Musée des confluences

The poisoning case in the court of Louis XIV

Thursday the 15th of February | 7 pm

On the 17th of July 1676, Marie-Madeleine d'Aubray, Marquise of Brinvilliers, was beheaded on Place de Grève in Paris before rowdy spectators, who were impressed by the courage of this petite and frail woman. "She died as she lived – with resolve", wrote Madame de Sévigné. In attendance that evening, the famous letter writer would not have missed a moment of a dramatic story that had captivated the people of France for four years. Accused of having poisoned her father, her two brothers, her husband, her sister and her daughter, the Marquise of Brinvilliers was one of the first serial killers in history. But did she really commit the crimes with which she was charged? Historian Agnès Walch, specialised in moral tragedies, has conducted this unprecedented investigation. She brings to life a Paris fascinated with magic, poison and occult sciences, in a world where money holds more sway than ever before, particularly for the weak-willed... Bringing together the evidence for the case, she throws new light on the verdict of the magistrates, who were influenced by their gender biases and a political elite obsessed with conspiracy. Neither black or white, the Marquise is depicted here in her true colours.

Agnès Walch
, professor of modern history (University of Artois)

Signing session at the museum bookshop at the end of the evening.

Portrait de la célèbre marquise de Brinvilliers