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The resplendent sex symbol of the splendid century'... The reign of Athenais de Montespan as principal mistress of Louis XIV corresponds with the most glorious period of the Grand Siecle. Athenais was 'the true Queen of France', symbol of a dazzling French culture in the seventeenth century. As a lover, she risked the disgrace of double adultery to conduct an affair which scandalized Europe; as a patron she supported many of the leaders of the cultural renaissance including Moliere and Racine; as a mother she is the ancestor of most of the royal houses of Europe. The greatest beauty of her day, Athenais lived her life publicly and sensationally until accusations of witchcraft forced her from power in the 'Affair of the Poisons', a mystery which remains unsolved. She fascinates not only because she achieved power at a time when it was denied to most women, but because she achieved that power through her manipulation of a prescribed role.