But on at least three occasions, France has had what I like to call Double Queens. One woman was Queen of France twice. The other two, after reigning over France, became the queen of another country.
I may have overlooked someone - and if so, I apologize - but let’s concentrate of these three venerable ladies: Eleanor of Aquitaine, Anne of Brittany and Mary Stuart.
And let’s take them in chronological order.
Anne de Bretagne (1477-1514)
Queen of France - Charles VIII (1491-98)
Queen of France - Louis XII (1499-1514)
Her wealth attracted the attention of suitors of the political persuasion. Anne’s father had not wanted Brittany to be swallowed up by France so he officially betrothed her to Edward, Prince of Wales. She could have become Queen of England as well but unfortunately, poor Edward was “disappeared” before he could be crowned. So was his brother - the two young Princes in the Tower taken under their uncle’s “protection” (read “imprisoned”), an uncle who then succeeded them as the ruthless King Richard III of England.
|Anne & Charles VIII|
Seven years passed and all four children born to the royal couple died in infancy. Then one day at Amboise Castle, Charles was hurrying to see a tennis game and stupidly hit his head hard on the stone lintel of a doorway. He watched the game... and then fell into a coma and died within hours. Anne was only 21.
|Langeais Castle where Anne &|
Charles were married
Built near the France-Brittany border
Unlike Eleanor who complained she had “too many sons”, Anne had none that survived, either with Charles or with Louis, who perhaps would have achieved better results if he’d remained married to his original wife. Anne died at the tender age of 37, the last independent Breton ruler of Brittany, having dedicated her short life to protecting the autonomy of her beloved duchy within the kingdom of France, an amazing balancing act in an era where women had no power of their own.
For Eleanor of Aquitaine, see Sandy's France, April 27, 2014
For Mary Stuart, see Sandy's France next week-end