Home | Reference And Education
And You Think Your Marriage is Complicated - The Historic Tale of Diane de Poitiers
By: Corina Clemence
The story of Diane de Poitiers should serve as an inspiration to all of us who feel not-as-young-as-we-used-to-be. Diane was born
in 1499, the daughter of Jean de Poitiers and thus a member of a very ancient line. A beauty from a very young age, at 13 she
married into another distinguished line when she became the spouse of Louis de Breze who was 39 years older than Diane and a
grandson of Charles VII.
When she and her husband came to the court of Francois I, she found herself immersed in the wonderful Renaissance atmosphere
that she loved. This was a time when France was discovering the new wonders of art and architecture brought back to France by
Francois I from his campaigns in Italy, where, of course, the Renaissance was in full swing.
In 1531, her elderly husband died, but Diane remained at court. Whilst there she not surprisingly managed to attract the eye of
young Henri later to became Henri II. Although she was in her 30s by then, and surrounded at court by many younger women, she
was considered to be one of the outstanding court beauties. Shortly before Henri's arranged marriage to Catherine de Medicis in
1533, Diane became his mistress. Henri was only 14.
At the time of Henri's marriage to Catherine she herself was something of a looker and she was 18 years younger than Diane. In
spite of this, Henri seemed to try to avoid Catherine as much as he could, continuing to pursue his interest in Diane. Catherine de
Medicis did not take kindly to her husband's interest in Diane who was officially acknowledged as his mistress three years after his
marriage to Catherine. The age factor added insult to injury, and things just seemed to go from bad to worse for Catherine.
As Henri's wife, it was Catherine's duty to produce an heir (or better yet, several of them), preferably male, since a daughter could
not inherit the throne in France. Catherine appeared