Margaret of Valois

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Margaret of Valois

(välwä`), 1553–1615, queen of France and Navarre, daughter of King Henry II of France and of Catherine de' Medici. She was known as Queen Margot. Her wedding (1572) with Henry, Protestant king of Navarre (later Henry IV of France), which was intended to mark the peace between Roman Catholics and Protestants, instead was a prelude to the massacre of Protestants on Saint Bartholomew's DaySaint Bartholomew's Day, massacre of,
murder of French Protestants, or Huguenots, that began in Paris on Aug. 24, 1572. It was preceded, on Aug. 22, by an attempt, ordered by Catherine de' Medici, on the life of the Huguenot leader Admiral Coligny.
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. The marriage was one of mutual toleration. Margaret took part in the intrigues of her husband and her brother FrancisFrancis,
1554–84, French prince, duke of Alençon and Anjou; youngest son of King Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici. Although ill-shapen, pockmarked, and endowed with a curiously formed nose, he was considered (1572–73) as a possible husband for Queen
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, duke of Alençon and Anjou. In 1583 her brother King Henry III exiled her from Paris because of her promiscuous conduct. Estranged from both her husband and her brother, she took up arms against them and seized Agen. She was taken prisoner by royal troops (1586) and confined at the castle of Usson, but she soon became mistress of the castle. Although sympathetic with the Catholic LeagueLeague
or Holy League,
in French history, organization of Roman Catholics, aimed at the suppression of Protestantism and Protestant political influence in France.
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, she took little part in the succeeding troubles. She refused to agree to Henry IV's demand for the annulment of their marriage so he could marry his mistress, Gabrielle d'EstréesEstrées, Gabrielle d'
, 1573–99, famous beauty, mistress (1592–99) of Henry IV of France, who made her marquise of Monceaux and duchess of Beaufort. She divorced her husband, and Henry was preparing to divorce Margaret of Valois, with the object of marrying
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, although she finally consented (1599) to the annulment after Gabrielle's death. In her retirement at Usson (1587–1605), she maintained a small court, in which men of letters were prominent. Her own memoirs (tr. 1892), correspondence, and other writings show considerable literary ability. She spent her last years in Paris. Margaret plays a conspicuous role in literature and legend.

Bibliography

See biographies by H. N. Williams (1907), J. H. Mariéjol (1928, tr. 1929), and C. Haldane (1968).

Margaret of Valois

1553--1615, daughter of Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici; queen of Navarre (1572) by marriage to Henry of Navarre. The marriage was dissolved (1599) after his accession as Henry IV of France: noted for her M?moires