Friday, 17 February 2012

The Day Jean de Poitiers was Spared

Diane’s father, Jean de Poitiers, had been sentenced to death by beheading for his role in Charles de Bourbon’s treason against the King. Thanks to Diane’s intervention, his life was spared.
February 17, 1524 was the day that had been set for the execution. Despite the King’s promise to Diane, her father was stripped of his Order of Saint Michel and all of his titles and honors. He made his will and prayed with his priest. At three o’clock in the afternoon, his hands were tied and he was placed on a horse for the short ride along Rue Grenier-sur-l’Eau to the Place de Grève. 

He was shaking from fever and he was so weak he needed to be supported by a man on either side. He was led to his place of execution, stripped of his over-clothes, and left shivering, with his head on the block, for over an hour. Finally, the King’s messenger, galloped into the square, delivered the reprieve and read it aloud. The full transcript of the reprieve can be found in “A Portrait in Black and White.”
Place de Greve from an old drawing
The reprieve was granted for Jean de Poitiers’ past service to his country and his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
The other parties to Charles’ plot were not so fortunate. They remained in prison, and could be executed whenever the King fancied. Charles de Bourbon remained at large.
The square as it appears today,  dominated by Hôtel de Ville

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