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Diane de Poitiers
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    (September 3, 1499-April 25, 1566)
    Born in Saint-Vallier, France
    Mistress of King Henri II of France
    Named Duchess of Valentois (1548) and Duchess d'Entampes (1553)
    Her husband was 39 years older than her.
    She was 12 years older than King Henri.
    She liked to have herself depicted as Diana, the Roman goddess of the moon and the hunt.
    She signed much of the royal correspondence, using the joint name HenriDiane.
    When the Pope gave Queen Catherine de' Medici the Golden Rose, he made sure to present Diane with a pearl necklace.
    She may have died from the long-term effects of drinking a potion with liquid gold to maintain her looks.
    For dynastic purposes, she would get Henri aroused then tell him, 'Go to your queen and lie with her.'
    After Catherine gave birth to a son, Diane received 5,500 livres from the royal treasury for her 'good and commendable services.'
    She helped nurse Catherine back to health after the queen contracted scarlet fever.
    She was politically astute and officially served on the privy council advising the king.
    After she was exiled from court by Catherine following Henri's death, she built a hospital and a home for unwed mothers, orphans and widows.
    She kept her looks up until her death at age 65, with one courtier writing, 'It is sad that earth should hide such a beautiful body.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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