Jeanne was known as Jeanne de France, Jeanne de Valois and Joan de France. She was born on April 23, 1464, the second daughter of King Louis XI, the Spider King and his second wife Charlotte of Savoy. While she was still an infant, a marriage was discussed between her and King Louis’ second cousin, Louis, Duc d’Orleans who was a child of two at the time. The King was often way from court, administering the kingdom and he entrusted Jeanne and her older sister Anne to the care of François de Beaujeu, Seigneur de Lignière and his wife Anne de Culan for their education. The Seigneur and his wife had no children so they doted on Jeanne who suffered from a visibly hunched back. They taught the girls poetry, mathematics, genealogy, embroidery, painting and how to play the lute. Jeanne is described as having a dark and plain face and a short, deformed figure. The Seigneur would hide her behind his robes when the King was approaching them on a visit. The king would exclaim how ugly Jeanne was. As Jeanne became older, her deformities became more evident.Share
The tutors were deeply faithful Catholics and imparted a solid grounding in faith for their entire household. When Jeanne was very young, King Louis asked his daughter to name the confessor she wanted assigned to her. The only name she knew was Friar Jean de La Fontaine, Guardian of the Franciscan community in Amboise. The king approved and La Fontaine became her confessor. Jeanne began to take great comfort in prayer and would spend many hours in the castle chapel. The Seigneur even had a path paved between the castle and the chapel to make the walk easier for Jeanne in poor weather. The Friar admitted Jeanne into the Third Order of the St. Francis. In 1471, King Louis required everyone in the kingdom to practice praying the “Hail Mary” in an effort to gain peace. Jeanne became fervently attached to this prayer. That same year, she wrote that the Virgin Mary gave her a prophecy that before she died, Jeanne would found a religious order in her honor.
Louis, Duc d’Orléans was the great-grandson of King Charles V and the son of Charles, Duc d’Orléans and had a claim to the French throne. When Louis was fourteen and considered of marriageable age and Jeanne was twelve, their marriage was discussed. The Duc was against the marriage and made this known to the king. King Louis threatened to make him a monk and hinted he could easily be killed in the guise of a monk’s habit. The Duc finally resigned himself to the marriage but told his friends it would be a marriage in name only. Jeanne approved of the marriage but was under no illusions. She was devoted to the Duc but he paid no attention to her.
The couple’s wedding celebration was performed on September 8, 1476 in Montrichard. During the ceremony the bridegroom supposedly said he would be better off dead than marrying Jeanne. After the wedding, King Louis intimidated the Duc and compelled him to visit and sleep with his wife several times a year. When the Duc once threatened to end the marriage early on, King Louis put him in prison. (Read more.)