Marguerite d'Angoulême, Reina de Navarra

Is your surname d'Angoulême?

Research the d'Angoulême family

Marguerite d'Angoulême, Reina de Navarra's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Marguerite d'Angoulême, Reina de Navarra

Also Known As: "Margaret Of /Navarre/", "Marguerite C /Orleans/"
Birthdate: (57)
Birthplace: Angoulême, Charente, Poitou-Charentes, France
Death: December 21, 1549 (57)
Odos, Haute-Pyrénées, Midi-Pyrénées, France
Place of Burial: Pau, Basses-Pyrenees, France
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Charles d'Orleans, comte d'Angoulême and Louise De Orleans, comtesse d'Angoulême
Wife of Henri II d'Albret, rey de Navarra and Charles IV, duc d'Alençon
Mother of Jeanne d'Albret, III; Jean d'Albret and Marguerite d'Alençon
Sister of François I, roi de France
Half sister of Souveraine d'Angoulême and Jeanne d'Angoulême, comtesse de Bar-sur-Seine

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Marguerite d'Angoulême, Reina de Navarra

  • Marguerite de Navarre, appelée également Marguerite d’Angoulême et parfois Marguerite d'Alençon, est née le 11 avril 1492 à Angoulême et morte le 21 décembre 1549 à Odos-en-Bigorre. Elle joue un rôle capital au cours de la première partie du XVIe siècle : elle exerce une influence profonde en diplomatie et manifeste un certain intérêt pour les idées nouvelles, encourageant les artistes tant à la Cour de France qu'à Nérac. Sœur du roi François Ier, elle est la mère de Jeanne d'Albret (reine de Navarre et mère du futur Henri IV). Elle est aussi connue pour être, après Christine de Pisan et Marie de France, l'une des premières femmes de lettres françaises, surnommée la dixième des muses.
  • Marguerite de Navarre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about sixteenth-century queen of Navarre. For the twelfth-century Sicilian queen, see Margaret of Navarre, Queen of Sicily.

Marguerite d'Angoulême

Queen consort of Navarre, c. 1527

Tenure 1492 - 1549

Spouse Charles IV, Duke of Alençon

Henry II of Navarre


Jeanne III of Navarre

Jean of Navarre

House House of Albret

House of Valois

Father Charles, Count of Angoulême

Mother Louise of Savoy

Born 11 April 1492(1492-04-11)

Angoulême, France

Died 21 December 1549 (aged 57)

Odos, France

Marguerite de Navarre (French: Marguerite d'Angoulême, Marguerite de Valois, or Marguerite de France) (11 April 1492 – 21 December 1549), also known as Marguerite of Angoulême and Margaret of Navarre, was the queen consort of King Henry II of Navarre. Her brother became king of France, as Francis I and the two siblings were responsible for the celebrated intellectual and cultural court and salons of their day in France.

Marguerite is the ancestress of the Bourbon kings of France, being the mother of Jeanne d'Albret, whose son, Henry of Navarre, succeeded as Henry IV of France, the first Bourbon king.

As an author and a patron of humanists and reformers, she was an outstanding figure of the French Renaissance. Samuel Putnam called her "The First Modern Woman".

Early life

Marguerite was born in Angoulême on 11 April 1492, the eldest child of Louise of Savoy and Charles, Count of Angoulême. Her father was a direct descendant of Charles V. He was a claimant to the crown, if both Charles VIII and the presumptive heir, Louis, Duke of Orléans, failed to produce male offspring.

On 16 February 1488, her father, Charles, married eleven-year old Louise, the daughter of Philip II of Savoy and Margaret of Bourbon, who was the sister of the Duke of Beaujeu. Louise was considered one of the most brilliant feminine minds in France and she named their first-born, "Marguerite", after her own mother.

Two years after Marguerite's birth, the family moved from Angoulême to Cognac, "where the Italian influence reigned supreme, and where Boccaccio was looked upon as a little less than a god". Marguerite's brother, Francis, later to be King Francis I of France, was born there on 12 September 1494.

She had several half-siblings, from illegitimate relationships of her father, who were raised alongside Marguerite and her brother. Two girls, Jeanne of Angoulême and Madeleine, were born of her father's long relationship with his châtelaine, Antoinette de Polignac, Dame de Combronde, who later became Louise's lady-in-waiting and confidante.[1] Another half-sister, Souveraine, was born to Jeanne le Conte, another of her father's mistresses.

Her father died when she was nearly four; her year-old brother became heir presumptive to the throne of France. Thanks to her mother, who was only nineteen when widowed, Marguerite was tutored from her earliest childhood by excellent teachers and given a classical education that included Latin. The young princess was to be called "Maecenas to the learned ones of her brother's kingdom". Maecenas served a confidant and political adviser to Octavian, (who was to become the first emperor of Rome as Caesar Augustus and thereby, assessed as a quasi-culture minister to the emperor), and his name had become a synonymous to a wealthy, generous, and enlightened patron of the arts.

When Marguerite was ten, Louise tried to marry her to the Prince of Wales, who later would become Henry VIII of England; but this was "declined with thanks".

"Never", she wrote, "shall a man attain to the perfect love of God who has not loved to perfection some creature in this world." Perhaps the one real love in her life was Gaston de Foix, nephew of King Louis XII. Gaston went to Italy, however, and died a hero at Ravenna, when the French defeated Spanish and Papal forces.

First marriage

At the age of seventeen Marguerite was married to Charles IV of Alençon, aged twenty, by the decree of King Louis XII (who also arranged the marriage of his ten year old daughter, Claude, to Francis). With this decree, Marguerite was forced to marry a generally kind, but practically-illiterate man for political expediency—"the radiant young princess of the violet-blue eyes... had become the bride of a laggard and a dolt". She had been bartered to save the royal pride of Louis, by keeping the County of Armagnac in the family. There were no offspring from this marriage.

Second marriage and recognition

After the death of her first husband in 1525, Marguerite married Henry II of Navarre. Ferdinand II of Aragon had invaded the Kingdom of Navarre in 1512 and Henry ruled only Lower Navarre. Approximately a year after the lead image (in the information box) that was painted by Jean Clouet, on 16 November 1528, Marguerite gave birth to a daughter by Henry, the future Jeanne III of Navarre, who became the mother of the future Henry IV of France.

A Venetian ambassador of that time praised Marguerite as knowing all the secrets of diplomatic art, hence to be treated with deference and circumspection. Marguerite's most remarkable adventure involved freeing her brother, King Francis I, who had been held prisoner in Spain by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor after being captured in the Battle of Pavia, Italy, 1525. During a critical period of the negotiations, Queen Marguerite rode horseback through wintry woods, twelve hours a day for many days, to meet a safe-conduct deadline, while writing her diplomatic letters at night.

Her only son, Jean, was born in Blois on 7 July 1530, when Marguerite was thirty-eight, an age considered old by sixteenth century standards. The child died on Christmas Day the same year. Scholars believe that her grief motivated Marguerite to write her most controversial work, Miroir de l'âme pécheresse, in 1531.

Sorbonne theologians condemned the work as heresy. A monk said Marguerite should be sewn into a sack and thrown into the Seine. Students at the Collège de Navarre satirized her in a play as "a Fury from Hell". Her brother forced the charges to be dropped, however, and obtained an apology from the Sorbonne.


Following the example set by her mother, Marguerite became the most influential woman in France during her lifetime when her brother acceded to the crown as Francis I in 1515. Her salon, known as the "New Parnassus", became famous internationally.

The writer, Pierre Brantôme, said of her: "She was a great princess. But in addition to all that, she was very kind, gentle, gracious, charitable, a great dispenser of alms and friendly to all."

The Dutch humanist, Erasmus, wrote to her: "For a long time I have cherished all the many excellent gifts that God bestowed upon you; prudence worthy of a philosopher; chastity; moderation; piety; an invincible strength of soul, and a marvelous contempt for all the vanities of this world. Who could keep from admiring, in a great King's sister, such qualities as these, so rare even among the priests and monks?"

Marguerite wrote many poems and plays. She also wrote the classic collection of stories, the Heptameron, as well as a remarkably intense religious poem, Miroir de l'âme pécheresse or Mirror of the Sinful Soul. This particular poem is a first-person, mystical narrative of the soul as a yearning woman calling out to Christ as her father-brother-lover. That her work was passed to the royal court of England provides the basis for conjecture that Marguerite had influence on the Protestant reformation in England.

Role in the Reformation

Anne Boleyn, future second wife and Queen to Henry VIII of England, had been a lady-in-waiting to Queen Claude during her years in France before returning to England. There is conjecture that the court of Queen Claude and the court of Marguerite overlapped and that, perhaps, Anne was in service to Marguerite rather than to Claude, as well as that Anne Boleyn may have become a friend, admirer, and disciple to Marguerite, who absorbed Marguerite's radical views about Christianity. A written letter by Anne Boleyn after she became queen exists in which the Boleyn makes strong expressions of affection to Marguerite.

It is conjectured that Marguerite gave Anne the original manuscript of Miroir de l'âme pécheresse at some point. It is certain that in 1545, sometime after Anne Boleyn's execution by her husband Henry VIII, that Anne's daughter, who would become Elizabeth I (1533–1603), translated this very same poem by Marguerite into English when she was twelve years old and presented it, written in her own hand, to her then-stepmother, the English Queen Katherine Parr. This literary connection among Marguerite, Anne, Katherine Parr, and the future Queen Elizabeth I suggests a direct mentoring link between the legacy of reformist religious convictions and Marguerite.

As a generous patron of the arts, Marguerite befriended and protected many artists and writers, among them François Rabelais (1483–1553), Clément Marot (1496–1544), and Pierre de Ronsard (1524–1585). Also, Marguerite was mediator between Roman Catholics and Protestants (including John Calvin). Although Marguerite espoused reform within the Catholic Church, she was not a Calvinist. She did, however, do her best to protect the reformers and dissuaded Francis I from intolerant measures as long as she could. After her death, six "Catholic Wars" occurred, including the terrible "St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre" of 1572.

Eminent American historian Will Durant wrote: "In Marguerite the Renaissance and the Reformation were for a moment one. Her influence radiated throughout France. Every free spirit looked upon her as protectoress and ideal .... Marguerite was the embodiment of charity. She would walk unescorted in the streets of Navarre, allowing any one to approach her and would listen at first hand to the sorrows of the people. She called herself 'The Prime Minister of the Poor'. Henri, her husband, King of Navarre, believed in what she was doing, even to the extent of setting up a public works system that became a model for France. Together he and Marguerite financed the education of needy students."

Jules Michelet (1798–1874), the most celebrated historian of his time, wrote of her: "Let us always remember this tender Queen of Navarre, in whose arms our people, fleeing from prison or the pyre, found safety, honor, and friendship. Our gratitude to you, Mother of our [French] Renaissance! Your hearth was that of our saints, your heart the nest of our freedom."

Pierre Bayle (1647–1706), French philosopher and critic, whose Dictionnaire historique et critique (Historical and Critical Dictionary, 1697) greatly influenced the French Encyclopedists and the rationalist philosophers of the eighteenth century, such as Voltaire and Diderot, esteemed her highly, writing: "... for a queen to grant her protection to people persecuted for opinions which she believes to be false; to open a sanctuary to them; to preserve them from the flames prepared for them; to furnish them with a subsistence; liberally to relieve the troubles and inconveniences of their exile, is an heroic magnanimity which has hardly any precedent ..."

Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) died while guest of Marguerite and her brother, Francis I. They had been raised at Château d'Amboise, which belonged to their mother, Louise of Savoy. The king maintained his residence there and Marguerite maintained a residence nearby. During the first few years of the reign of Franics the château in which he lived reached the pinnacle of its glory. da Vinci had been the architect of a large château for them, among many other projects, and they provided quarters for him when he left Italy and joined her court. As a guest of the king, who provided him with a comfortable stipend, Leonardo da Vinci came to Château Amboise in December 1515 and lived and worked in the nearby Clos Lucé, connected to the château by an underground passage. Tourists are told that he is buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert, adjoining the Château, which had been built in 1491–96.[2]

In 1550, one year after Marguerite's death, a tributary poem, Annae, Margaritae, Ianae, sororum virginum heroidum Anglarum, in mortem Diuae Margaritae Valesiae, Nauarrorum Reginae, Hecatodistichon, was published in England. It was written by the nieces of Jane Seymour (1505–1537), third wife of King Henry VIII.


Marguerite was married twice, first to Charles IV of Alençon, but the marriage was childless.

Her next marriage was to Henry II of Navarre. The children of Marguerite and Henry were,

   * Jeanne III of Navarre (16 November 1528– 9 June 1572), the mother of the future Henry IV of France, also known as Henry III of Navarre. She became Queen regnant of Navarre from 1555 to 1572. She was the wife of Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme, and mother of Henry of Bourbon, who became King of Navarre and also of France as the first Bourbon king. She was the acknowledged spiritual and political leader of the French Huguenot movement.[3]
   * Jean (7 July 1530- 25 December 1530), who died as an infant


  1. ^ Francis Hackett, Francis The First, pages 48-52.
  2. ^ Records show that Leonardo da Vinci was buried in the church of Saint-Florentin, part of the Château Amboise. At the time of Napoleon this church was in such a ruinous state, dilapidated during the French Revolution, that the engineer appointed by Napoleon decided it was not worth preserving; it was demolished and the stonework was used to repair the château. Some sixty years later the site of Saint-Florentin was excavated: a complete skeleton was found with fragments of a stone inscription containing some of the letters of Leonardo's name. It is this collection of bones that is now in the chapel of Saint-Hubert.
  3. ^ Strage 1976, p. 148.


   * Durant, Will, The Story of Civilization, v. VI, The Reformation, p. 501, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1953.
   * Jourda, Pierre, Une princesse de la Renaissance, Marguerite d'Angoulême, reine de Navarre, 1492–1549, Genève, Slatkine Reprints, 1973.
   * Michelet, Jules, Histoire de France, n.d., 5 v.
   * Putnam, Samuel, Marguerite of Navarre, Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1936.
   * Hackett, Francis, Francis The First, pages 48–52, Doubleday, Doran and Company, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1937.
   * Patricia F. Cholakian and Rouben C. Cholakian. Marguerite de Navarre: Mother of the Renaissance. New York, Columbia University Press, 2006. 448 pp.

External links

   * Works by Margaret, Queen of Navarre at Project Gutenberg
   * Margaret Queen of Navarre (Spanish)
   * University of Virginia's Gordon Project background page

This page was last modified on 21 June 2010 at 23:24.

Curator Note: Links, pictures, and ancestry chart from above Wikipedia article have not been included here.

Wikipedia article on The Heptameron:

The Heptameron is a collection of 72 short stories written in French by Marguerite of Navarre, published in 1558. It has the form of a frame narrative and was inspired by The Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio. It was originally intended to contain one hundred stories covering ten days just as The Decameron does, but at Marguerite’s death it was only completed as far as the second story of the eighth day. Many of the stories deal with love, lust, infidelity and other romantic and sexual matters. One was based on the life of Marguerite de La Rocque, a French noblewoman abandoned, as punishment, with her lover on an island off Quebec.

The collection first appeared in print in 1558 under the title Histoires des amans fortunez edited by Pierre Boaistuau, who took considerable liberties with the original version, using only 67 of the stories, many in abbreviated form, and omitting much of the significant material between the stories. He also transposed stories and ignored their grouping into days as envisaged by the authoress. A second edition by Claude Gruget appeared only a year later in which the editor claimed to have “restored the order previously confused in the first impression”. Also the prologues and epilogues to each short story left out by Boaistuau were put back and the work was given, for the first time, the title Heptaméron (from the Greek έπτά – “seven” and ημέρα – “day”) due to the seven-day time frame into which the first 70 short stories are grouped.

Summary of the "Prologue"

In the "Prologue" to The Heptameron, Parlamente, having obtained her husband Hircan's permission to do so, makes bold to ask Lady Oisille to devise an appropriate means by which the company of stranded guests, who are waiting for the building of a bridge to be completed and who are beset by a series of natural calamities and criminal actions that keeps them virtual prisoners in an abbey, may amuse themselves. A devout Christian, the lady suggests that they read the Bible. However, Hircan says that they are young enough to need other diversions as well. Parlamente suggests that those who want to write stories after the manner of Boccaccio, do so, sharing them with the others in the afternoon, after Scriptures are read in the morning. (Marguerite herself was a protector of François Rabelais, who dedicated the third volume of his book, Gargantua and Pantagruel, to her.) It will take 10 days to complete the bridge, and, each day, in a shady grove in a meadow, the writers will share 10 tales, telling a total of 100 stories. The stories will be published, if the audience likes them, and be presented to the listeners as presents.

Lady Oiselle agrees to Parlamente's recommendation, provided that the stories are true.

Sample story summarized

Saffrendent tells the third story, which is set in Naples, Italy, during the reign of King Alfonso.

During a carnival, the king visits his subjects’ homes as they vie to provide him the best hospitality. As he visits a happily married young couple, he is smitten by the wife’s beauty, and he sends her husband to Rome for a couple weeks on trumped-up business. While the husband is away, the king succeeds in seducing the wife. After a while, the husband becomes suspicious of his wife’s fidelity. He bides his time in silence, hoping for the opportunity to avenge himself.

He convinces the queen that he loves her and that she deserves to be treated better by her husband, who dishonors her in cuckolding him. They agree to an adulterous affair between themselves, so that the nobleman cuckolds the king who has cuckolded him. Whenever the nobleman visits his country estates, the king visits his wife. Instead of going to his estates, the nobleman now goes to the castle to dally with the queen, while the king commits adultery with his wife. The affairs continue for years, well into the couples’ old age.

Like many stories of this sort, Saffredent’s tale deals with the theme of cuckoldry and depends on both dramatic irony and situational irony for its plot and effects.

Curator Note: References and external links not included from the above article. For that, please see above Wikipedia link.


Read The Heptameron online:


The Heptameron (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Marguerite de Navarre (Author), Paul A. Chilton (Introduction)

view all

Marguerite d'Angoulême, Reina de Navarra's Timeline

April 11, 1492
Angoulême, Charente, Poitou-Charentes, France
January 7, 1528
Age 35
Pau, Béarn, France
December 21, 1549
Age 57
Odos, Haute-Pyrénées, Midi-Pyrénées, France
Age 56
Pau, Basses-Pyrenees, France
Savoy - aka Margaret of Savoy - dtr of Louise
Savoie, France