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Las masas negras de La Voisin: cómo una adivina se convirtió en asesina en la corte real francesa

Las masas negras de La Voisin: cómo una adivina se convirtió en asesina en la corte real francesa


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Catherine Monvoisin era una mujer con una historia oscura. Su vida influyó en el mundo del ocultismo y en la corte de Luis XIV, un famoso rey cuyo palacio dorado le trajo fama inmortal e innumerables amantes. Sus dones espirituales la convirtieron en una mujer rica y poderosa, pero cuando la vida de la dama conocida como La Voisin se combinó con la intriga y el escándalo en la Corte Real francesa, no había forma de que hubiera tenido un final feliz.

¿Una mujer como ninguna otra?

Catherine Deshayes nació alrededor de 1640. Cuando era joven se casó con Antoine Monvoisin. Monvoisin tenía una joyería en París, pero la vida no le traía buena suerte en los negocios. Quebró y su esposa decidió manejar el presupuesto familiar por su cuenta. Debe haber sido una mujer bien educada ya que tenía algunos conocimientos médicos. Catherine era partera y también proporcionaba abortos a las mujeres.

Aparte de esto, Catalina se hizo conocida en la ciudad como una talentosa clarividente y adivina. Finalmente, estos dones la llevaron a convertirse en una de las personas más místicas y fascinantes de la segunda mitad del París del siglo XVII.

Grabado del siglo XVII del retrato de Catherine Deshayes sostenido por un diablo alado.

Las habilidades espirituales de Catherine se volvieron cada vez más admiradas, especialmente cuando afirmó que sus poderes eran un regalo de Dios. Ella le dijo a la gente que adquirió su don cuando tenía nueve años. Catherine también estudió muchas otras disciplinas y adquirió algunos conocimientos sobre fisiología. Sin embargo, basó su trabajo médico en la información que obtuvo al leer rostros y manos y pronosticar el futuro.

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Cuando Catherine logró suficiente éxito monetario, creó una atmósfera mística especial en su lugar de trabajo. Se sabe que gastó 1.500 libras para comprar una túnica de terciopelo rojo carmesí bordada con imágenes de águilas en hilo dorado. Gastó bastante dinero en su imagen, pero la inversión también funcionó al aumentar su número de clientes.

En 1665, un sacerdote de la orden de San Vicente de Paúl y la Congregación de la Misión cuestionaron sus habilidades. Sin embargo, Catherine (ahora conocida como “La Voisin”) era inteligente y se paró frente a los profesores de la Universidad de la Sorbona y les explicó cómo funcionaban sus dones. Fue puesta en libertad por sus habilidades en la retórica y su impresionante actuación frente a sus críticos. Con el tiempo, mejoró sus rituales y agregó una "masa negra" a su conjunto de habilidades, en la que fue utilizada como un altar viviente para los espíritus que estaban siendo adorados.

Catherine Monvoisin y el sacerdote Étienne Guibourg realizan una "Misa Negra" para la amante del rey Luis XIV de Francia, Madame de Montespan (acostada sobre el altar). (1895) Por Henry de Malvost.

El poder de la bruja

La Voisin pronto se convirtió en una figura muy popular en la corte del rey. Muchas personas importantes le pidieron ayuda, consejos y procedimientos médicos secretos. Algunos de sus clientes fueron: François Henri de Montmorency-Bouteville, (el duque de Luxemburgo), Françoise-Athénaďs de Rochechouart Montespan, (la marquesa de Montespan y amante del rey), Olympe Mancini (la condesa de Soissons), su hermana Marie Anne Mancini (la duquesa de Bouillon) y la condesa de Gramont (conocida como "La Belle Hamilton").

Catherine Monvoisin fue lo suficientemente inteligente como para sobrevivir a la mayoría de las opresiones y críticas. Pero cuando se convirtió en parte de un romance que fue uno de los mayores escándalos en la vida de Luis XIV, su vida también se puso en peligro.

Retrato de Madame de Montespan. (1640-1707)

Comenzó cuando La Voisin fue contratada por Madame de Montespan para realizar misas negras. En 1667 las ceremonias tuvieron lugar en una casa de la Rue de la Tanniere. Se desconoce si el rey asistió a estos rituales, aunque los rumores sugerían que su poder provenía del diablo. Un testigo de las masas negras sugirió que Montespan estaba tratando de encontrar una manera de asegurar el amor de Luis XIV. Durante una de las reuniones Montespan recibió una poción especial y afrodisíaca, que posteriormente utilizó para drogar al rey.

Una estrecha relación con Montespan le causó más problemas a La Voisin. El frustrado amante del rey se obsesionó tanto con él que hubiera preferido verlo muerto que con otra mujer. Cuando el rey se enamoró de Angelique de Fontanges en 1679, Montespan le pidió a La Voisin que matara a los amantes. Catherine no estuvo de acuerdo al principio, pero parece que con el tiempo aceptó la propuesta de Montespan enojado. La Voisin creó un veneno y un plan. Sin embargo, las cosas no salieron como esperaba.

Retratos de Luis XIV de 1701 por Hyacinthe Rigaud y Marie Angélique de Scorailles, duquesa de Fontanges (fecha desconocida).

Desafortunadamente para ella, la cuñada de Louis (la duquesa de Orleans) fue envenenada. Además, muchos otros enemigos y rivales de los clientes de Catherine también murieron con el veneno. La Voisin fue acusada de los crímenes, pero durante las horas de tortura nunca admitió los nombres de sus clientes ni les dijo a sus perseguidores quiénes eran las personas que asistían a sus misas negras. Se cree que estuvo involucrada en la muerte de entre 1000 y 2500 personas.

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Al mismo tiempo, Montespan seguía siendo una de las personas de mayor confianza en la corte del rey. No la relacionó en absoluto con las muertes. Incluso hay pruebas de que fue una de las asesoras del rey durante el juicio. Montespan casi fue liberada de su participación en el crimen, pero en julio de 1680 la hija de Catherine, Marguerite, demostró que Montespan era uno de los clientes de su madre. El rey no creyó de inmediato la historia de Marguerite. Como escribió Louis en su carta a La Reynie en Lille, el 2 de agosto de 1680:

“'Habiendo visto las declaraciones de Marguerite Monvoisin, prisionera en mi castillo de Vincennes, hechas el día 12 del mes pasado, y el examen al que la sometiste el día 26 del mismo mes, te escribo esta carta para informarte que mi intención es que dedique todo el cuidado posible a dilucidar los hechos contenidos en dichas declaraciones y exámenes; que recuerde haber anotado en memoriales por separado las respuestas, los enfrentamientos y todo lo relativo al informe que en lo sucesivo pueda hacerse sobre dichas declaraciones y exámenes (a los jueces), y que mientras tanto difiera informar a mi Real Cámara, sentado en el Arsenal, las deposiciones de Romani y Bertrand hasta que reciba órdenes mías. Louis ".

Castillo de Vincennes, en la esquina sureste del foso (Pierre Camateros / CC BY SA 2.5 )

La muerte de una asesina

Catalina fue quemada en la hoguera en la Place de Greve en el corazón de París el 22 de febrero de 1680. No se sabe qué le sucedió a su hija Marguerite. ¿La salvó el rey o uno de sus favoritos? ¿O fue condenada a muerte por asesinato en las oscuras calles de París?

Se desconoce la respuesta a esta pregunta. Sin embargo, las leyendas sobre su infame madre continuaron mucho después de la muerte de La Voisin. En cuanto a Montespan, murió en mayo de 1707 cuando tenía 65 años y nunca fue acusada del crimen que cometió con La Voisin.

"La ejecución de Catherine Deshayes". ( La historia desconocida de la misandria )


Asunto de los venenos

los Asunto de los venenos (l'affaire des poisons) fue un gran escándalo de asesinato en Francia durante el reinado del rey Luis XIV. Entre 1677 y 1682, varios miembros prominentes de la aristocracia fueron implicados y condenados por cargos de envenenamiento y brujería. El escándalo llegó al círculo íntimo del rey. Condujo a la ejecución de 36 personas. [1]


Misas negras, ¿alguien?

La Voisin inventó o empleó polvos mágicos de amor hechos de verbena, mosca española (cantáridas) o sangre menstrual y pronto organizó misas negras para sus clientes adinerados que obviamente querían el anonimato. Se ha rumoreado que en la misa participó la propia señora real la señora de Montespan. De ser cierto, habría estado acostada sobre una mesa con un cuenco en el que se vertía gota a gota la sangre de un bebé. La Voisin incluso se benefició de la ayuda de un sacerdote y un abad.

Suponga que quisiera deshacerse de alguien, ya sea un esposo, un pariente, un enemigo o un competidor o un amante comprometido, La Voisin podría resolver su problema.


La satánica misa negra: profundizando en su historia secreta

Creo que esta es la transcripción del documental creado por The Paranormal Scholar. Tenía el video incrustado en este sitio desde 2017, pero desde entonces se ha configurado como privado. Envié un correo electrónico a & # 8220Laura & # 8221 para ver si se ha subido a otro lugar, pero todavía no he recibido respuesta de ella.

De todos modos, no es un mal documental corto, habla de Anton Lavey (Howard Stanton Levey), una persona a la que mucha gente no se tomaba en serio. El material que menciona sobre los borboritas y la Francia de los siglos XVII y XVIII es bueno & # 8230

La Iglesia Católica considera la Misa como su sacramento más importante, sin embargo, desde los inicios del cristianismo ha habido quienes se han desviado de la ortodoxia, saboreando la oscuridad y los placeres sobrenaturales.

La divergencia de los grupos herejes del ritual tradicional culminó con el nacimiento de la Misa Negra, una parodia de la Misa católica que se dice que se basa en el culto al Diablo.

Los orígenes de la Misa Negra son oscuros. Uno de los primeros grupos conocidos en practicar una versión deformada de la Misa fueron los borboritas. Sus rituales eran muy sexuales. Los chismes sobre sus prácticas depravadas circularon salvajemente en Oriente en ese momento. El testimonio de un autor contemporáneo incluso sugiere que extraerían fetos de mujeres que habían sido embarazadas durante rituales anteriores y consumirían al feto como una variante espantosa de la Eucaristía.

Si bien es posible que los borboritas no se hayan ofrecido abiertamente a Satanás, sus prácticas ayudarían a formar el legado de la Misa Negra. En 1608, un autor italiano, Francesco Guazzo, produjo un manual de cazadores de brujas llamado Compendium Maleficarum. Considerado en ese momento como el manuscrito autorizado sobre brujería, describe a las brujas como los agentes de Lucifer, que invirtieron la Misa cristiana y robaron hostias consagradas de la Iglesia para profanarlas. Esa ceremonia se conocía como el sábado de las brujas y se creía que se practicaba durante muchos siglos con fines diabólicos. Se culpó a las brujas de terribles hambrunas, plagas y guerras incesantes. Una de las creencias más monstruosas sobre el sábado de las brujas era que la carne humana, preferiblemente de niños no bautizados, se consumía en nombre del Diablo. Es en la historia de Francia del siglo XVII donde se pueden encontrar algunos de los primeros relatos sólidos de rituales satánicos organizados.

Se sabía que La Voisin, una adivina, envenenadora y profesa hechicera francesa, había matado entre 1000 y 2500 personas en misas negras. La Voisin entretuvo a invitados poderosos. Las estrellas más ricas y brillantes de la corte francesa visitaban a la notoria adivina para pedirle que susurrara al oído del diablo en su nombre. Un ejemplo fue Madame de Montespan, quien empleó a la Voisin para realizar múltiples Misas Negras con el fin de asegurarse el amor del Rey de Francia. En un año, Montespan se convirtió en la amante real oficial de Luis XIV. La Misa Negra de La Voisin hizo uso de un alter humano femenino desnudo, en burla del carácter sagrado del altar cristiano. La mujer yacía desnuda con un cáliz sobre su estómago desnudo, mientras sostenía dos velas negras en cada uno de sus brazos extendidos. Tal aspecto se convertiría en una característica permanente de las futuras misas satánicas. El poder de la sangre también fue una característica importante de la Misa Negra. La Voisin haría secuestrar a muchos niños para ser sacrificados. Se descubrió que un asistente de la Voisin había enterrado los cadáveres de 2.500 bebés. Una confesión en el juicio posterior de la Voisin proporciona este relato escalofriante de las Misas negras realizadas para Madame de Montespan alrededor de 1672:

Aunque la Voisin encontró un destino espantoso en la pira de ejecución en llamas en 1680, su oscuro legado continuaría. En el siglo XVIII y en la época del infame Marqués de Sade, el conocimiento de la Misa cristiana invertida y los rituales sexualizados eran algo común en Francia. Los escritos de Sade popularizaron las nociones de la perversión de los sacramentos católicos. Una escena entre su heroína, Juliette, y el Papa en su libro de 1797 Juliette, descendió a algo parecido a una Misa Negra, con la figura femenina desnuda siendo parodiada una vez más contra la santidad del altar cristiano. Otros autores seguirían su ejemplo, incluido el autor francés de La-Bas, que se traduce como The Damned, en 1891.

Se afirmó que la descripción de la Misa Negra contenida en la novela se basó en eventos satánicos reales en París durante esos años. La reunión clandestina de la novela tiene lugar en un convento abandonado y asisten satanistas que son miembros respetables de la comunidad, incluido un profesor de la Facultad de Medicina.

A medida que se acercaba la era moderna, los satanistas parecían salir de las oscuras sombras de la historia y ofrecerse a la atención pública. Este fue el caso en 1966 con el establecimiento de la Iglesia de Satanás, una organización miembro internacional fundada por Anton LaVey. Uno simplemente debe consultar su sitio web para convertirse en miembro y tener acceso a recursos satánicos que incluyen audio, video y ensayos. Fue con el establecimiento de la Iglesia de Satanás que apareció el primer conjunto de instrucciones escritas sobre cómo realizar una Misa Negra. Una vez más de naturaleza sexual, la Misa Negra de la Iglesia de Satanás abogó, en forma de transcripción, la profanación de una hostia hecha para simbolizar la Eucaristía y la burla de la Iglesia Católica. Sin embargo, se puede cuestionar su validez.

Apareciendo primero en 1972 de LaVey & # 8216 Satanic Rituals & # 8217, se da poca mención a los orígenes del texto francés histórico, La Messe Noire, en el que supuestamente se basa la Misa Negra. El texto original en sí nunca ha aparecido, y el ritual solo se menciona en otro libro igualmente dudoso. Después de toda una historia de oscuridad, parece poco probable que los satanistas lo revelen todo ahora.

En la actualidad, ha habido una variedad de acusaciones contra los ricos y famosos por su presunta participación en prácticas satánicas. Algunos de los testimonios más horribles han sido contra el famoso pedófilo británico y presentador de televisión infantil Jimmy Savile. Aquellos agredidos cuando eran niños mientras estaban en el hospital han dicho que fueron obligados a participar en una ceremonia similar a la Misa Negra. Se describió a Savile y otros como vistiendo túnicas con capucha y máscaras, cantando el Hail Satanus en latín mientras abusaban sexualmente de sus víctimas a la luz de las velas. Sótano del hospital. Cinco años después del ataque al hospital, se sabe que abusó de otra víctima durante otro oscuro ritual celebrado en una casa de Londres, en el que Savile actuó como maestro de ceremonias. La mujer tenía veintiún años en ese momento y, como tal, pudo proporcionar más detalles en su testimonio, dejando pocas dudas de que se trataba de una misa negra satánica. Hubo más informes de la asistencia de Savile a reuniones clandestinas de temática satánica. involucrando a celebridades y dignatarios locales. Muchos se han sorprendido por la capacidad de Savile de mantener en secreto el abuso sexual infantil durante casi cincuenta años, mientras se mezcla con la realeza y otros en la cima de la sociedad. De hecho, muchos de los que fueron lo suficientemente valientes como para informar al público sobre el escándalo de Savile ahora han perdido sus trabajos. Tal encubrimiento plantea la pregunta de por qué esas personas lo protegerían a menos que ellos también estuvieran afiliados a sus prácticas satánicas.

Se pueden encontrar historias similares en todo el mundo. En los Estados Unidos, el denunciante del FBI Ted Gunderson informó que hay al menos 3 millones de satanistas practicantes en todo Estados Unidos. Gunderson creía que existen redes secretas de grupos poderosos que secuestran a niños y los someten a abusos rituales satánicos y subsiguientes sacrificios humanos en misas negras. En el momento de su retiro en 1979, Gunderson era el jefe del FBI de Los Ángeles, lo que lo convirtió en una fuente de gran reputación. Las acusaciones en la actualidad están envueltas en conspiración y secreto. Si tales acusaciones son ciertas, continuarían con un patrón centenario de movimientos satánicos encubiertos que operan en las sombras de la sociedad.

Sin embargo, un lugar que practica abiertamente su propia versión de la Misa Negra en la actualidad es la ciudad mexicana de Catemaco. Desde la década de 1970, el primer viernes de cada marzo, la ciudad a orillas del lago se convierte en destino de miles de peregrinos. Los actos realizados en la reunión anual son una mezcla incómoda de rito católico y creencias y rituales prehispánicos. Cuando fue entrevistado en 2015, el chamán jefe Enrique Verdon explicó la naturaleza sincrética del ritual diciendo que la “magia negra proviene de la cultura olmeca nativa americana” y que él y otros “son expertos en invocar al diablo y su poder oscuro”. Testigos oculares del evento han descrito escenas brutales de sacrificio masivo de animales, lo que llevó a un turista a afirmar que "el siguiente paso sería el sacrificio humano [...] y, francamente, creo que estas personas lo han hecho". Después de los sacrificios, los chamanes se paran ante cruces invertidas y un gran pentagrama ardiente, antes de intentar convocar al diablo a través de sus cánticos. Lo que sigue es el juramento de que sus almas ahora pertenecían a Satanás. En el punto álgido del ritual, el comité de chamanes grita "¡Salve, Lucifer!" mientras que la sangre de las ofrendas de sacrificio se vierte sobre una estatua del Diablo.

Al escribir en 1924, Aleister Crowley, renombrado erudito y mago, afirmó que “la sangre es la vida”. Esta noción ha prevalecido en la Misa Negra durante siglos, desde el cristianismo primitivo hasta la actualidad. Al hacer un sacrificio de sangre, los satanistas creen que hay una liberación de energía. Este poder no solo unirá a los participantes del ritual con el Diablo, sino que les permitirá alinearse con el poder de Satanás, que luego puede ser utilizado para hacer realidad sus intenciones.

En última instancia, el objetivo de la Misa Negra es demostrar que los agentes de Satanás harán lo que quieran en la Tierra sin conciencia moral.


El final del juicio

La Voisin fue condenado a muerte por brujería y envenenamiento y quemado en la hoguera el 22 de febrero de 1680. El mariscal Montmorency-Bouteville fue encarcelado brevemente en 1680, pero luego fue liberado y se convirtió en capitán de la guardia. El ministro Jean-Baptiste Colbert ayudó a callar las cosas.

De La Reynie restableció el tribunal especial, el Chambre Ardente (& # 8220 tribunal ardiente & # 8221) para juzgar casos de envenenamiento y brujería. Investigó varios casos, incluidos muchos relacionados con nobles y cortesanos en la corte del rey. A lo largo de los años, el tribunal condenó a muerte a 34 personas por envenenamiento o brujería. Dos murieron bajo tortura y varios cortesanos fueron exiliados. La corte fue abolida en 1682, porque el rey no podía arriesgarse a la publicidad de tal escándalo. A esto, dijo el jefe de policía Reynie, & # 8220 la enormidad de sus crímenes demostró su salvaguardia & # 8221.


Aqua Tofana, también vendido bajo la etiqueta "Maná de San Nicolás de Bari". Los historiadores sospechan que se cree que el brebaje destinado a funcionar lentamente con el tiempo, con múltiples ingestiones, contenía arsénico, plomo y belladona.

Una de las prisioneras más prolíficas de la historia fue Giulia Tofana. Nació en Palermo, Italia, en 1620. Giulia tenía solo 13 años cuando su madre, Thofania d’Adamo, fue ejecutada por asesinar a su marido. Algunos estudiosos creen que esta experiencia temprana pudo haber sido el catalizador que la impulsó a su vida delictiva.

Guilia encontró trabajo vendiendo cosméticos. Esta ocupación la puso en contacto con boticarios y clientas. Las mujeres le contaron sus matrimonios sin amor y sus maridos abusivos. El divorcio no era una posibilidad en ese momento, por lo que la única forma de salir de un matrimonio era la muerte.

Ya sea que obtuvo la receta de su famosa Aqua Tofana de su madre o la inventó ella misma, Guilia pronto se hizo bastante rica vendiéndola a clientes que buscaban lo que eufemísticamente se conoce como "un divorcio italiano". La receta ya no se conoce, pero los informes indicaron que era inodoro, incoloro, insípido y eficaz con tan solo tres pequeñas dosis. La dificultad para detectarlo hizo posible que sus clientes mataran sin ser atrapados.

“No había una dama en Nápoles que no tuviese algo de eso tirado abiertamente en su tocador entre sus perfumes. Ella es la única que conoce el frasco y puede distinguirlo ". - de las letras de Ferdinando Galiani, 1805

El final llegó para Tofana cuando un cliente expuso su operación a las autoridades. Bajo tortura, confesó haber envenenado a 600 hombres solo en Roma entre 1633 y 1651. Los oficiales papales la ejecutaron en el Campo de ’Fiori, junto con su hija Girolama Spera y tres ayudantes, en julio de 1659.


Las masas negras de La Voisin: cómo una adivina se convirtió en asesina en la corte real francesa - Historia

Entre 1759 y 1760, todos los perros en las calles de Londres fueron destruidos con una recompensa de dos chelines cada uno por temor a la rabia. El primer brote de rabia a gran escala ocurrió en Franconia en 1271 cuando lobos rabiosos invadieron la ciudad y mataron a 30 personas con la infección. En 1804, un solo lobo rabioso descendió de las montañas de Crema, Italia, y transmitió la enfermedad a 13 personas, que murieron todas de hidrofobia. Un brote peruano del virus ocurrió en 1803 y mató a 42 personas en 90 días. Angola fue devastada por la rabia en 2009 y mató a 83 niños.


Mi hermana fue mordida por un perro cuando era pequeña. Estaba sentada en el porche poniéndose patines cuando un chucho se acercó y la mordió en la pierna. No pudieron encontrar al perro por un tiempo y ella tuvo que empezar a recibir esas vacunas contra la rabia. Me describió las inyecciones, cómo usaron una aguja larga y se la metieron en el estómago. Ella solo terminó recibiendo la mitad de los disparos porque finalmente encontraron al perro, lo mataron y le cortaron la cabeza y determinaron que no estaba rabioso. Eso fue suficiente para infundirme miedo a la rabia. Empecé a llevar piedras conmigo cada vez que tenía que caminar por el vecindario.
Una vez estaba caminando con mi hermano por una acera y un tipo abrió su puerta y dos pitbulls vinieron corriendo hacia nosotros. Clavé al perro guía en la parte superior del noggin con una piedra y soltó un grito y corrió de regreso a su casa. El otro perro, al ver el dolor en su futuro, también se retiró. El dueño empezó a insultarme pero no me importaba un comino, al menos no me mordieron. En la parte de atrás vi a los dos perros asomándonos por la ventana.


¡Histastrofe!

Que hermoso palacio tienes, sería una pena si hubiera brujas

En este momento, la mayoría de nosotros estamos atrapados en el interior esperando que el mundo se calme. O tal vez estamos corriendo frenéticamente comprando todo el papel higiénico por alguna razón. De cualquier manera, es probable que todos estemos sintiendo un poco de pánico en este momento sobre si nosotros (o alguien a quien amamos) contagiaremos la peste viral. O tal vez incluso estamos preocupados por la idea de no poder limpiarnos el trasero correctamente. El mundo ha experimentado muchos episodios de histeria masiva en sus numerosos ciclos alrededor del sol. Elegir solo uno sobre el que escribir mientras estoy sentado en casa esperando jugar a Animal Crossing y tratando de no pensar en si Idris Elba está bien no es poca cosa. Me imagino, ¿por qué no elegir uno que tenga menos probabilidades de repetirse como un evento epidémico a escala mundial en la actualidad? A menos que piense que estamos en riesgo de conspiraciones de regicidio, masas negras de culto, ligas de brujas intrigantes y un montón de veneno, entonces tal vez cierre su navegador y encuentre algo más para distraerse debido a la notoriedad de la famosa bruja francesa La Voisin. podría provocarle aún más pánico.

Es el año 1675 y Francia está experimentando actualmente una especie de Edad de Oro bajo el reinado del rey Luis XIV, también conocido como & # 8216The Sun King & # 8217. Desde que se convirtió en el monarca de Francia a la extremadamente preocupante edad de 4 años, Luis supervisó la construcción del Palacio de Versalles, estableció un gobierno absoluto para él y la monarquía, y aseguró el lugar de Francia en el escenario mundial como una superpotencia global. Demostrando el contraargumento a la afirmación de cualquier idiota que solo sabe sobre las guerras mundiales y cree que Francia siempre pierde & # 8211 bajo el rey Luis XIV, Francia realmente fue (y sigue siendo) increíble. Pero Luis XIV había sido rey durante mucho tiempo en este punto, y absorber el tipo de estilo de vida lujoso y auto-idolatría al que estaba acostumbrado durante todo su reinado convirtió a Luis en una especie de bolsa de basura mujeriego. Todos conocemos el tipo.

¿Puedes negar la gloria de un rey que usa tacones?

Entonces, mientras que el rey Luis XIV probablemente estaba jugando con las cortesanas y encerrado en su Palacio de Versalles, unos años antes una mujer llamada Madame de Brinvilliers fue juzgada por conspirar con su amante para matar a su padre y a sus hermanos. veneno para que pudiera asegurar la herencia de la propiedad de su familia. Aparte de ese ingenioso plan, aparentemente también anduvo por los hospitales envenenando a los pobres por diversión porque era así de retorcida. No hace falta decir que, dado que el advenimiento de los esposos envenenados se perfeccionó como ciencia gracias a Giulia Tofana y ahora la infamia del caso Brinvilliers & # 8211, todo tipo de hombres (y los pobres, supongo) estaban aterrorizados de ser envenenados por dinero o poder. . Incluido el Rey. Años antes, su prima (y cuñada) Henrietta de Inglaterra murió a la edad de 26 años en circunstancias misteriosas, después de quejarse de dolor de estómago y experimentar problemas digestivos & # 8211; bebió un vaso de agua de achicoria y gritó de agonía, declarando que había sido envenenada antes de patear el balde. Y a medida que el público se amotinaba y entraba en pánico por el aumento de estas conspiraciones de envenenamiento, surgieron otros rumores de brujas que secuestraban a niños para utilizarlos en masas negras. Esto no era & # 8217t la Edad Media después de la publicación de Malleus Maleficarum en 1487 y luchando contra la Peste Negra un siglo antes, pero la seria preocupación de una insurgencia de brujas adoradoras del diablo empeñadas en corromper el mundo todavía proporcionaba una agradable y tostada costra de genuina preocupación en el sándwich de histeria masiva del siglo XVII. Cualesquiera que sean sus creencias sobre la locura de la brujería, y ciertamente estoy del lado de que se trata principalmente de un caso de misoginia generalizada. más sospechoso ahora) y ordenó una investigación inmediata por parte de la policía parisina.

Una & # 8216Black Mass & # 8217 es solo una misa católica invertida. Típicamente satánicas, pero no siempre, las misas negras están destinadas a burlarse / profanar el catolicismo y pueden ser tan simples como usar una Eucaristía consagrada de maneras obscenas, como frotar partes del cuerpo que harían sonrojar a la Virgen María. Algunas de estas masas de parodias eran lo suficientemente inocentes, como la Fiesta de los Locos, pero para una visión más contextual de un ritual malvado administrado por brujas, consulte el final de la película Suspiria.

Una década antes, Catherine Montvoisin o La Voisin como llegó a ser conocida, se encontró confrontada por un jurado de profesores en la Universidad de la Sorbona, donde fue cuestionada sobre la validez de su práctica en adivinación como adivina. Ella ganó. La Voisin había comenzado su negocio después de que la carrera de su inútil esposo como joyero y comerciante de seda se arruinara por completo. Se vio obligada a idear una forma de mantener a su esposo, a sus hijos y a su madre ella sola. Al principio, comenzó a ofrecer sus servicios en lecturas de la palma de la mano y luego también en partería ayudando con el parto (o abortos). Su reputación en ambos servicios se disparó y consiguió muchos clientes. Cuando comenzó a notar patrones similares en los deseos y los deseos de las personas que veía, se dio cuenta de que había otra oportunidad de sacar provecho. La mayoría de sus clientes acudían a ella con tres cosas: querer que alguien (en particular, por lo general) se enamorara. con ellos, un miembro de la familia a morir para que pudieran heredar, o un esposo que desapareciera para que pudieran volver a casarse.

& # 8220París está lleno de este tipo de cosas y hay un número infinito de personas involucradas en este malvado comercio. & # 8221 & # 8211 La Voisin, como citó mientras tomaba una copa con sus interrogadores.

La Voisin comenzó a idear formas de vender productos a sus clientes para ayudarlos en estos deseos. Al principio, con bastante inocencia, les decía que estos sueños se harían realidad si Dios así lo deseaba y que si visitaban la iglesia, oraban a los santos o le compraban un amuleto especial, era probable que su deseo se cumpliera. Eventualmente, a lo largo de los años, sus servicios aumentaron a la venta de misas rituales, afrodisíacos o pociones de amor y venenos para hacer el trabajo. Algunos de sus servicios más generosos también incluían lociones destinadas a embellecer la piel y hechizos cantados para aumentar el tamaño de las tetas. Entonces, básicamente, La Voisin fue la versión exitosa del siglo XVII de un moderno correo electrónico no deseado de & # 8216make your pene más grande & # 8217.

La famosa receta de poción de amor de La Voisin & # 8217 supuestamente incluía polvo de huesos de sapo, dientes de topo, moscas españolas, limaduras de hierro, sangre humana, polvo de momia y polvo de restos humanos, entre otras cosas & # 8230

Parecería que La Voisin fue una obra de arte, como imaginamos que son todas las brujas riéndose en sus brebajes. Pero su fama y notoriedad le trajeron una cantidad de prestigio que se convirtió en una invitación a unirse a las altas esferas de la élite parisina. Se sabía que tenía a muchos de ellos como sus clientes y los entretenía en su lujoso jardín por la noche con música de violín. Claro, ella era un poco alcohólica pero lo estaba viviendo & # 8211 y también particularmente con un séquito de caballeros que llamaban que incluía un verdugo, un vizconde, un alquimista, un arquitecto y un mago que estaba ansiosamente obsesionado con ella y quería. para quitarse de encima a su marido para poder acercarse aún más. Mientras tanto, La Voisin también mantuvo el hábito de asistir regularmente a la iglesia. Entonces, probablemente se parecía más a una villana de Disney solo en arrogancia.

La Voisin sea como, & # 8216 ¿Qué? ¡Estos no son & # 8217t míos! & # 8217

Fue precisamente esta reputación la que llevó a La Voisin a ser quizás su cliente más controvertido hasta ahora, la futura amante del rey Luis XIV, Madame de Montespan.

Ya flotando por la corte de Luis XIV con la intención de derrocar a su actual amante, Louise de La Valliere, Madame de Montespan estaba teniendo problemas para ganarse el afecto exclusivo del Rey. Así que buscó los servicios del famoso La Voisin para que la ayudara. With the goal in mind of winning the King’s love, Montespan allegedly partook in a black mass arranged by La Voisin and her associates where it was said that Madame de Montespan was the naked alter piece herself in which the ritual took place. Then, she was given La Voisin’s love potion concoction which she used to slip into King Louis’ wine and food when they met together for meals. Either Montespan dazzled the king with her award winning charm or the black magic did the trick, but she soon became King Louis’ maitresse-en-titre or official mistress. Montespan was so pleased with La Voisin’s services in this regard that she continued to employ her for years after with any relationship issues she would inevitably encounter with the King. When Louis’ wandering eye sought the comforts of another consort, Montespan would have La Voisin mix her another love potion to keep the King’s favor.

Portrait of Madame de Montespan, something tells me she didn’t really need the black magic…

However, by 1677, Madame de Montespan realized that tactic wasn’t enough to keep the King from sleeping around–so she went with the oldie but goodie threat of murder if he ever so much as thought of leaving her. King Louis XIV’s dick shrugged off this threat, however, and entered into a relationship with Angelique de Fontages in 1679.

Madame de Montespan was furious and apparently fully intent on keeping her promise to murder the King for his senseless debauchery when it no longer favored her. She approached La Voisin with the proposition of killing the King of France for his insolence, to which La Voisin supposedly hesitated on accepting–was quite a big job, after-all. And not many were all that successful in king killing outside of an episode of Game of Thrones. La Voisin was eventually convinced and took the conspiracy to her friend and colleague Catherine Trianon. A group was formed consisting of the two witches and two men who all agreed, despite any misgivings from those who insisted they had a Han Solo-esque ‘very bad feeling about this’, that the plan would be to administer poison to the King. They agreed that the best way to do this would be to poison a petition and hand deliver it to the King who would come in contact with the murder weapon by holding it in his own hands.

Let’s be honest, one of these people is probably a witch

And so on March 5th, 1679, La Voisin went to the royal court of King Louis XIV in saint-Germain to deliver the homicidal petition herself in person. Unfortunately, the conspirators had not planned for the likely occurrence of the King canceling a number of the petitions because there were too many already and would have likely preferred to spend his time elsewhere (probably with Angelique de Fontages). La Voisin wasn’t disheartened by this change in events. She gave the petition to her daughter to burn, as it was incriminating evidence of their conspiracy, and decided that she would meet up with Catherine Trianon tomorrow to figure out a new plan.

She never made it that far.

Remember that investigation King Louis XIV had ordered to uncover the secret cult of withcraft working undetected in Paris? The police force had been working tirelessly to apprehend any accused of witchcraft and, in doing so, had discovered a network of witches that had been operating like a criminal enterprise. Under torture, they had picked up a slew of fortune-tellers, alchemists, and others by name. Witches were telling on other witches and the threads seemed to point to all corners of Paris. And some were even stupid enough to declare their business openly at parties like La Voisin’s arch nemesis Marie Bosse did. Drunkenly, she told anyone who would listen that she was so rich from selling poisons to the French elite that she could retire. It didn’t take long for the Parisian Police to haul Marie Bosse in for questioning, and she took a particular satisfaction in naming her enemy and associating La Voisin with all kinds of evil magic and crimes including accusing her of aborting fetuses and sacrificing them in rituals. It was also Marie Bosse who gave the police force the solid tip of a ring of poisoners existing in Paris. Thanks to Marie Bosse, La Voisin was arrested after attending mass before she could meet with Catherine Trianon to devise a plan B to assassinate the King.

I’m so sick of these mother f’ing witches in my mother f’in Paris. – Paris Police Chief Gabriel-Nicolas de la Reynie, probably

Funnily enough, even though the police force was grateful to apprehend the most notorious poisoner and practitioner of witchcraft in Paris at the time, they were also a bit terrified to interrogate her. It seemed more to do with her ability to incriminate much of French high society with her association, however, rather than any real fear of black magic retaliation. They were under orders not to subject her to torture and instead, knowing her propensity to getting drunk, plied her with alcohol to get her to confess to her crimes. At first, La Voisin was quick to throw her enemy Marie Bosse under the carriage, insisting that she had referred all clients wishing to buy poison to her–but eventually, her frequent intoxication led to La Voisin naming other practitioners in the network and detailed some of her career in which her services were given to members of the royal court. La Voisin never admitted to being involved with Madame de Montespan, however, and denied having her as a client. She also denied participating in black masses, using poisons, or any of that baby fetus codswallop Marie Bosse had accused her of. Nevertheless, La Voisin was put on trial, convicted of witchcraft, and burned at the stake on February 22nd, 1680. But not before reportedly trying to kick away the hay that was piled around the stake, cunning to the last.

Idk, the Feast of Fools looks like a good time…

Though much of The Affair of Poisons and Montespan’s involvement or the extent of La Voisin’s crimes had yet to be proven, months after the execution the daughter of La Voisin came forward and detailed her mother’s working relationship with Madame de Montespan as well as the plot to kill King Louis XIV. This was apparently enough for the King and he hastily closed the investigation, sealed the testimonies, and ordered all further suspects to rot in jail forever. It is estimated that there were nearly 500 suspects, around 200 arrests, and 36 executions before the investigation had been closed. Madame de Montespan was never formerly charged, but she was sent off to exile in a Parisian convent and given quite a hefty allowance. Though the rumors and accusations would always follow her, she spent her remaining years as a supporter of charities and a patron of the arts.

As for King Louis XIV of France, he would continue to live on for many years after. Having been fortunate enough to evade a plot to kill him, it seemed he had little more run in with witches or murderous mistresses and passed away at the age of 76 after a long and fruitful reign . But, as we all know with the approaching 18th century–the descendants of his French Monarchy would not be so lucky, the guillotine awaits.

Ravaisson, Francois . Archives de la Bastille by François Ravaisson, 1870–1874, volume VI. Retrieved from:http://www.angelfire.com/az3/synagogasatanae/zacharias.htm

Herman, Eleanor. Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge. 2011.

Somerset, Anne. The Affair of the Poisons Murder, Infanticide, and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV. St. Martins Press, 2004.


Catherine Monvoisin and the Affair of the Poisons

Nothing makes history trickier to investigate than the whiff of scandal. Coverups and spin aren’t modern inventions, and when it makes every source you have unreliable then getting to the truth of the matter becomes all but impossible. So in today’s article all we can do is to report both the rumours and the official version and let you draw your own conclusions about Madame Monvoisin and the Affair of the Poisons.

The Pont Neuf in Paris in the 1660s.

Catherine Monvoisin’s early days are sparsely documented, but we know she was born around 1640 and probably in Paris. Her maiden name was Catherine Deshayes, and her family were poor. From an early age she was fascinated with fortune-telling, learning palmistry at the age of nine. She had a talent for “cold reading”, the ability to read somebody’s cues as she told their fortune and convince them that she knew things that she could not normally have known.

Catherine was married in her teens to a jeweler named Antoine Monvoisin, and they would go on to have at least three children. Their eldest was a daughter named Marguerite who was born in 1658. Unfortunately Antoine’s business failed, and the family fell on hard times. In order to support them Catherine drew on her childhood interests and lifelong hobby, and began telling fortunes for money.

Catherine’s main form of fortune-telling was reading palms, sometimes called chiromancy. This was considered a “pagan superstition” by the Catholic Church, but many people at the time believed there was a science behind it. It provided the ideal ground for her to use her cold reading skills, and she soon became very successful. As a professional alias (and a pun on her name) she adopted the friendly title of “The Neighbour” or in French La Voisin.

As with all such female fortunetellers, Catherine found that she was often visited by women with the problem of an illegitimate child on the way. Abortion was illegal in France at the time, of course, leaving women no option but to turn to shady characters like Catherine for assistance. Sometimes she gave them an abortion, sometimes she would deliver the child for them and then have it secretly adopted or otherwise dealt with. Either way, her utter discretion in these matters was probably a major factor in how she began to get more and more high-profile clients, including several from the nobility.

A rich lady visiting a fortune teller. Painting by Jakob Samuel Beck.

In the mid 1660s Catherine had become famous enough as a fortune teller that she was challenged by a priest over them. Rather than back down, Catherine chose to defend herself before the professors at the Sorbonne theological college. This college was well known for challenging “heretical” views (mostly Protestantism), but Catherine showed her mettle before them. She was an intelligent woman, far from what they had expected. Her spirited defence of the “science” behind her palm reading and her affirmation that any spiritual powers she possessed were gifts from God was enough to convince them to let her go. They were satisfied that she was not a heretic. But they were wrong.

By this time Catherine had graduating from telling fortunes to offering her clients a way to change those fortunes. This started out benignly enough telling them to pray to a certain saint for assistance or similar. However as Catherine became more involved with the “occult community” of Paris (most notably “Adam Lesage”, a self-professed magician) this began to change. Another common problem among her visitors was the desire for someone to fall in love with them, and Catherine began selling magic charms and special powders to aid them in this. In 1667 she was asked to do this on a major scale. Someone wanted her to help them become the lover of the King.

Madame Françoise-Athénaïs de Montespan being handed a bow and arrow by Cupid to win the King’s love. Painted by Pierre Mignard.

The “someone” was Marquise Françoise-Athénaïs de Montespan, though it was her companion Claude des Oeillets (a former actress) who approached La Voisin. The king was Louis XIV, the “Sun King” who had risen from a child who was used as a puppet monarch to become the first truly absolute ruler in French history. He was one of the most powerful men in the world, and to become his mistress there was nothing Madame de Montespan wouldn’t do. Even if it meant literally selling her soul to Satan himself.

The first ceremony for Francoise took place in Catherine’s house. An abbot named Mariotte presided, with Lesage and Catherine assisting. After prayers to Satan, a drug was prepared and given to Madame de Montespan to use on the king. Whether it gave her the confidence she needed to win him or whether it did contain some aphrodisiac ingredients, in a short time Francoise was the king’s new mistress. This success boosted La Voisin to new heights. Soon she had escalated into producing full Black Masses for her clients in order to win them lovers and marriages, among other things.

The best account of one of these “masses” comes from 1673, when Madame de Montespan returned. The king’s affections were wavering, and she had decided a Satanic boost was needed. According to Étienne Guibourg, the priest who performed the ceremony, they laid a black cloth on an altar. Francoise then lay down on it, face up and completely naked. (According to some accounts she forced her maid Claude to do this instead.) As the priest intoned a blasphemous version of the liturgy, an infant was brought to the altar. The priest laid the chalice on the naked woman’s belly. Catherine then cut the infant’s throat and let it pour into the chalice, spilling out onto the woman’s body. She threw the body into a nearby furnace as the priest raised the chalice and completed the ritual.

An 1895 engraving by Henry de Malvost showing the Black Mass being celebrated on Madame de Montespan.

Whether this was a genuine human sacrifice or just clever stage managing in a dark candle-lit room is hard to tell. Catherine’s daughter later testified that she bought pigeons for her mother and saw her cut their throats and collect the blood. She also said that the “altar” was simply a mattress on some chairs, with stools to the side for the candles. On the other hand at least one of the priests involved seems to have believed there was power involved and tried to use a Black Mass to prevent a friend’s mistress from conceiving. (It didn’t work.)

By the 1670s La Voisin had branched out into another line of work: poisoning. Her knowledge of chemistry, network of clients and reputation for discretion gave her the perfect alley for distribution of this type of substance. Soon she was at the centre of a network of distributors, a sisterhood of fortune tellers and backroom medics with a lethal sideline. Though their noble clients got the highest profile, they most commonly sold their poison to women trapped in abusive marriages who would find no relief from the legal system.

The poison they were distributing is unknown, but it’s likely to have been similar to one known as “Aqua Tofana”. This was a recipe that had been developed by an Italian woman named Giulia Tofana thirty or forty years earlier. The primary ingredient was arsenic, which was such a common poison that it was sometimes called “inheritance powder”. The gradual sickness it caused was perfect for allaying suspicions and for allowing the poisoner to manage the time of death. Other ingredients included belladonna and lead, resulting in a tasteless poison that looked like simple water and left the doctors of the time none the wiser.

Claude des Oeillets, Madame de Montespan’s friend and another of Louis’ “conquests”.

Marital fidelity seems to have been in short supply in 17th century France. The king, of course, usually had multiple mistresses competing (sometimes murderously) for his affections. He treated them all with a shocking callousness, casting them aside at a whim and bedding anyone who caught his eye. (Claude, for example, had a daughter who was almost certainly the king’s child.) The marriage of the Monvoisins was equally unfaithful Catherine had at least six lovers including her assistant Adam Lesage. Adam once tried to convince Catherine to poison her husband to get him out of the way, but Catherine decided against it.

It was the poisons that would lead to La Voisin’s downfall, through a path that began with a man who died in an accident in 1672. The dead man was Captain Godin de Sainte-Croix, an officer in the French army. In 1663 Godin had an affair with another man’s wife, Marie-Madeleine de Brinvilliers. Her father found out about the affair and had Godin imprisoned using a “lettre de cachet”. This was a French legal device where the king could order anyone imprisoned indefinitely without trial, something which nobles like Marie’s father could petition for him to do. Justice, under the French monarchy, was strictly optional when it came to punishment.

In prison Godin became friendly with an Italian alchemist named Exili. Exili taught the eager Godin about alchemy, including how it could be used to create poisons. When Godin was set free, he passed this knowledge on to Marie and soon they took their revenge on her father. His death was followed by that of her two brothers, which left her free to inherit the family fortune. (She later said that the real motive for killing her brothers was that they had sexually abused her when she was a child.) With her effectively separated from her husband, the two lovers were free to enjoy their lives together.

Marie de Brinvilliers.

Unfortunately for Marie, Godin was paranoid. Afraid that she might poison him as well, he left a full sealed confession among his papers. It was labeled “to be opened if I die before Madame de Brinvilliers”. Since he died in debt his effects were seized by his creditors, who opened the confession and read it. Marie managed to escape arrest and fled to London, then moved to the Netherlands before settling in Belgium. There she was tricked, kidnapped and illegally extradited back to France for trial. In July of 1676 she was tortured into confessing, and on the strength of that confession she was executed.

Whether Marie was actually guilty or not is sometimes debated. The sole evidence against her was the word of a dead man and a confession tortured out of her. What is true is that her conviction, and the idea that three aristocrats had been murdered without anyone realising, was enough to set off a panic among the upper classes. When a fortune teller named Magdelaine de La Grange was arrested for forging a will, she tried to bargain for her freedom by claiming that she had information about crimes of “national importance”. Though she didn’t have any tangible information to share, her testimony was what began the official investigation that became known as la Chambre Ardente – the Burning Court. [1]

Over the next couple of years, the Court (led by Gabriel-Nicolas de la Reynie) swept up alchemists, fortune tellers and others on the fringes of society who could be suspected of using poison. One of these was Louis de Vanens, who was suspected of selling poison that was used to murder the Duke of Savoy (one of the highest noblemen in the land). Though they became convinced there was a secret organisation to these poison-sellers, they had no luck in cracking it open. Then in 1679 they hit the jackpot when they arrested a poisoner named Marie Bosse.

Gabriel-Nicolas de la Reynie, organiser of the Burning Court and founder of the first real police force in European history. Painting by Nicolas Mignard.

Marie was arrested after she got drunk at a party and started boasting that she had become so rich by selling poisons to the aristocracy that she would soon be able to retire. One of the guests informed on her to the police, who set up a sting to buy poison from her. Once they had verified the deadliness of what she sold them, they swooped in and arrested her. (Allegedly when they arrested her she was in the middle of incestual relations with her two sons and her daughter.)

Marie was tortured into a confession which gave up the entire organisation of poison sellers in Paris, and which place Catherine Monvoisin right in the centre of it. La Reynie hesitated to arrest her, as he knew that she was connected to some very powerful people at court. He finally arrested her in March of 1679. In doing so he may well have prevented her from carrying out the most high profile poisoning of her career: that of Louis XIV himself.

Madame de Montespan had always said that she would kill the king if he abandoned her, or so it was claimed later. (It’s worth noting that this plot is the sketchiest part of some very sketchy history, and it may be that none of this is true at all.) At the time it looked like he might be about to set her aside and replace her with a young girl named Angelique de Scorailles. (Angelique did die the following year, possibly due to complications from childbirth or pneumonia. Of course, rumours said she was poisoned.) The alleged plot of Catherine and her accomplices was to present a petition to the king which had been treated with a contact poison. Her initial attempt was foiled because there were too many other petitioners for the poisoned one to be presented directly to the king. She was allegedly on her way to plan a new attempt when she was arrested.

This 1680 drawing by Antoine Coypel of a demon holding a mirror for Catherine is the only contemporary picture of her that exists.

Initially Catherine tried to defend herself by claiming that Marie Bosse had made the accusations against her in order to save her own skin by denouncing a rival. (This was undercut in May of 1679, two months after Catherine was arrested, when Marie and her children were all executed.) Catherine’s maid Margot, who had also been arrested, warned the investigators that they were playing with fire. The arrest of Catherine Monvoisin, she said, would impact on people “at all levels of society”. That convinced La Reynie to tread carefully, though he was quick enough to scoop up all of Catherine’s associates. Then he started figuring out exactly what he had.

Though an authorisation was issued to torture Catherine for information, it never seems to have actually been used. Perhaps La Reynie was worried about what she might say or he was aware of how unreliable information gained that way could be. Instead he took advantage of Catherine’s functional alcoholism and had his interrogators make sure she was permanently inebriated. It paid off initially she stuck to her story that she had sent anyone trying to buy poison to Marie Bosse but soon she was naming names. The first people she named were minor nobles who received minor sentences something which began leading people to denounce the court as a farce. In response Louis XIV declared in December of 1679 that the investigators should spare nobody, regardless of rank. It was a declaration he would regret.

Catherine Monvoisin went on trial in February of 1880. It was a very short trial, even given the amount of evidence against her. After the inevitable guilty verdict, a warrant was issued that she should be tortured to produce a confirmatory confession before the death sentence was carried out. However though the official records say that this was done, accounts at the time say that the order was ignored. The authorities were still doing their best to keep Madame de Montespan’s name out of these events, and had no wish to provoke an indiscreet confession.

“The Execution of Catherine Deshayes”, colourised version of an old woodcut. Fuente

Catherine was executed less than a week after her trial, burned alive in the Place de Grève. She did not go quietly to meet her fate. The night before she persuaded her guards to let her drink her fill and eat a hearty last meal, and it’s possible that as she was dressed in white and taken to her execution she was still quite tipsy. A priest tried to persuade her to confess, but she violently repulsed him. At the execution ground she had to be dragged, fighting every step of the way, to the stake. As the fire was lit she did her best to kick the burning straw away from herself, but it was all in vain. Soon the fires flared up, and when it died down she was dead.

The death of Catherine did not bring an end to the investigation of the poisoning ring, of course. In fact it seems to have intensified it. In part this was due to her daughter Marguerite, who seems to have realised that she would have to work hard to avoid following her mother to the scaffold. She and her brothers (who were living with their father) had initially not been arrested, but shortly before her mother’s trial the authorities had swept them up. This might have been part of the attempt to wrap up the investigation. If so, it failed. The arrest of Marguerite was about to begin a new and even darker phase of the affair.

Marguerite’s confession soon began to paint a picture that was even darker than the Burning Court had expected. The tale of black masses and human sacrifices that unfolded shocked them, but it also seems to have convinced them that Marguerite had played no part in the affair. Those she named (Francoise Filastre, Adam Lesage and Etienne Guiborg among them) were soon confirming the story.

Luis XIV. Louis the Great. The Sun King. The true villain of the piece.

As soon as Madame de Montespan’s name entered the picture, matters took a different turn. It was one thing that she might have used magic to ensnare the king’s interest, but the idea that she had tried to have the Queen to be set aside and for her to marry the king was unthinkable. But she was the mother of recognised and legitimised royal children, and for that reason alone she could not be caught up in this. In addition she was far from the only noble implicated. Olympia Mancini, the head of the queen’s household and the most senior female non-Royal at court was the most notable of those implicated. With such explosive accusations being leveled, it soon became clear that Louis’ declaration of disregard for rank was just empty words.

Instead, the Poison Case Investigation became the Poison Case Coverup. The records of the trial were burned (though the interrogation records from the Bastille survived and allow historians to reconstruct the events). Those who could be safely executed on other charges (like Francoise Filastre) were put to death, but it was decided that none of the others could be allowed to go free. Instead Louis issued a great number of the infamous letras de cachet. Anyone even slightly implicated was to be imprisoned for the rest of their lives.

That included Marguerite Monvoisin, even though the investigators concluded that she was innocent of wrongdoing. Minor details like that barely mattered in the court of the Sun King. She was imprisoned on the island of Belle-Île-en-Mer off the coast of Brittany, along with Margot the maidservant and Catherine Trianon among others. They were guarded only by women (to prevent them from seducing their jailers and escaping) but they were otherwise permitted to live under house arrest in the Palace Royal on the island. Catherine Trianon committed suicide in 1681, but the fate of the others (along with the men perpetually imprisoned, like Adam and Etienne) is unknown. When the king of France sought to make you disappear, you disappeared.

Anna Brewster as Madame de Montespan and Suzanne Clement as Madame Agathe (a character based on Catherine) in the BBC show “Versailles”. Fuente

As for those he could not make disappear, the Affair of the Poisons still marked a permanent downturn in their fortunes. Francoise de Montespan fell from the king’s favour, of course, but he still had to pay visits to her in order to maintain the pretence of a relationship and to “disprove” the rumours. Ten years later she was finally sent to retire to a convent, though her children were all given marriages and dowries suitable for royal princesses. Several other nobles, such as Olympia Mancini, were forced to flee the country. Her son Eugene was rejected from the French army because of this he emigrated to Austria where he became possibly the single greatest general of 17th century Europe. In fact his military genius is often credited with preventing Louis XIV from achieving control of Europe in the decades that followed.

The Affair of the Poisons soon entered into popular French folklore as an example of the perfidy and perversity of the upper classes, along with their tendency to protect their own. Louis XIV sought to suppress the truth but he didn’t realise that in doing so he was creating more fertile ground for the legend It became part of the history fueled a growing discontent among the people of France that would explode into revolution a century later. In the years since it has become the subject of novels, plays and films. La Voisin, it seems, refuses to be forgotten.

Images via wikimedia except where stated.

[1] The original Chambre Ardente was a nickname of the special court used at one time to prosecute heretics. Though it had been suspended over a century earlier, it was this legislation that was used to establish the new Burning Court.


The Surprising Historical Significance of Fortune-Telling

In 1786, 14-year-old Marie Anne Lenormand ran away from the convent school where she was raised. Lenormand set off to Paris on her own, where she learned the art of cartomancy—divination using a deck of cards. She worked for 40 years as a cartomancer and fortune-teller, advising Joséphine de Beauharnais (Napoleon’s wife), Robespierre, Marat, and other important figures on their fates.

Thirty years later, when Lenormand was 44 years old, she met with a young Frances, Lady Shelley, a socialite, aristocrat, and friend of the Duke of Wellington. The two met in Lenormand’s luxurious boudoir, but, as Shelley recounts in her diary, she was soon drawn into Lenormand’s cabinet d’étude to have her fortune read. Lenormand asked her date of birth, then the first letter of her name, the first letter of her birthplace, and then her favorite animal, color, and number. “After about a quarter of an hour of this mummery, during which time she had arranged all the cards in order upon the table, she made an examination of my head,” Shelley wrote. “Suddenly she began, in a sort of measured prose, and with great rapidity and distinct articulation, to describe my character and past life, in which she was so accurate and so successful, even to minute particulars, that I was spellbound at the manner in which she had discovered all she knew.”

What made Lenormand rich in eighteenth-century France—and what has made fortune-telling and games of chance mainstays of human society for more than six millennia—is that sometimes the possibility proposed by the fortune-teller is, in fact, perfectly spot-on. Sometimes what is predicted happens sometimes our lottery ticket is the winner sometimes we beat the odds. Games of chance point toward the correct value just often enough to keep us intrigued. In so doing, they have acted as social and political tools that play upon some of our greatest aspirations—that we’ll catch a “big break,” or that the poor can suddenly become rich. “Ability,” Napoleon famously said, “is of little account without opportunity.”

Upon Lenormand’s death at the age of 71, her nephew, a devout Catholic, inherited her possessions and extensive capital, valued at an estimated 500,000 francs. He pocketed the cash and burned all of her cards, crystals, and fortune-telling paraphernalia, according to Michael Dummett, a former professor of logic at Oxford, who co-wrote a book on the subject. Yet Lenormand’s legacy has persisted, particularly via Lenormand cards, an altered set of tarot cards commonly used by contemporary fortune-tellers.

Like Lenormand’s nephew, most Catholics in the region despised fortune games, which represented unknowability in a supposedly all-knowable world, one in which God pulls the strings. En El consuelo de la filosofía, Boethius introduces a character called Lady Philosophy who explains that “chance” is “an empty word…what room can there be for random events since God keeps all things in order?” Similarly, in Chaucer’s “The Knight’s Tale,” the first of The Canterbury Tales, Theseus reminds his subjects after a series of misfortunes that “the First Mover of the First Cause” determines all outcomes in accordance with an overarching plan. This is the same notion that Voltaire would later satirize in Cándido. The wise man, Voltaire argued, realizes that a reversal of fortune is not part of a divine plan, but rather a kind of horrible happenstance that sometimes befalls one, based on no wish or advice of divine beings.

By providing an alternative to God’s omniscience, fortune-telling menaced the legitimacy of religion: Foreknowledge was the exclusive realm of God, and claims from anyone else—cartomancers or fortune-tellers, for instance—were a threat.

But there’s an acute irony to be found in the similarities between fortune-telling apparatus and Catholicism itself. Tarot cards, with their amalgam of ancient mythologies and pagan beliefs, can be viewed as a bridge toward Catholicism. The patron saints and icons of Catholicism, each of whom has defining characteristics, occupations, and symbols, mirror the characters of the tarot. For instance, in the Catholic faith there is the Archangel Gabriel. His symbol: archangel. His patronage: telecommunication workers and stamp collectors. His attributes: carries a trumpet is clothed in white and blue. In standard tarot decks, there is the High Priestess. Her symbol: Holy Mother Church. Her patronage: a link to the subconscious. Her attributes: wears a Papal tiara is clothed in white and blue.

What is perhaps most salient within the history of fortune-telling is the way it both reifies and subverts capitalist economics. Its subversion can be seen when one thinks of the ideological scandal that would ensue if one indeed had the ability to predict the outcome of the lottery, a feature of most capitalist societies. The capitalist ethos of self-mastery is undermined by the possibility of luck leading to success without proportional labor. As a result, games of luck tend to be sidelined in capitalist societies, looked down upon as pastimes of the poor and lazy.

“Patience, and shuffle the cards,” Cervantes wrote in Don Quixote. This notion serves as the foundation for the American myth of self-made success: One must trabaja for success, but at the same time, anyone can achieve it. The American myth of the self-made man therefore creates a double bind: One must work, but one might also get lucky. As a result, those in inferior socioeconomic positions can feel that they still have the possibility of ascending by means of luck, while those in superior socioeconomic positions can feel deserving of their success as a result of their supposed hard work.

Through games of luck comes the notion of the “big break,” an idea that has been fundamental to diffusing socioeconomic frustrations for centuries, first observed by Louis Hartz in La tradición liberal en América. In the many hundreds of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European stories and fairy tales first told by the lower classes, one finds that the peasants never look to alter the royal system that oppresses them rather, a happy ending occurs when the peasant himself becomes the king through a series of chance events. That’s to say, the occurrence of “big breaks,” however seldom, is enough to keep the masses contented with an unjust social system they angle to be at the top of the current society, rather than looking to do away with the society entirely.

What has proven trickier for social elites to justify are the games of chance that are fundamental to their own success, the modern stock market being the quintessential example. How does a capitalist society make playing the stock market look like labor, so that the high earnings that often come from it appear to be derived from proportional work? How do the affluent “cleanse” their earnings, overcoming the taint of chance through the appearance of work, thereby conferring moral legitimacy on their positions of power? The elite solution has been to disguise the stock market as a place of complex probabilities and algorithms rather than what it fundamentally is: luck. It is chance rebranded as morally righteous labor.

While lotteries and games of chance have often been a vehicle for the elite to extract money from the less-informed masses without upsetting them (a disguised regressive tax, as pointed out by the sociologist Roberto Garvia), in certain circumstances, lotteries have also been used as a political tool—a patronage benefit for the politically useful.

Although lotteries in Europe date back to the sixteenth century, it was later, in 1694, that a “lottery craze” swept through Europe, according to Roger Pearson, a French historian at Oxford. This craze followed a familiar pattern: democratic possibility (anyone could theoretically become rich) mixed with aristocratic reality (those who already had access to capital and political connections stood a significantly better chance of winning). In a peculiar turn, it was Voltaire who saw that, for various reasons, the prize in each Parisian district was greater than the total cost of all its lottery tickets. By buying up as many bonds as possible from the Paris mayor’s office, he stood to win the lottery with near certainty y make out with more money than he’d put in.

In his autobiographical Historical Commentary on the Works of the Author of La Henriade, Voltaire wrote, “The authorities issued tickets in exchange for Hôtel de Ville bonds, and winning lots were paid in cash and all in such a way that any group of people who had bought all the tickets stood to win a million francs.”

But it wasn’t just his craftiness that helped Voltaire in his “infamous lottery and market speculation,” as referred to by the historian W. Johnson in “Voltaire after 300 Years” it was his connections as well. As Pearson has pointed out: “Clearly [Voltaire] had an understanding of sorts with the notaries appointed to sell the tickets, and it seems that he did not have to pay the full price of the tickets, so certain were he and his associates—and perhaps the notaries selling the tickets, presumably cut in on the action—of winning.”

Voltaire, therefore, exploited his political connections and presumably bribed the notaries—two groups of people who were surely more willing to work with him given his fame—in order to win what eventually amounted to be about 7.5 million francs, an exorbitant sum that allowed him never to work, to buy up châteaux, and generally live as a king might. It is hard to understate the extent to which there was a double standard in games of chance: The poor who engage in games of chance are looked down upon, whereas the well-known had games of chance intentionally turned toward their advantage.

But what, ultimately, is chance? What is this unpredictable, unknowable element that beguiled Frances, Lady Shelley, Marat, Robespierre, and Lenormand’s other patrons?

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle declares that, “Everything in the world looks coincidental by any current observation method, since any law or principle is expressed only probabilistically. No one can say whether a thing has absolute inevitability.” In this sense, a fortune-telling is simply an exhibition of one of many possibilities, rather than the absolute truth. It is, therefore, never really wrong, and although it affects core tenants of society—religion, economics—it is only ever absolutely correct by chance.


Masa negra

The Black Mass was the product of the creative imagination of medieval inquisitors. In the fifteenth century, the Spanish Inquisition turned its attention toward stamping out witchcraft (surviving remnants of pre-Christian Paganism), which was redefined as the worship of Satan (rather than the older Pagan pantheon). At the time, the Inquisition was limited in its task to the suppression of heresy (non-Orthodox forms of Christian belief) and apostasy (rejection of Christianity by former believers). Paganism, as another religion altogether, was outside its purview, hence the redefinition. Satanism, as the worship of the Christian antideity, clearly would qualify as apostasy.

Having created the image of an anti-Christianity, the inquisitors slowly built up a picture of what Satanists would do, centered upon the desecration and parody of Christian worship. The mass, the central act of Roman Catholic worship, would obviously be the target of Satanic abuse. Elements of the 𠇋lack” or satanic mass might include the desecration of a stolen communion wafer, nudity, sexual acts, the sacrifice of an infant, the saying of the Lord’s Prayer backward, and acknowledgment of Satan. The climax of the mass might be the invocation and appearance of Satan himself. Under torture, a variety of accused witches confessed to participation in such actions. The primary textbook offering a summary of Satanism was The Witches Hammer (Malleus Maleficarum) written by two Dominican inquisitors, Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger (1436�), and published in 1486.

It is to be noted that there is no acceptable evidence of an actual Black Mass being held until the seventeenth century. During the reign of Louis XIV (1638�), a fortune teller named Catherine Deshayes (d. 1680), popularly known as La Voisin, conspired with a libertine priest known as Abbé Guiborg to work magic on behalf of various people in the French court who wished to keep their place close to the king. In the process, Black Masses were conducted (some of which included one of the king’s mistresses as an altar). When these were discovered, the inroads of La Voisin into the court threatened to bring down the government, and the affair was largely hushed up, with trials held in secret and key people being either executed or banished.

Black Masses reappeared at the end of the nineteenth century, again in France, where J. K. Huysmans founded possibly the first of the modern Satanic groups. Huysmans authored a book, La-Bas (Down There), which included a detailed account of a Black Mass and would become a source book for future Satanic groups. However, few appeared to have picked up on the Satanic idea until the 1960s. In 1966, San Franciscan Anton LaVey (1930�) announced a new era of Satan and the formation of the Church of Satan. The church espoused LaVey’s ideal of a set of anti-Christian values such as individualism, selfishness, and the expression of human drives suppressed by the church.

In 1969, LaVey published The Satanic Bible, the primary book guiding the Church of Satan. It included guidelines for holding a Black Mass. During the first decade of the church, Black Masses were held to the entertainment of the news media, some being attended by celebrities. LaVey’s masses emphasized the sexual aspects, but given the church’s teachings about being law-abiding, they eschewed any taking of life. The church and its several offshoots continue to practice a Black Mass.

Satanism, both of the LaVey variety or its more informal variety, has been an extremely rare phenomenon. The Church of Satan never had more than 2,000 active members and was largely gutted in the mid-1970s, when a number of leaders left and its groups (called grottos) largely dissolved. With the exception of the Temple of Set, which counts its membership in the hundreds, the groups that have come out of the Church of Satan have been very small and ephemeral.

On very rare occasions, informal Satanic groups have formed and, during their short life, committed one or more homicides. However, the threat from Satanism remains largely an imagined phenomenon propagated by a small number of conservative Christian church leaders. In 2004 an Italian heavy metal rock band called the Beasts of Satan were accused of killing two of its teenage members in an act of human sacrifice. In response, a prominent Roman Catholic University, the Regina Apostolorum, introduced a course on Satanism and the occult into its curriculum.