Valentine’s Day, la Saint-Valentin, is approaching. My best wishes to all of you.
The Feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I in CE 496 to be celebrated on 14 February in honour of Saint Valentine of Rome who died on that date in CE 269. The day became associated with romantic love in the 14th and 15th centuries when notions of courtly love flourished, apparently by association with the “lovebirds” of early spring.
Candlemas, or Candlemass, also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Feast of the Holy Encounter, is a Christian Holy Day commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It is based upon the account of the presentation of Jesus in Luke2:22–40 and has been celebrated since the 4th century CE. (See Candlemas, Britannica.)
It is reported that Pope Saint Gelasius I (494–96 CE) wanted to replace a “pagan” feast, called Lupercalia (“Lupus” [wolf] and “calida” [warmth]) with a Christian feast. Candlemas would be the new feast, which is celebrated on 2nd February, 40 days after Christmas, and would commemorate three closely related occasions.
the Purification of the Virgin
the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple of Jerusalem
In obedience to Mosaic law, Mary had to be purified 40 days after giving birth, which falls on 2nd February. Moreover, Mary had to present her firstborn to God. Finally, Simeon, who had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would see the Messiah before his death, recognized the Messiah. It was Jesus. Having seen Jesus, he said “now we dismiss.” These are the words of a canticle entitled Nunc dimittis.
Candlemas, laChandeleur, takes places during Carnival season. Carnival is a Christian festivity that starts on Epiphany (6 January) and ends on Ash Wednesday, or the day after Mardi Gras, a day of revelry and merriment. An image inserted below, a drawing or sanguine, depicts a celebration of the Lupercalia occuring at the end of the 16th century.
Moreover, it has been reported that Pope Gelasius I wanted to suppress the ancient Roman festival of the Lupercalia. The Lupercalia was a festival of fertility and purification which had given its name “dies februatus,” from Februatus, to the month of February. The Lupercalia was not related to the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or Candlemas, the new feast. Valentine’s Day used to commemorate a St Valentine, a martyr. The feast took place during the Ides of February.
As a romantic feast, Valentine’s Day was all but invented by Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340s – 25 October 1400) who called the day “seynt” Valentine’s Day.
Chaucer was a prisoner during the Hundred Years’ War. When he was released, he took to England the French Roman de la Rose, a work of literature that epitomizes courtly love. However, it was an exchange. Charles d’Orléans, who was detained in England for 25 years during the Hundred Years’ War, took to France not only poems he had written referring to Valentine, but also the lore of Valentine’s Day as it existed in England. According to Chaucer, birds mated on 14 February.
For this was on seynt Volantynys day Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules
[“For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”]
Valentine’s day took place near the Ides of February. We have noted that the degree of lightness and darkness has governed the dates of festivities since the beginning of time. Consequently, Christian festivities would take place at the same time as “pagan” festivities, which they usually replaced, but not altogether. Carnival is a Western Christian festive season ending on Ash Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras, or on Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday itself.
As noted above, Valentine’s Day’s proper Christian source is the commemoration of a martyr named Valentine. But there is evidence that Lupercalia remains a festivity. (See Beware the Ides of February, Psychology Today.)
In the 16th-century, French differed from current French, but 16th-century French can be read with little effort. For instance, one may use the Latin or other root of a word and a word’s connotations.
I used “classes” as in classification. Classe would correspond to the word type. That last verse was difficult to translate. Bellum means war. So, I turned “champ [field] bellique” into lice, arena, or battlefield. Singulier has many connotations, but it can mean singulier as opposed to pluriel, plural.
Le lion jeune le vieux surmontera/ The young lion the old will overcome En champ bellique par singulier duelle,/ In an arena (lice) in a one on one duel. Dans cage d’or les yeux lui [to him or her] crèvera,/ The eyes of his golden cage (head) he will pierce, Deux classes une [one] puis [then] mourir mort cruelle./ Two types (of wounds), one leading to a cruel death.
The translation above is mostly literal, which is a choice teachers often make. It may not be a perfectly accurate quotation, but Nostradamus predicted that Henri II would have his eye(s) pierced and would then die a painful death.
The events of La Princesse de Clèves are not so foreign. Princess Diana was an ill-wedded wife. She was married to Prince Charles to produce an heir but married him expecting to be loved. Prince Charles was fond of his wife, but he loved another woman. Matters are changing. It is no longer unusual for Royals to marry for love or to find an excellent companion in their spouse, but tragedies may occur. They are human beings and, therefore, not altogether perfect. We make mistakes.
La Princesse de Clèves has been given a page. It is not finished, but will soon be.
However, the Dauphin, the heir to the throne of France, was sixteen-year-old François II who died of otitis at the age of sixteen. Charles IX who succeeded him was ten years old. Members of the Guise family took over and fought Huguenots bitterly until the end of the 16th century. Madame de La Fayette’s Princesse de Clèves takes place in 1559 and she simply alludes to the events that followed the death of Henri II.
The first paragraphs of Part Four of La Princesse de Clèves reveal that members of the Guise family, who were enemies of the Huguenots, took over the government of France and were its absolute masters. The Cardinal the Lorraine is a Guise.
Le cardinal de Lorraine s’était rendu maître absolu de l’esprit de la reine mère : le vidame de Chartres n’avait plus aucune part dans ses bonnes grâces (…) Enfin, la cour changea entièrement de face. Le duc de Guise prit le même rang que les princes du sang à porter le manteau du roi aux cérémonies des funérailles. (ebooksgratuits.com, p. 63). [The Queen-mother (Catherine de’ Medici) was now wholly governed by the cardinal of Loraine; the viscount de Chartres had no interest with her (…) In a word, the complexion of the court was entirely changed; the duke of Guise took the same rank as the princes of the blood, in carrying the king’s mantle at the funeral ceremonies…] (Wikisource ).
As for our Princess, she has told her husband that she is in love with another man, an episode known as l’aveu. L’aveu follows the letter episode, or the episode in which the Princess learns the pain betrayal can inflict. Moreover, the Duc de Nemours has foolishly told the Vidame de Chartres about her confession. Could the Vidame be trusted? The Queen, Catherine de Médicis, wanted a confident and would choose the Vidame de Chartres, if after two days he could swear he had no galanteries, affairs. He lied to the Queen:
C’est parce que je vous parle sincèrement, Madame, lui répondis−je, que je n’ai rien à vous dire ; et je jure à Votre Majesté, avec tout le respect que je lui dois, que je n’ai d’attachement pour aucune femme de la cour. (le Vidame de Chartres à Catherine de’ Medici, ebooksgratuits, p. 41). [It is, madam, answered I, because I deal sincerely, that I have nothing more to say; and I swear to your majesty, with all the respect I owe you, that I have no engagement with any woman of the court.] (the Vidame de Chartres to Catherine de’ Medici Wikisource .) (Part Two)
The letter the Princess reads was addressed to him, the Vidame, not to the Duc de Nemours. The letter and l’aveu, the confession, are central to the plot of the Princesse de Clèves. Not that there is much of a plot, but 1) the Prince meets and marries the Princess, 2) she falls in love with the Duc de Nemours, 3) she reads a letter that awakens what she calls jalousie, and 4) she tells her husband that she is in love. But the letter (3) and, above all, l’aveu 4) (ebooksgratuits.com, p. 49) constitute La Princesse de Clèves‘s dominant episodes as a psychological novel.
The letter episode had taught Mme de Clèves the pain betrayal could provoke, which she had not experienced before:
Elle avait ignoré jusqu’alors les inquiétudes mortelles de la défiance et de la jalousie,” (ebooksgratuits, p. 47). [Never till then was she acquainted with the dreadful inquietudes that flow from jealousy and distrust…] (Wikisource ).
Madame de Clèves has not engaged in a galanterie. She has in fact avoided the Duc de Nemours. However, telling her husband that she loves another man burdens him with the inquiétudes mortelles, the letter episode inflicted on her. Monsieur de Clèves knows he has a rival and he wants to know who is the man his wife loves:
Et qui est−il, Madame, cet homme heureux qui vous donne cette crainte ? Depuis quand vous plaît−il ? Qu’a−t−il fait pour vous plaire ? Quel chemin a−t−il trouvé pour aller à votre coeur ? Je m’étais consolé en quelque sorte de ne l’avoir pas touché par la pensée qu’il était incapable de l’être. Cependant un autre fait ce que je n’ai pu faire.J’ai tout ensemble la jalousie d’un mari et celle d’un amant ; mais il est impossible d’avoir celle d’un mari après un procédé comme le vôtre. (ebooksgratuits, pp. 49-50). [… and who is he, madam, this happy man that gives you such apprehensions? How long has he charmed you? What has he done to charm you? What has he done to charm you? What method has he taken to get into your heart? When I could not gain your affections myself, it was some comfort to me to think, that no other could; in the mean time, another has effected what I could not; and I have, at once the jealousy of a husband and lover. But it is impossible for me to retain that of a husband after such a proceeding on your part… (Wikisource ).
Looking back on her confesson, the Princess is of two minds. She has been sincere, but she also believes that she has taken away from herself the love and esteem of her husband:
Elle trouva qu’elle s’était ôté elle−même le cœur et l’estime de son mari, et qu’elle s’était creusé un abîme dont elle ne sortirait jamais. Elle se demandait pourquoi elle avait fait une chose si hasardeuse, et elle trouvait qu’elle s’y était engagée sans en avoir presque eu le dessein. (ebooksgratuits, p. 51). [She found she had deprived herself of the heart and esteem of her husband, and was involved in a labyrinth she should never get out of; she asked herself why she had ventured on so dangerous a step, and perceived she was engaged in it almost without having designed it…] (Wikisource, ).
At first, Monsieur de Clèves admires his wife’s sincerity:
Je n’ai nulle inquiétude de votre conduite, lui dit-il ; vous avez plus de forces et plus de vertu que vous ne pensez. Ce n’est point aussi la crainte de l’avenir qui m’afflige. Je ne suis affligé que de vous voir pour un autre des sentiments que je n’ai pu vous donner. (Le Prince de Clèves à la Princesse de Clèves, ebooksgratuits.com, p. 53). [I am not alarmed as to your conduct, said he, you have more strength and virtue than you imagine; I am not alarmed with fears of what may happen hereafter; what troubles me is that I see you have those sentiments for another which you want for me.] (The Prince to the Princess, Wikisource ).
However, he will be alarmed. Having learned that the Duc de Nemours was seen in the garden at Colomiers, the Prince refuses to hear the gentleman’s report in its entirety. The Duc de Nemours was seen, which, in the Prince’s eyes, is proof his wife has committed adultery. L’aveu has affinities with “noise” in the information theory. It conditions information and behaviour and may thwart the truth. Yet, the Prince presses his wife to reveal the name of the person she loves.
Yet, Monsieur de Clèves has no proof that his wife was unfaithful. The gentleman who followed the Duke has nothing to report. L’aveu suffices.
Je n’ai rien à vous apprendre, répondit le gentilhomme, sur quoi on puisse faire de jugement assuré. Il est vrai que monsieur de Nemours a entré deux nuits de suite dans le jardin de la forêt, et qu’il a été le jour d’après à Coulommiers avec madame de Mercœur. (ebooksgratuits.com), p. 70). [I can acquaint you with nothing, said the gentleman, upon which one can form any certain judgment; it is true, the duke de Nemours went two nights successively into the garden in the forest; and the day after, he was at Colomiers with the duchess of Mercœur.] (Wikisource ).
Later, the Prince will even wish the Princess had never told him that she loved another man. Would that he had been treated like other husbands. Appearances are deceptive.
Que ne me laissiez−vous dans cet aveuglement tranquille dont jouissent tant de maris ? J’eusse, peut−être, ignoré toute ma vie que vous aimiez monsieur de Nemours. Je mourrai, ajouta−t−il ; mais sachez que vous me rendez la mort agréable, et qu’après m’avoir ôté l’estime et la tendresse que j’avais pour vous, la vie me ferait horreur. (Le Prince de Clèves à la Princesse de Clèves, ebooksgratuits.com, p. 71) [Why did not you leave me in that blind tranquillity which so many husbands enjoy? I should perhaps, have been ignorant all my life that you [were] in love with monsieur de Nemours; I shall die, added he, but know, that you make death pleasing to me, and that, after you have taken from me the esteem and affection I had for you, life would be odious to me. What should I live for?] (The Prince of Cleves to the Princess of Cleves, Wikisource ). (Part Four)
Appearances are deceptive, but Madame de Lafayette seems to upend what the Princesse’s mother taught her. The Duke has told about a woman who confessed to her husband that she loved another man, but a fable can be used to correct matters. All appearances are deceptive.
Il [le Prince] alla trouver madame de Clèves, et lui dit qu’il ne s’agissait pas de démêler entre eux qui avait manqué au secret ; mais qu’il s’agissait de faire voir que l’histoire que l’on avait contée était une fable où elle n’avait aucune part… (ebooksgratuits, p. 58). [He went to his wife, and told her, that what they had to do was not to debate between themselves who had discovered the secret; but to make it appear, that the story which was got abroad, was a business in which she had no concern…] (Wikisource ).
The Princess denies having spent two nights with the Duke de Nemours at Coulommiers (Colomiers). She has proof that she has not committed the “crime” her husband believes she has committed, but it is too late. He will not live. Her only “crime,” is to have fallen in love with a man other than her husband, before marrying. Why did she not love the Prince de Clèves, instead of the Duke of Nemours?
Destiny willed that she marry before knowing love. But she did not reap the happiness love should have brought her.
After her husband’s death, Madame de Clèves is free to marry, except that her behaviour is consistent with her mother’s teaching. L’aveu was nearly pried out of her, but the Duc de Nemours himself is sorry she told Monsieur de Clèves that she loved another man. He also bemoans her letting him know she loved him.
Tout ce que je puis vous apprendre, Madame, c’est que j’ai souhaité ardemment que vous n’eussiez pas avoué à monsieur de Clèves ce que vous me cachiez, et que vous lui eussiez caché ce que vous m’eussiez laissé voir. (ebooksgratuits, p. 76). [… all I can tell you, madam, is, that I heartily wished you had not acknowledged to monsieur de Clèves what you concealed from me, and that you had concealed from him what you made appear to me.](Wikisource ).
But to what extent is she guilty? The Duke overheard l’aveu and he tried to see the Princess. La Princesse de Clèves resembles Jean Racine‘s Phèdre. Destiny rules and never did the princess’s love bring her happiness. Besides, she cannot marry the Duc de Nemours. Monsieur de Clèves has died, but the letter episode has taught her that if love is reciprocated love dies. She thought the Duke loved her, which was not true.
An unkind destiny willed that the Princess marry before knowing love and a similar destiny also willed that the Prince of Clèves refuse to hear a full account of the two nights the Duke of Nemours was in the garden. He will not allow the gentleman who followed the Duke de Nemours to provide a full account of the two nights the Duke of Nemours was in the garden. For her part, the Princess, who is now “free,” will not marry the Duke. She will tell him once, just once, that she loves him.
Je crois devoir à votre attachement la faible récompense de ne vous cacher aucun de mes sentiments, et de vous les laisser voir tels qu’il sont. Ce sera apparemment la seule fois de ma vie que je donnerai la crois devoir à votre attachement la faible récompense de ne vous cacher aucun de mes sentiments, et de vous les laisser voir tels qu’ils sont. Ce sera apparemment la seule fois de ma vie que je me donnerai la liberté de vous les faire paraître ; néanmoins je ne saurais vous avouer, sans honte, que la certitude de n’être plus aimée de vous, comme je le suis, me paraît un si horrible malheur, que, quand je n’aurais point des raisons de devoir insurmontables, je doute si je pourrais me résoudre à m’exposer à ce malheur. (ebooksgratuits, p. 78). [I think I owe the affection you have for me, the poor recompence not to hide from you any of my thoughts, and to let you see them such as they really are; this, in all probability will be the only time I shall allow myself the freedom to discover them to you; and I cannot confess without a blush, that the certainty of not being loved by you, as I am, appears to me so dreadful a misfortune, that if I had not invincible reasons grounded on my duty, I could not resolve to subject myself to it… ] (Wikisource ).
She couldn’t tell: l’aveu. Love dies if is reciprocated.
I did not intend to write more than six posts on La Princesse de Clèves and wrote at the end of post 5 that post 6 would be my final post on a very complex novel. I have erased that brief sentence. When my posts are long, they are cropped.
We are therefore looking at the predictions episode (Part Two). It was included in a post that was shortened.
Henri II told courtiers that an astrologer predicted he would be killed in a duel. Kings do not engage in duels, so this prophecy was dismissed. However, given that Nostradamus was at the court of Henri II in 1555 when his book of prophecies was published, the astrologer is Nostradamus and the prophecy relevant. Henri II did not die in a duel, but he was fatally injured jousting. His opponent Gabriel de Lorges, the 1st Earl of Montgomery (Montgommery in French), the captain of the King’s Scots Guard, threw a lance that injured the the King’s right eye. It splintered entering the brain. Nothing could be done to save his life. However, Ambroise Paré, Henri II’s doctor is featured in Alexandre Dumas père‘s Les Deux Diane, The Two Dianas, one of whom is Diane de Poitiers, Henri II’s mistress.
The King of France could not be saved, but he was conscious for several days after sustaining his fatal injury. So, fearing that Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy would renege on marrying his sister, Marguerite de Valois, Duchesse de Berry, the dying King ordered that the wedding take place as soon as possible. Marguerite married Emmanuel Philibert on 9 July 1559 and the venue was Saint-Paul Church, not Notre-Dame de Paris. Henri II died the following day, on 10 July 1559, and his death was a terrible loss.
Henri II was forty years old when he died. The new king, however, was fifteen-year-old François II who had recently married Marie Stuart, the Queen-Dauphine. Marie Stuart was raised at the court of France because her marriage was arranged during early chilhood. François II died of a middle-ear infection and an abscess in the brain on 5 December 1560, having reigned since 10 July 1559. Ambroise Paré could not cure him. Marie was disconsolate. She and François had been friends from the moment they met.
Predictions tend to confirm predestination. They suggest that one has no power over one’s destiny. Madame de La Fayette’s novel has been associated with Jansenism. The Princess of Clèves tries to control l’amour fatal by staying away from court. As for the Prince, he is so jealous that he hires a gentleman to follow the Duc de Nemours to a house they had recently built at Coulommiers. (Part Four) The gentleman sees the Duc enter the garden two evenings in a row. He sees the Princess in a pavilion. She is looking at a portrait of a battle in which he fought. She caresses a cane, which so moves him that he sheds a few tears. Was eroticism ever this subtle? Sensing a presence, she enters the house. He visits the following night, but all is dark.
The Prince de Clèves will not listen to the gentleman’s full report, but he believes the Princesse. The Duc de Nemours went to the garden, paradise, at Coulommiers. She sensed a presence and left the Pavilion where she stood, but the Duc de Nemours did not enter the house. She did not spend two nights with the Duc de Nemours. The Prince de Clèves believes his wife, which comforts him. But he lets himself die. Jealousy kills him.
The Prince may feel jealousy. As for Madame the Clèves, the letter (Part Three) made her believe she was betrayed, and she grieved, but was it jealousy? She did not know with whom the Duke had “galanteries” and during the aveu episode (her confession), she refuses to reveal the name of the person she loves. The Duc de Nemours could be harmed by her jealous husband and harming the Duc de Nemours would confirm jealousy, as we know it, and may be otherwise catastrophic. In the letter episode, Madame de Clèves feels betrayed. Her mother was right:
Si vous jugez sur les apparences en ce lieu−ci, répondit madame de Chartres, vous serez souvent trompée : ce qui paraît n’est presque jamais la vérité. (ebooksgratuits, p. 15) [If you judge from appearances in a court, replied madam de Chartres, you will often be deceived; truth and appearances seldom go together.] (Wikisource ) (Part One)
Moreover, the Princess loves a man in whose eyes une galanterie is not illicit. The Princess was not brought up as an aristocrat. The discrepancy between their Weltanschauung, or world view, differs tragically. Would that she had met him before marrying the Prince of Cleves:
Pourquoi faut−il, s’écria−t−elle, que je vous puisse accuser de la mort de monsieur de Clèves ? Que n’ai−je commencé à vous connaître depuis que je suis libre, ou pourquoi ne vous ai−je pas connu devant que d’être engagée ? Pourquoi la destinée nous sépare−t−elle par un obstacle si invincible ? (ebooksgratuits, p. 79) [Why was it, cries she, that I can charge you with monsieur de Cleves’s death? Why did not my first acquaintance with you begin since I have been at liberty? or why did not I know you before I was engaged? Why does Fate separate us by such invincible obstacles?] (Wikisource ) (Part Four)
There is so much more to tell, but I believe I must end this post. When Charles IX ascended the throne, he was ten-years old. So Catherine de’ Medici and the very Catholic Guise were at the helm. The St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre took place in 1572. Marguerite and the King of Navarre had just married. Marguerite, la reine Margot, protected her husband, the future Henri IV, King of Navarre and France.
Henri II forgave the Earl of Montgomery, but Catherine didn’t. He was executed on another charge on 26 June 1574.
Above is a portrait of Élisabeth de Valois, or Élisabeth de France (1545-1568). She was the first daughter born to Henri II of France and Catherine de’ Medici. It had been arranged for her to marry the King of Spain’s son: Carlos. However, the Prince’s father, Philip II, would not sign the long-awaited Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis unless he could marry Élisabeth. She was 14 and died during pregnancy at the age of 23. She had shared a bedroom with Mary Queen of Scots, Marie Stuart, since childhood. Marie Stuart, who married Francis II of France, was brought up in France and is referred to as the Queen-Dauphin. She would be Queen of France after Henri II sustained a serious injury in a tournament. He died on 10 July 1559. Ambroise Paré could not save him.
After constant entreaties, the Princess confesses that she is in love with another man. This scene is called l’aveu, the confession. But she will not say whom she loves. The Prince of Clèves is a bit of a villain. He is increasingly jealous. Madame de Clèves is an aristocrat but she was brought up by a virtuous mother away from the court, or the world.She will not enter into a liaison. Her only defence is to avoid seeing the Duc de Nemours. The Prince de Clèves opposes her wish. He will not accept absences, unless they are short.
La Princesse de Clèves is a realistic novel. In no way can it be associated with lengthy romances such as Honoré d’Urfée‘s L’Astrée, a pastoral, or other anciens romans. Her novel is a petit roman. She was influenced by Marguerite de Navarre’s L’Heptaméron,but her novel is otherwise a roman fondateur, a foundind novel. (See La Princesse de Clèves, Wikipedia). The novel is currently read as a series. It is preceded by La Princesse de Montpensier and followed by La Comtesse de Tende. For the last few years, La Princesse de Montpensier has attracted considerable attention. It is a Franco-German film by Bertrand Tavernier, released in 2010.
I apologize for publishing these posts slowly. I reread the novel three times. I am also older and life is teaching me new lessons. As well, my memory is now rather poor. So, I must convert to short posts or end my career as a blogger. The above is not my complete post, but nearly so.
_________________________  Ellen J. Hunter-Chapco, Theory and Practice of the Petit Roman in France(1656-1683): Segrais, Du Plaisir, Madame de La Fayette, A Bibliographical Guide (Regina: University of Regina, 1977), p. 14 and elsewhere.
I taught La Princesse de Clèves (The Princess of Cleves) year after year for several decades and told my students who the characters were, including their ancestry. It was easy then, but eighteen years later, it is no longer so easy. I remember the main names, but a few names confused me. Some characters have several titles and some characters have the same title. These are hereditary, so it is a matter of lineage.
The Prince of Cleves’ father is the Duke of Nevers, but he remains a Clèves (See List of Counts of Dukes of Vendôme, Wikipedia.) Clèves/Kleve is a comté (county) in Germany. Le Chevalier de Guise, the Prince de Clèves’ rival, has abrother who is Cardinal of Lorraine, but Cardinal de Lorraine is a title. He remains a Guise. Individuals, mostly aristocrats, can have several titles. Moreover, a Marguerite de Navarre may follow a Marguerite de Navarre. Each generation may have a Marguerite who is born a Valois, but marries a King of Navarre. Our Margarets are an aunt, a sister and a daughter to Henri II. By birth, they are Valois princesses, but two married the King of Navarre.
Were it not for our first Marguerite, finding a legitimate heir to the throne of France after the death of Henri III of France would be difficult. Henri II, King of France, and Catherine de’ Medici had three sons who reigned, but no heir was born to these three Kings. However, because Marguerite de Valois-Angoulême was a Queen consort of Navarre, Henri III of Navarre had Bourbon ancestry. He was the son of Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme and Jeanne d’Albret, the Queen of Navarre.
This Marguerite de Navarre is the author of an collection of 72 novellas (unfinished) entitled the Heptaméron. She found her inspiration in Giovanni Boccaccio‘s Decameron (1313–1375), a compendium of novellas told by young people who have fled the plague. L’Heptaméron exerted influence on Madame de La Fayette. Both l’Heptaméron and La Princesse de Clèves describe intrigues at the Court of France.
Marguerite de Valois, duchesse de Berry (1523-1574)
So, there are two Marguerite de Navarre, both of whom were initially Marguerite de France, of the House of Valois. “France” is the name given to the children of the King of France. Marguerite de Valois, the second Marguerite de Navarre, could not have children, so her marriage to Henri IV was annulled in 1599. She then lived in Paris and befriended Henri IV and his wife, Marie de’ Medici. She lived comfortably and had a castle built. Marguerite loved literature and enjoyed entertaining artists and writers.
In short, there are three Marguerites de Valois, an aunt, a sister and a daughter of Henri II King of France. They belong to three generations. However, only two of our Marguerites were Queens consort of Navarre. Marguerite de Valois, Sœur du Roi, and Marguerite de Valois who married Henri III of Navarre, the future Henri IV, King of France and Navarre. All three are featured or mentioned in La Princesse de Clèves.