Anne of Brittany
|Duchess of Brittany|
|Reign||9 September 1488 – 9 January 1514|
|Enthronement||10 February 1489|
|Queen consort of France|
|Tenure||6 December 1491 – 7 April 1498|
|Coronation||8 February 1492|
|Queen consort of France|
|Tenure||8 January 1499 – 9 January 1514|
|Coronation||18 November 1502|
|Spouse||Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles VIII of France
Louis XII of France
|Charles Orlando, Dauphin of France
Claude, Queen of France
Renée, Duchess of Ferrara
|Father||Francis II, Duke of Brittany|
|Mother||Margaret of Foix|
25 January 1477|
|Died||9 January 1514
|Burial||Saint Denis Basilica|
Anne, Duchess of Brittany (25 January 1477 – 9 January 1514), also known as Anna of Brittany (French: Anne de Bretagne; Breton: Anna Vreizh), was the last independent Breton ruler, and twice the Queen consort of France, marrying two successive French kings.
Upon her father's death in 1488, she became Sovereign Duchess of Brittany, Countess of Nantes, Montfort, and Richmond, and Viscountess of Limoges.
She was is a central figure in the struggle for influence after his death that will lead to the union of Brittany and France. She was also high regard in the Breton memory as a conscious character who defended the Duchy.
- 1 Life
- 2 Death
- 3 Personal characteristics
- 4 Marriages and Issue
- 5 Cultural symbolism of Anne
- 6 Ancestry
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Early years and education
Anne was born on 25 January 1477 (or 15 January 1477 in the Old Style) in the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany in the city of Nantes in the Loire-Atlantique département of France, as the eldest child of Duke Francis II of Brittany and his second wife Margaret of Foix, Infanta of Navarre. Four years later (before 10 May 1481), her parents had a second daughter, Isabelle.
It is likely that she learned to read and write in French, maybe a little Latin. Contrary to what is sometimes found, it's unlikely to have learned Greek or Hebrew and never spoke or understood the Breton language used in the Nantes environments in which it operates are foreigners. She was raised by a governess, Françoise de Dinan, Lady of Chateaubriant and by marriage Countess of Laval. In addition, she had several tutors, included her butler, the court poet Jean Meschinot who probably taught her dancing, singing and music.
Heiress of Brittany
In this period, the law of succession was unclear, but prior to the Breton War of Succession mainly operated according to semi-Salic Law; i.e., women could inherit, but only if the male line had died out. The Treaty of Guérande in 1365, however, stated that in the absence of a male heir from the House of Montfort, the heirs of Joanna of Penthièvre would succeed. By the time Anne was born, her father was the only male from the Breton House of Montfort, and the Blois-Penthièvre heir was a female, Nicole of Blois, who in 1480 sold her rights over Brittany to King Louis XI of France for the amount of 50,000 écus.
The lack of a male heir threatened to put the Duchy into a dynastic crisis or to pass it directly into the royal domain. To avoid this, Francis II had Anne officially recognised as his heiress by the Estates of Brittany in 1486; however, the question of her marriage remained a diplomatic issue.
Anne was betrothed a number of times.
- In 1480 she was officially promised in marriage to Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Edward IV of England; however, soon after the death of Edward IV in 1483 the boy disappeared, presumed to have been killed on the orders of his regent, Richard III.
- Maximilian, King of the Romans and Archduke of Austria, widower of Mary of Burgundy, daughter and heiress of Charles the Bold.
- Alain I of Albret, son of Catherine of Rohan and Jean I of Albret. Through his mother, he was a great-grandson of Duke John V of Brittany, and thus a possible heir. Ally of Duke Francis II, however Anne refused to marry him because she found him repulsive.
- Louis, Duke of Orléans, cousin of King Charles VIII and in turn future King, was another aspirant for her hand, despite being already married with the King's sister Joan.
- John IV of Chalon-Arlay, Prince of Orange. A grandson of Richard, Count of Étampes, and nephew of Francis II, he was in line to the throne after Anne and Isabelle.
- Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham. In 1488 Henry VII had suggested a marriage between Buckingham and Anne, but in December 1489 the executors of Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland, paid the King £4000 for Buckingham's marriage to Percy's eldest daughter Eleanor.
Viscount John II of Rohan, also in line to the Breton throne, offered with the support of Marshal Jean IV de Rieux a double marriage of his sons François and Jean with Anne and her sister Isabelle, but Francis II opposed this plan.
In 1488, the armies of Francis II were defeated at the Battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier, ending the Mad War (la Guerre Folle) between Brittany and France. In the Treaty of Sablé (19 August 1488), which concluded the peace settlement, the Duke was forced to accept clauses stipulating that his daughters were not to marry without the approval of the King of France.
With the death of Francis II soon afterwards (9 September 1488) as a result of a fall from his horse, Brittany was plunged into fresh crisis, leading to the last Franco-Breton war. On his deathbed, the Duke made his daughter promised never to consent the subjection to the Kingdom of France. Before he died, Francis II appointed the Marshal of Rieux guardian of her daughter.
Anne became the Duchess of Brittany, and married Maximilian I of Austria at Rennes Cathedral by proxy on 19 December 1490, conferred upon her the title Queen of the Romans. The French regarded it as a serious provocation—it not only violated the Treaty of Sablé (the King of France not having consented to the marriage), but also reintroduced an enemy of the French as ruler of Brittany, an event that they always wanted to avoid during the 14th and 15th centuries. The marriage also proved ill-timed: the Habsburgs were too busy in Hungary to pay any serious attention to Brittany, and the Castilians were busy fighting in Granada.
Although both Castile and England sent small numbers of troops to supplement the Ducal army, neither wished for open warfare with France. The spring of 1491 brought new successes by the French general La Trémoille (the previous winner of the Battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier]), and King Charles VIII of France came to lay siege to Rennes, where Anne stayed, in order to force her to desist from her marriage with the enemy of the kingdom of France.
After two months of siege without assistance and having no hope to resist more, Rennes fell. Charles VIII entered in the city on 15 November, and both parties signed the Treaty of Rennes, ending the fourth military campaign of the French over Brittany. After refused all the marriage proposals with French princes, Anne became engaged to the King in the vault of the Jacobins in Rennes on 17 November 1491. Then, escorted by her army (ostensibly to show that she had willingly consented to the marriage), Anne went to Langeais to be married. Austria made diplomatic protests (especially before the Holy See), claiming that the marriage was illegal because the bride was unwilling, that she was already legally married to Maximilian, and that Charles VIII was legally betrothed to Margaret of Austria, Maximilian's daughter.
The official marriage between Anne and King Charles VIII of France was celebrated at the Château de Langeais on 6 December 1491 at dawn. This discreet marriage was concluded urgently because it is tecnically illegal until Pope Innocent VIII, in exchange of substantial concessions, validated the union on 15 February 1492 and granted not only the annulment to the marriage by proxy with Maximilian but also the dispensation for the marriage with Charles VIII because the King and Anne are related in the forbidden 4th degree of consanguinity. The marriage contract provided that the spouse who outlived the other would retain possession of Brittany; however, it also stipulated that if Charles VIII died without male heirs, Anne would marry his successor, thus ensuring the French kings a second chance to permanently annex Brittany.
Queen of France
Wife of Charles VIII
By the marriage of 1491, Anne of Brittany became Queen consort of France. Her marriage contract states that it is concluded to ensure peace between the Duchy of Brittany and the Kingdom of France and also ensured that their second child, son or daughter, would inherit the duchy of Brittany.  She made Charles VIII her perpetual representant. On 8 February 1492, Anne was anointed and crowned Queen of France at St. Denis Basilica. She is the first Queen crowned in this place and consecrated, "anointed in the head and chest" by André d'Espinay, Archbishop of Bordeaux. Her husband forbade her to use the title of Duchess of Brittany, which became a bone of contention between the two. Gabriel Miron became in the Chancellor of the Queen and the first doctor; he signed the marriage contract of the Queen with King Louis XII on 1 January 1499.
Anne's marriage began badly: she brought two beds with her when she came to marry Charles, and the King and Queen often lived apart; despite this, she was pregnant for most of her married life (with a child every fourteen months on average). When her husband fought in the wars in Italy, the regency powers were exercised by his sister Anne of Beaujeu, who had held this position during 1483-1491. Anne of Brittany is still young to take this place, and her sister-in-law suspect about her. She had a limited role in France and Brittany and must sometimes accept being separated from her children in infancy. Anne lived primarily in the royal castles of Amboise, Loches and Plessis or in the towns of Lyon, Grenoble or Moulins (when the king was in Italy). At Amboise, when Charles VIII had work, she mainly resided in the near Clos Lucé, the future home of Leonardo da Vinci. She built her chapel.
She became Queen Consort of Naples and Jerusalem during the conquest of Naples by Charles VIII.
Duchess of Brittany. Wife of Louis XII
When Charles VIII died in 1498, Anne was 21 years old and childless. Legally, she was now obliged to marry the new king, Louis XII; however, he was already married, to Joan, daughter of Louis XI and sister to Charles VIII. On 19 August 1498, at Étampes, she agreed to marry Louis if he obtained an annulment from Joan within a year. If she was gambling that the annulment would be denied, she lost: Louis's first marriage was dissolved by Pope Alexander VI before the end of the year.
In the interim, in October 1498, Anne returned to rule Brittany. She restored the faithful Philippe de Montauban to the chancellery of Brittany, named Jean de Châlon, Prince of Orange, as Hereditary Lieutenant General of Brittany, convened the Estates of Brittany, and ordered production of a coin bearing her name. She took the opportunity to tour the Duchy, visiting many places she had never been able to see as a child. She made triumphal entries into the cities of the duchy, where her vassals received her sumptuously.
Anne's third marriage ceremony, on 8 January 1499 was concluded under conditions radically different from those of the second. She was no longer a child, but a dowager queen, and determined to ensure the recognition of her rights as sovereign duchess from that point forward. Although her new husband exercised the ruler's powers in Brittany, he formally recognized her right to the title "Duchess of Brittany" and issued decisions in her name.
As Duchess, Anne fiercely defended the independence of her Duchy. She arranged the marriage of her daughter, Claude, to Charles of Austria in 1501, to reinforce the Franco-Spanish alliance and ensure French success in the Italian Wars; however, Louis broke off the marriage when it became likely that Anne would not produce a male heir. Instead, Louis arranged a marriage between Claude and the heir to the French throne, Francis of Angoulême. Anne, determined to maintain Breton independence, refused until death to sanction the marriage, pushing instead for Claude to marry Charles, or for her other daughter, Renée, to inherit the Duchy.
Anne died at the Château de Blois on 9 January 1514 of a kidney-stone attack. She was buried in the necropolis of Saint Denis. Her funeral was exceptionally long, lasting 40 days, and it inspired all future French royal funerals until the 18th century. The courtier Pierre Choqué recorded that two Masses were read, the first by the Cordeliers (i.e., Franciscans) and the second by the Jacobins (i.e., Dominicans). Two requiems were also sung, possibly those that survive by Johannes Prioris and Antoine de Févin. Separate mourning motets by other members of the two royal choirs also survive: Quis dabit oculis by Costanzo Festa and Fiere attropos by Pierre Moulu.
According to her will, Anne's heart was placed in a raised enamel gold reliquary, then transported to Nantes to be deposited in the tomb made for her parents in the chapel of the Carmelite friars. This was done on 19 March 1514, but it was later transferred to the Saint-Pierre Cathedral. Anne's reliquary is a bivalvular box oval articulated by a hinge, made of a sheet of gold pushed back and guillochéd, broadside of a gold cordelière and topped by a crown of lily and clover. It is inscribed on the obverse as follows:
- En ce petit vaisseau
- De fin or pur et munde
- Repose ung plus grand cueur
- Que oncque dame eut au munde
- Anne fut le nom delle
- En France deux fois royne
- Duchesse des Bretons
- Royale et Souveraine.
It was made by an anonymous goldsmith of the court of Blois, perhaps drawn by Jean Perréal. In 1792, by order of the National Convention, the reliquary was disinterred and emptied as part of the collection of precious metals belonging to churches. It was sent to Paris to be melted down, but was kept instead in the National Library. It was returned to Nantes in 1819 and kept in various museums; it has been in the Dobrée Museum since 1896.
Anne's will also conferred the succession of Brittany upon her second daughter, Renée. Her husband ignored this, confirmed Claude as Duchess, and married her to Francis the year following Anne's death. When Francis became king in 1515, the Duchy of Brittany was once again the property of the queen consort of France.
Anne was a highly intelligent woman who spent much of her time on the administration of Brittany. She was described as shrewd, proud and haughty in manner. She made the safeguarding of Breton autonomy, and the preservation of the Duchy outside the French crown, her life's work, although that goal would prove failed shortly after her death.
Anne was also a patron of the arts and enjoyed music. A prolific collector of tapestries, it is very likely that the unicorn tapestries now on view at The Cloisters museum in New York City were commissioned by her in celebration of her wedding to Louis XII. Of her four surviving illuminated manuscript books of hours the most famous is the Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany. She also patronized printed books and their authors.
She was a devoted mother, spending as much time as possible with her children. She commissioned a book of prayers for her son, Charles-Orland, to use in teaching him how to pray, and as guidance for his role as future King of France. Unfortunately, Charles-Orland died in 1495, and no other son lived more than a few weeks. According to the memoirs of Brantôme, Anne greatly expanded her household and retinue at court, especially in respect to young girls, forming a kind of finishing school, and in having a company of 100 Breton gentlemen at court. These innovations influenced later French courts.
At her marriage to Charles VIII at age 14, Anne was described as a young and rosy-cheeked girl. By the time of her marriage to Louis, aged 22, after seven pregnancies with no surviving children, she was described as pale-faced and wan. By the end of her life, at 36, she had been pregnant 14 times with seven stillbirths. Of the remaining seven births, only two survived childhood.
Marriages and Issue
Anne's first marriage, on 19 December 1490, was by proxy to Maximilian of Habsburg. It was dissolved by the Pope in the following year - because it was by proxy rather than in person, it is not generally considered a 'real' marriage.
- Charles Orland, Dauphin of France (11 October 1492 – 16 December 1495). Her only healthy son, he died of the measles when three years old.
- Francis (August 1493). Anne had become pregnant in late 1492/early 1493, but travelled with her husband from castle to castle; she went into labour during a drive in the forest of Courcelles, and the child was premature and stillborn. Buried at Notre-Dame de Cléry.
- A stillborn daughter (March 1494). Anne had become pregnant again five months after the stillbirth, and avoided travel (instead residing in Amboise near the Dauphin). However in February 1494 she accompanied the king to Lyon, where he was preparing to depart for the Italian Wars. After arriving on 15 March, she attended all of the ceremonies; the stress of the occasion caused her to go into premature labour, and she gave birth to a stillborn girl.
- A stillborn daughter (March 1495). She had become pregnant again in late 1494, but lost the baby soon after.
- Charles, Dauphin of France (8 September 1496 - 2 October 1496). His death prompted Anne to withdraw temporarily to Moulins in despair.
- Francis, Dauphin of France (July 1497). He died several hours after his birth.
- Anne of France (20 March 1498). She died on the day of her birth at Château de Plessis-lez-Tours.
Her third husband was Louis XII of France. She was at least seven times pregnant by him:
- Claude of France (13 October 1499 - 20 July 1524), who succeeded her as Duchess of Brittany and later also became queen consort of France.
- Stillborn son (1500).
- Stillborn son (21 January 1503).
- miscarriage (end 1503).
- miscarriage (1505).
- Stillborn son (1508)
- miscarriage (1509).
- Renée of France (25 October 1510 – 12 June 1574), married Ercole II d'Este, the Duke of Ferrara, and became the Duchess of Chartres.
- Stillborn son (January 1512).
Although Anne bore fourteen children (at least), only two daughters outlived her: Claude by ten years, and Renée by sixty-one years. Renée was just three when Anne died, while Claude was nearly fifteen.
Cultural symbolism of Anne
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2014)|
Even while she was alive, the royal propaganda of Charles VIII and of Louis XII introduced Anne of Brittany as a perfect queen, a symbol of union and peace between the kingdom of France and the duchy of Brittany. In the following centuries, historians and popular culture sometimes presented Anne of Brittany in differing fashions, ascribing to her physical and psychological characteristics that are not necessarily supported by historical evidence.
In 1991, the five-hundredth anniversary of the marriage of Anne of Brittany and Charles VIII of France was celebrated in Langeais.
|Ancestors of Anne of Brittany|
- Robin, Diana Maury; Larsen, Anne R.; Levin, Carole (2007). Encyclopedia of women in the Renaissance: Italy, France, and England. ABC-CLIO. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-85109-772-2. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
- In the Old Style, the year began in Easter.
- Jean Kerhervé: Anne de Bretagne in: franceinter.fr [retrieved 21 December 2014].
- Georges Minois: Anne de Bretagne, Fayard, 1999, p. 17.
- Sophie Cassagnes-Brouquet: Un manuscrit d'Anne de Bretagne : Les vies des femmes célèbres d'Antoine Dufour, Ouest-France, septembre 2007 (251 pages), p. 19.
- Henri Pigaillem: Anne de Bretagne. Épouse de Charles VIII et de Louis XII, Pygmalion, 2008, p. 18.
- Dominique Le Page: Pour en finir avec Anne de Bretagne, Archives départementales de Loire-Atlantique, 2004, p. 92.
- Yvonne Labande-Mailfert: Charles VIII et son milieu : 1470-1498, Librairie C. Klincksieck, 1975, p. 93.
- Yolande Labande-Mailfert: dans Charles VIII et son milieu (1470-1498) - La jeunesse au pouvoir (1975); Dominique Le Page, Michel Nassiet: L’Union de la Bretagne à la France. Morlaix: Éditions Skol Vreizh, 2003.
- On 27 October 1491, the States of Brittany, called by Charles VIII in Vannes, advised Anne to marry the King of France.
- Dominique Le Page, Michel Nassiet: L’Union de la Bretagne à la France. Morlaix : Éditions Skol Vreizh, 2003, p. 102.
- With the retroactive date of 5 December 1491.
- This proxy marriage was thus considered as never having existed thanks to Canon Law that could invalidate the unconsummated marriage ceremony and endorsed by the number of people not covered by this law.
- Georges Minois: Nouvelle Histoire de la Bretagne, Fayard, 1992, p. 327.
- Dominique Le Page, Michel Nassiet: L’Union de la Bretagne à la France. Morlaix : Éditions Skol Vreizh, 2003, p. 105 ff.
- The queens are commonly crowned in Reims Cathedral or in the Sainte-Chapelle.
- Henri Pigaillem: Anne de Bretagne. Épouse de Charles VIII et de Louis XII, Pygmalion, 2008, p. 100.
- Dominique Le Page, Michel Nassiet: L’Union de la Bretagne à la France. Morlaix : Éditions Skol Vreizh, 2003, p. 108 ff.
- Chomel (Jean-Baptiste-Louis) Essai Historique sur la Médecine en France, (1762), p. 20.
- Wickersheimer [Ernest, Jacquart (Danielle) Biographical Dictionary of doctors in France in the Middle Ages (1979), vol. 1] pp. 161-162.
- Georges Minois: Anne de Bretagne, Fayard, 1999, p. 359; Hervé Le Boterf: Anne de Bretagne, Éditions France-Empire, 1976-1996, p. 148.
- For a historical and musicological perspective on Prioris's Requiem, read Schreurs, Eugeen; Snellings, Dirk (2007). "La polyphonie Française. Festival van Vlaanderen 2007". pp. 185–187.
|chapter=ignored (help) Recording: Johannes Prioris, Missa pro Defunctis, Capilla Flamenca, 2003 (Eufoda 1349).
- Denis Raisin Dadre essay to recording of Antoine de Févin Requiem d'Anne de Bretagne.
- Meaning: "In this little vessel of fine gold, pure and clean, rests a heart greater than any lady in the world ever had. Anne was her name, twice queen in France, Duchess of the Bretons, royal and sovereign."
- De La Warr, Constance, A Twice Crowned Queen: Anne of Brittany, p.41.
- "Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence". The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Archived from the original on 10 February 2008. Retrieved 9 January 2008.
- N de Valois 1495 in: roglo.eu [retrieved 19 December 2014].
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Anne de Bretagne.|
- LebrelBlanco.com, Anne de Bretagne in Medieval History of Navarre
- Jean-Luc Deuffic:  Les manuscrits d'Anne de Bretagne
Anne of Brittany
Cadet branch of the House of DreuxBorn: 25 January 1477 Died: 9 January 1514
|Duchess of Brittany
with Charles II (1491–1498)
|Countess of Étampes
Title last held byCharlotte of Savoy
|Queen consort of France
Joan of France
Title last held byJoan of France
|Queen consort of France
Title next held byMary of England
Isabella del Balzo
|Queen consort of Naples
Isabella I of Castile