Portrait d’Agnès Sorel dite Vierge de Melun, France, anonyme, XXe, d’après Jean Fouquet, vers 1452-1455, Cité royale de Loches / Conseil départemental d’Indre-et-Loire.
Maid-in-waiting of Isabella, Duchess of Lorraine and Duchess of Anjou, she caught the attention of Charles VII, who was 20 years her senior, in around 1443. She then joined the service of the queen, Marie of Anjou.
Agnès Sorel soon acquired the status of official favourite, a new title in the royal court. She brought a breath of fresh air and avant-garde fashion to this royal court, which caused quite a stir among the earnest entourage of the king. Although she had supporters and followers, she received hostility from some people, starting with the Dauphin Louis (future Louis XI). He insulted her in public and threatened her, leading to him being exiled by the king to Dauphiné.
The Château of Loches become one of her favourite residences. She gave the king three daughters, whom he officially recognised.Charles VII offered her sumptuous gifts and estates, including the château of Beauté-sur-Marne, which gave her the nickname "Dame de Beauté".
When expecting her fourth child, she joined the king in Normandy. Agnès Sorel died in childbirth at the age of 27 from dysentery. In 2005, analyses carried out on her corpse revealed mercury poisoning, but the cause could not be determined. Crime or poor medicine? The question remains unanswered.
At the will of Charles VII, the embalmed body of Agnès Sorel was transported to Loches. She was buried in Saint-Ours collegiate church, where her alabaster and marble recumbent effigy can still be admired today.