A Woman to Know: Agnes Sorel

By our Lord's passion, this woman is the cause of all our misfortunes. — Louis XI

(image via The Brooklyn Museum)

Once a lowly queen's lady-in-waiting, Agnes would soon become the first officially-recognized mistress in the French court. This dubious distinction, plus her penchant for low-cut gowns, earned her a number of high society enemies in the palace. The "Agnes Sorel-style bodice" revolutionized courtly fashion; soon, ladies noblige sported frocks with one boob out (seriously, this was a *real style*).

But beyond the scandalous ensembles, Agnes had a very powerful relationship with King Charles VII. During her years of power, she counseled the King on topics ranging from place settings to politics — and now, many historians wonder if her sudden death in 1450 was in fact a poisoning, orchestrated by her royal rivals.

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** Thank you for Abby Ohlheiser for recommending Agnes as a woman to know! And for being my nerd geek support. <3 **
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