Margaret of Valois (1553-1615) was a Princess of France, and Queen of Navarre, then later Queen of France. She was the last of the House of Valois.
Early life & childhood Edit
Princess Margaret of Valois was born on May 14, 1553 at the Royal Chateau de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. She was the 6th child and 3rd daughter born to King Henry II and Queen Catherine de Medici.
As a child Margaret was described as being a gifted poet and writer; however she displayed inappropriate behavior at times. Young Margaret became secretly involved with Henry I, Duke of Guise who was the son of the late Duke of Guise: Francis; however when her parents discovered this affair they pulled her from her bed and beat her.
The intention of the marriage of Henry IV and Margaret was to unify the Houses of Bourbon and Valois, as well as create a sense of harmony between the Catholics and Protestant Huguenots. Henry was the son of King Antoine of Navarre and his wife Queen Jeanne III; apparently Jeanne was not in favor of her son marrying Margaret, but since many of the nobles supported this proposed marriage the match was made.
Mysteriously Jeanne died before the wedding could take place, and it's believed that Catherine sent her a pair of gloves as a wedding gift that were poisoned. The wedding took place on August 18, 1572 in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris; Margaret was 19 and Henry was also 19. No children resulted from this marriage. However just 6 days later the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre took place, a horrific event which was based on the French Religious Wars. Margaret is credited with saving the lives of many including her husband during the massacre by hiding them in her rooms and refusing to admit the assassins; however to avoid death her husband had to pretend that he converted to Catholicism.
Scandalous Princess Edit
In 1576 Henry left his wife behind and escaped Paris after more than 3 years in confinement at court. Finally, Margaret joined her husband in Navarre, and for the next 3 and a half years the couple lived in Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, fought constantly, and openly took other lovers.
In 1582 after recovering from illness Margret returned to French Court without her husband, where her brother Henry III was King. Catherine chastised her daughter for her shameful behavior, and had Margaret brought back to Navarre; however she repeatedly ran away and eventually hid in her residence in France where she asked her mother for money. Catherine sent her enough money to keep her fed, and later Margaret moved to another fortress, and took a lover whom was later executed after she was locked up, on the orders of her brother Henry.
However Henry's court was constantly scandalized by her presence and his mother urged him to make her leave before she brought more shame to their family. Later after lots of negotiations her husband allowed her to return to his court in Navarre; however she was met with icy reception. In 1586 Margaret was imprisoned for 18 years by her brother Henry after trying to stage a Coup on his throne.
Queen of France Edit
In 1589 Margaret became Queen of France when her husband succeeded to the throne of France as Henry IV. He was, however, not accepted by most of the Catholic population until he converted four years later. Henry also continued to keep mistresses, the most notable of which was Gabrielle d'Estrées from 1591 to 1599, who bore him four children. Negotiations to annul the marriage were entered in 1592 and concluded in 1599 with an agreement that allowed Margaret to maintain the title of queen.
Later Years & Death Edit
Later in life Margaret reconciled with her husband and his new wife Marie de Medici, and she also helped look after their children.
Margaret died on March 27, 1615 at her Hostel de la Reyne Margueritte. She is buried in the Basilica of St. Denis with her parents and several siblings.