E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
So called from Nicholas de Harlay, Sieur de Sancy, who bought it for 70,000 francs (£2,800) of Don Antonio, Prince of Crato and King of Portugal in partibus. It belonged at one time to Charles the Bold of Burgundy, who wore it with other diamonds at the battle of Granson, in 1476; and after his defeat it was picked up by a Swiss soldier, who sold it for a gulden to a clergyman. The clergyman sold it sixteen years afterwards (1492) to a merchant of Lucerne for 5,000 ducats (£1,125). It was next purchased (1495) by Emanuel the Fortunate of Portugal, and remained in the house of Aviz till the kingdom was annexed to Spain (1580), when Don Antonio sold it to Sieur de Sancy, in whose family it remained more than a century. On one occasion the sieur, being desirous of aiding Henri I. in his struggle for the crown, pledged the diamond to the Jews at Metz. The servant entrusted with it, being attacked by robbers, swallowed the diamond, and was murdered, but Nicholas de Harlay subsequently recovered the diamond out of the dead body of his unfortunate messenger. We next find it in the possession of James II., who purchased it for the crown of England. James carried it with him in his flight to France in 1688, when I was sold to Louis XIV. for £25,000. Louis XV. wore it at his coronation, but during the Revolution it was again sold. Napoleon in his high and palmy days bought it, but it was sold in 1835 to
Prince Paul Demidoff for £80,000. The prince sold it in 1830 to M. Levrat, administrator of the Mining Society, who was to pay for it in four instalments; but his failing to fulfil his engagement became, in 1832, the subject of a lawsuit, which was given in favour of the prince. We next hear of it in Bombay; and in 1867 it was transmitted to England by the firm of Forbes & Co. It now belongs to the Czar.