Margaret (or Marguerite) of Orleans

Margaret (Or Marguerite) Of Orleans, duchess of Alenuon and afterwards queen of Navarre, occupies an important place in the history of French Protestantism. She was born at Angouleme April 11, 1492, and was brought up at the court of Louis XII. Her brother, afterwards Francis I, after he had ascended the throne, employed her in numerous important affairs, and she went to Madrid to attend to him when he was a prisoner there. In 1509 she was married to duke Charles of Alenlon, but he dying in 1525, she in 1527 again married, this time Henry d'Albret, king of Navarre, and from this marriage was born Jeanne d'Albret, mother of Henry IV. Henry d'Albret died in 1544, and Margaret continued to govern the kingdom with great wisdom. She died Dec. 21, 1549. She was very handsome and highly talented, and her court was the refuge of all persecuted for the sake of their religious belief; yet veryr different opinions have been advanced concerning her personal views. Some consider her a fervent Protestant, whilst others look upon her as a very orthodox Roman Catholic, and still others as a free-thinker. The fact seems to be that she observed Roman Catholic practices, although firmly believing in the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ only; she protected the Protestants, without herself leaving the Roman Church; she loved poetry and even pleasure, although strictly moral and truly pious. All these apparent contradictions find a natural explanation in her inclination towards mysticism, verging even on quietism, and resulting in indifference towards the mere externals of religion — a tendency common also to a number of the most distinguished theologians of that time, and one that helps us to understand many otherwise obscure points in the early history of the Reformation in France. Her private character was the object of many attacks, yet none of these accusations have been substantiated; they were all made by her enemies. Margaret of Orleans wrote 1 Miroir de l'dme pecheresse (1533), which was condemned by the Sorbonne, as it made no mention either of the saints or of purgatory: — L'Heptameron des nouvelles, a collection of tales after the manner of Boccaccio, but intended as moral lessons; they have since been used as illustrating the supposed immorality of her life. The work was first published under the title Histoires des amants fortunes (Paris, 1558; afterwards by Gruget, Paris, 1559, 2 vols.; Amsterd. 1698; Berne, 1780, 3 vols.; Leroux de Lericy, Paris, 1853, 3 vols.; Lacroix, Paris, 1857; in English dress it is published in Bohn's collection, extra volumes): — fragments published after her death by Jean de la Haye, under the title Mtarguerites de la marnguerite des Princesses (Lyon, 1547; Par. 1554). Her Correspondance was published by Geinin (Par. 1842); also Nouvelles letties de la Reine de Netarre (Par. 1842). The Hist. de L. (le Valois, etc., published at Amsterdam (1693, 2 vols.), is a mere novel. In the library of Rouen there is to be found a MS. of the 17th century, entitled Intrigues secretes de la reyne Marguerite pour etlablir les erreurs et les nouveautes le Calvin et de Luther dans son royaume de Beamn et de Navarre. See Bayle, Dict. Hist.v.; Polenz, Gesch. des franzosischen Calvinismus, 1:199 sq.; Haag, La France Protestante, 7:228 sq.; Victor Durand, Marguerite de Valois et la Cour de Francis I (1848, 2 vols. 8vo); Miss Freer, Life of Marguerite, Queen of Navarre (1855); Herzog, Real-Encykclop. 9:55 sq.; Pierer, Universal-Lexikon, 10:867; Foreign Quar. Rev. (October, 1842).

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