Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Return of the All-But-Queen

Today, after an absence of two hundred and thirteen, the remains of Diane de Poitiers, Henri II's favorite, returned to the funerary chapel at her château d'Anet, where she was originally buried at her death in 1576. Jean d'Yturbe, the present owner of the château, related to the press that how in 1795, a mob of revolutionaries desecrated the chapel and pried open the tomb. Diane's body, which had been embalmed, disintegrated when it contacted the air, prompting the revolutionaries to flee in fear. Two village women collected the bones and buried them in a grave in the cemetery next to the village church. The bones were found during excavations at the cemetery in 2008. Thanks to the lock of hair that one of the women had cut and preserved and which was passed down from generation to generation by the occupants of the château, scientists were able to identify the bones as those of Diane.

The bones were brought back to the chapel today amid much pomp and circumstance. The coffin traveled on a horse-drawn cart accompanied by elected officials and the family and guests of the present owner of the château all attired in sixteenth-century garb. A noted historian provided a eulogy; a rector from the cathedral of Chartres conducted a prayer service over the remains.

The château hosted a Renaissance fair to celebrate the occasion. The schedule of events listed artisanal demonstrations, games, fencing, archery and falconry exhibitions, jousting, and period music, dancing and play-acting throughout the day. A banquet, followed by a Renaissance ball and fireworks, concluded the evening. Despite the gray and gloomy weather, the activities were a resounding success, according to a commenter who attended them.

A fine spectacle for a woman who definitely knew the importance of public image. May she finally rest in peace.

[Many thanks to author Catherine Delors, who first alerted me to this event in a most interesting article on her blog, Versailles and More.]


Catherine Delors said...

Thanks for the link, Julianne! My friend who attended with her family tells me the celebration was a total success, with (of course) first-class jousting, and gorgeous Renaissance costumes!

More reports on ye olde bloggue later...

May said...

A very handsome portrait of her, I'd never seen that one before.