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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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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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Rozsa Gaston - Author

Detail of Anne of Brittany by Jean Bourdichon, c. 1503Sense of Touch is burning up the Hot & Trending list of Kindle Scout nominations for the second week of its one month campaign to receive a publishing contract. Why?

Readers want to know more about her.

Anne of Brittany is a fascinating historical figure about whom almost nothing has been written in English. Her dates? 1477-1514. She reigned as Queen of France after Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) and before Catherine de Medici (1519-1589).

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

This week I uncovered a powerful and poignant painting of her with husband Louis VII by court painter Jean Pichore. The name of the painting says it all: Douleur du Roi sans Fils. Translation: Sorrow of the King without a Son.

Before you feel sorry for Anne of Brittany, don’t.

Claude of France Claude of France, eldest daughter of Anne of Brittany and Louis XII

She may not have…

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New Release, Dec. 2, 2014

New release, Dec. 2, 2014

My latest novel Budapest Romance came out Dec. 2 out in paperback, ebook, and audiobook editions. This contemporary romance is the story of an American woman and a Dutch man who find each other in the thermal bath spas of Budapest.

Rudas Turkish Baths, Budapest

Rudas Turkish Baths, Budapest

Suitable for readers age 15 and up, Kati and Jan’s tender love story begins in Budapest, develops in New York and Holland, then circles back to Hungary. Gift yourself or a friend with a trip to Budapest without the airfare this holiday season with Budapest Romance.

Romy Nordlinger

Romy Nordlinger

Széchenyi baths, Budapest

Széchenyi Baths, Budapest

Budapest Romance audiobook edition is narrated by actress Romy Nordlinger of All My Children and One Life to Live. Here’s what she says:

“You will not want Rozsa Gaston’s elegant and atmospheric Budapest Romance to end. This inspiring journey is a haunting story of true love that is all at once simple, beautiful, universal and loaded with heart. You will fall in love with the characters and get lost in the old time elegance of journeying to the romance of Budapest. As delicate as the snowflakes falling upon the majestic baths of Budapest, the fleeting beauty of Budapest Romance is arresting and to be savored.”

Budapest Széchenyi baths

Széchenyi Baths, Budapest

Budapest’s largest thermal bath spa provides the backdrop against which Kati’s and Jan’s friendship and feelings for each other grow. Both are there for closure: Kati to settle her Hungarian late father’s estate, Jan to heal from injuries from a motorcycle accident that permanently altered his son’s life.

Linger awhile between the pages of Budapest Romance and imagine bubbling, mineralized waters enveloping you while you read the story of Kati and Jan.

Stay playful, dear reader and may your holiday season be as effervescent as the warm thermal baths of Budapest.

Rozsa Gaston headshot—Author Rozsa Gaston

The Ava Series: Paris Adieu, Part I, Black is Not a Color, Part II, Budapest Romance, Running from Love, Lyric and Dog Sitters.

All books also available on audible.com in audiobook format.

 

front façade of Széchenyi baths, Budapest

Front façade of Széchenyi Baths, Budapest

Hallway to Széchenyi baths locker rooms, Budapest

Hallway to Széchenyi Baths locker rooms, Budapest

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“They all had that private club, private school aura about them. Like they knew something other people didn’t. She wanted to claw their eyes out.”

What was Farrah’s problem?

JLo in a 2004 Vogue spread exudes qualities Farrah wishes she had, but doesn't

JLo in a 2004 Vogue spread exudes qualities Farrah wishes she had, but doesn’t

Excerpt from Running from Love:

“So you’re not a trust fund kid,” he said, hoping he didn’t
sound like he was fishing.

“No way,” she snapped then caught herself. “I mean—no—
I’m not. No one is where I come from.” She put her hand up
to her face, nervously smoothing a wisp of hair from her cheek.

“What about you?” she asked, looking guarded.

“I grew up with a lot of them, but I wasn’t one.” He locked
eyes with her. If only she knew how happy he was that she wasn’t one either.

Kentucky Derby participant captures the private club aura

Some know how to exude the private club aura better than others

“Did you want to be?” she asked, intuitively.

“Sometimes I thought I did,” he responded truthfully, surprising
himself. “What about you? Did you?”

“I didn’t even know what a trust fund kid was until a few
years ago. Then I found out the hard way.” She looked away,
shifting in her seat.

“So you bumped into one.”

“Not exactly.” Farrah’s eyes flamed again, this time with
anger.

“Let me guess. You dated one, and it didn’t work out.”

“I dated someone who left me for one.” She clapped her hand
over her mouth, then released it. “Never mind. I didn’t mean to tell you that.”

Jacqueline de Ribes knows how to get across private club membership. Farrah's not quite there yet.

Jacqueline de Ribes knows how to get across private club membership. Farrah’s not quite there yet.

“I’m glad you did. So the guy made off with a trust-fund babe? Let me guess. Someone with rich parents who works at an art gallery or in public relations?”

“P.R. How did you know?” Farrah looked astonished.

“Her father works in finance or law, and her mother is an interior decorator or kindergarten teacher at a private school and sits on a board.”

“That’s—you’re—how do you know all this?” she stammered, looking as adorable as she did vulnerable as she stared at him. She didn’t lack the wound.

End excerpt from Running from Love by Rozsa Gaston

What wine would you sip while contemplating this quote?

Contemplating the concept of exclusion suggests sipping on something just a bit more exclusive than usual, then enjoying the company of one’s own private club while savoring it. Are you the only member? Even more exclusive.

St. Germain liquerI would recommend a St. Germain cocktail: the simplest imaginable combination of 4 oz. of Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc topped off by 1 oz. of St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. This delicate yet heady elderflower liqueur delights the taste buds, ushering one into a state of refinement after a single sip.

Serve St. Germain cocktails as an aperitif to kick off your next social event. Your guests will think you have very good taste and want very much to join your club. Let them.

The way you will feel after sipping a St. Germain cocktail

The way you will feel after sipping a St. Germain cocktail

Don’t forget, darlings—if you don’t have time to read these days, download Running from Love audiobook and listen to Jude’s and Farrah’s story on your commute or while you work out.

Decorated arch, Gellert Spa Baths, Budapest

Decorated arch, Gellert Spa Baths, Budapest

Next week we will take a look at thermal bath spas in Budapest to set the stage for my upcoming release Budapest Romance.

Must run now. I’ve got a date at the club.

Playfully yours,

Rozsa Gaston

 

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The Secret Life of BeesI just finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees and am still reveling in the rich resonance of this wonderfully written, content-packed story. There’s a lot of bee talk in The Secret Life of Bees, but there’s a lot more to this book than bees. How many books in one’s life are as beautifully written as they are content-laden? Usually I’ll like a book either because it’s well written or because the story is so compelling. The Secret Life of Bees delivers both.

If you read this book you’ll have received a gift that stays with you days after. Weeks, months, years. No wonder Sue Monk Kidd has exploded onto the literary scene as the next Carson McCullers or Harper Lee. What is it about these Southern female writers and their way with words?  Move over Southern ladies of the pen. Make room in the pantheon of literary lions from the American South for Sue Monk Kidd.  She floors me. She’ll floor you too if you you read The Secret Life of Bees.

21kQnOHYLfL._UY490_CR0,0,450,490_[1]What wine would you sip while contemplating this quote?

I would sip something honey colored—a buttery Chardonnay. Egret from California comes to mind.

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