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Thank you, dear reader, for helping me put the story of the fascinating and little-known Anne of Brittany on the map. Her dates? 1477-1514. Ruler of Brittany at age eleven, she married the King of France at age fourteen. Anne of Brittany was the only woman in history to be twice crowned Queen of France. Discover her story in Sense of Touch.

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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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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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Anne of Brittany by Jean Bourdichon, courtesy gallica.BnF.fr

Anne of Brittany by Jean Bourdichon, courtesy gallica.BnF.fr

Sense of Touch is coming soon. My seventh and latest novel is based on the life of Anne of Brittany, twice Queen of France. Her dates? 1477-1514.

Sense of Touch has been chosen by Kindle Scout for a 30-day pilot program to see if readers get interested in this story. If the book receives enough nominations by Oct. 19, 2015, it will be chosen for publication by Kindle Press. That’s a very big deal. Why? Worldwide distribution.

Here’s the link to nominate Sense of Touch for publication. It’s free, and if Sense of Touch gets picked up for publication, you will receive a complimentary advance copy. I will include your name on my acknowledgments page if you let me know you voted. Thank you.

Why am I excited about Anne of Brittany? This remarkable woman, Duchess of Brittany in her own right, and twice Queen of France due to marrying well, lived exactly at the convergence of the Middle Ages with the Renaissance. What does that mean?

Quick answer: Goodbye, Middle Ages. Hello, Renaissance.

To put it in a nutshell, it means goodbye to collective identity and hello to self-identity. My writing platform is all about self-identity, as in how do women achieve their own? Then, how do they hone it through the years as professional and family obligations conspire to obliterate their special je ne sais quoi?

Anne of Brittany did a great job of maintaining her own sense of self. Her motto? A ma vie, to my life. It takes a confident woman to have a motto like that.

Here’s the gist of Sense of Touch.

Fiction

Tapestry design based on Le Toucher from The Lady and the Unicorn series. Courtesy METRAX-CRAYE, Belgium

NICOLE SAINT SYLVAIN serves at the court of Anne of Brittany, Queen of France, in 1497, at age fifteen. Working with horse trainer Philippe de Bois to heal the Queen’s stallion, she shows an aptitude for diagnosing horses’ ailments through her sense of touch. Soon she has fallen in love, but not with the man her father has chosen for her. Duty pulls Nicole and Philippe in different directions and Nicole becomes a wife, mother, then widow while immersing herself in the healing arts. When Anne of Brittany begs her to save her infant daughter, Nicole works alongside a physician from the South whose reputation for healing began with his work with horses. Will Nicole succeed in saving the Queen’s daughter? And if she does, will the Queen reward her with the greatest desire of her heart—marriage to the only man she has ever loved?

Fact

512px-BNF_-_Latin_9474_-_Jean_Bourdichon_-_Grandes_Heures_d'Anne_de_BretagneANNE OF BRITTANY inherited the Duchy of Brittany at age eleven upon her father’s death in 1488. Three years later she married Charles VIII and became Queen consort of France. Instrumental in introducing new techniques of architecture and craftsmanship from Milan to France, Anne of Brittany ushered in the Italian Renaissance to France. By age twenty-one she had buried her husband and all four of her children. Within nine months she became wife of the new king, Louis XII. Pregnant fourteen times, seven times by either king, she raised two children to adulthood. Both were daughters.

She is known as the first female ruler of France to bring together young women of noble birth at court, where she educated and trained them, then arranged appropriate marriage matches. A ruler of influence, refinement, and resources, she rose above personal loss with dignity and grace while espousing the cause of women’s advancement. Her story is for women everywhere.

I would be delighted if you would click here to nominate Sense of Touch for publication. You’ll find an excerpt from Sense of Touch too. Enjoy and thank you.

Stay playful,

Rozsa Gaston

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