First episode: Agnes Sourel (Dame du beauté) and Gabriela d’Estrées
Or the ‘Latests Courtesans’ as it is the name in English. That’s the last book I read and it was a great lecture that combined history with rumors and boudoir ‘facts’ known at the time. This book written by Isabel Rábago gives a wonderful image of the society when kings and nobles were at the top of kingdoms (not that today is different, but anyway). The book is structured on 5 chapters: the French courtesans, the Italian courtesans, the Spanish courtesans, the courtesans of Bourbons (Spanish kings), and finally, the courtesans of XX-th century. The stories of these extraordinary beautiful women is fascinating and paint an authentic view of the 15th-20th centuries society. The book starts with the description of an early French courtesan named Agnes Sourel, mistress of king Charles VII. Her beauty covered the eyes of the French king and made him her slave (which is a characteristic found in all the stories of French courtesans, by the way), made the poor people of France to pay for her luxurious life, imposed ministers and she even influenced the military actions of France (somehow like Jeanne d’Arc, but not at the same scale). Dame du beauté, as it was her nickname, gave birth to four children from her relation with the king, but she was never loved by the people of France, and she died for being poisoned. Her grave is in the court of the Cathedral of Lonchés.
The second courtesan was Gabriela d’Estrées, mistress of king Henry IV of France, the only courtesan that almost became the Queen of France. I said “almost” because even if the king gave her the coronation ring, she died before reaching at the status of a legitimate Queen. She was involved in the imposing Edict of Nantes (granted the Calvinist Protestants of France – also known as Huguenots – substantial rights in a nation still considered essentially Catholic). After this, the king, demanded to pope Clement VIII to revoke his marriage in order to get re-married with Gabriela, his brave mistress. In March of 1599 Henri gave his mistress his coronation ring, but in April, same year, she gave birth to a stillborn child and the second day she died too. The king was devastated and demanded for national funerals, worthily for a real Queen.
As I don’t intend to get you, my readers, bored, the next very interesting stories in a future post. Follow great names of the French, Italian, Spanish and English courtesans!
I know this is not what you’re used to see/read on my blog, but these stories are amazing! If you click on continue reading link, you’ll see some pictures with me and the book, wearing fabulous polka dots T.U.K. shoes. Enjoy!