Margaret of Provence (1221–1295)

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Margaret of Provence (1221–1295)

Queen of France . Name variations: Marguerite de Provence; Marguerite of Provence. Born in Provence in 1221 (some sources cite 1219); died in 1295 in France; daughter of Raymond Berengar IV (some sources cite V), count of Provence, and Beatrice of Savoy (d. 1268); sister of Eleanor of Provence (c. 1222–1291), Sancha of Provence (c. 1225–1261), and Beatrice of Provence (d. 1267, who married Charles of Anjou, brother of Louis IX); married Louis IX, also known as Saint Louis (1214–1270), king of France (r. 1226–1270), in May 1234; children: eleven, including Philip III the Bold (b. 1245), king of France (r. 1270–1285); John, count of Nevers; Robert (1256–1317), count of Clermont; Isabella Capet (who married Theobald of Navarre); Margaret Capet (d. 1271, who married John of Brabant); Agnes Capet (1260–1327); Blanche of France (1253–1321, who married Ferdinand of Castile).

Margaret of Provence was the oldest daughter of Raymond Berengar of Provence and Beatrice of Savoy . At 14, she was betrothed and married to the king of France, Louis IX (Saint Louis). Louis and Margaret were deeply devoted to one another despite the political reasons that brought them together, and had 11 children. When Louis left Paris to lead the Seventh Crusade around 1244, Margaret accompanied him at his request; his mother, the indomitable Blanche of Castile (1188–1252), remained as regent of France. This crusade (like all except the first) was a disaster, and the army returned home several years later.

Blanche of Castile was extremely jealous of Margaret of Provence, who was reportedly both beautiful and highly educated, and Blanche did her best to keep the couple apart. Chroniclers even wrote of the king and queen having to sneak through the castle in Paris at night to meet one another like lovers, because they feared Blanche's reaction if caught. When Blanche died in 1252, Margaret and Louis were free to act as they pleased. Margaret tried to take over Blanche's position as Louis' primary advisor, but she did not have the experience or the political shrewdness required, and Louis would not entrust her with important matters as he had his mother.

She accompanied her husband on the Eighth Crusade in 1270, where Louis died in battle at Tunis. Mourning him deeply, Margaret returned to France a widow and saw her son crowned king as Philip III. She then retired to her estates, where she died at age 60.

sources:

Anderson, Bonnie S., and Judith P. Zinsser. A History of Their Own. Vol. I. NY: Harper & Row, 1988.

Gies, Frances, and Joseph Gies. Women in the Middle Ages. NY: Harper and Row, 1978.

Laura York , Riverside, California