23 rue Beauregard Paris 75002
Witches? Curses? Poisons, Black Masses, and Baby Sacrifice during the 17th century reign of King Louis XIV? At this time, witchcraft was considered like sooo old school 15th century and dabbling a bit in the dark arts was generally considered harmless or just nonsense for bored women. Seeking the help of a bit of black magic to concoct love potions or have a fortunes told was something you kept discreet, but no one was going to go after you with a pitchfork for it.
However things got out of control in the 1670’s when numerous nobles of the King’s court were implicated with some pretty gruesome acts of sorcery. It all started in 1670 when the Marquise of Brinvilliers was found guilty of poisoning her father and brothers so she could inherit the family fortune and live happily ever after with her lover. Confessing under the torture we fondly recognize today as waterboarding; she was burned at the stake and then beheaded.
Around the same time, the Duchess of Orléan (sister in law to King Louis) Henriette also died suddenly under suspicious circumstances. Whispers began to turn into rumor and the police rounded up many alchemists and fortune tellers who were known to practice the dark arts. Looking for people to blame, the accused were tortured and sang like birds when names were demanded. Unfortunately for the King, this backfired because the names included many prominent members of his court, including his long-time official mistress Athénaïs, the Marquise de Montespan.
According to testimony, she sought out the magic services of the notorious Midwife turned Occultist Catherine “Lavoisin” Deshayes. On several occasions, Montespan was said to have performed Black Masses with Lavoisin at her evil Baby Killing Poison Factory home and other secret locations.
Hoping to revive the King’s fading interest in her, it was claimed that during these ceremonies she would act as an alter; lying naked on a table with a bowl on her stomach, where blood from a murdered baby would be collected. This would then be secretly given to the King to consume, acting as an aphrodisiac. Allegedly.
Many of the accused claimed to have spoken out falsely during torture, or gave names to avoid a worse fate. In addition, all court documents were eventually destroyed. When everything started to go B-A-N-A-N-S, the King created a special court to expedite the trial and sweep the whole scandal under a rug. Of the 400 people accused, 23 would be banished and 36 executed for witchcraft and murder. On the 22nd of February 1680 at the Place de Grève (Hotel de Ville today) Catherine Lavoisin was burned alive to the delight of a roaring public.
Found guilty for practicing black magic and murder, it was said the bodies of more than 2,000 babies were buried in her garden at her home formerly located on 23 rue Beauregard, where she performed abortions and her infamous black masses.
And since nothing cools off an already compromised relationship like rumors of murder conspiracy and Baby Blood Soup, the Affaire des Poisons would mark the beginning of the end of Madame de Montespan’s reign as the King’s Mistress.