Madame de Brinvilliers

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For the 1831 opera based on her life, see La marquise de Brinvilliers (opera).
Marie Madeleine Marguerite d'Aubray, Marquise de Brinvilliers, 1676, after her imprisonment, portrait by Charles LeBrun.
The Marquise de Brinvilliers being tortured before her beheading.

Marie-Madeleine-Marguerite d'Aubray, Marquise de Brinvilliers (22 July 1630 – 17 July 1676) was a French murderer.

Crimes[edit]

Marie-Madeleine-Marguerite d'Aubray conspired with her lover, army captain Godin de Sainte-Croix to poison her father Antoine Dreux d'Aubray in 1666 and two of her brothers, Antoine d'Aubray and François d'Aubray, in 1670, in order to inherit their estates. There were also rumors that she had poisoned poor people during her visits to hospitals. [1]

She appears to have used Tofana poison, whose recipe she seems to have learned from her lover, the Chevalier de Sainte Croix, who had learned it from Exili, an Italian poisoner, who had been his cellmate in the Bastille. Her accomplice Sainte-Croix had died of natural causes in 1672.[1]

In 1675, she fled to England, Germany, and a convent, but was arrested in Liège. She was forced to confess and sentenced to death. [1] On 17 July 1676, she was tortured with the water cure, that is, forced to drink sixteen pints of water (more than 9 litres). She was then beheaded and her body was burned at the stake.

Her trial and the attendant scandal launched the Affair of the Poisons, which saw several French aristocrats charged with poison and witchcraft.

Fictional portrayals[edit]

Fictional accounts of her life include The Leather Funnel by Arthur Conan Doyle, The Marquise de Brinvilliers by Alexandre Dumas, père,[2] The Devil's Marchioness by William Fifield, and Intrigues of a Poisoner by Émile Gaboriau.[3] Robert Browning's 1846 poem "The Laboratory" imagines an incident in her life. Her capture and burning is mentioned in The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley. The plot of the novel The Burning Court by John Dickson Carr concerns a murder that appears to be the work of the ghost of Marie d'Aubray Brinvilliers.

There have been two musical treatments of her life. An opera titled La marquise de Brinvilliers with music by nine composers—Daniel Auber, Désiré-Alexandre Batton, Henri Montan Berton, Giuseppe Marco Maria Felice Blangini, François-Adrien Boieldieu, Michele Carafa, Luigi Cherubini, Ferdinand Hérold, and Ferdinando Paer—premiered at the Paris Opéra-Comique in 1831.[4] A musical comedy called "Mimi - A Poisoner's Comedy" written by Allen Cole, Melody A. Johnson, and Rick Roberts premiered in Toronto, Canada in September 2009.[5]

The Sailor Moon musical Kessen / Transylvania no Mori (Kaiteiban), included a character known as De Brinvilliers-sensei. She was a vampire who posed as a chemistry teacher who tested her students about various poisons.

Margarita Blankenheim, a character based on the Vocaloid Hatsune Miku, was based after the woman. A song sung by Hatsune Miku known as "Gift from the Princess who Brought Sleep" describes Margarita's actions.

References[edit]

Attribution

External links[edit]

  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). "article name needed". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne. 
  • Anne Somerset - The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide, and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV (St. Martin's Press (October 12, 2003) ISBN 0-312-33017-0)