- Anne of Brittany
Infobox French Royalty|majesty|consort
title =Queen consort of France; Duchess of Brittany
Duchess of Brittany
predecessor =Francis II
September 9 1488- 9 January 1514 6 December 1491- 7 April 1498 8 January 1499- 9 January 1514
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor Charles VIII of France Louis XII of France
Charles Orlando, Dauphin of FranceClaude, Duchess of Brittany
Renée, Duchess of Ferrara
royal house =Dreux-Montfort
titles =The Queen of France
Queen Anne of France
The Queen of France
The Duchess of Brittany
Lady Anne of Brittany
Francis II, Duke of Brittany
Margaret of Foix
date of birth =birth date|1477|1|25|mf=y
place of birth =
date of death =death date and age|1514|1|9|1477|1|25|mf=y
place of death =
Anne of Brittany (
25 January, 1477– 9 January, 1514[Genealogics name|id=00003789] ), also known as Anna of Brittany ( _fr. Anne de Bretagne; Breton: Anna Vreizh), was a Breton aristocrat, who was to become queen to two successive French kings, and ruling Duchess of Brittany. She was born in Nantes, Brittany, and was the daughter of Francis II, Duke of Brittany and Margaret of Foix. Her maternal grandparents were Gaston IV of Foixand Eleanor of Navarre. Upon her father's death, she became sovereign Duchess of Brittany, Countess of Nantes, Montfort and Richmont and Viscountess of Limoges. In her time, she was the richest European woman.
Anne was the only child of Francis and Margaret to survive childhood (she had a younger sister, Isabeau, who died in 1490). Accordingly, she was brought up as the heiress to the Duchy. She was given a good education under the guidance of Françoise de Dinan, Lady of Laval and Chateaubriant, and the poet Jean Meschinot.
Breton War of Succession, Brittany had been understood to operate according to semi-Salic Law – women could only inherit if the male line had died out. By the time Anne was born, her father was the only male left of the Breton House of Dreux. The War of Succession had ended with an agreement that, in the absence of a male heir, the heirs of Joanna of Penthievrewould succeed. After a century, however, this agreement had been forgotten. Thus, in 1486 Anne's father had her recognised as heiress by the Breton estates; however, the question of her marriage remained a diplomatic issue. Francis had no intention of allowing Brittany to be absorbed by France. Therefore, he sought for his daughter a marriage with a figure capable of withstanding French power.
Brittany being an attractive prize, Anne had no shortage of suitors. She was officially promised in marriage to Edward, Prince of Wales, son of
Edward IV of Englandin 1483; however, the boy disappeared, and was presumed dead, soon after the death of Edward IV and the accession of his brother, Richard III. Others who bid for her hand included Maximilian of Austria (the widower of Mary of Burgundy, another heiress), Alain d'Albret, Jean de Châlons (Prince of Orange) and even the married Louis, Duke of Orleans.
In 1488, however, the armies of Francis II were defeated at Saint-Aubin-of-Cormier, ending the "Guerre folle" between Brittany and France. In the
Treaty of Sablé, which concluded the peace settlement, the Duke was forced to accept clauses stipulating that his daughters were not to marry without the approval of the King of France. Francis died soon afterward, on 9 September 1488, as a result of a fall from his horse. Anne became Duchess, and Brittany was plunged into fresh crisis, leading to the last Franco-Breton war.
Duchess of Brittany
The first necessary move for Anne was to secure a husband, preferably anti-France and powerful enough to maintain Breton independence. Maximilian I of Austria was considered to be the most suitable candidate. The marriage with Maximilian, which took place at Rennes by proxy on 19 December 1490, gained Anne the title Queen of the Romans but proved to have serious consequences. The French regarded it as a serious provocation: it not only violated the Treaty of Verger (the King of France not having consented to the marriage), but also placed the rule of Brittany in the hands of an enemy of France. The marriage also proved ill-timed: the Habsburgs were too busy in Hungary to pay any serious attention to Brittany, and the Castilians were busy fighting in Granada. Although both Castile and England sent small numbers of troops to supplement the Ducal army, neither wished for open warfare with France. Thus, the Spring of 1491 saw new successes by the French general La Trémoille, and
Charles VIII of Francecame to lay siege to Rennes, where Anne was.
After Maximilian failed to come to his bride's assistance, Rennes fell. Anne gave in and was engaged to Charles in the vault of the Jacobins in Rennes. Then, escorted by her army (and thus apparently set free, in order to prove that she willingly consented to the marriage), Anne went to Langeais, to be married. Although Austria made diplomatic protests, claiming that the marriage was illegal because the bride was unwilling, that she was already legally married to Maximilian, and that Charles was legally betrothed to Margaret of Austria, Maximilian's daughter, Anne celebrated her second wedding at the castle of Langeais on 6 December, and married King Charles VIII of France.
The marriage was subsequently validated by
Pope Innocent VIIIon February 15, 1492. The marriage contract provided that whichever spouse outlived the other would retain possession of Brittany; however, it was also agreed that if Charles died without male heirs, Anne would marry his successor, thus ensuring the French Kings a second chance to permanently annex Brittany.
Queen of France
Anne's first marriage began badly: she brought two beds with her when she came to marry Charles, and the King and Queen often lived apart. She was anointed and crowned Queen of France at Saint-Denis on 8 February 1492; she was forbidden by her husband to use the title "Duchess of Brittany", which became a bone of contention between the two. When her husband fought in the wars in Italy, the regency powers were exercised by his sister Anne of Beaujeu. Pregnant for most of her married life, Anne lived primarily in the royal castles of Amboise, Loaches and Plessis or in the towns of Lyon, Grenoble or Moulins (when the king was in Italy). She became Queen of Sicily and Jerusalem with the conquest of Naples by Charles VIII.
The marriage produced four living children, none of whom survived early childhood. Only the first, Charles Orland (11 October 1492 – 16 December 1495), survived infancy. A healthy and intelligent child, he was doted on by his parents, who both suffered terrible grief when he died suddenly of the measles. After him was born Charles, who lived for less than a month; and Francis and Anne, who each died almost immediately after being born. These tragedies caused a great deal of pain to Anne, who prayed openly for a son after the death of Francis.
Widowhood and remarriage
When Charles VIII died in 1498, Anne was 21 years old and childless. Legally, she was now obliged to marry the new king, Louis XII; however, he was already married, to Jeanne, daughter of Louis XI and sister to Charles VIII. On 19 August 1498, at Étampes, she agreed to marry Louis if he obtained an annulment from Jeanne within a year. If she was gambling that the annulment would be denied, she lost: Louis's first marriage was dissolved by the Pope before the end of the year.
In the interim, in October 1498, Anne returned to rule Brittany. She restored the faithful Philippe de Montauban to the chancellery of Brittany, named the Prince of Orange as Hereditary Lieutenant General of Brittany, convened the Estates of Brittany, and ordered production of a coin bearing her name. She took the opportunity to tour the Duchy, visiting many places she had never been able to see as a child. She made triumphal entries into the cities of the duchy, where her vassals received her sumptuously.
Anne's third marriage ceremony, on 8 January 1499 (she wore white, setting a precedent for future brides), was concluded under conditions radically different from those of the second. She was no longer a child, but was a Queen dowager, and was determined to ensure the recognition of her rights as sovereign duchess from now on. Although her new husband exercised the ruler's powers in Brittany, he accepted the title of duke consort, formally recognizing her right to the title "Duchess of Brittany" and issuing decisions in her name.
As Duchess, Anne fiercely defended the independence of her Duchy. She arranged the marriage of her daughter, Claude, to Charles of Luxembourg in 1501, to reinforce the Franco-Spanish alliance and ensure French success in the Italian Wars; however, Louis broke off the marriage when it became likely that Anne would not produce a male heir. Instead, Louis arranged a marriage between Claude and the heir to the French throne, Francis of Angouleme. Anne, determined to maintain Breton independence, refused until death to sanction the marriage, pushing instead for Claude to marry Charles, or for the Duchy to be inherited by her other daughter, Renee. The marriage of Claude and Francis eventually took place in the year following Anne's death.
Anne failed to survive the winter of 1513-1514, dying of a kidney-stone attack at the Chateau of Blois. She was buried in the necropolis of Saint Denis. Her funeral was of exceptional length, lasting 40 days, and inspiring all future French royal funerals until the 18th century. The Requiem for Anne was probably composed by the famous composer
Johannes Prioris[For a historical and musicological perspective on Prioris's Requiem, read cite conference
first = Eugeen
last = Schreurs
coauthors = Snellings, Dirk
title = Requiem voor Anna van Bretagne, koningin van Frankrijk
booktitle = La polyphonie Française. Festival van Vlaanderen 2007
pages = 185-187
year = 2007
accessdate = Recording: "Johannes Prioris, Missa pro Defunctis,"
Capilla Flamenca, 2003 (Eufoda 1349).] .According to her will, her heart was placed in a raised enamel gold reliquary, then transported to Nantes to be deposited, on March 19, 1514, in the vault of the Carmelite friars, in the tomb made for her parents, later being transferred to the Saint-Pierre cathedral. The reliquary of the heart of the Anne, Duchess of Brittany is a box oval, bivalvular, made of a sheet of gold pushed back and guilloched, articulated by a hinge, broadside of a gold cordelière and topped by a crown of lily and clover. It is inscribed as follows: "En ce petit vaisseau De fin or pur et munde Repose ung plus grand cueur Que oncque dame eut au munde Anne fut le nom delle En France deux fois royne Duchesse des Bretons Royale et Souveraine." It was made by an anonymous goldsmith of the court of Blois, perhaps drawn by Jean Perréal. In 1792, by order of the National Convention, the reliquary was exhumed, emptied, and seized as part of a collection of precious metals pertaining to churches, and sent to Nantes to be melted down. However, it was instead kept in the National Library, and was returned to Nantes in 1819, being kept in various museums, and in the Castle of the dukes of Brittany since 2007.
Anne's will also conferred the succession of Brittany upon her second daughter, Renee. This was ignored by her husband, who confirmed Claude as Duchess and married her to Francis.
Anne was a highly intelligent woman who spent much of her time on the administration of Brittany. She was described as shrewd, proud and haughty in manner. [De La Warr, Constance, "A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany", p.41.] She made the safeguarding of Breton autonomy, and the preservation of the Duchy outside the French crown, her life's work, although that goal would prove failed shortly after her death.
Anne was also a patron of the arts and enjoyed music. A prolific collector of tapestries, it is very likely that the unicorn tapestries now on view at
The Cloistersmuseum in New York Citywere commissioned by her in celebration of her wedding to Louis XII. [ cite web|url=http://www.metmuseum.org/Special/Tapestry/5.r.htm |title=Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence |accessdate=2008-01-09 |publisher= The Metropolitan Museum of Art] She also commissioned a book of French manuscripts (a " Book of Hours"), known as "The Great Hours of Anne of Brittany". She also instituted the Queen's Maids of Honourat the court.
One of Anne's legs was shorter than the other, causing a
limp. To fix the problem, she wore a higher heel on that leg. Fact|date=May 2008
Anne kept a box of
precious stones and semi-precious stones. She would randomly pick one and give it to her visitors. Fact|date=May 2008
She was a devoted mother, spending as much time as possible with her children. For her son, Charles-Orland, she commissioned a book of prayers, intended to be used in teaching him how to pray, and as a guidance to him as the future King of France; unfortunately, Charles-Orland died in 1495, and no other son lived more than a few weeks.
At her marriage to Charles VIII, aged 14, Anne was described as a young and rosy-cheeked girl; by the time of her marriage to Louis, aged 22, after seven pregnancies with no surviving children, she was described as pale-faced and wan. By the end of her life, at 36, she had been pregnant 14 times, with seven of the children stillborn. Of the remaining seven, only two survived childhood.
Marriage and issue
Anne's first marriage ceremony, on
19 December, 1490, was a marriage by proxy to Maximilian of Habsburg. It was dissolved by the Pope in the following year; because it was only by proxy (rather than in person), it is not generally considered a 'real' marriage.
Her second husband was
Charles VIII of France, whom she married at Chateau Langeais on 6 December 1491. She was pregnant by him seven times:
* Charles Orlando,
Dauphin of France. Her only healthy son, he lived 1492-1495, but died of the measles.
* A still-born son. She became pregnant in late 1492/early 1493, but travelled with her husband from castle to castle; she went into labour during a drive in the forest of Courcelles, and the child was premature and stillborn (August 1493).
* A still-born girl. Anne became pregnant again five months after her miscarriage, and avoided travel (instead residing in Amboise near the Dauphin). However, in February 1494, she accompanied the King to Lyons, where he was preparing to depart for the Italian Wars, and after arriving on
15 March, attended all the ceremonies; the stress of the occasion caused her to go into premature labour, and she gave birth to a still-born girl.
* A still-born child. She became pregnant again in August 1494, but lost the baby soon after.
* Charles, Dauphin of France. He lived from
8 Septemberto 2 October 1496. His death prompted Anne to withdraw to Moulins temporarily in despair.
* Francis, Dauphin of France. He died several hours after his birth in 1497.
* Anne of France. She died on the day of her birth,
20 March 1498at Plessis les Tours.
Her third husband was
Louis XII of France. She was pregnant by him seven times:
Claude of France(1499 -1524) became her heir and also Queen Consort of Francis I.
* Stillborn son (1500).
* Stillborn son (
21 January 1503).
* "Some sources cited a miscarriage by the end of 1503".
* In 1505 she suffered a miscarriage.
* Stillborn son (1508) -some sources cited this was a miscarriage-.
* "Some sources cited a miscarriage in 1509".
Renée of France(1510 - 1575) married Ercole II d'Este, the Duke of Ferrara, and became the Duchess of Chartres.
* Stillborn son (January 1512).
Cultural symbolism of Anne
Even while she was alive, the royal propaganda of Charles VIII and of Louis XII introduced Anne of Brittany as a perfect queen, a symbol of union and peace between the kingdom of France and the duchy of Brittany. In the following centuries, historians and popular culture sometimes presented Anne of Brittany in differing fashions, ascribing to her physical and psychological characteristics that are not necessarily supported by historical evidence.
In 1991, the five-hundredth anniversary of the marriage of Anne of Brittany and Charles VIII of France was celebrated in Langeais. In Rennes, which had paid the price of this marriage by siege, food shortage, and an occupation, it was hardly mentioned.
Anne in Breton culture
Anne of Brittany is one of Brittany's most renowned historical figures, second perhaps only to Saint Yves. In testimony exist a large number of trades, hotels and street names bearing her name. Anne is also referred to by:
* The folksong "Anne de Bretagne: duchess en sabots" which imagines her wearing rustic
clogsat her first meeting with the king.
* a song of Gilles Servat which evokes her life: "Koc'h ki gwenn ha koc'h ki du"
* "Duchesse Anne", name of a beer produced in Brittany
* the square three-masted ship "Duchesse Anne", currently moored in the Port of Dunkirk.
* "Anne of Brittany", an opera by Breton composer Pierick Houdy, libretto by M. Fournereau, first performed in Rennes 2001, featuring Agnès Bove in the title role
* "If dead died", an anonymous poem going back to her funeral, and now performed by Breton singer Tri Yann. Another song of the repertory refers to the Duchess.
There are several explanations for this: the destiny of this duchess who married three kings, including two kings of France, and who was only a child when she had to marry the first (even if early engagements were normal at that time); the historical role of Anne in the union of the duchy to the kingdom of France; the fact that very little of the history of Brittany is taught in Breton schools (the official school syllabus being written in Paris for all the French territory -territories of overseas included - those retain only Anne as a notable Breton). This established fact leads some to experience the History of Brittany starting and finishing with Anne.
* Jean-Luc Deuffic: Les manuscrits d'Anne de Bretagne
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