Françoise de Dreux

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Françoise de Dreux, was a French noble, an accused in the famous Poison Affair.

Françoise de Dreux was married to a member of the Paris Parlement and cousin of two judges in the Poison Affair. She was a popular member of the Paris high society and described as a charming beauty. She was passionately in love with the Duke of Richelieu, and a regular client of the poisoner La Joly.

She was brought to trial in April 1679 after having been pointed out by Marie Bosse on the charges of murder on Monsieur Pajot, Monsieur de Varennes; one of her lovers; one of the lovers of the duke of Richelieu; the attempted murder of her husband and the wife of the duke of Richelieu; and of having ordered poisoned wine from La Voisin. She was acquitted 27 April 1680. An epigram was written about her and the matter. After her poisoner Marguerite Joly was arrested, an issue of her arrest was ordered in 1681. She left the country to avoid arrest, and upon the appeal from her husband and her lover, she was spared any punishment for her crimes except exile from the capital. In the end, she was allowed to live in the capital anyway under her husband's supervision.

The case against Françoise de Dreux and Marguerite Leferon, as well as that of Marguerite de Poulaillon, attracted attention as they were the first clients, and the first members of the upper classes to be implicated in the affair, and the light sentences toward them, despite their guilt, was considered damaging for the legitimacy of the court; they were obviously a proof of class discrimination, as other accused for the same crime in the case, but belonging to a different social class, were sentenced to be executed for the same crime. One example was that of Madame Philbert, who in 1673 murdered her carpenter husband Brunet by poison of Marie Bosse in order to marry her lover, musician Philippe Rebille Philbert: her crime was identical to that of Leferon, but she was sentenced to hang after having her right hand cut off.

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