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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Agnès Sorel

b. circa 1422, Fromenteau, France; d. 1450, Anneville, France

Agnès Sorel has the dubious distinction of being the first officially recognized royal mistress. She became a lady-in-waiting to Isabelle of Lorraine, then served the French queen Marie d’Anjou, wife of Charles VII (ruled 1422–61). Agnès soon became mistress of the king and played a prominent role in matters of state. In fact, Charles VII owed his power to several brilliant women, including Joan of Arc and Yolande of Aragon. Agnès and Charles had four children, all of whom he recognized. She died of dysentery at the age of twenty-eight, although it was rumored that she had been poisoned by enemies.