Diane de Poitiers 1499-1566
Diane served the Queen in the French court of Francis I. She was married to a man many years her elder, Louis de Breze. When he died she took on wearing the colors of mourning, black with some gray and white, for the rest of her life.
The part of her life that I am going to focus on is during the period of Henry II and Catherine de' Medici - as that is the book I'm reading now.
Henry II, at the time the Duke of Orleans, did not want to marry Catherine and Diane was one of the people who convinced him he should marry her. She may have had ambitions because Catherine was a distant relative of Diane's. Diane and Catherine had a love/hate relationship. Diane aided Catherine by caring for her when she came down with scarlet fever and also helped make sure that Henry would go to her bed often, as there was a long period without any children for the royal couple. On the other side of the coin, Diane was the mistress and companion of Henry II. He allowed her to talk politics with him and also write some of his letters signing them with the name HenriDiane. Talk about powerful! Catherine was jealous, and I think rightly so. After the King died, she had Diane banished to her properties to live out the rest of her life in obscurity.
If you want to know more about Diane check out the movie Diane or the novel Courtesan by Diane Haeger.
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