24 June 2011

Agnès Sorel, the king's ‘favorite’

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.

The recumbent statue of Agnès Sorel on her tomb
in the church at Loches


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.

In her day, Agnès Sorel was considered to be the
most beautiful woman in France.

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.

Agnès Sorel, the first royal mistress of France

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.

Agnès Sorel's tomb in the old church at Loches

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...

6 comments:

  1. I still say Kate Hudson looks like Agnes. :)
    Thanks for taking us to so many great places and for all your hospitality.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We had a good meal (with you and Walt) at Restaurant Agnes Sorel in Genille. I just read that it has been under new management for a little over a year now. At least one diner likes it very much.

    http://jimsloire.blogspot.com/2011/04/restaurant-agnes-sorelgenille.html

    ReplyDelete
  3. @ ginny

    That's what I told my husband also when we "saw" her in the church.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, this is really interesting, and those were beautiful shots, Ken!

    Judy

    ReplyDelete
  5. John, yes, I read Jim Budd's blog regularly and I saw his review of the Agnès Sorel. We'll keep it in mind for you next visit.

    Ginny, it has been fun, hasn't it? Sorry you have to move on today.

    Hi Beav, hi Judy, :^)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ken and Walt in Role Reversal Shock!!

    ReplyDelete

What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?