Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/René, Duke of Anjou
Jump to navigation Jump to search
ANJOU, René, Duke of, was the second son of Duke Louis II., and succeeded his brother Duke Louis III. He was born at Angers in 1408, and brought up by his uncle, Louis of Bar, who, in 1419, contracted a marriage between him and Isabella, heiress of Lorraine, and, in 1430, left him in possession of his duchy. On the death of Charles of Lorraine in 1431, René was acknowledged as his successor, but he had soon to defend himself against the claims of the count of Vandemont, who was supported by Philip of Burgundy. The battle of Bouligneville decided in favour of the count, and René was taken prisoner to Dijon by Philip. In 1432, however, he was conditionally released, and in the following year was confirmed in the duchy of Lorraine by the Emperor Sigismund. In 1435, while again, according to the conditions of his release, in the custody of Philip, he became, by the death of his brother, duke of Anjou and count of Maine, and a little later, received the offer of the inheritance of the queen of Naples. His endeavours to enforce his claims on the Neapolitan kingdom were ultimately futile, and he quitted Italy in 1442. Three years afterwards he married his daughter Margaret to Henry VI. of England, and thus increased the influence, though hardly the prosperity of his house. On the death of his wife in 1453, he bestowed the duchy of Lorraine on John of Calabria, his only surviving son. He himself retired to Provence, where henceforth, with but occasional interruption, he led a simple quiet life, amusing himself with the writing of verses and the painting of miniatures, the cultivation of flowers, and the keeping of wild animals. Thus occupied, he exhibited a philosophical submission to the changes brought about by the artful schemes of his less pacific neighbours, until he was at last reduced to an ignoble dependency on the good-will and pleasure of Louis of France, without the liberty of even bequeathing his possessions to any one but the king. He died at Aix in 1480, followed by the regret of his subjects, who afterwards held him in remembrance as "The Good King René."