Béatrix de Cusance (1614-1663), reportedly described by the later Pope Alexander VII as the most beautiful woman of the 17th century, grew up in Besançon and moved in the courtly circles of the Spanish Infante Isabella in Brussels. Her husband the Prince of Cantecroix, whom she married in 1635, left her a widow two years later. She married the Duke of Lorraine a mere ten days after Cantecroix died, causing quite a scandal. To add insult to injury, the duke was already married to his niece Nicole de Lorraine (1608-1657). Pope Urban VIII, who naturally condemned bigamy, separated the couple, sending Béatrix to the Southern Netherlands. Refusing to give up her title and status, she as Duchess of Lorraine maintained and established contact with distinguished men and women, such as the British royalist exiles, the diplomat, poet, and secretary to the Court of Orange, Constantijn Huygens. This paper explores the seeming paradox that Béatrix, in spite of her illegitimate status, was treated and still recognised by most of the 'authorities' as an ‘authority’ herself, namely as the Duchess of Lorraine. It will discuss the way in which she represented herself, as the Duchess, by looking at correspondence, official documents and paintings.
|Number of pages||18|
|Journal||Annales de Bourgogne|
|Publication status||Published - 01 Jun 2018|