Confessions of Louis XI
Extracted from the story of his life, dictated by himself to Ms. Ermance Dufaux (see March and
The poisoning of the Duke of Guyenne
(...) then I engaged with Guyenne. Odet d’Aidies, the Lord of Lescun, who had quarreled with me,
conducted the war preparations with a wonderful vivacity. It was with great effort that he fed the
warlike ardor of my brother Charles, the Duke of Guyenne. He had to combat a fearful adversary in
my brother’s spirit: Lady Thouars, Charles’ lover.
That woman was not trying anything else but to take advantage of the power she exerted over the
young Duke, aiming at deviating him from the war as she did not ignore that the war’s objective
was her lover’s wedding. Her secret enemies had affected her by praising the beauty and brilliant
qualities of the bride. This was enough to persuade her that her disgrace was certain if that princess
married the Duke of Guyenne. Sure about my brother’s passion, she resorted to tears, prayers and to
every extravagance of a woman lost in such a situation. The coward Charles gave in and
communicated his new resolutions to Lescun. Lescun immediately communicated the Duke of
Brittany and others also interested: they became alarmed and sent representations to my brother.
That did nothing but deepen him once again in his irresolution.
The favorite, however, and not without much difficulty, was able to dissuade him of the war and
marriage again. Since then the death of the favorite was decided by all princes.
Afraid that my brother would attribute her death to Lescun, whose antipathy towards Mrs. Thouars
was known to him, they decided to conquer Jean Faure Duversois, a Benedictine monk, my
brother’s confessor and Abbot of Saint-Jean d’Angély. This man was one of the greatest enthusiasts
of Mrs. Thouars and nobody ignored his hatred for Lescun, whose political influence he envied.
It was unlikely that my brother would attribute to him the death of his lover since that priest was
one of her favorites who deserved the greatest trust. Since his thirst for greatness was the only thing
that attached him to the favorite, he was easily corrupted.
For a long time I tried to seduce the Abbot but he always rejected the offers. However, he always
left the impression that I would attain my goal. He easily noticed the situation he would find himself
in by doing the service the princes requested from him, as he knew that it would not be difficult to
them to get rid of an accomplice. On another hand he was aware of my brother’s instability and was
afraid of becoming his victim.
Compromising his safety with his interests, he decided to sacrifice his young master. Taking such a
side he had as many chances of success as failure. To the princes, the death of the young Duke of
Guyenne should be the result of an error or an unforeseen accident. Even when attributed to the
Duke of Brittany and his accomplices, the favorite’s death would go unnoticed, so to speak, as
nobody would discover the motives that gave it real importance from a political point of view.
Admitting that they could be accused of my brother’s death, they would be exposed to the greatest
dangers, once it would have been my duty to severely punish them. They knew that I did not lack
good will and that the people could turn against them. Then the Duke of Burgundy, not knowing
what happened in Guyenne, would have been forced to become my ally, or to be accused of
complicity. Even in this latest hypothesis, everything would have moved in my favor. I could have
said that my brother, the reckless, was a traitor criminal, leading the Parliament to condemn him to
death, by his assassination. Such condemnations, pronounced by such a high tribunal, always had
great results, especially when of an incontestable legitimacy.
It is easy to see how much interest the princes had to manipulate the Abbot. On another hand, there
was nothing easier than secretly eliminating him.
But with me the Abbot of Saint-Jean had more chances of impunity. His service to me was of the
greatest importance, particularly at that point in time, as the formidable association which was
forming, having the Duke of Guyenne at the center, should infallibly loose me. The only means of
destroying it was with the death of my brother, which represented my salvation. He aspired the
favors of Tristan, the hermit, thinking that by this he would be above him or, at least, he would
share my good graces and my trust in him.
In fact, the princes had been imprudent enough to leave incontestable proofs of their guilt in his
hands: these were multiple texts, written in very vague terms, not being difficult to replace my
brother’s name by his favorite, appearing between the lines. Giving me those documents he pushed
away any doubt with respect to my innocence; he thus subtracted the only danger for being on the princes’ side and, proving that I wasn’t by any means involved in the poisoning, he would no longer
be my accomplice, exempting me from any interest in killing him.
There was still the need to prove that he wasn’t himself involved in all that. This was a lesser of a
problem. For starters he was confidently under my protection; besides, the princes did not have
proofs of his culpability and he could back fire the accusations, as slander.
Once all that was taken into account, he sent me an envoy that pretended to have spontaneously
come to tell me that the Abbot of Saint-Jean was unhappy with my brother. I immediately saw the
advantage I could take from such an event and fell in the trap prepared by the shrewd Abbot. Not
suspecting that the envoy could have been sent by him, I dispatched one of my trustworthy spies.
Saint-Jean represented so well his role that my envoy was deceived. Based on his report I wrote to
the Abbot in order to conquer him. He showed a lot of qualms but, although with some difficulty, I
triumphed. He agreed to be in charge of the poisoning of my brother. I was so perverted that I did
not hesitate in committing such a horrific crime.
Henri de la Roche, the Duke’s squire, was in charge of preparing the peach that would be offered by
the Abbot himself to Mrs. Thouars. While enjoying a lunch at the table with my brother, the beauty
of that fruit was notable. She drew the prince’s attention and shared it with him. They had just eaten
when Mrs. Thouars felt excruciating pain in her stomach, soon expiring amidst terrible sufferings.
My brother experienced the same symptoms but with much less violence.
It may perhaps seem strange that the Abbot had used such means to poison his master. Truly, the
minor incident could spoil his plan. It was, however, the only one authorized by prudence as it
admitted the possibility of a mistake. Touched by the quality of the peach, it was natural that Mrs.
Thouars called the attention of his lover and offered him half. He, therefore, could not refuse eating
it. Admitting that he would eat only a small piece, this would be sufficient to provoke the initial
symptoms needed. ; a posterior poisoning could determine his death, as a consequence of the first
The princes were taken by horror as soon as they heard about the dismal poisoning of the favorite.
They were not in the least suspicious of the Abbot’s premeditation. They only thought of giving the
young lady’s death and the disease of her lover a natural appearance. None of them took the
initiative of trying an antidote to the unfortunate prince, afraid of association. In fact such an
attitude would indicate knowledge about the poison and, consequently, that someone was
accomplice in the crime.
Thanks to his youth and strength of temper, Charles resisted longer to the poison. His physical
sufferings did nothing but drive him back to his old projects with more intensity. Afraid that his
illness could diminish the zeal of his officers, he wanted them to renew their oaths of fidelity. As he
demanded that they should swear allegiance to him, against everything and everyone, even against
me, some of them, on fearing death which seemed close, refused to obey, changing sides to my
OBSERVATION: In the previous issues we saw interesting details given by Louis XI with respect to
his death. The fact we have just reported is not less notable from a historical point of view as well
as with respect to the phenomenon of manifestations. In fact, we only had difficulty regarding the
choice: the life of this King, as dictated by himself, is incontestably the most complete that we have
and, we can say, the most impartial. The state of the spirit of Louis XI allows him to appreciate
things in their just value today. By the three chosen fragments one can see how he passes judgment
onto himself. He explains his politics better than any of his historians. He does not acquit himself
for his behavior and, in his death, so sad and common to such a powerful monarch, a few hours
earlier, he sees an anticipated punishment.
As for the phenomenon of manifestations, this work offers a special interest. It proves that the
spiritist manifestations can enlighten us about history, as long as we know how to position ourselves
in favorable conditions. We hope that the publication of Louis XI life, as well as the not less
interesting of Charles VIII, equally concluded, may soon be placed side by side with that of Joan of