With the 2017 series Maximilian now available via Starz, we are introduced to some more unknown royal women.
Mary, Duchess of Burgundy
Although the series is called Maximillian, the second main character is Mary, Duchess of Burgundy – his wife. Challenged in her rights to become Duchess in her own right by the French, she seeks a strong alliance. Mary was the only child of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy and his first wife, Isabella of Bourbon. She married Archduke Maximilian of Austria, who would become Holy Roman Emperor after her death. She had two children during their short marriage; Philip (later King of Castile as the consort of Queen Joanna of Castile) and Margaret (read below).
She was still only 25 years old when she had a horse-riding accident and died shortly after.
Margaret of Austria, Princess of Asturias and Duchess of Savoy
Mary’s daughter Margaret probably had little recollection of her mother as she died when Margaret was only two years old. Margaret was raised at the French court as the betrothed of the future King Charles VIII of France but she returned home in 1493 after he renounced the betrothal. She went on to marry twice; her first marriage to John, Prince of Asturias, ended with his sudden death six months later. Margaret was left a pregnant widow and she gave birth to a stillborn daughter six months later. A second marriage to Philibert II, Duke of Savoy was also brief; he died just three years into the marriage. Margaret went on to serve as Governor of the Habsburg Netherlands for 23 years.
Kunigunde of Austria, Duchess of Bavaria
Kunigunde was the only surviving sibling of Maximilian. She married Albert IV, Duke of Bavaria in 1487 and stayed in close contact with her brother. She and her husband went on to have seven children and after her husband’s death in 1508, she retired to the Convent of Püttrich. Through her youngest daughter Susanna, she was an ancestress of the House of Hannover.
Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy
Margaret of York was Charles the Bold’s third wife and the one to survive him. She was close to her stepdaughter Mary and also closely followed the fate of her family in England. She was the sister of Kings Edward IV and Richard III.
Charlotte of Savoy, Queen of France
Charlotte of Savoy was the second wife of King Louis XI of France; his first wife had been Margaret Stewart. The French are introduced after they challenge Mary’s right to her throne and their attempts at marrying her to the Dauphin. Charlotte became the mother of Louis’s eight children, but tragically only three would survive to adulthood. She lived a rather secluded life as Queen and spent her day at the Château of Amboise, where she supervised the education of her daughters. She was widowed in 1483 but she was not officially made regent. Instead, she served on a royal council alongside her sons-in-law, though her eldest daughter Anne was the de facto regent. She survived her husband for just a few months.
Anne of France, Duchess of Bourbon (Regent of France)
Anne, the eldest surviving daughter of King Louis XI of France and Charlotte of Savoy, married Peter of Bourbon at the age 12. He later became Duke of Bourbon, making Anne his Duchess. They had two children together, though only a daughter named Suzanne survived to adulthood. Anne held the de facto regency of France for 8 years during her brother’s minority and she was known to have been one of the most powerful and intelligent women in France.
(Saint) Joan of France, Queen of France, Duchess of Berry
Joan, the second surviving daughter of King Louis XI of France and Charlotte of Savoy. She was known to be sickly and her father believed her to be sterile. He married her off to her cousin Louis, Duke of Orléans, who was the next heir after her brother, hoping to end that line of the family. Neither party was happy with the arrangement and Louis treated her with disdain. She became Queen in 1498 after the death of her brother but Louis was determined to be rid of her. He had the marriage annulled though Joan fought it tooth and nail. She was made Duchess of Berry and turned to the religious life. She died in 1505 and was eventually canonised on 28 May 1950.