Queen Margarita of Navarre: life story and interesting facts

On May 14, 1553, an important state event took place in the Saint-Germain Palace — Catherine de Medici, the wife of King Henry II, was safely resolved by the tenth child. It turned out to be a daughter (the third in their family) - the future queen Margarita of Navarre, who became the prototype of the heroine of the immortal novel of Alexander Dumas, whose real life was not inferior to the fantasy of the famous writer.

Margarita of Navarre

Young heiress of the Valois family

It is known that from her early years she was distinguished by a rare beauty, sharp mind and independent disposition. Having appeared in the heyday of the Renaissance, Margaret received an education that corresponded to the spirit of the times - she studied Spanish, Italian and Ancient Greek languages, knew Latin, philosophy, literature, and also tried to write herself.

Sensuality woke up early in it, as evidenced by the tumultuous romance experienced by a sixteen-year-old princess with the duke de Guise.However, their relationship was not destined to end in marriage - the hand of the heiress of the Valois family was an important trump card in the political game of European thrones.

Spoiled wedding

At first they wanted to pass her off as Spanish heir, then Portuguese, but in the end the leader of the French Huguenots (Protestants) and King of Navarre Henry de Bourbon became the bridegroom of the princess. With this marriage, parents tried to establish at least the appearance of peace in a country constantly torn by religious wars between Catholics and Protestants.

Margarita of Navarre Heptameron

The wedding took place, but did not bring the desired peace. On the contrary, its end was a terrible and bloody St. Bartholomew night, on which the Catholics destroyed more than 30 thousand Huguenots — co-religionists and political allies of the young spouse. As a result, in order to save his life, he had to flee from Paris to the ancestral Navarre castle, directly from the marriage bed.

Margarita of Navarre, who helped her husband in every way possible in organizing the escape, refused, nevertheless, to follow his example, and even exposing herself to danger, saved several noble Protestants from death. She showed the firmness of the spirit and opposed the demands of numerous relatives who insisted on the dissolution of the marriage.

Spouses and political partners

Separated from Henry literally on the wedding day, but legally receiving the title and title of Queen of Navarre, Margaret, having stayed in Paris for almost a year and having waited until the passions subsided, she left for the Nevarak residence in Navarre, where her husband was hiding all this time. There, surrounded by a brilliant courtyard, Margaret of Navarre served as a political intermediary between her brother, who had occupied the French throne by the name of Henry III and her husband.

The success of the mission entrusted to her largely depended on how trusting and warm the relationship between the spouses was, but it was the Queen’s excessive sensuality that pushed her into the arms of one or the other lover. The husband, who was also not distinguished by a puritanical disposition, looked at the adventures of his wife through his fingers, but this could not but introduce alienation into their relations, and consequently, weakened her influence as a political mediator.

Queen Margarita of Navarre

Humiliating reprimand

One of these adventures - a tumultuous romance with the Marquis de Chanvallon - became known to Henry III. For this, Margarita received a reprimand from him during her regular visit to Paris in 1583.Her brother accused her of neglecting her duty towards her family and not fulfilling the political tasks assigned to her. He said that all this she preferred was love affairs that compromised the Valois family in the eyes of all of Europe.

After listening to the moralizing of the brother and bowing, Margarita of Navarre silently withdrew. She herself was a queen and did not need anyone's instructions, even those sounded from the height of the throne. This was followed by her temporary break with the Paris court, which, however, did not entail any political complications.

Rejected spouse

Returning to Navarre, Margaret found with discontent that during her absence, her position at the court had changed significantly, and in a highly unfavorable relationship to her. If before for her frivolous husband love affairs were only a minute fun, now another favorite - Countess de Guiche - so succeeded that she took her place not only on the marital bed, but also, that the most annoying in the eyes of the courtiers. Proud of nature, Margarita of Navarre (Margot, as Alexandre Dumas dubbed her) could not tolerate such humiliation.

Margarita Navarre Margo

The situation was aggravated by the sudden death of another contender for the French throne, Francois of Alençon, with the result that her husband became the legal heir. Given the childlessness of the then ruling Henry III, he had every reason to get a crown in the future. Thus, the role of Margarita as a mediator between the two courts was losing relevance, and as a woman she had long since lost interest in him.

Herzog de Guise and Margaret of Navarre

The portrait of the queen, written during her lifetime (he is the first in the article), conveys traits full of dignity and hidden power - qualities that her behavior at the most difficult moment in life shows. Being out of work, rejected by her husband, but not having lost her royal dignity, Margaret retired to Angins, her own county located in the south of France.

There, giving vent to the insult accumulated in her, she declared support for the Catholic League, a religious organization whose goal, among other things, was to restrict royal power. Thus, she became the opposition to both her husband and brother, Henry III.

Immediately in her palace appeared the Duke de Guise, who headed this organization, and was, as mentioned above, Margarita's first lover.Their romance, interrupted for more than 15 years, was resumed with a new force. However, this time he was not destined to last long.

Margarita of Navarre biography

Upon learning of his sister's entry into the Catholic league, the French king was furious and ordered to take her into custody, placing her in the castle of Yusson, located in Auvergne. However, in the role of a prisoner she had to spend a very short time - the gallant de Guise returned her freedom. But for this, he did not storm the walls of the castle, but simply took it and bought it, while making his lady's heart the mistress of her former prison. He forced the guard to swear allegiance to her.

Years in Yusson

Very soon, de Guise was killed in a clash with the royal troops sent by Henry III to suppress the religious and political movement that was not acceptable to him. The French king himself, who was assassinated in 1589 by the Dominican monk Jacques Clement, did not survive much. His death gave rise to confusion in the state.

Paris was captured by Spanish troops, with the help of which Madrid tried to push its protégé to the throne. The legitimate heir to the crown, the husband of Margaret of Navarre, Henry de Bourbon, at the head of the forces loyal to him, tried to resist this intervention.

In this extremely aggravated situation, the queen had no reason to appear either in Paris or in Navarre. For the next 18 years, she lived in Jusson Castle, the owner of which was under such unusual circumstances. In 1589 her husband succeeded in defeating the opposition and suppressing the intervention, ascending the French throne, becoming King Henry IV, but fate did not prepare Margarita for a place next to him. A year later, referring to the childlessness of his wife, the newly-fledged monarch secured a divorce from Pope Clement VIII.

Margarita of Navarre portrait

Back in paris

After the divorce, Heinrich and Margaret of Navarre ceased to be spouses, but each of them remained a representative of the royal family, he is Bourbon, she is Valois, and therefore together they were perceived by contemporaries as members of one family. The former husband continued to maintain relations with her and constantly attracted Margarita to participate in various ceremonial events.

For more convenience, as well as to be in the thick of court life, she moved to Paris, where she spent the rest of her life, surrounding herself with the best writers and scholars of her time. Here she herself often took up the pen.Even today, many works that Margarita of Navarre created in those years are widely popular even in our days.

Heptameron, a compilation composed of 72 novels and undoubtedly an imitation of Boccaccio, the Decameron, is perhaps the most famous among them. A special piquancy gives him a documentary narration, which is present in the story of the writer about the real experiences of her love affair. Great success with readers always enjoyed her memoirs, repeatedly published and translated into different languages.

Heinrich and Margarita of Navarre

last years of life

From the memoirs of contemporaries it is known that Margarita of Navarre remained faithful to herself in the main passion of her life until the end of her days. Even at an old age she had numerous love affairs, and her favorites were often so young that the uninitiated could take them for their grandchildren who gathered around their beloved grandmother.

In March 1615 she fell ill. It all started with a cold, which then gave a complication, which resulted in inflammation of the lungs. This ailment was the cause of death, which interrupted the bright and rich life that Margaret of Navarre lived.The biography of this woman later became the basis of the famous novel by Alexander Dumas, with the light hand of which she went down in history under the name of Queen Margot.

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