Your RDA of Irony

Quite Original Sin

September 3rd:  Happy Birthday to Diane de Poitiers

Henri II deserves to be more popular. The French king (1519-1559) may have been stupid (he never demonstrated any evidence to the contrary) and he certainly was bigoted (ask any Huguenot who survived him), but his form of adultery should earn him considerable admiration. Henri left his wife for an older woman!

And I do mean older. His mistress Diane de Poitiers was 20 years his senior. Freud might have had something to say about that, although it would have only incited Henri to start persecuting Jews. Diane (1499-1566) was a woman of great charm and beauty; that could not be said about Henri’s wife: Catherine de Medici. (Catherine was quite intelligent, but Henri would have resented that.) Unfortunately, in his enthusiasm for Diane, Henri was continually affronting his wife. Guess who received court precedence or the pick of the best chateaux? Henri must have thought that his wife was good-natured. Did I mention that he was stupid?

In 1559, Henri apparently confused jousting with soccer, and attempted to catch a lance with his eye. It was not good for his health, or for Diane’s career. The new king of France was 15 years old and not in the market for a 60 year-old mistress. Besides, the Queen Mother had a definite grudge against Diane. The unemployed courtesan did survive, but it was not a pleasant retirement. From a deluxe suite at the Louvre and a Loire estate at Chenonceau, Diane now found herself in the equivalent of a studio apartment frigidly far from anywhere of interest. She did seem to die of natural causes. Either Catherine did not live up to her murderous reputation or for once really got away with a crime.

Finally, by the standards of the 16th century, Diane had a very eccentric habit. She bathed daily. Of course, we now surmise that was the basis of her allure.

DianedePoitiersdiane7  As you see from the portrait on the right, 16th century France had its own version of iCloud.

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