Margaret of Angoulême, Queen of Navarre (Robinson 1886)
MARGARET OF ANGOULÊME
QUEEN OF NAVARRE
A. MARY F. ROBINSON
W. H. ALLEN & CO., 13 WATERLOO PLACE, S.W.
(All rights reserved.)
The sixteenth century, that age of great women, shows few more truly eminent than the sister of Francis I. Margaret of Angoulême, of Valois, and of France, Queen of Navarre, Duchess of Alençon and Berry, was a person of importance in many different ways. In political influence, she was, perhaps, excelled by Margaret of Austria, Catherine dei Medici, and Elisabeth of England; and Elizabeth, if not more devoted, was at least more successful as a reformer of Religion. But the Queen of Navarre possessed many qualities foreign to these famous names. Of all the women of her age, Vittoria Colonna alone was her rival in literary attainments; and in the rarer and more illustrious authority of personal grace and charm, she was unequalled save by Mary Queen of Scots, or the magical Diana of Poictiers.
The student of character may find another interest in the sweet, dense, simple spirit of Margaret—a comparatively trifling and unreal nature by the side of the vehement and audacious personages of her time, but which, none the less, directed them, influenced them, and checked their headlong course, in the same manner as the youthful character of Raphael maintained an unceasing authority over the wilder spirits of his school.
It is in her influence that we mut seek the prestige of the Queen of Navarre, and not in her faded literary laurels, or in a personality rather interesting than great. It was she who inspired the College of France; it was she who protected and guaranteed the Renaissance in France from the ignorant rage of the Sorbonne. She was, in Melancthon's phrase, the Divinity of the great religions movement of her time, and the upholder of the more natural rights of humanity in an age that only respected opinions.
It is thus, as an organic part of the history of her time, as an influence, as an inspiring spirit, that I have tried to depict her, and not as a sequestered individual. The task is intricate and large, and the space given me to fill is very narrow. But, so far as it goes, this little sketch may, perhaps, be of some service in indicating the movements of the earlier French Renaissance. I have tried to make it, as far as possible, correct. I have, in most instances, sought my facts in the many published volumes of original documents, rather than in any subsequent history; and where I have given an unusual date, it is, I hope, most often because recent research has disproved the earlier reading.
Recent research, ever so commendably critical and untiring in France, has happily disproved many last-century scandals, and one revived not many years ago. M. Lutteroth, in a Review called Le Semeur, and M. le Comte de la Ferrière, in his introduction to the Account-Book of the Queen of Navarre, have, with others, satisfactorily proved that a certain compromising letter, which tradition gave to the year 1521, must be dated as 1525, the year of Margaret's hurried flight from Spain; in which circumstances, as will be seen, the construction to be placed upon it involves no shade of censure.
No doubt some confusion with the gay and brilliant Reine Margot, queen of many lovers, has been the origin of the unfounded scandals which haunt the memory of the earlier Margaret. For the younger princess was also Margaret of Valois and of France, also the wife of a Henry, King of Navarre. Moreover, Brantôme wrote of our heroine, "En fait de galanterie, elle en sçavoit plus que de son pain quotidien." But we must remember that, in Brantôme's eyes, the sense of intrigue and of amours was by no means the only sense of galanterie, which signified, indeed—as properly it still should do—rather gentility, courteous and magnanimous behaviour, chivalry, and pleasing address. No phrase could be more suited to Margaret, the generous Egeria of two royal courts, the story-teller par excellence of her age, whose palace at Nérac assumed the double aspect of an asylum for persecuted scholars and a refined and spiritual Court of Love.
LIST OF AUTHORITIES.
- Lettres de Marguerite d’Angoulême. F. Génin.
- Nouvelles Lettres de Marguerite d’Angoulême. F. Génin.
- Poésies et Correspondance Intime de Francois Ier. Champolleon-Figeac.
- Lettres de Catherine de Médecis. De la Ferrière
- Journal de Louise de Savoie.
- Correspondance Française de Jean Calvin. Crottet.
- Correspondance des Réformateurs. A. L. Herminjard.
- Livre de Dépenses (1540–49) de Marguerite d’Angoulême. De la Ferriére.
- L’Héptameron de la Reine de Navarre. Jacob.
- L’Héptameron de la Reine de Navarre. Le Roux de Lincy.
- Le Myrouer de l'Âme Pêcheresse.
- Les Marguerites de la Marguerite des Princesses. Franck.
- Poésies de Clément Marot. D'Héricault.
- Poésies de Mellin de Saint Gellais. D'Héricault.
- Poésies d'Étienne Jodelle. D’Héricault.
- Œuvres de Rabelais. Louis Barre.
- Relations des Ambassadeurs Vénitiens. Documents inédits.
- Négociations de la France dans le Levant. Documents inédits.
- Mélanges Historiques. Documents inédits.
- Captivité de François Ier. Documents inédits.
- Récit d'un Bourgeois de Marseille.
- Récit d’un Bourgeois de Paris. Lalanne.
- Fleurange: Histoire des Choses Mémorables. Petitot.
- La Très-joyeuse Histoire du Chevalier Bayard. Petitot.
- Mémoires de Messire Martin du Bellay. Petitot.
- Ogdoades de Messire Guillaume du Bellay. Petitot.
- Oraison Funêbre de l'incomparable Marguerite, par Charles de Ste. Marthe.
- Histoire Ecclésiastique des Églises Réformées. Baum et Cunitz.
- Œuvres de Brantôme.
- Vita di Bervenuto Cellini.
- L'Histoire de l'Hérésie. Florimond de Rémond.
- Histoire de Foix, Béarn, et Navarre. Pierre Olhagaray.
- Histoire de Béarn et de Navarre. Nicolas de Bordenave.
- Calendar of State Papers, vols. viii. and ix.
- Relazione Venete, vols. i., ii., and iv. Alberi.
- Papiers d’État du Cardinal Granvelle. Documents inédits. Weiss.
II.—Critical and Historical.
- Histoire de France: Réforme, Renaissance. Michelet.
- History of England, vols. i.–v. Froude.
- Rivalité entre Charles Quint et Francois Ier. F. Mignet.
- Histoire de François Ier, vols. v., vi., and vii. F. Gaillard.
- History of England, vols. iv. and v. Lingard.
- Captivité de François Ier. M. Rey.
- Le XVIème. Siècle et les Valois. De la Ferriére.
- Histoire de l'établissement du Protestantisme en France. L. Aguesse.
- The Renaissance in France. Mrs. Mark Pattison.
- Life of Marguerite d’Angoulême. M. W. Freer.
- Marguerite d’Angouléme et la Renaissance. Victor Luro.
- Marguerite de Navarre et la Réforme. H. A. Blind.
- Life of Bernard Palissy. H. Morley.
- Histoire de France, vol. viii. Henry Martin.
- Le Panthéisme Populaire au Moyen-Âge. Auguste Jundt.
- Dictionnaire Historique. Bayle.
- Biographie Universelle. Firmin Didot.
- French Portraits in the Louvre. School of Clouet.
- French Portraits at Hampton Court. School of Clouet.
- Tombeau de la Reine de Navarre, Portrait. Denisot.
- Coins and Medals of Sixteenth Century in France. British Museum.
- Collection of Drawings in British Museum. François Clouet.
- Personnages Illustres d'après les Portraits de François Clouet. Niel.