Poison at Versailles
July 6, 2007 4:31 AM   Subscribe

Louis XIV and The Poison Affair. Help me find out more about the scandal of Versailles.

Completely by accident, I find myself completely fascinated by the life of the court of Versailles in the time of Louis XIV - the Sun King. In particular, I'd love to know more about The Poison Affair and the main characters in the plot: Madame de Montespan, Marie de Brinvilliers and the famous poisoner La Voisin.

Can anyone suggest reading material that I should get my hands on?

There's a fair amount of basic stuff around the internet but I'd like to get as much of an in-depth look as possible - either on the people mentioned above or more generally about the Court of Versailles and day-to-day life in general at this time. Most of the stuff I've read so far tends to focus on Louis, but I'm far more interested in the jealous hot-house of gossip and politics that surrounded him.

Fiction suggestions are also welcome!
posted by ninazer0 to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Being a fan of Alexander Dumas's amazing ability to craft a fictional narrative from historical events, I googled that first.

"The Marquise de Brinvilliers" - Link to the entire (but illegible text). Probably not up to par with his greater known works, but hey.
Also, according to wikipedia, Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about it in "The Leather Funnel." [Link to text].
posted by yeti at 7:28 AM on July 6, 2007

For fiction, you could try Neal Stephenson's hefty Baroque Cycle trilogy. A large part of the second book (The Confusion) is set in Versailles. The poisonings are referred to, but not dealt with directly.

I have no idea how accurate it all is, but it feels like he's done a lot of research.
posted by roomaroo at 7:47 AM on July 6, 2007

"The Mirror Maker" by Claire Colvin is a fictional novel set around the court of Lous XIV. The Poison Affair is a subplot.
posted by salmacis at 8:28 AM on July 6, 2007

Best answer: There are two nonfiction books that you'll see in the used book stores, online and off.

Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide, and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV by Anne Somerset (2004)

The Affairs of the Poisons - Louis XIV, Madame De Montespan and One of History's Great Unsolved Mysteries by Frances Mossiker (1969)

For primary sources, you can also find in used book stores English versions of memoires of the Duc de Saint-Simon and the letters of Madame de Sévigné -- but they are pretty long-winded by modern standards.
posted by troyer at 10:21 AM on July 6, 2007

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