Period: Diane de Poitiers

Diane de Poitiers

Diane de Poitiers (1499–1566) was a French noblewoman and a prominent courtier at the French court.

In 1525 when the future Henry II  was sent to Spain as a hostage it was Diane who gave him the farewell kiss at his mother was already dead. When the future returned to France at the age of of ten after nearly four years of captivity Diane she was ordered by King Francis I to act as a mentor to Henry and to teach him courtly manners.

By 1533 when Henry married Catherine de’ Medici the recently widowed Diane was both the dominant woman in his life, and his mistress – although she was some twenty years older than either Henry or Catherine. When he became King in 1547 he made her first Duchess of Valentinois and then in 1553 the Duchesse d’Étampes.

Queen Catherine was bitterly jealous, particularly when Henry entrusted Diane with the Crown Jewels of France, but was powerless.

Everything changed in 1559 when Henry was mortally wounded in a tournament accident – during which his lance wore Diane’s favour rather than his wife’s. Catherrine immediately seized control and although the king was alleged to have called out repeatedly for Diane, she was never summoned nor admitted. On his death Diane was banished from court and lived out her remaining years in comfortable obscurity in her chateau in Anet.

The movies

Nostradamus (1994): Recounts the life and loves of Nostradamus, culminating in his appointment as court physician to Charles IX of France. Diane Quick played Diane de Poiters. Christine Atar, Samir Atar & Christiane Weber were the makeup artists.

La princesse de Clèves (1961): Featuring Annie Ducaux as Diane. Coming soon …