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Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France$
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Kathleen Wellman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300178852

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300178852.001.0001

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Diane de Poitiers

Diane de Poitiers

An Idealized Mistress

(p.185) 4 Diane de Poitiers
Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France

Kathleen Wellman

Yale University Press

This chapter focuses on one of the most prominent French royal mistresses, Diane de Poitiers. Making effective use of Renaissance arts, literature, and rhetoric, Diane not only constructed an image of herself as a quintessential example of virtue but also presented a new image of Henry II, less as family man and more as model of chivalric romance. She demonstrated how successfully a royal mistress could assume a queen's roles and representations. In the eyes of Renaissance artists, Diane came to embody Diana, the goddess of hunting, and to epitomize the artistic glory of the French Renaissance. Her proficiency at defining and exploiting those representations made her virtually synonymous with them, and in large part, Henry II's association with Diane defined his reign. Diane has been used to romanticize Henry II, his reign, and the French Renaissance in general.

Keywords:   chivalric romance, French royal mistresses, Diane de Poitiers, Renaissance arts, Henry II, Diana, goddess of hunting

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