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The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV Paperback – 2 Aug 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New edition edition (2 Aug. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753817845
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753817841
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 4.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 133,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

An historical page-turner - a fantastic mixture of intrigue, crime and passion.

About the Author

Anne Somerset is the author of such best-sellers as Elizabeth I and Unnatural Murder. She read history at King's College, London, and for two years worked as a research assistant for historians such as Hugh Thomas, Antonia Fraser and Nigel Fisher. She is married with one daughter and lives in London.

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First Sentence
At seven o'clock in the evening of 17 July 1676 a small woman in her mid-forties was led out of the Conciergerie prison in Paris. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S. Hapgood VINE VOICE on 22 Oct. 2004
King Louis XIV's court was the most glamorous and powerful in Europe at the time, so it's easy to imagine the shock-waves that were generated when several of its core members were accused of poisoning, child sacrifice and devil-worship (David Icke would have been in his element!). At the core of the story are La Voisin, a thoroughly unscrupulous woman who plied her trade as a fake fortune-teller and backstreet abortionist, and her one-time lover, Lesage, who was a sort of predecessor of Aleister Crowley, in that he convinced many people he was a genuine magician, and in spite of his less-than-handsome appearance, had enough charisma to seduce plenty of ladies.
When this unwholeseome twosome were brought into police custody on suspicion of supplying poisons to members of the Parisian elite, they hit upon the idea of delaying their inevitable torture and execution by supplying the police with ever-increasing tales of murder and attempted murder amongst the very highest echelons of society. A sort of grotesque version of the "Arabian Nights". Eventually they implicated Madame de Montespan, a long-time mistress of the King, who had borne him no less than 7 children during her "career", but who was now past her prime, out of favour, and desperate to get back in it. She was accused of taking part in Satanic rituals in order to restore her standing at court.
All this was aided by the chief of police, who was rather too diligent in his rooting out of scandal. Eventually the situation became quite farcical, with the entire population of Paris seemingly conniving to poison each other! (I couldn't help being reminded of the Satanic Abuse scandals at the beginning of the 1990s).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Baerends on 4 Feb. 2013
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'The affair of the poisons' plunges the reader into the dark world of Paris in the late 17th century, inhabited by a bizarre cast of 'divineresses' and other cheats who sold their clientele not just predictions but also a variety of potions & powders and curses to be used against one's enemies. Most of this seems silly to the modern reader rather than dangerous. At the time however these practises were taken highly seriously; burying a pigeon's heart in the garden of an enemy was considered a serious crime, fully sufficient for a death penalty.
Worried by reports that shady practices had also penetrated Versailles, Louis XIV instituted a legal commission to act against the alleged poisoners. The zeal of the bureaucrats leading this commission together with contemporary legal practises (extensive use of torture) led to an explosion of arrests and convictions in a manner than reminds one of 'purges' in communist systems centuries later. Thankfully, as his former mistress Mme de Montespan ended up being implicated, Louis chose to shut down the commission to avoid embarrassment.
All in all this is a very entertaining and fascinating read, albeit sometimes a little repetitive.
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By jim on 25 Aug. 2014
great buy
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