Anne of Bretagne
Patroness of Learning and Literature
1477 – 1514 A.D.
Anne of Bretange, or Brittany, only daughter of Francis II., Duke of Bretagne, was born at Nantes, January 26, 1497. She was carefully educated, and gave early indications of great beauty and intelligence. When only five years old she was betrothed to Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Edward IV. of England. But his tragical [sic] death, two years after, dissolved the contract. The death of her father in 1490, which left her an unprotected orphan, and heiress of a spacious domain, at the time when the Duke of Orleans was detained a prisoner by Anne of Beaujeu, forced her to seek some other protector; she was consequently married by proxy to Maximilian, emperor of Austria. But Anne of Beaujeu determined to obtained possession of Bretange, and, despairing of conquering it by arms, resolved to accomplish her purchase by effecting a marriage between her young brother, Charles VIII. of France, and Anne of Bretange, who yielded a reluctant consent, and the marriage was celebrated, December 16, 1491.
Anne soon became attached to her husband, who was an amiable though weak prince, and on his death, in 1498, she abandoned herself to the deepest grief. She retired to her hereditary domains, where she affected the rights of an independent sovereign.
Louis, Duke of Orleans, succeeded Charles VIII. under the title of Louis XII., and soon renewed his former suit to Anne, who never entirely lost the preference she had felt for him. The first use Louis made of his regal power was to procure a divorce from the unfortunate Jeanne, daughter of Louis XI., who was personally deformed, and whom he had been forced to marry. Jeanne, with the sweetness and resignation that marked her whole life, submitted to the sentence and retired to a convent. Soon after, Louis married Anne at Nantes.
Anne retained a strong influence over her husband throughout her whole life, by her beauty, amiability, and the purity of her manners. She was a liberal rewarder [sic] of merit, patroness of learning and literature. Her piety was fervent and sincere, though rather superstitious; but she was proud, her determination sometimes amounted to obstinacy, and, when she thought herself justly offended, she knew now how to forgive. She died January 9, 1514, and Louis mourned her loss with the most sincere sorrow.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.