Marguerite de Navarre

Catharine Randall

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online April 2011 | | DOI:
Marguerite de Navarre

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy


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The highly cultured, erudite, and learned Marguerite de Navarre (1492–1549) was the daughter of Charles d’Angoulême and Louise de Savoie, and the sister of the Renaissance king François I. Marguerite’s mother had insisted on a solid humanist education for her; like her brother, Marguerite was proficient in Latin, Hebrew, Spanish, and Italian, and read philosophy and theology. She was an avid reader whose own literary production was to be much influenced by figures such as Plato, Plutarch, and Boccaccio. Married to the unsatisfying, unintelligent Charles, duc d’Alençon, Marguerite began to come into her own upon her brother’s ascension to the throne in 1515. Indeed, when François I (whom she adored) was taken prisoner in Italy, Marguerite was instrumental in securing his eventual release. In many respects, Marguerite was what we would today call a Renaissance woman, for she was intimately involved in court life, the artistic production of the day, political and diplomatic negotiations, and contemporary educational (“humanist”) and religious discussions and controversies. Both her life and her writings were to inspire many other French men and women writers (among them Hélisenne de Crenne) many of them “evangelical” (such as Anne de Marquets). At Nérac, Marguerite gathered around her artists, thinkers, and writers whom she encouraged. As an avid and faithful patron of the arts, she had considerable influence that can still be discerned in France today. Marguerite’s second marriage to Henri d’Albret, king of Navarre, resulted in a daughter, Jeanne, the future spouse of Henri IV.

Article.  5812 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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