On 9 June 1572, Jeanne d’Albret, the queen of Navarre died.

Jeanne d'Albret by Clouet

Navarre was a small, Pyrenean kingdom, nestled between France and Spain, and fiercely holding on to its independence in the face of these two great powers. Jeanne was born at Saint-Germain-en-Laye in France on 16 November 1528 and was a relation of the French royal family through her mother, the sister of François I. Her husband, Antoine de Bourbon, was a prince of the blood and spent most of his life torn between his conflicting loyalties to France and Navarre.

Jeanne inherited the throne from her father, Henri II in 1555. She had been raised a Huguenot (French Calvinist Protestant) and on her accession, declared Protestantism the official religion of Navarre. She was very clever and a shrewd politician. She was well educated and, taking after her mother, Marguerite of Navarre, she was a writer. Jeanne composed and published numerous poems.

Jeanne d'Albret, Clouet 1570

Pious and staunchly Protestant, Jeanne was suspicious when, in 1570, plans were formed to marry her son and heir, Henri de Navarre, to Marguerite de Valois (Margot), the daughter of Henri II of France and Catherine de’ Medici. Catherine hoped to bring peace to France, which was again on the brink of a religious civil war, with the wedding. Jeanne suspected a trap but was keen to see her son make such an advantageous marriage.

Two months before the marriage was scheduled to take place, Jeanne died suddenly in Paris. Rumour was rife that Catherine de’ Medici had had her poisoned. Shortly before her death, Jeanne had supposedly received a gift of scented gloves from Catherine’s infamous perfumier, René the Florentine. René was famed for his Italian perfumes and cosmetics, but widely suspected of being the maker of the poisons the queen mother allegedly used to dispatch her enemies.

The marriage went ahead on 18 August 1572, with horrific consequences.

Jeanne de Navarre, 1565 teston

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3 Responses to Jeanne d’Albret, queen of Navarre

  1. Sam says:

    is this lady related to Charlotte D’Albret, wife of Cesare Borgia by any chance? I always felt really sorry for Charlotte – she never saw Cesare again after he left France!

    • Gillian says:

      Hi Sam,

      Jeanne d’Albret was the granddaughter of Charlotte’s brother Jean (III), for whom Cesare was fighting at his death in Viana in 1507.

      Thanks for the question. I hadn’t made the connection initially.

      Gillian

      • Carmen says:

        Hi Gilliam,
        Yes, Cesare Borgia was died in Viana when he died defending Navarre,
        in the city of Viana, bordering with the kingdom of Castile. I am from this city of Viana.
        After escaping from a Spanish prison, Cesare died at the siege of Viana on 12 March 1507 in the service of Charlotte’s brother, the King of Navarre with whom he had sought refuge.

        Regards
        carmen

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