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Coup de Jarnac's hidden agenda at Saint-Germain-en-Laye castle

The place of the coup de Jarnac | Sigoise / CC-BY-SA
Castle Diane de Poitiers François I of France St-Germain-en-Laye castle

The last duel in France history took place here, in Saint-Germain castle, on July 10th 1547...

François Ier, an old king at the end of his life, witnessed a quarrel between two ladies: Diane de Poitiers and Anne de Pisseleu.

Diane, king Henri II’s mistress (he was François’ son) and Anne, François’ favourite. Those ladies could not stand each other!

Anne just married off her sister to baron of Jarnac. A very elegant guy, who spent a small fortune in threads! The young Henri II pointed this out to Jarnac. This one answered that it was his mother-in-law’s money. So, the Dauphin started to spread this gossip everywhere: Jarnac had it off with his dad’s second wife, for money...

Furious, Jarnac insulted the Dauphin and wanted to fight a duel with him. But the future king could not fight! Someone had to replace him... Who? Henri and Diane’s mate: François de Vivonne, a very sturdy guy.

But the old François Ier was still here! He suddenly realized that the little Jarnac would be crushed, in this fight... so, he forbade the duel.

Jarnac didn’t like that: he was humiliated and demanded redress!! So, after François’ death, Henri II decided the duel would take place! Jarnac would fight with Vivonne, as planned. In a field in front of the castle...

Jarnac wounded his enemy under his left knee, 3 times. Aaaah, it was his secret new thrust he used to repeat hundred times with his fencing master!

Then, he asked the king to give him back his honour. Henri apologized to him, half-heartedly... But he was furious with Vivonne, because he failed.

Humiliated, Jarnac torn out his bandages and reopened his wounds. He died, covered in blood...

Today, the French expression coup de Jarnac refers to a violent blow, treacherous and unexpected. And yet in the beginning, it was a loyal and skilful fencing thrust...

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I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!