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Professor Tracy Adams, University of Auckland, New Zealand, “The French Political Royal Mistress and Gallic Singularity”
February 16, 2018 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
We are so used to the idea of the royal mistress as a constituent element of the French king’s grandeur that we tend not to think about how strange it is that in Ancien Régime France nine women who were not part of the royal family exercised significant political influence.
Adams suggests that the key moment in the emergence of influential royal mistresses comes when the royal family, traditionally assimilated with the Holy Family, began to be assimilated with the more fluidly composed family of classical deities. Focusing on the period between Agnès Sorel (1422-1450), whose representation as the Virgin Mary can only be described as a “one-off” and the Duchess of Etampes (1508-1580), who performed her role with François I in the “theater” of Fontainebleau where massive frescoes drawn from classical mythology provided a gloss for her career, Adams draws attention to the convergence of theatrical reading practices and renewed interest in the chaste but fierce huntress Diana that made the role of politically influential royal mistress thinkable.Tracy Adams