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The Freelance History Writer

Germaine de Foix Germaine de Foix

Ferdinand of Aragon was married to Isabella of Castile for thirty-five years. When Isabella died, the wily king was in his early fifties and for political reasons decided he wanted a new bride even though he had promised Isabella he would never marry again. He looked to the French for a bride in an attempt to make an alliance that would irritate his son-in-law Philip of Burgundy. It just so happened King Louis XII had a teenaged niece, Germaine de Foix, who was a good candidate to be the new wife for the Aragonese king.

Germaine was born in 1488, the daughter of John of Foix, Viscount of Narbonne and son of Queen Eleanor of Navarre. Germaine’s mother was Marie of Orléans, a sister of King Louis XII of France. Germaine and her brother Gaston grew up in the family home until they were orphaned in 1492…

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Who was Anne of Brittany?

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Anne of Brittany’s portrait on wall of Chateau Royal Amboise

The only woman to have ever been crowned twice queen of France, Anne of Brittany became Brittany’s ruler at age eleven, upon the death of her father.

Her dates? 1477-1514. Born deep in the night at the Chateau of the Dukes of Brittany in Nantes, Brittany, on the night of January 25, her hour of birth is unrecorded. My guess is the firstborn child of Francis II of Montfort, Duke of Brittany, and his wife, Marguerite de Foix, was born after midnight, putting her birth date at Jan. 26, 1477.

Her personality?

  • Delightfully feminine.
  • Decidedly feminist.

Lucky in love, unlucky in childbearing, she was a woman who ruled with authority while winning the love of two kings and the admiration of all Europe.

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Anne’s birthplace of the Chateau of the Dukes of Brittany, Nantes, France

Brittany at the time of Anne’s birth was a duchy to the west of the kingdom of France. The kings of France had their eye on obtaining this fertile and affluent territory for France. Anne’s life story is largely the story of her struggles to maintain Brittany’s independence. Did she succeed? With first husband Charles VIII of France, no. With second husband Louis XII of France, yes.

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Map courtesy of Stephane Berne’s Secrets d’Histoire series, Anne de Bretagne, deux fois Reine

Discover French queen Anne of Brittany between the pages of Sense of Touch, a fictional love story, set in her court.

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Ever since picking up Mildred Allen Butler’s book on Anne of Brittany a few years ago (Twice Queen of France: Anne of Brittany. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1967), I’ve been fascinated by this French queen who came to power at age eleven as ruler of Brittany, then became queen of France at age fourteen.
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Anne of Brittany’s travails trying to bring live children into the world rival any woman’s in history. Her fourteen pregnancies resulted in the survival of two children, both daughters.The rest? Three miscarriages, five stillborn infants, one son dead after three hours, one daughter dead after one day, another son lived three weeks, her longest living son survived to age three when he succumbed to measles. As a public figure, this queen’s drama played out on the stage of all of France. If I had made this up, readers wouldn’t believe it.Yet it’s all true, and carefully historically documented.

I began to wonder why Anne of Brittany’s story is not well known.
Many modern women share the same secret heartaches their medieval and ancient-era sisters suffered: pregnancy loss, inability to bring a live child into the world, inability to keep a child alive once born. Women continue to struggle with these issues, suffering in silence when pregnancy and childbirth loss occurs. My heart aches for every one of them.I wanted to bring alive Anne of Brittany’s tale for modern women, many of whom share her story in personal grief and in courage. At the same time this brave woman endured continual personal tragedy she achieved great success as queen of France. She offers the world a model of fortitude and resilience in the face of enormous personal suffering.

  • Anne of Brittany ruled over the most sophisticated court in Europe.
  • She was the first European royal to wear lingerie, specifically brassieres.
  • She helped usher in the glories of the Renaissance from Italy to France.She ran the first finishing school for young women of noble birth,educating them in book learning and estate management and supplying or supplementing their dowries when they married.

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    Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany in an idealized 15th century diptych: Charles was not this handsome, Anne was not this ugly

  • Both of Anne of Brittany’s husbands were madly in love with her. Neither considered putting her aside despite her inability to produce an heir for the throne of France. Her first husband, Charles VIII of France, was mad about her despite cheating on her throughout their marriage, as was typical for kings in that age. Her second husband, Louis XII of France, died less than a year after her death at the age of thirty seven. It was said that he never recovered from her death.

    Douleur du Roi sans Fils by Jean Pichore, c. 1503

    Louis XII asking Anne of Brittany why the daughter she has given him is not a son. Anne giving her husband a look. Painting by Jean Pichore, c. 1503

  • Anne of Brittany was renown throughout Europe as a matchmaker. Rulers of other European countries,including King Ferdinand of Spain, after his wife Isabella’s death, and the King of Hungary sought her advice in choosing suitable new spouses.

Enjoy discovering the remarkable historical figure Anne of Brittany in Sense of Touch.  And look for its sequel in 2017, Anne and Charles: Arranged Marriage, Renaissance Romance.

Happy birthday, Anne of Brittany, fierce Breton duchess and twice queen of France,

Author Rozsa Gaston

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Anne of Brittany was born on January 25 or 26, 1477, in Nantes, France. She was born deep in the night, the time of birth unrecorded. Please join me in celebrating her entrance into the world on this day.

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Image of Anne of Brittany courtesy Nurycat, Deviant Art

Anne of Brittany’s sun sign? Aquarius. Her personality? Strong.

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intelligent

self-confident

constant

firm

shrewd

tenacious

decisive

generous

caring

fastidious

big spender

 

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From Stephane Berne’s Secrets d’Histoire on Anne of Brittany

 

CONS

obstinate

fiery-tempered

haughty

proud

rigid

big spender

More on this fiery French queen tomorrow. Meanwhile, happy birthday to my favorite Aquarian, the fair Anne of Brittany, twice queen of France.

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Statue of Anne of Brittany at entrance to her birthplace, Chateau of the Dukes of Brittany, Nantes, France

 

What wine would I choose to celebrate Anne of Brittany on her birthday?

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The ermine was the emblem of Brittany, small and fierce like Brittany’s ruler Anne

A fine Vouvray from the Loire Valley where she spent her adult life, first at Chateau Royal Amboise, then at Chateau Blois. As soft and light as the climate of the Touraine, Paul Buisse’s 2015 Vouvray Chenin Blanc makes an excellent choice. $13.99 a bottle.

Bon anniversaire, chere Anne de Bretagne,

Author Rozsa Gaston

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Statue of Anne of Brittany at the Chateau of the Dukes of Brittany, Nantes, France

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Image of Anne of Brittany courtesy of Nurycat 2006

Anne of Brittany? 515 years ago today she married Charles VIII of France at Château de Langeais.The only woman in history twice crowned queen of France.

Duchess of Brittany at age 11, she became queen of France at age 15.
A woman of fiery temperament and champagne tastes, she suffered enormous personal loss. Her political marriage to the king of France to end war between Brittany and France became a loving one, ending in his death at age 27. Within eight months she married his successor, Louis XII, and was again crowned queen of France.
Discover her in medieval historical romance Sense of Touch.
“Sense of Touch adroitly blends fact with fiction. Well written this work will resonate with lovers of history and romance alike.”—Jenerated Reviews
“A striking story.”—Historical Novel Society
“A mesmerizing story eloquently told with a brilliant dialogue.”—Duncan Whitehead, bestselling author of The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club

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European history scholar Hilde van den Bergh hits another home run with the story of the marriage of King Charles VIII of France with Anne of Brittany, resulting in the union of France and Brittany. Follow her blog at hemmahoshilde.wordpress.com

hemmahoshilde (@Hilde's home)

Anne became engaged to the King in the vault of the Jacobins in Rennes on 17 November 1491. Then, escorted by her army (ostensibly to show that she had willingly consented to the marriage), Anne went to Langeais to be married. The official marriage between Anne and King Charles VIII of France was celebrated in the Great Hall of the Chateau de Langeais on 6 December 1491 at dawn despite diplomatic protests of Austria that the bride was unwilling already married and that the groom was already betrothed. They had to be quick and discrete because technically the marriage was illegal until the pope annulled the marriage between Anne of Brittany and Maximilian I and gave a dispensation needed for marrying Charles VIII because Anne of Brittany and Charles VIII were related in the forbidden 4th degree of consanguinity. The pope received substantial concessions for this. This was possible because the…

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Jenerated reviews awards five stars to Sense of Touch on Sept. 7, 2016. 

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