Marguerite of Navarre

Biographical Sketch

by Gloria Tovar, Biola University

hinchliff_-_marguerite_queen_of_navarre_crop

Summary of Life:

  • Birth date: April 11, 1492
  • Place of birth: Angoulȇme, France → raised in Cognac, France
  • Had a brother who was to be the future king of France, Francis I
  • Death: December 21, 1549 in Odos, France
  • Considered as one of the most elusive queens in French history; duchess of Alencon and queen of Navarre.
  • Well educated in languages (including Latin), philosophy, history, and theology, taught by her mother, Louise of Savoy, and by tutors. [1]
  • The first woman of the French nobility who carefully compiled from her complete works (a selection of poems, prayer, religious meditations, songs, biblical and secular [without biblical characters] plays, etc.) that she felt worthy to appear in print. [2]

Key dates and events:

  • 1509, married the Duke of Alencon
  • He was far less educated than she, described by one contemporary as a “laggard and a dolt.”[3]
  • 1525, the Duke was injured in the Battle of Pavia, in which Marguerite’s brother was captured.
  • Marguerite helped her mother negotiate the release of Francis I and the Treaty of Cambria, known as The Ladies Peace (Paix des Dames). [4]
  • 1527, married Henry d’Albret, King of Navarre.
  • Marguerite had influence on Henry, therefore he initiated legal and economic reforms, and the court became a haven for religious reformers.
  • Had one daughter, Jeanne d’Albret, and one son who died as an infant.

Influence and Recognition:

  • Erasmus influenced Marguerite, with his works of The Praise of Folly and The Education of a Christian Prince.
  • Marguerite was intrigued with Erasmus’s 1516 translation of the New Testament.
  • Although Erasmus expressed his admiration and paid homage to Marguerite in writing, his influence on her was short-lived.
  • Martin Luther deeply influenced and spiritually impacted Marguerite’s thought.
  • Martin Luther influenced her so greatly, that at Marguerite’s request, Luther’s writings (and those of European Reformist theologians) were translated and regularly sent to her[5]
  • This strengthened her belief “that the Scriptures…must be written in a language that common people, literate or not, could understand.” [6]
  • Though not certain, it seems like Marguerite of Navarre influenced Anne Boleyn, wife of King Henry VIII.
  • Marguerite of Navarre was known for helping negotiate the Treaty of Cambrai, also known as The Ladies Peace.
  • Marguerite was very well-educated and a Renaissance writer.
  • Theological idea: “Man must recognize and confess that he is a sinner; he is righteous when he knows that the only way to the divine grace of salvation is his absolute and total faith in God’s love through his son Jesus; and he is repentant when he stands humbly before God.” [7]
  • Works:

Types: poems, prayers (polemical/mystical), biblical comedies,

Major works:

  • Miroir de l’ame pecheresse (The Mirror of the Sinful Soul)—written after the death of her son.
  • L’Heptameron, also called The Heptameron—published after her death; contains a strong feature of satire directed against monks and clerics.

Secondary Works:

  • Marguerite de Navarre: Mother of the Renaissance by Patricia F. Cholakian and Rouben
  • Cholakian
  • The Life of Marguerite d’Angouleme by Martha Walker Freer

Bibliography:

Fabbri, Kimberly. “Marguerite of Navarre – King’s College.” 2005. Accessed October 17, 2016. http://departments.kings.edu/womens_history/margueritN.html.

Johnson Lewis, Jone. “Marguerite of Navarre – Women’s History.” 2015. Accessed October 17, 2016. http://womenshistory.about.com/od/writersmedieval/p/margaretnavarre.htm.

“Margaret of Angouleme | French Queen Consort and Poet …” Accessed October 17, 2016. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Margaret-of-Angouleme.

“Marguerite De Navarre – Poetry Foundation.” Accessed October 17, 2016. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/marguerite-de-navarre

Endnotes:

[1] Johnson Lewis, Jone. “Marguerite of Navarre – Women’s History.” 2015. Accessed October 17, 2016. http://womenshistory.about.com/od/writersmedieval/p/margaretnavarre.htm.

[2] “Marguerite De Navarre – Poetry Foundation.” Accessed October 17, 2016. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/marguerite-de-navarre.

[3] Johnson Lewis, Jone. “Marguerite of Navarre – Women’s History.” 2015. Accessed October 17, 2016. http://womenshistory.about.com/od/writersmedieval/p/margaretnavarre.htm.

[4] Johnson Lewis, Jone. “Marguerite of Navarre – Women’s History.” 2015. Accessed October 17, 2016. http://womenshistory.about.com/od/writersmedieval/p/margaretnavarre.htm.

[5] “Marguerite De Navarre – Poetry Foundation.” Accessed October 17, 2016. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/marguerite-de-navarre.

[6] “Marguerite De Navarre – Poetry Foundation.” Accessed October 17, 2016. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/marguerite-de-navarre.

[7] “Marguerite De Navarre – Poetry Foundation.” Accessed October 17, 2016. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/marguerite-de-navarre.

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