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France - Famous Renaissance Women
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Catherine de Medci
13.4.151 - 5.1.89
| Catherine de' Medici|
(13 April 1519 – 5 January 1589) was born in Florence, as Caterina Maria Romula di Lorenzo de' Medici. Both of her parents, Lorenzo II de Medici, Duke of Urbino, and Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne, Countess of Boulogne, died within weeks of her birth. In 1533, at the age of fourteen, Caterina married Henry, second son of King Francis I and Queen Claude of France. Under the gallicised version of her name, Catherine de Médicis, she was Queen consort of France as the wife of King Henry II of France from 1547 to 1559.
Catherine believed in the humanist ideal of the learned Renaissance prince whose authority depended on letters as well as arms. She was inspired by the example of her father-in-law, King Francis I of France, who had hosted the leading artists of Europe at his court, and by her Medici ancestors. In an age of civil war and declining respect for the monarchy, she sought to bolster royal prestige through lavish cultural display. Once in control of the royal purse, she launched a programme of artistic patronage that lasted for three decades. During this time, she presided over a distinctive late French Renaissance culture in all branches of the arts.
Elisabeth of Austria
Queen of France
| Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of France|
Elisabeth of Austria was a German princess member of the House of Habsburg, by birth Archduchess of Austria and by marriage Queen of France. She was the daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II and Maria of Spain.Elisabeth was the fifth child and second daughter of her parents' sixteen children, of whom eight survived infancy. During her childhood, she lived with her older sister Anna and younger brother Matthias in a pavilion in the gardens of the newly built Schloss Stallburg near Vienna, were enjoyed a privileged and secluded childhood, raised as devout Catholics.
Her father Maximilian visited her often and Elisabeth seems to have been his particular favorite child. She resembled him, not only in appearance but also in character: Elisabeth was just as intelligent and charming as her father.Only in 1569, after the failure of marriage plans with Kings Frederick II of Denmark and Sebastian I of Portugal, the French offer was seriously considered. Queen Catherine de' Medici, mother of Charles IX and the power behind the throne, initially preferred Elisabeth's elder sister Anna over her; but the oldest Archduchess was already chosen as the new wife of her uncle King Philip II of Spain. Queen Catherine finally contented with the second daughter Elisabeth, as France absolutely needed a Catholic marriage, in order to combat the Protestant parties also to cement an alliance between the Habsburg emperors and the French Crown.
Margaret of Valois
| Margaret of Valois|
Margaret of Valois was Queen of France and of Navarre during the late sixteenth century. Royal Princess of France by birth, she ultimately became the only surviving member of the Royal Valois dynasty. She was the daughter of King Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici and the sister of Kings Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III and of Queen Elizabeth of Spain. She was queen twice for she had married King Henry III of Navarre who finally became King Henri IV of France. Margaret, among other political manipulations, was subjected to an arranged marriage and being held prisoner (albeit at a castle) for many years. However, her life was anything but passive.
Aside from being twice a queen--first of Navarre (1572), then of France (1589), Margaret was famous for her beauty and sense of style (she was one of the most fashionable women of her time, influencing most of Europe's Royal Courts with her clothing). She was also a gifted poet and writer, notable for both her own scandalous behavior and for revealing that of others. Margaret took many lovers both during her marriage and after divorcing. The most well-known were Joseph Boniface de La Môle, Jacques de Harlay, Seigneur de Chanvallon and Louis de Bussy d'Amboise. When imprisoned by her brother Henry III for eighteen years, she took advantage of the time to write her memoirs, which included a succession of stories relating to the disputes of her brothers Charles IX and Henry III with her husband Henry IV. The memoirs were published posthumously in 1628 and scandalised the population. Her life has inspired a variety of stories over the centuries, beginning with Shakespeare's early comedy Love's Labour's Lost written during her lifetime, to Alexandre Dumas, père's 1845 novel La Reine Margot; to a 1994 movie La Reine Margot.
Charlotte of Bourbon
| Charlotte of Bourbon|
Charlotte of Bourbon was the fourth daughter of Louis, Duke of Montpesier and Jacqueline de Longwy, Countess of Bar-sur-Seine (died 28 August 1561). She was the third wife of William the Silent, Prince of Orange, the main leader of the Dutch revolt against the Spanish.Her paternal grandparents were Louis, Prince of La Roche-sur-Yon and Louise de Bourbon, Duchess of Montpensier. Her maternal grandparents were John IV de Longwy, Baron of Pagny, and Jeanne of Angoulême, illegitimate half-sister of King Francis I of France. At two weeks old her mother, influential in the court of Catherine de' Medici, placed her in the royal convent of Jouarre, near Meaux, to be raised as a nun.
The young Charlotte shocked both her family and the royal court by escaping the convent in 1572, announcing her conversion to Calvinism and fleeing to the Palatinate, well beyond her parents' reach. On 24 June 1575 Charlotte married the Protestant William, Prince of Orange, and had six daughters, including Louise Juliana of Nassau, from whom descended the House of Hanover. Charlotte allegedly died from exhaustion while trying to nurse her husband after an assassination attempt in 1582. Following her death, William married on 24 April 1583, his fourth and last wife, Louise de Coligny, by whom he had a son Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange.
Dauphine of France
| Margaret of Scotland|
Margaret of Scotland was a Princess of Scotland and the Dauphine of France. She was the firstborn child of King James I of Scotland and Queen Joan Beaufort. She married the eldest son of the king of France, Louis, 9th Dauphin, at eleven years old. Their marriage was unhappy, and she died childless aged 20 apparently of a fever.She was born in Perth, Scotland to James I of Scotland and Joan Beaufort, a cousin of Henry VI of England. Margaret was the first of six daughters and twin sons born to her parents (her surviving brother, James, would become James II of Scotland at six years old).Margaret was Charles VII of France's diplomatic choice for daughter-in-law. The marriage was forced upon Charles's thirteen-year-old son, Louis, which did not help their relationship. However, royal marriages in the 15th century were always political.There are no direct accounts from Louis or Margaret of their first impressions of each other, and it is mere speculation to say whether or not they actually had negative feelings for each other. Several historians think that Louis had a predetermined attitude to hate his wife. But it is universally agreed upon that Louis entered the ceremony and the marriage itself dutifully, as evidenced by his formal embrace of Margaret upon their first meeting on 24 June 1436, the day before their wedding.
Anne of Austria
| Anne of Austria|
Anne of Austria was Queen consort of France and Navarre and regent for her son, Louis XIV of France. During her regency (1643–1651) Cardinal Mazarin served as France's chief minister. .Born at Benavente Palace in Valladolid, Spain, and baptised Ana María Mauricia, she was the daughter of Habsburg parents, Philip III of Spain and Margaret of Austria. She held the titles of Infanta of Spain and of Portugal and Archduchess of Austria.Anne was betrothed at age 11 to Louis XIII. Her father, Philip, gave her a dowry of 500,000 crowns and many beautiful jewels. For fear that Louis XIII would die early, they said that if this was the case, she would return to Spain with her dowry, jewels, and wardrobe. The pecuniary arrangements being thus satisfied, Anne was saluted as the Queen of France, "a dignity which her Highness accepts with marvellous dignity and gravity". On 24 November 1615, they were married by proxy in Burgos while Louis's sister, Elizabeth, and Anne's brother, Philip IV of Spain, were married by proxy in Bordeaux. These marriages followed the tradition of cementing military and political alliances between France and Spain that began with the marriage of Philip II of Spain to Elisabeth of Valois in 1559 as part of the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis. Anne and Elisabeth were both exchanged on the Isle of Pheasants, between Hendaye and Fuenterrabía.
Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia of Spain
| Infanta Isabel Clare of Span|
Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain was co-sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands in the Low Countries and the north of modern France, together with her husband Albert of Austria. In some sources, she is referred to as Clara Isabella Eugenia.Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain was born in the city of Segovia on 12 August 1566, daughter of Philip II of Spain and his third wife Elisabeth of Valois. She got married at a very young age. Her paternal grandparents were Emperor Charles V and Isabella of Portugal. Her maternal grandparents were Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici. Her father, Philip II, was reportedly overjoyed at her birth and declared himself to be happier on the occasion than he would have been at the birth of a son. Philip already had a male heir, Don Carlos of Spain, the child of his first marriage to Infanta Maria of Portugal; however, father and son had never developed a close rapport and frequently lived in conflict with one another. Isabella's mother, Elisabeth of Valois, had originally been betrothed to Don Carlos, but political complications unexpectedly necessitated her marriage to Philip instead. Despite the significant age difference between them, Philip was very attached to Elisabeth, staying close by her side even when she was ill with smallpox. Elisabeth's first pregnancy in 1564 ended with a miscarriage of twin girls. She later gave birth to Isabella Clara Eugenia on 12 August 1566, and then to Isabella's younger sister Catherine Michelle 10 October 1567. Elisabeth miscarried a son on 3 October 1568 and died the same day. Isabella grew up with her sister Infanta Catherine Michelle of Spain, beloved by her father and her stepmother Anna of Austria, Philip's fourth wife. Philip ultimately fathered five children by Anna, all of whom died in early childhood except his heir, Philip III of Spain. While Philip II is frequently characterized as having been cold and unaffectionate towards his offspring, there exist numerous letters addressed from him to his daughters which contain evidence of a deep attachment between them, each letter lovingly signed "Your good father". Isabella was also the only person whom Philip permitted to help him with his work, sorting his papers and translating Italian documents into the Spanish language for him. Isabella remained close to her father until his death on 13 September 1598, and served as his primary caretaker during the last three years of his life, when he was plagued by gout and frequent illness.
Anne of France, Duchess of Bourbon, Regent of France
| Anne of France|
Anne of France was dame de Beaujeu, was the eldest daughter of Louis XI. and Charlotte of Savoy. Louis XI. betrothed her at first to Nicholas of Anjou, and afterwards offered her hand successively to Charles the Bold, to the duke of Brittany, and even to his own brother, Charles of France. Finally she married Pierre de Beaujeu, a younger brother of the duke of Bourbon. Before his death Louis XI. entrusted to Pierre de Beaujeu and Anne the entire charge of his son, Charles VIII., a lad of thirteen; and from 1483 to 1492 the Beaujeus exercised a virtual regency. Anne was a true daughter of Louis XI. Energetic, obstinate, cunning and unscrupulous, she inherited, too, her father's avarice and rapacity. Although they made some concessions, .the Beaujeus succeeded in maintaining the results of the previous reign, and in triumphing over the feudal intrigues and coalitions, as was seen from the meeting of the estates general in 1484, and the results of the "Mad War" (1485) and the war with Brittany (1488); and in spite of the efforts of Maximilian of Austria they concluded the marriage of Charles VIII. and Anne, duchess of Brittany (1491). But a short time afterwards the king disengaged himself completely from their tutelage, to the great detriment of the kingdom. In 1488 Pierre de Beaujeu had succeeded to the Bourbonnais, the last great fief of France. He died in 1503, but Anne survived him twenty years. From her establishments at Moulins and Chantelle in the Bourbonnais she continued henceforth vigorously to defend the Bourbon cause against the royal family. Anne's only daughter, Suzanne, had married in 1505 her cousin, Charles of Bourbon, count of Montpensier, the future constable; and the question of the succession of Suzanne, who died in 1521, was the determining factor of the treason of the constable de Bourbon (1523). Anne had died some months before, on the 14th of November 1522.
Marguerite d' Angouleme,Queen consort of Navarre
| Marguerite de Navarre|
Marguerite of Navarre 11 April 1492– 21 December 1549 was the Queen consort of Henry II, King of Navarre.
As Francis I, her brother became king of France, for the celebrated intellectual and cultural court and salons of their day in France, the two siblings were responsible. Being the mother of Jeanne d' Albret, Marguerite is the ancestress of the Bourbon kings of France.She was an outstanding figure of the French Renaissance, as an author and a patron of humanist and reformers.She was called by Samuel Putman "The First Modern Woman".
On 11 April 1492, Marguerite was born on Angouleme, she was the eldest child of Louise of Savoy and Charles, Count of Angouleme. If both Charles VIII and the presumptive heir, Louis Duke of Orleans, failed male offspring, her father was a claimant to the crown. Marguerite father was a direct descendant of Charles V. Her father Charles, married eleven year old Louise the daughter of Philip II of Savoy and Margaret of Bourbon on 16 February 1488.Louise was the sister of Duke of Beaujeu.In France Louise was considered on of the most brilliant feminine mind. Her first born was name Marguerite after her own mother. Her brother was born on 12 September 1494, he was Francis's later to be King Francis of France.
Because of her father illegitimate relationships, she had several half-siblings, who were raised alongside Marguerite and her brother. Her year old brother became heir presumptive to the throne of France; she was nearly four years old, when her father died. Given a classical education that included Latin, Marguerite was tutored from her earliest childhood by excellent teachers; thanks to her mother who was only nineteen when widowed. Louise tried to married her to the Prince of Wales, who later would become Henry VIII of England, when Marguerite was ten, but this was "declined with thanks".
Marguerite was married to Charles IV of Alencon at the age of seventeen and he was twenty, by the decree of King Louis XII . There were no offspring from this marriage. Marguerite married Henry of Navarre after the death of her first husband in 1525. Jeanne III of Navarre was the name of the daughter that Marguerite has with Henry IV of France. The freeing of her brother, King Francis I who had been held prisoner in by Spain by Charles V Holy Roman Emperor, is Marguerite most remarkable adventure,while her brother is being captured in the Battle of Pavia, Italy 1522 to meet a safe-conduct deadline, Marguerite rode horseback through wintry woods, twelve hours a day for many days, while writing her diplomatic letters at night. Marguerite became the must influential woman in France during her lifetime, following the example made by her mother. " The New Parnassus" her salon became famous internationally. Marguerite was mediator between Roman Catholics and Protestants (including John Calvin). She befriend and protected many artist and writers, among them, Claude de Bectoz d.1547, Clement Marot (1496-1544), Francis Rabelais (1483-1533) and Pierre de Ronsard ( 1524-1585).
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