Anne of Brittany – A twice crowned Queen




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Anne of Brittany was born on 25 January 1476 at 6.30 in the morning as the daughter of Francis II, Duke of Brittany and Margaret of Foix. Her father had married once before, to his cousin Margaret of Brittany, who had given him a son who died not long after birth. Margaret died of consumption in 1469 and in 1471 Francis remarried to Anne’s mother. A sister named Isabeau was born in 1478, but she died in 1490. 1 Francis himself was disappointed by the births of two daughters.  2

The young Anne was cared for by the wife of a Jean Eon, and her education was in the hands of Françoise de Dinan, Dame de Châteaubriand and Laval. She received instruction in Greek and Latin, and she was considered to be a most accomplished Princess by the age of 9. 3 In 1485, Margaret of Foix died after a short illness. Her daughters were devastated. Just three years later, Francis followed his wife to the grave. Anne was just twelve years old and her sister Isabeau was just 10. Francis had appointed the Maréchal de Rieux and the Comte de Comminges as guardians for his two daughters. 4 Immediately after Francis’s death, the two girls were taken from Coiron to Guérande, which was considered to be a safer place. Anne was proclaimed her father’s successor, and the announcement was sent to France. ing Charles VIII assured Anne that he intended to keep the peace and sent her his condolences. He also requested that he be her guardian. 5

Anne was desperately in need of a strong husband. She had been betrothed to the eldest son of King Edward IV, but he had probably been murdered in the Tower of London. Negotiations were opened for an alliance with Maximilian, Archduke of Austria (later Holy Roman Emperor) and widower of Mary of Burgundy. 6 The council advised her to enter into the alliance, and in 1490 Anne married Maximillian by proxy. The French were angry, to say the least. The King of France held court at Nantes and refused Anne and her sister entry to the city. She and Isabeau retired to Rennes while her troops tried to resist the French. On 24 August 1490, Isabeau fell ill and died. She was just twelve years old. It must have been hard for Anne to lose her only sister at a time like this. 7 The French King offered her money, provided she give up the government of the Duchy, but Anne refused until she was finally persuaded by the King of France and her own governess. She threw aside her betrothal to Maximilian and married him in December 1491. 8  Charles’s betrothed had been Margaret of Austria, Maximilian’s daughter, who had grown up at the French court and the sudden change of alliances was a shock to all. Her marriage contracted stated that if Charles died before her, she would not remarry except to the successor of the King or his heir.  9

Anne was crowned at the Basilica of St Denis on 8 February 1492. She was dressed in a robe of damask or white satin. The crown of France was held over her head as it was too heavy for her. A day later, she made a solemn entry into Paris.  10 Margaret of Austria was returned to her father. Anne had ordered that a beautiful head ornament be embroidered for Margaret and she received it together with a gift of gold jewels. It was a consolation price.  11

Just 11 months after her marriage to Charles, Anne gave birth to a son at the Château de Plessis-lez-Tours. She was just 15 years old and an elated Charles wrote to his ministers, “Our trusty and well-beloved friends, thanks to God and Our Lady, about four o’clock in the morning, our very dear and much-beloved consort, the Queen, gave birth to a fine son, of which event we wish to inform you with all speeds, as our good servants, who we know will much rejoice at this.” The Dauphin was baptised three days later, and he was named Charles Orland. 12 He would die on 16 December 1495 of the measles. Anne and Charles were devastated. In the three years following the death of the Dauphin, two sons and a daughter were born, but all died in infancy. 13 Anne suffered her losses in silence and was even more saddened by her husband’s infidelities. 14

On 7 April 1498, Charles was walking with Anne, his confessor Jean de Resley and some of his friends about two o’clock in the afternoon the Château d’Amboise when he hit his head against the top of a low archway with such force that he was stunned by the blow. He was revived and attended a tennis match when he suddenly fell backwards. He never fully woke again but remained alive until 11 o’clock at night. Anne was with him when he died, laid out on a pallet bed. 15 He was succeeded by Louis of Orléans, who became King Louis XII.

Anne was so devastated that she refused to eat and sleep. Anne was still only 20 years old, and courtiers begged her to take nourishment. She shut herself in her room and lay on the floor. She was finally consoled somewhat by Cardinal Briçonnet, and she finally ate again. A courtier wrote to his wife, “The Queen weeps incessantly, and cannot be appeased.” 16

Anne’s marriage contract stipulated that she would only remarry the King or his heir. Louis was already married to Joan, who was Charles’s elder sister. Joan was described by the Venetian ambassador at the time of Louis’s accession. “The Queen is seventeen. She also is small and thin in person, visibly lame in one foot, although she uses a false heel; very determined for her age, so much so, that if a wish enters her head, by smiles or tears, at any cost she will obtain it.” 17 The King’s heir was Francis of Angoulême, who was just four years. She met Louis for the first time as King on 15 May 1498. She consented to marry him if his childless union with Joan was declared to be null and void by the Pope.  Perhaps she had betted on Louis not being to able to obtain an annulment, or she truly wished to marry him. Either way, Joan was pushed aside with the aide of a Pope with a political agenda.

During this time, Anne returned to Brittany to rule over her own lands once more. On 8 January 1499, Anne married Louis in the chapel of the Castle of Nantes. They remained in Brittany for much of the winter and returned to Blois in April 1500. At Romorantin-Lanthenay, where she had been forced to go because of the plague, Anne gave birth to her first child by Louis, a daughter named Claude. 18 When Claude was just 18 months old, marriage negotiations for her began as Anne was eager to keep the Duchy of Brittany separate from the Kingdom of France and she had begun to fear that she would not give the King a male heir.  19 On 18 November 1504, Anne received her second coronation as Queen of France. 20

Anne suffered several miscarriages and delivered a stillborn son on 21 January 1508. Louise of Savoy, the mother of Francis of Angoulême, wrote, “Anne, Queen of France, had a son on St Agnes Day, January 21st, at Blois but he cannot prevent the exaltation of my Caesar, for he had no life.” 21 Anne constantly prayed for a male heir and made many pilgrimages. 22 It seemed more and more likely that Francis would be succeeded Louis as King and Louis began to form a plan to marry Claude to his heir. 

On 25 October 1510, Anne gave birth to her final surviving child. It was another daughter who was named Renée after the St René, patron saint of Angers, where the King and Queen had made several pilgrimages. In 1512, Anne gave birth to another stillborn son. “The day before yesterday, which was the 21st of this month, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the Queen was delivered of a stillborn son, much to the King’s grief, though other take it calmly since God wills it thus.” 23 Anne was ill for quite some time after the birth and remained in ill-health for the last few years of her life. On 9 January 1514, after ten days of suffering, Anne of Brittany died in her apartments at Blois. 24

Her body was embalmed and remained in her apartments from Monday until Friday. Her heart was extracted and placed in a golden box. On Friday, her body was moved into a stateroom in the new part of the castle. She was placed on a state bed covered with cloth of gold bordered with ermine. A crowned was placed on her head, and a scepter and wand of justice were placed on cushions by her side. There she remained, with her face uncovered, from Saturday until Monday evening, surrounded by monks who said masses and prayers for the dead. On Monday evening, her body was placed in a wooden coffin lined with lead, covered outside with copper. The coffin was placed on a four-wheel carriage, covered with black velvet and white satin. On 15 February, the procession arrived at St Denis, and the next day it was lowered into a vault before the high altar. Her daughter Claude, now Duchess of Brittany, married Francis the next year. Anne’s wish of keeping Brittany separate from France was not granted. 25

  1. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 2
  2. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 3
  3. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 5-6
  4. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 7-9
  5. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 10-11
  6. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 12
  7. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 33
  8. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 28-30
  9. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 38
  10. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 39-40
  11. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 46
  12. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 52
  13. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 72
  14. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 74
  15. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 76-77
  16. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 81-82
  17. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 86
  18. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 101-103
  19. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 108-112
  20. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 121
  21. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 150-151
  22. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 151
  23. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 163-164
  24. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 170
  25. Constance, Countess De La Warr – A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany p. 101-103






About Moniek 1271 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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