1805: Not Bartlett Ambler, possible buggerer 1887: Charles Smith

1679: La Bosse, Poison Affair culprit

May 8th, 2017 Headsman

On this date in 1679, the French soothsayer Marie Bosse went to the stake as France dealt out death for the Affair of the Poisons.

After the disgrace and 1676 execution of that aristocrat Locusta, the Madame de Brinvilliers, Louis XIV set his pathbreaking police chief on the trail of the “divineresses” whose potions were sought and feared as the remedy to every domestic ill.

Over six-odd years some 36 souls would succumb to this investigation, 34 upon the scaffold and two tortured to death in prison. Perhaps the best-known of these was a woman named La Voisin, whom we have met in these grim pages before. Our subject today is the woman who named La Voisin to her prosecutors.

Too deep in her cups at a Christmas 1678 party — a time at which the few arrests of alchemists and folk magicians could not yet really be said to be a Poison Affair — our principal La Bosse dropped some indiscreet braggadocio as to her prowess and market share in the poisoning game.

When word got back to the torchlit cowls at the Chambre Ardente, she’d be arrested and interrogated to great profit for investigators. La Bosse blabbed all about other poisoners, including the king’s own lover, the Madame de Montespan and the aforementioned La Voisin.

This was fatal to La Bosse as well as to La Voisin but proved less so to highest muckity-mucks. Accusations reaching the king’s own bedchamber and perhaps even compassing contemplated regicide were thought dangerous to explore and helped to drop the curtain on the entire poison-hunt: “the enormity of their crimes proved their safeguard,” in the supposed words of the investigator.

Later in 1679, a Thomas Corneille-Jean Donneau de Vise comedy ridiculing poisoners and pretended magicians debuted. La Divineresse, whose title character was named “Jobin” and had an associate named “Du Clos”, was a smash hit, running for several months — which was more than could be said by that time for these characters’ real-life inspirations. (La Voisin went to the stake in February 1680.)

Recommended: an eight-part blog series on Poison at the Court of Louis XIV begins here; scroll down to advance installment by installment.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 17th Century,Burned,Capital Punishment,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,France,History,Public Executions,Scandal,Women

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One thought on “1679: La Bosse, Poison Affair culprit”

  1. The La Voisin affair was rather damaging for the French court as so many courtiers were involved. Nevertheless not the King who did neither need or like these illegal foolery, the Queen who was far too religious, the King’s brother who was gay, superstituous and not inclined and the King’s sister-in-law who was superintelligent and a very good person. But Madame de Montespan, the King’s mistress was part of this group and rumor has it that she had one of her rivals poisoned with poison given by La Voisin. La Voisin was crazy enough to think she was a real witch and held Black Masses with her cronies in which a live baby was offered to the Bent One.For La Voison also ran a sort of abortion clinic were the live children were kept for evil purposes. LaVoisin and her bunch were bonkers and criminals and probably got the punishment they deserved.

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