the competition for influence, titles and privileges escalated when courtiers suddenly died and the fear of poisoning was ever present. It would cost several people their lives and there are still many whose deaths seem just a little to sudden to be by natural causes ..
|Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie - head of|
police in Paris
Following the arrest of Magdelaine de La Grange, the situation quickly reached the very centre of power at court. Magdelaine had appealed to the Marquis de Louvois and insisted that she knew of other cases that would surely be of his interest. Louvois immediately went to the highest authority he could think of: the King. Alarmed, Louis XIV quickly contacted Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie who was the top of Parisian police and demanded that Gabriel were to catch all the poisoners - suck out the poison.
Consequently, the Parisian police began an investigation that would start with the interrogation of obvious suspects such as fortune tellers and alchemists. It was suspected that they had provided the poisoners with so-called "inheritance powders" - or poison. Some of the accused were tortured and promptly gave up several names of high-ranking people who had wanted to rid themselves of their rivals.
The affair escalated when the midwife Catherine Deshayes Monvoison (also known as La Voison) had been named by the poisoner Marie Bosse.
|La Voison herself|
The entire affair implicated no less than 442 people - 36 of these were executed and 218 were arrested. You can almost imagine the fear of being poisoned spreading through Paris. Some of the accused never saw the inside of a court room but was found guilty by a lettre de cachet and sentenced to life in prison. It was considered that the King's safety was in danger which escalated the situation further and is most likely the
|Madame de Montespan -|
accused but never tried
At court the affair meant the immediate departure of Madame de Soissons (Olympe Mancini) who went into exile.
The court during the affair was an extremely uncomfortable place. Paranoia seized most people and every time a person suddenly died the situation got worse.
This infamous affair implicated many courtiers - whether they were actually guilty or not is lost to history. Here are some of the names that popped up during the trial (some of which are already mentioned in this post); you might be amazed at how high the scandal actually went in French society:
Madame de Soissons - former mistress of the King and thought to be a client of La Voison
Marquise de Montespan - the King's present maîtresse-en-titre. She was never tried.
Marquis de Cessac - allegedly client of the poisoner Lesage. He fled France to avoid a trial
Vicomtesse de Polignac - accused of being the client of La Voison but fled the country
Marie Anne Mancini - Banished to the provinses
Princesse de Tingry - discharged
Duchess de Vivonne - discharged
Marquis de Feuquieres - never tried
For further reading take a look at the "Reading Versailles" section.