Anne de Bretagne Duchess of Britanny
(1477-1514)

 

Family Links

Spouses/Children:
King Louis XII of France

Anne de Bretagne Duchess of Britanny

  • Born: 25 Jan 1477
  • Marriage: King Louis XII of France
  • Died: 9 Jan 1514 at age 36

  General Notes:

Anne of Brittany (January 25, 1477 - January 9, 1514) was also known as Anna of Brittany and Anne de Bretagne. She was born in Nantes, France on January 25, 1477, and was the daughter of Francis II, Duke of Brittany and Margaret of Foix.

Position

Anne was her parents' only child who survived childhood, and her marriage was therefore of immense political importance. When her father died after falling from a horse on September 9, 1488, Anne became the Duchess of Brittany. This caused an enormous disruption in the internal politics of Brittany because Anne was then only eleven years old and still single, which meant that several Breton factions were able to struggle for control of the duchy.

The ducal house of Dreux, rulers of Brittany since their ancestress Duchess Constance (1203), was going extinct: Francis seemed to be the last male. The duchy had been inherited under Salic succession (though no written law existed) and one succession war confirmed that principle: the war between Jeanne of Penthievre and her uncle John of Montfort in the 1340s, won by Montfort. Now Montfort's male line of descent was going extinct, too. In the peace treaty, it had actually been stipulated that if Montfort's male descent failed, Jeanne's heirs would inherit. No one however remembered or put forth such claim, after more than a century. It was felt natural that Anne succeed her father as his closest relative (a typical Semi-Salic solution favoring pragmatic succession) when no male lines were left. The family of Brosse, Counts of Penthievre, would have been the heirs of Jeanne at that time.

Marriages
Court of the Ladies of Queen Anne of Brittany, Miniature representing this lady weeping on account of the absence of her husband during the Italian war.--Manuscript of the "Epistres Envoyées au Roi" (Sixteenth Century), obtained by the Coislin Fund for the Library of St. Germain des Pres in Paris, now in the Library of St. Petersburg.
Enlarge
Court of the Ladies of Queen Anne of Brittany, Miniature representing this lady weeping on account of the absence of her husband during the Italian war.--Manuscript of the "Epistres Envoyées au Roi" (Sixteenth Century), obtained by the Coislin Fund for the Library of St. Germain des Pres in Paris, now in the Library of St. Petersburg.

Anne was initially marked as a wife for Edward, the young Prince of Wales. Following his disappearance in 1483, she was betrothed to Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and the marriage was performed by proxy on 19 December 1490.

Charles VIII, King of France, fearful of Brittany falling under foreign control, invaded Brittany in 1491 and forced Anne to break her marriage and marry him on 6 December at the Château de Langeais, causing Brittany to come under French control.

A law was created which forced Anne, in the event of her having no issue with Charles, to marry the next heir to the throne.

Anne had four children by Charles VIII. However, none survived childhood, and when Charles died in an accident in 1498, he therefore had no direct male heir to succeed him. This meant that the throne went to his cousin, Louis XII, who was the next in line to the throne. On January 8, 1499, Anne married him. She wore white, thus setting a new precedent for brides worldwide.

She had two surviving daughters by Louis XII:

* Claude of France (1499 -1524) became her heir and also Queen Consort of Francis I.
* Renée of France (1510 - 1575) married the Duke of Ferrara and became the Duchess of Chartres.

Anne died on January 9, 1514, in the Chateau de Blois. Her death signified the end of the independence of the duchy of Brittany from the French throne, and from 1514 the title was only conferred on French princes.

Personal characteristics

Anne was a highly intelligent woman and spent most of her time on the administration of Brittany, as well as guarding its autonomy. This was futile in the end, however, as the duchy was eventually fully merged with the French crown by her daughter Claude.

Anne was also a patron of the arts and enjoyed music. She commissioned a book of French manuscripts, known as the Book of Hours. She also instituted the Queen's Maids of Honour at the court.

One of Anne's legs was shorter than the other (a common ailment affecting many people), causing a limp. To fix the problem, she wore a higher heel on that leg.

Anne kept a box of precious stones and semi-precious stones. She would randomly pick one and give it to her visitors.

Anne married King Louis XII of France, son of Charles of Valois duc d' Orléans Duke of Valois, Count of Beaumont and of Blois and Marie of Cleves. (King Louis XII of France was born on 4 Jun 1462 in Château de Blois, France and died on 1 Jan 1515.)



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