Agnes Sorel – Mistress of Beauty
Inspiration to write can come from all places and last night as I was reading, Agnes Sorel, Mistress of Beauty by HRH Princess Michael of Kent, I was stopped in my tracks to read she was the first woman to wear a cut diamond. That was in the early 1400s. Apparently, until that time only royalty wore diamonds and many were worn uncut. It was scandalous that a woman wore a cut diamond necklace and that the woman was not a royal. I’m still astounded. It wasn’t DeBeers who started the whole diamond engagement ring tradition but it started in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy history’s first known diamond engagement ring.
Whilst on the subject of Agnes, the fact that she was the first acknowledged royal mistress and was bestowed the official title role of mistress which created within the court a semi-official role, the Maîtresse-en -titre. Again she is a stand out woman.
The title of the book I had believed came from her regaled beauty and if her statue is true to life she certainly was beautiful. But no, Dame of Beauté came from a lavish chateau known as Chateau de Beauté. Wouldn’t you just swoon to be given a house, let alone an impressive chateau called Beauty!
The other eyeopener for me was her personal style. She had the available funds to be exceptionally lavish and who could blame her. But her penchant for leaving her dress unlaced with a breast hanging out. That had to raise some eyebrows. I was reading in the novel how she had been asked to model for a sculpture of Madonna and child, quite ironic when you consider she considered herself more in keeping with Mary Magdalene. There is something very satisfying when what you read is still to be found today in the image I have used is of the very statue I was reading about.
So who knew, women did not wear diamonds until the 1400’s? I’m not even going to comment on lacing technique. I think that can and will remain in the 1400s.