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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: 356,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Inside Flap

The Affair of the Poisons, as it became known, was an extraordinary episode that took place in France during the reign of Louis XIV. When poisoning and black magic became widespread arrests followed. Suspects included those amongst the highest ranks of society. Suspects were tortured and numerous executions resulted. Anne Somerset, whose last book, Unnatural Murder was also a story of true crime, albeit some sixty years earlier, shows that the Affair of the Poisons actually began with a murder when the Marquise de Brinvilliers was executed after being convicted of poisoning three members of her family. In the French court of the period, where sexual affairs were numerous, ladies were not shy of seeking help from the murkier elements of the Parisian underworld and fortune-tellers supplemented their dubious trade by selling poison. It was not long before the authorities were led to believe that Louis XIV himself was at risk. With the chief of Paris police alerted, every hint of danger was investigated. Rumours abounded and it was not long before the King ordered the setting up of a special commission to investigate the poisons and bring offenders to justice. No one, the King decreed, no matter how grand, would be spared having to account for their conduct. The royal court was soon thrown into disarray. The Mistress of the Robes and a distinguished general were among the early suspects. But they paled into insignificance when the King's mistress was incriminated. If, as was said, she had engaged in vile Satanic rituals and had sought to poison a rival for the King's affections, what was Louis XIV to do? Anne Somerset has gone back to original sources, letters and earlier accounts of the affair. By the end of her account she reaches firm conclusions on various crucial matters. The Affair of the Poisons is an enthralling account of a sometimes bizarre period in French history. ILLUSTRATED 20.00 In UK only [author photo] Anne Somerset was born in 1955 and read History at King's College London. Her first book, published in 1980, was The Life and Times of William IV. This was followed by Ladies-in-Waiting: From the Tudors to the Present Day and an acclaimed biography, Elizabeth I. Her most recent work was the bestselling Unnatural Murder, an account of the sensational Overbury murder which was shortlisted fro the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger award for non-fiction. Anne Somerset is married and lives in London with her husband and daughter. Jacket credits: Weidenfeld & Nicolson The Orion Publishing Group Orion House 5 Upper Saint Martin's Lane London, WC2H 9EA --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

ELIZABETH I 'The most balanced and impartial of all Elizabeth's biographers. An excellent book' Sunday Times 'The fullest and best biography of the queen since Sir John Neale' TLS 'The writing is a delight' Daily Telegraph UNNATURAL MURDER 'A gripping detective story. It tells us more about the corruption, debauchery and naked power-plays of seventeenth-century life than anything I have read' Christopher Hudson, Daily Mail 'One of the best historical whodunits' Roy Strong, Sunday Times LADIES IN WAITING 'Anne Somerset's gossipy Ladies in Waiting provides a wealth of juicy anecdotal material about five centuries of court life from Henry VIII to Elizabeth II' New York Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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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14 of 14 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Baerends on 4 Feb. 2013
Verified Purchase
'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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