrator. By then, she was raising not only her own
children but also her nephews, who had been orphaned by the
In 1580, Franco published her Lettere familiari a diversi
("Family letters to different people") which included 50
letters, as well as two sonnets addressed to King Henry III of
France, who had visited her six years earlier. We have little
information for her life after 1580. Records suggest that she
was less prosperous in her later years but was not living in
poverty. However, she published no more writings.
Veronica Franco als Venus,1566