Margaret’s Motto: Fortune, Infortune, Fortune pretty much sums up her extraordinary life. Married three times with another marriage discussed, she refused to take a fourth husband. Her father eventually called upon her to be his representative and she spent most of the rest of her life as Regent of the Netherlands and foster mother to her nieces and nephews. She was a formidable force in the politics of her era.Share
Margaret was born on January 10, 1480 in Brussels. Her father was the Archduke Maximilian of Austria (later Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I) and her mother was Mary, Duchess of Burgundy, the daughter of Charles the Bold. In March of 1482, Margaret’s mother died after falling from a horse. Margaret and her brother Philip the Handsome were in the care of their step-grandmother, Margaret of York, essentially beholden to the citizens of Ghent. At that point, Maximilian had no bargaining power. Louis XI, King of France was threatening war and the Estates were unwilling to fund a campaign. Louis offered terms to the Estates. Margaret was to be betrothed to Louis’ eleven year old son, the Dauphin Charles with her dowry including the territories of Franche Comté and Artois along with other lordships. Maximilian was forced to accept the Louis’ conditions.
The terms of the Treaty of Arras, ratified in December of 1482, stipulated that Margaret was to be sent to France to be brought up away from the anti-French influence of her father. It was agreed the actual consummation of the marriage would not take place until Margaret was of sufficient age. In April of 1483, Margaret departed from Ghent under armed guard to prevent her father from trying to rescue her. The trip lasted a little over two weeks with a delay for the French to arrive at Hesdin where Margaret was greeted by Louis XI’s elder daughter Anne de Beaujeu. There was a short engagement ceremony and Margaret was officially delivered over to the French. (Read more.)