French royal mistress exhumed in huntfor murder mystery clue

29th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

LOCHES, France, Sept 29 (AFP) - More than five centuries after her death, the remains of France's first officially recognised royal mistress Agnes Sorel have been exhumed and tests are to be carried out on a bone fragment to determine if she was poisoned.

LOCHES, France, Sept 29 (AFP) - More than five centuries after her death, the remains of France's first officially recognised royal mistress Agnes Sorel have been exhumed and tests are to be carried out on a bone fragment to determine if she was poisoned.  

A famous beauty who bore three children by King Charles VII, Sorel died of a "flux of the stomach" in Normandy in 1450, but rumours abounded that she had been murdered - possibly by Charles' son the future Louis XI.  

On Tuesday her marble tomb in the mediaeval royal lodge at Loches in central France was opened prior to its removal to a nearby building, and archaeologists removed a piece of facial bone from the funerary urn inside.  

The sample has been sent to a laboratory in the city of Lille which will establish if there are traces of poison. Scientists will also draw up Sorel's DNA code and experts from the police criminal research unit are to reconstruct a 3-dimensional image of her face.  

Charles VII - the king who was earlier galvanised into action against the English by Joan of Arc - was smitten by Sorel when she entered his court in 1444, and he showered her with favours. He legitimised their three daughters, whose descendants were later to be found in many European royal families.  

She in turn was credited with carrying on Joan of Arc's work and stirring the king to further reconquests of crown territory.  

Sorel was renowned for her daring fashion sense - the most famous portrait shows her with left breast bared - but church leaders condemned her morals and Louis resented the way she replaced his mother Marie d'Anjou in the affections of the king.  

Pregnant with a fourth child, she left Loches to be with Charles VII on campaign against the English but she died at Jumieges near Rouen. Rumours of poisoning centred not just on Louis XI, but also on Jacques Coeur, the king's financier.  

Sorel's tomb is being removed because of lack of space in the royal lodge to the collegiate church of Saint-Ours in Loches, which is where it was originally placed.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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