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Henri IV - An unfinished reign


Marguerite de Valois


Marguerite de Valois (also known as Marguerite de France) was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye in May 1553. Daughter of Henri II and Catherine de Médicis, she became queen of Navarre upon her marriage to Henri on 18 August 1572, just a few days prior to the Saint Bartholomew's Day massacre. She was both beautiful and cultivated, and her court at Nérac was a brilliant one. However, her scandalous lifestyle and her political choices (she rallied to the Holy League in 1585) both served to estrange her from her husband. In 1586, she was imprisoned by Henry III, her brother, in the castle of Usson in Auvergne, and remained there for the next eighteen years. She consented to a divorce to allow Henri to marry Marie de Médicis. Marguerite returned to Paris in 1605 and died there on 27 March 1615. She left behind a number of poems, and her Mémoires, which are an excellent source of information about the period.

Portrait of Marguerite de Valois
© BnF
Marguerite de Valois. Département des estampes et de la photographie de la BnF, Réserve NA-22 (12)

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