- Margaret of Navarre
- (1492-1549)French writer of poetry and prose, sister of King Francis I, and (after her second marriage in 1527) queen of Navarre. She is sometimes called Margaret (or Mar-guerite) of Angoulême since her brother was duke of Angoulême be-fore he succeeded to the French throne in 1515; sometimes also Mar-garet of Alençon, from the title of her first husband. Margaret was very close to her brother and had even more political influence than was usual for a king's sister. She was deeply religious, but unlike her mother Louise of Savoy, whose piety was conservative, Margaret was sympathetic to the movement to reform the French church along lines suggested by humanist reformers. She sheltered protégés like Lefèvre d'Etaples, Gerard Roussel, and Bishop Guillaume Briçon-net when they came under attack by conservative theologians who accused them of Lutheran sympathies.Margaret was active as a writer in French, though only a little of her work was published until after her death. Her long, meditative poem Le miroir de l'âme pécheresse / Mirror of the Sinful Soul was published in 1531 and republished in 1533 along with a second reli-gious poem, Dialogue en forme de vision nocturne / Dialogue in the Form of a Nocturnal Vision; this combined publication was con-demned by the faculty of theology of the University of Paris for its similarities to the doctrines of Martin Luther on grace, faith, and free will. This censure caused her brother to exile the leader of the theologians' attack, Noël Béda, to a remote province. Two years be-fore her death, Margaret published a collection of poems whose title embodied a pun on her name, Les marguerites de la marguerite des princesses / Pearls from the Pearl of Princesses (margarita is the Latin word for pearl). Like most of her work, these poems are deeply religious and provide allegories about the Christian life.Her most famous work, however, is a collection of prose tales pub-lished some years after her death, the Heptaméron, which was mod-elled on Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron. It provides both inspiring stories of heroic devotion to Christian faith and scandalous tales of fraud, adultery, and sexual seduction, and the characters who are the storytellers are often identifiable with members of the court society of which she was an intellectual and literary ornament. Her grandson Henry IV in 1589 became the first king of the Bourbon dynasty which occupied the French throne down to the French Revolution.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.