Anne De Pisseleu was born in 1508 at the Chateau Fountain-Lavaganne in Oise, Picardy, France; the daughter of Guillaume de Pisseleu, Siegneur d'Heilly and Anne Sanguin.
From her step-mother, Madeleine De Laval, she was given a complete education, studying art and literature, Greek and Latin as well as math and science. She was also instructed in the social graces and at the age of 14 was sent to the Court of Francois I; where she took her place as a Lady in Waiting to the Queen mother, Louise De Savoie; herself a scholar and patron of the arts.
When King Francois returned from his imprisonment in Spain in 1526; his mother introduced him to Anne, whom she had taken under her wing in hopes that her son would replace his former mistress, Francoise De Foix, Madame De Chateaubriand.
His equal in intellect and ambition, Anne would remain his confidante, lover and friend, for the rest of his life.
In 1530, when the King's new wife, Queen Eleanor of Habsburg, entered Paris, Anne shared a viewing window with the King, and in 1533, he in turn arranged her marriage to Jean De Brosse, the governor of Brittany. In 1537, he created the Duchy of Etampes for her husband, and from then on Anne referred to herself as the Duchess of Etampes.
Anne was very jealous of Diane de Poitiers. The two women fought constantly, and managed to divide the nobility on both religious grounds and military alliances. Diane was a devout Catholic with family ties to the House of Guise and a good friend of the formidable Admiral, Anne De Montmorency; while Anne ascribed to the teachings of Lutheran and Calvin and hated Montmorency.
Anne had no doubt heard the rumours that Diane became the King's lover to save her father. She also hated the way François I admired and respected Diane, often choosing her as a riding partner.
Anne and began to spread rumours that Diane's legendary beauty came through the practice of witchcraft. Previously, Diane ignored her critics; she now became frightened. A charge of witchcraft could result in her being burned at the stake without even a trial. She turned to young Prince Henri for protection. The beautiful widow, although almost twenty years his senior, became Henri's s mistress.
When King Francois died in 1547; Diane De Poitiers took the opportunity to have Anne banished from Court. All of her jewels were seized and she and her former supporters banished from Court.
NEXT: HE HEART OF THE KING