Friday, August 31, 2012

The Death of Margaret of Anjou

It is sad how everything was taken from her, even her dogs. At least her relics went to the Church. In the words of author Susan Higginbotham:
As I mentioned a few posts ago, Louis XI, who as a condition of ransoming Margaret of Anjou from the English had forced her to sign over all of her inheritance rights to him, wrote to Jeanne Chabot, Madame de Montsoreau, to demand that Jeanne give to him all of the dogs that Margaret had given to her. What I didn’t realize until I took another look at the French original, though, is that Louis wrote the letter on August 12, 1482–while Margaret was still alive. (It can be found in Lettres de Louis XI, vol. 9, 1481-82, p. 276, on Google Books.) Historians writing in English have almost always overlooked this fact: Both Cora Scofield and Paul Murray Kendall, for instance, indicate that Margaret was already dead when Louis demanded her dogs.

To make matters more interesting, who was Jeanne Chabot, Madame de Montsoreau? Having labored under the wrong impression that Louis was asking for Margaret’s dogs after Margaret died, I had assumed that Jeanne was someone in Margaret’s household who had somehow got stuck with taking care of Margaret’s dogs. In fact, Jeanne Chabot, Madame de Montsoreau, married to Jean de Chambes, was a lady of high standing. Louis XI wrote to her on March 3, 1472, asking her to house his queen during a measles epidemic, and her son-in-law was none other than the famous memoirist Philippe de Commynes, who married one of her daughters, Helene de Chambes. According to Kendall in his biography of Louis XI, the king paid 3,000 crowns to Jean de Chambes in return for Jean’s giving the barony of Argenton to his new son-in-law. So when Margaret sent her dogs to Jeanne Chabot, she could be reasonably sure that they would be well fed.

But what was the relationship between Margaret and Jeanne Chabot? The chateau of Montsoreau is in the neighborhood of Dampierre, where Margaret spent her last days, so the women could certainly have visited each other if they were inclined. Did Margaret owe Jeanne money and send her the dogs (presumably well-trained hunting dogs) as payment toward the debt? Was Margaret hoping to keep the dogs out of Louis’s hands by sending them to a high-ranking lady? Or was Margaret simply sending her dogs to an old friend? I haven’t the slightest idea of what the answers to these questions could be, but they’re interesting to ponder.

A couple of weeks after Louis demanded her dogs back from Jeanne Chabot, Margaret was dead. Oddly, none of Margaret’s biographers writing in English, not even the indefatigable Agnes Strickland, seems to have noticed the following description of Margaret’s burial and the disposition of her personal effects, which appears in Louis de Farcy’s Monographie de la cathédrale d’Angers, which can be found here. (Read entire post.)
Gareth Russell also has a post about the iron-willed Margaret of Anjou, HERE.  To quote:
Marguerite was, and is, a controversial queen consort. The daughter of a French princeling who had a claim to the throne of the Naples, she was married to the deeply religious and mentally-imbalanced King Henry VI when she was fifteen years old. Strikingly beautiful, Marguerite also had an iron will and tenacity that her husband lacked. More than one observer made the catty remark that the House of Lancaster might have kept the throne if the genders of the King and Queen had been reserved. Whatever Marguerite privately thought of her husband's increasingly bizarre pieties, she was never anything less than totally loyal to him. She struggled valiantly, and sometimes savagely, to hold the monarchy together when Henry became to suffer the first of his frequent nervous breakdowns and states of mental paralysis. Sensing an opportunity to advance their own power, the King's cousin, the Duke of York and his family, began to make moves through parliament and then militarily to oust Henry from the throne and put a York in his place. Marguerite fought them every single step of the way. (Read entire post.)

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