Do you know the story of Agnès Sorel? She was a young woman who became the king's mistress in 15th century France. Her special place in history is this: she was the first woman ever recognized as a royal mistress. She presided over the royal court for a few short years.
Agnès Sorel was born in the mid-1420s to a family that was part of the minor nobility of the time, but didn't possess great riches. From 1444 until 1449, after having served the queen as a lady of honor, she became the unofficial "first lady" of France. The king, Charles VII, was the first king ever to bring one of his mistresses out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
Sorel had four children with Charles VII, who reigned as king of France from 1422 to 1461. She died shortly after the fourth child was born, probably from mercury poisoning. She was about 25 years old. It is not clear whether somebody poisoned her or whether the mercury that killed her was taken as some kind of medicine. Meanwhile, the queen, Marie d'Anjou, gave King Charles 13 heirs over the course of their marriage.
The story of Agnès Sorel is inextricably bound to the history of the town of Loches, where Charles VII had his residence. Sorel's tomb now has a place of honor in the church up in the medieval city at Loches. It was moved there just a few years ago from the nearby Logis Royal after DNA testing of the remains inside the tomb proved that they really were those of Sorel.
P.S. Yesterday, with our visiting friends we went to the market in Selles-sur-Cher, which is one of the biggest and liveliest in the area around Saint-Aignan. We bought fruit and sausages for the evening meal. I didn't, however, take any pictures. I was too busy shopping. In the afternoon, Walt and everybody except me went to spend the afternoon at the zoo in Saint-Aignan, which is nationally prominent in France and the town's biggest attraction. They said they had a great time...