Have you ever wondered what it was like to live as a French aristocrat in the 17th century? How they maintained their appearance, and kept up with the societal expectations of the time? Well, we have a fascinating story to tell you about Anne d’Alègre, a woman who lived during this period and took extreme measures to keep her alluring smile.
Anne d’Alègre was a woman of high society in France at the turn of the 17th century, and she preserved her smile by having her teeth secured with gold wires. This procedure was painful and may have made her condition worse, but it was an advanced dental technology of the time.
Remarkably, her bones and teeth were well preserved when her remains were discovered during archaeological excavations in 1988 at the Chateau de Laval in northwestern France. X-ray photographs of the skeleton’s jaws and teeth show where the fine gold wires were placed to tighten the woman’s teeth in place.
The researchers behind this study believe that Anne d’Alègre may have felt social pressure to preserve her teeth at a time when the perceived value and rank of women in high society was influenced by their appearance. They also suggest that her difficult life – as a Protestant during the French Wars of Religion, and as a twice-widowed socialite – may have contributed to her periodontal disease.
This study has improved our understanding of the compromises people made in the past between health and societal expectations. It’s a fascinating reminder of the lengths people would go to in order to fit in and maintain their appearance.