Madame de Montespan and the Affair of the Poisons

In 1680, writes Joanna Richardson, the mistress of Louis XIV was concerned in a scandal that involved both poisoning and black magic.

In October 1666, Louise de La Vallière, the mistress of Louis XIV, gave birth to another daughter in the hotel Brion, a little house he had bought for her in the grounds of the Palais-Royal. The child was hurried away to its foster-mother.

The King often visited Louise at the hotel Brion. He had felt for her what was probably the purest passion in his life and it was understandable that she had been his first mistress. But he had now begun to tire of her simplicity. In her innocence, and in her genuine love for the King, she invited a friend to the hotel Brion: a friend who was sure to entertain him.

Athénaïs de Montespan was brilliantly amusing. She was twenty-six, dark-haired, blue-eyed, and endowed with a handsome figure. She was the daughter of Gabriel de Rochechouart, Marquis de Mortemart, Prince de Tonnay-Charente, and she belonged to one of the oldest families in France. She was proud, and she was extravagant.

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