Margaret of Valois
Beautiful and Profligate Queen of France
1553 – 1615 A.D.
Margaret of Valois, queen of France, was born in 1553, and died in Paris, March 27, 1615. She was the daughter of Henry II. and of Catharine de’Medici and was celebrated for her beauty, her profligacy, and her talents. In 1572 she was married to the king of Navarre, afterward Henry IV. of France, the marriage being the pretext on which the leading Protestants were assembled at Paris, to be massacred on the eve of St. Bartholomew. After his escape from these tragic scenes, Margaret was permitted to join him at Biarn, where she remained five years, tolerating the king’s infidelities, though he would not tolerate her religion.
In 1581, on the invitation of her mother, she returned to the French court. There the profligacy of her life drew upon her condemnation of her brother, Henry III., who compelled her to return to her husband, by whom she was received with bitter reproaches. She fled from him, and took up residence at Agen, where she made war on him as a heretic. That place being taken in 1585, she vainly sought another asylum, and was seized and imprisoned in the fortress of Usson; but her arts made her mistress of the place, from which she drove the governor andheld it for twenty years.
She became the queen of France in 1594, on the triumph of her husband, but he refused to restore her to freedom until she should renounce her rank to which she would not consent until after the death of Gabrielle D’Estrees. They were divorced in 1599, but she did not recover her liberty until some months later. She visited the court in 1605, where she did homage to her successor, Marie de’Medici. The remaining ten years of her life were passed in Paris or in its vicinity.
Almost to the last she led a vicious life; but at length she fell into hypochondria and was terrified at the approach of death. She founded a convent in Paris, the inmates of which were required to have fine voices, and herself instructed them in the music which was restful to her.
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.