Marguerite de Valois (Queen of France and Navarre)

Female 1553 - 1615  (62 years)

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  • Name Marguerite de Valois (Queen of France and Navarre) 
    Born 14 May 1553  Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Paris, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Died 27 May 1615  Paris, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Valois Chapel St Denis, Paris Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I635  King of Scots
    Last Modified 6 Feb 2009 

    Father Henry II King of France,   b. 31 Mar 1519, St-Germain-en-Laye, Paris, France Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Jul 1559, Paris, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 40 years) 
    Mother Catherine Medici (Queen of France),   b. 13 Apr 1519, Florence, Tuscany, Italy Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 05 Jan 1589, Château de Blois Blois, Loir-et-Cher, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 69 years) 
    Married 28 Oct 1533 
    Family ID F314  Group Sheet

    Family Henry de Bourben (4th King of France and Navarre),   b. 13 Dec 1553, Pau, Pyrenees, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 May 1610, Paris, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 56 years) 
    Married 19 Aug 1572  Paris, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Divorced Yes, date unknown 
    Last Modified 6 Feb 2009 
    Family ID F264  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 14 May 1553 - Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Paris, France Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 19 Aug 1572 - Paris, France Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 27 May 1615 - Paris, France Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Valois Chapel St Denis, Paris Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Maps 
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos
    Marguerite Valois
    Marguerite Valois
    Personal Collection
    Marguerite de Valois
    Marguerite de Valois
    Personal Collection

  • Notes 
    • Marguerite de Valois (May 14, 1553 ? May 27, 1615), "Queen Margot" (La reine Margot) was Queen of France and Navarre.

      Early life
      Born Marguerite de Valois at the Royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye and nicknamed Margot by her brothers, she was the daughter of Henry II and Catherine de' Medici. Three of her brothers became kings of France: Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III. Her sister, Elisabeth of Valois, became the third wife of King Philip II of Spain.

      Arranged marriage
      Although Marguerite loved Henry of Guise, her mother would never allow the House of Guise any chance of controlling France. Instead, she offered to marry Marguerite to Philip II's son Carlos, Prince of Asturias, although the marriage never occurred. Serious negotiations for Marguerite's marriage to King Sebastian of Portugal were also considered but abandoned.

      Marguerite was forced to marry Henry of Bourbon, the son of Jeanne d'Albret, the Protestant Queen of Navarre, in a marriage that was designed to reunite family ties and create harmony between Catholics and Huguenots. Although Henry's mother opposed the marriage, many of her nobles supported it, and the marriage was arranged. Jeanne d'Albret died under suspicious circumstances before the marriage could take place; some suspected that a pair of gloves sent to Jeanne as a wedding gift from Catherine Medici had been poisoned.[1]

      August 18, 1572, the 19 year old Marguerite married Henry de Bourbon, who had become King of Navarre on the death of his mother. The groom, a Huguenot, remained outside the church for much of the wedding. It was reported that during the ceremony, the bride and groom stared straight ahead, never looking at each other. Some accounts say that, when asked to affirm her marriage vows, Marguerite remained stubbornly silent: Her brother Charles had to stand up and violently force her to nod her head in acceptance.

      Just six days after the wedding, on Saint Bartholomew's Day, a massacre of Huguenots was conducted by Parisian mobs.

      After the massacre
      Marguerite was credited with saving the lives of several prominent Protestants during the massacre, including her husband's, by keeping them in her rooms and refusing to admit the assassins, which included her lover, the duc de Guise. For her pains she was confined to the Louvre palace by her mother. Henry, too, was placed under house arrest and had to feign conversion to Catholicism.

      After more than three years of confinement at court, Henry escaped Paris in 1576, leaving his wife behind. Finally granted permission to return to her husband in Navarre, for the next three and a half years Queen Marguerite and her husband lived a scandalous life in Pau. Both openly kept other lovers, and they quarreled frequently. Henry IV kept mistresses, most notably Gabrielle d'Estrées from 1591 to 1599, who bore him four children.

      Coup at Agen
      After an illness in 1582, Queen Marguerite returned to her brother's court in France. But Henry III was soon scandalized by her reputation and forced her to leave the court. After long negotiations, she was allowed to return to her husband's court in Navarre, but she received an icy reception. Determined to overcome her difficulties, Queen Marguerite masterminded a coup d'état and seized power over Agen, one of her appanages. After several months of fortifying the city, the citizens of Agen revolted and Queen Marguerite fled to the castle of Carlat. In 1586, she was imprisoned by her brother Henry III in the castle of Usson, in Auvergne, where she spent eighteen years.

      In 1589, her husband succeeded to the French throne as Henry IV. Negotiations to dissolve the marriage were entered in 1592 and concluded in 1599 with an agreement that allowed her to maintain the title of queen. She settled her household on the Left Bank, in the Hostel de la Reyne Margueritte that is illustrated in Mérian's map of Paris, 1615 (illustration); the hôtel was built for her to designs by Jean Bullant in 1609. It was rebuilt in 1640 as the Hôtel Rochefoucauld.[2]

      During this time Queen Marguerite wrote her memoirs, consisting of a succession of stories relating to the affairs of her brothers Charles IX and Henry III with her former husband Henry IV. The memoirs were published posthumously in 1628 and scandalized the population. The strong-minded Marguerite was promiscuous throughout her life, and took many lovers both during her marriage, and after divorcing. Most notable were Joseph Boniface de La Môle, Jacques de Harlay, Seigneur de Chanvallon and Louis de Bussy d'Amboise.

      In the end, her beauty fading, Queen Marguerite lived in near poverty hounded by creditors to the point of selling all of her jewels. Reconciled to her former husband and his second wife, Marie de Medici, Queen Marguerite returned to Paris and established herself as a mentor of the arts and benefactress of the poor. She often helped plan events at court and nurtured Henry IV and Marie's children. Marguerite died in Paris on May 27, 1615, and is buried in the Chapel of the Valois.

      [edit] Marguerite de Valois in fiction
      Alexandre Dumas, père's novel Queen Margot ("La Reine Margot" in French) is a fictionalized account of the events surrounding Marguerite's marriage to Henry of Navarre. The novel was famously adapted into a 1994 French film, La Reine Margot. The role of Marguerite was played by the popular French actress Isabelle Adjani. The main action of Shakespeare's early comedy Love's Labour's Lost (1594?5) is based on an attempt at reconciliation, made in 1578, between Marguerite and Henry.

      La Reine Margot appears in Jean Plaidy's novel, Myself, My Enemy a fictional memoir of Queen Henriette Marie, consort of King Charles I. A chance meeting between the young princesse Henriette and the elderly reine Margot at the celebration of marriage of Henriette's brother, the King, and Anne of Austria hints to the reader about the fascinating character that Marguerite de Valois was.

      Marguerite de Valois also has a major role in the Meyerbeer opera Les Huguenots. This was one of Joan Sutherland's signature roles and she performed it for her farewell performance for the Australian Opera in 1990.

      See also
      Henry IV of France's wives and mistresses

      ^ Knecht, Catherine de' Medici, 151
      ^ "Histoire de la rue par les cartes"
    • Reign as consort 1589?1599
      Spouse Henry IV of France
      House House of Bourbon
      House of Valois
      Father Henry II of France
      Mother Catherine de' Medici
      Born 14 May 1553(1553-05-14)
      Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
      Died 27 May 1615 (aged 62)
      Burial Chapel of the Valois

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