Madame de Brinvilliers Haiku

Sure, kill family

For sweet cash, but try not to

Kill in same damned way.

You know, let’s continue with this ‘decapitated ladies’ theme we’ve sort of got going here. This time, our subject wasn’t motivated by any motivation higher than ‘I want money and fuck my family.’

Marie-Madeleine-Marguerite d’Aubray, marquise de Brinvilliers (1630-1676) had it going on. Hard not to, when you’re a beautiful female aristocrat in 17th century France. Sure, she was iffy about her husband, but it can’t have been that terrible for her, as he didn’t have any shits to give when she took up with his friend, the Chevalier de Sainte-Croix.

But you know who had lots of shits to give? Brinvilliers’ father, Dreux d’Aubray, civil lieutenant of Paris, as Sainte-Croix was a well-known terrible person. He managed to get him thrown in the Bastille for a year. This made Brinvilliers very, very angry, and she was still angry when SC was released. So the couple learned the fine art of poisoning.

D’Aubray died after a sudden, agonizing illness, despite the exemplary care given to him by his contrite daughter. In her grief, Brinvilliers thought how nice it would have been to inherit the whole fortune, rather than a tiny bit. So convenient – sorry, sad, when her dear brothers succumbed to similar illnesses.

(She tried to kill her husband too, and plotted against her abbess sister and widowed sister-in-law, but it didn’t work out. Rumors went that she practiced poisoning on hospital patients, but we can’t verify.)

This should have rang alarm bells, but they didn’t ring until SC died, leaving a box that was not to be opened until Brinvilliers died. Huh. Oh, what’s this? A FULL CONFESSION.

Brinvilliers got out of Dodge, living off money sent to her by the very sister she’d plotted to kill, but was caught by a police agent disguised as a priest. She did confess, but added, cryptically, “Half the people of quality are involved in this sort of thing, and I could ruin them if I were to talk.”

She was beheaded, impressively cleanly, and her ashes were scattered to the winds. And thus began the Affair of Poisons.

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