Jeanne III of Navarre

Jeanne III of Navarre

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Jeanne d'Albret also known as Jeanne III or Joan III, was the queen regnant
Queen regnant
A queen regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right, in contrast to a queen consort, who is the wife of a reigning king. An empress regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right over an empire....

 of Navarre
Kingdom of Navarre
The Kingdom of Navarre , originally the Kingdom of Pamplona, was a European kingdom which occupied lands on either side of the Pyrenees alongside the Atlantic Ocean....

 from 1555 to 1572. She married Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme, and was the mother of Henry of Bourbon
Henry IV of France
Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

, who became King of Navarre and of France as Henry IV, the first Bourbon
House of Bourbon
The House of Bourbon is a European royal house, a branch of the Capetian dynasty . Bourbon kings first ruled Navarre and France in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Bourbon dynasty also held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma...

 king. She was the Duchess of Vendôme
Duchess of Vendôme
-House of Bourbon:...

 by marriage.

She was the acknowledged spiritual and political leader of the French Huguenot movement.

Early years


Jeanne was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Saint-Germain-en-Laye is a commune in the Yvelines department in the Île-de-France in north-central France. It is located in the western suburbs of Paris from the centre.Inhabitants are called Saint-Germanois...

, France at five o'clock in the afternoon on 16 November 1528, the daughter of Marguerite of Angoulême
Marguerite de Navarre
Marguerite de Navarre , also known as Marguerite of Angoulême and Margaret of Navarre, was the queen consort of Henry II of Navarre...

 and Henry II of Navarre
Henry II of Navarre
Henry II was the eldest son of John III of Navarre and Catherine I of Navarre, sister and heiress of Francis Phoebus, King of Navarre; he was born at Sangüesa.-King of Navarre:...

. Her mother, the daughter of Louise of Savoy
Louise of Savoy
Louise of Savoy was a French noble, Duchess regnant of Auvergne and Bourbon, Duchess of Nemours, the mother of King Francis I of France...

 and Charles, Count of Angoulême
Charles, Count of Angoulême
Charles d'Orléans, Count of Angoulême was a member of the French Orléans family descended from Louis I de Valois, Duke of Orléans, who was the son of Charles V of France. He was the son of John, Count of Angoulême and Marguerite de Rohan, and was Count of Angoulême from 1467-1496...

, was the sister of King Francis I of France
Francis I of France
Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death. During his reign, huge cultural changes took place in France and he has been called France's original Renaissance monarch...

 and Jeanne grew up at the French court. She was a Huguenot
Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

, raised in the French Protestant Reformed faith.

In her youth she had been a frivolous and high-spirited princess, but she also, at an early age, had displayed a tendency to be stubborn and unyielding. In 1541, when Jeanne was twelve, her uncle, King Francis I, married her, against her will, to William "the Rich", Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg
Wilhelm, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg
William of Jülich-Cleves-Berg was a Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg .William was born in and died in Düsseldorf. He was the only son of John III, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, and Maria, Duchess of Jülich-Berg. William took over rule of his father's estates upon his death in 1539...

, brother of Anne of Cleves
Anne of Cleves
Anne of Cleves was a German noblewoman and the fourth wife of Henry VIII of England and as such she was Queen of England from 6 January 1540 to 9 July 1540. The marriage was never consummated, and she was not crowned queen consort...

, the fourth wife of Henry VIII of England. Despite having been whipped to force her to agree, she kept protesting and she had to be carried bodily to the altar by the Constable of France, Anne de Montmorency
Anne de Montmorency
Anne de Montmorency, duc de Montmorency, Honorary Knight of the Garter was a French soldier, statesman and diplomat. He became Marshal of France and Constable of France.-Early life:...

. This political marriage was annulled four years later due to not having been consummated.

After the death of Francis in 1547 and the accession of King Henry II
Henry II of France
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559.-Early years:Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany .His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy,...

 to the throne, Jeanne married Antoine de Bourbon, "first prince of the blood".

Her marriage to Antoine was described by author Mark Strage as having been a "romantic match". A contemporary of Jeanne said of her that she had
"no pleasure or occupation except in talking about or writing to [her husband]. She does it in company and in private...the waters cannot quench the flame of her love".
Despite Jeanne's blatant show of affection towards Antoine, he was a notorious philanderer. His frequent absences left Jeanne in complete charge of a household which she managed with a firm and resolute hand. They had five children; only two of whom, Henry
Henry IV of France
Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

, king of France from 1589 to 1610 and king of Navarre from 1572 to 1610, and Catherine, lived to adulthood.

On 25 May 1555, Henry II of Navarre died, at which time Jeanne and her husband became joint rulers of Navarre. After his death in 1562, she continued to rule as a sole queen regnant.

Queen of Navarre


In the first year of her reign, Queen Regnant Jeanne III called a conference of beleaguered Huguenot
Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

 ministers. She later declared Calvinism
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

 the official religion of her kingdom after publicly embracing the teachings of Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 on Christmas Day 1560. Following the imposition of Calvinism, priests and nuns were banished, Catholic churches destroyed, and Catholic ritual prohibited. She commissioned the translation of the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 into Basque
Basque language
Basque is the ancestral language of the Basque people, who inhabit the Basque Country, a region spanning an area in northeastern Spain and southwestern France. It is spoken by 25.7% of Basques in all territories...

 and Béarnese
Bearnese language
Béarnese is an Occitan dialect spoken in Béarn . As a written language, it benefited from the fact that Béarn was an independent state from the mid-14th century up to 1620...

 for the benefit of her subjects.

She was described as "small of stature, frail but erect", her face was narrow, her light-coloured eyes, cold and unmoving, and her lips thin. She was highly intelligent, but austere and self-righteous. Her speech was sharply sarcastic and vehement. Agrippa d' Aubigne, the Huguenot chronicler described Jeanne as having "a mind powerful enough to guide the highest affairs".

French Wars of Religion


The power struggle between Catholics and Huguenots for control of the French court and France as a whole, led to the outbreak of the French Wars of Religion
French Wars of Religion
The French Wars of Religion is the name given to a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants . The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise...

 in 1562. Antoine de Bourbon chose to support the Catholics and threatened to repudiate her. At the end of the year, he was mortally wounded at the siege of Rouen
Rouen
Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

. Jeanne's son Henry
Henry IV of France
Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

 then became "first prince of the blood."

Jeanne's position in the conflicts remained neutral until 1568, when she actively supported the Huguenot cause and sought refuge in the city of La Rochelle
La Rochelle
La Rochelle is a city in western France and a seaport on the Bay of Biscay, a part of the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Charente-Maritime department.The city is connected to the Île de Ré by a bridge completed on 19 May 1988...

. She took a leading role in negotiating the peace settlement which ended this war and in 1570 a marriage of convenience
Marriage of convenience
A marriage of convenience is a marriage contracted for reasons other than the reasons of relationship, family, or love. Instead, such a marriage is orchestrated for personal gain or some other sort of strategic purpose, such as political marriage. The phrase is a calque of - a marriage of...

 was arranged between her son Henry and King Charles IX
Charles IX of France
Charles IX was King of France, ruling from 1560 until his death. His reign was dominated by the Wars of Religion. He is best known as king at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Childhood:...

's sister Marguerite
Marguerite de Valois
Margaret of Valois was Queen of France and of Navarre during the late sixteenth century...

. On 9 June 1572, two months before the wedding was due to take place, Jeanne died unexpectedly, in Paris. A popular rumour which circulated shortly afterward, contended that Jeanne had been poisoned by the regent
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

 Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici was an Italian noblewoman who was Queen consort of France from 1547 until 1559, as the wife of King Henry II of France....

, the mother of her son's prospective bride who allegedly sent her a pair of perfumed gloves, skillfully poisoned by her perfumer
Perfumer
A perfumer is a term used for an expert on creating perfume compositions, sometimes referred to affectionately as a Nose due to their fine sense of smell and skill in producing olfactory compositions...

, René Bianco, a fellow Florentine. This fanciful chain of events also appears in the Romantic writer Alexandre Dumas
Alexandre Dumas, père
Alexandre Dumas, , born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie was a French writer, best known for his historical novels of high adventure which have made him one of the most widely read French authors in the world...

's 1845 novel La Reine Margot. An autopsy, however, proved that Jeanne died of natural causes.

Writings


Like her mother, Jeanne wrote poetry. She also wrote memoirs in which she justified her actions as leader of the Hugenuots.

Titles



by birth

  • Queen of Navarre (1555–1572)
  • Duchess of Albret
    Duke of Albret
    Duke of Albret was a title in the French nobility.It was created in 1550 for the King of Navarre, Henry II. He died in 1555 and was succeeded by his daughter, Queen Joan III. The duchy was made into a peerage for her in 1556...

     (1555–1572)
  • Countess of Limoges (1555–1572)
  • Countess of Foix (1555–1572)
  • Countess of Armagnac (1555–1572)
  • Countess of Bigorre (1555–1572)
  • Countess of Périgord (1555–1572)

by marriage

  • Duchess of Jülich-Cleves-Berg (1541–1545)
  • Duchess of Vendôme (1550–1562)
  • Duchess of Beaumont (1550–1562)
  • Countess of Marle (1548–1562)
  • Countess of La Fère (1548–1562)
  • Countess of Soissons (1550–1562)

Marriages and Issue


In 1541 Jeanne married William, Duke of Jülich-Berg-Ravensberg-Kleve-Mark
Wilhelm, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg
William of Jülich-Cleves-Berg was a Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg .William was born in and died in Düsseldorf. He was the only son of John III, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, and Maria, Duchess of Jülich-Berg. William took over rule of his father's estates upon his death in 1539...

, a marriage that was annulled in 1545, with no issue.

On 20 October 1548, she married Antoine de Bourbon and they had the following children:
  • Henri de Bourbon, Duke of Beaumont (1551–1553)
  • Henri de Bourbon (future Henri IV)
    Henry IV of France
    Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

    , King of France (13 December 1553 – 14 May 1610), the first of the Bourbon kings
  • Louis de Bourbon (1555–1557) Count of Marle
  • Madeleine de Bourbon (1556)
  • Catherine de Bourbon
    Catherine de Bourbon
    Jeanne de Bourbon was a daughter of Jean VIII, Count of Vendôme and Isabelle de Beauvau. Through her daughter Madeleine, she was the maternal grandmother of French queen consort Catherine de' Medici.-Family and lineage:...

     (7 February 1559 – 13 February 1604), Catherine of Navarre, who became Duchess of Lorraine when she married Henry I, Duke of Lorraine in 1599

Ancestry