The Affair of the Poisons
Poisoning is a strong theme in The Maids. It’s the ultimate aim of the central sisters and throughout the play they reference a multitude of poisoners from fiction and history.
One of the most striking is this series of murders that occurred in France from 1677–1682.
Over the course of many years, a number of prominent members of the aristocracy were implicated and sentenced on charges of poisoning and witchcraft. The scandal reached into the inner circle of the king. It led to the execution of 36 people.
The full list of those accused of involvement and their victims is vast indeed, and whilst we can assume that a number of those implicated were the result of opportunist score-settling and false accusations, the scale of the conspiracy is mind-boggling.