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Like a game of chess Posted by on May 23, 2017 in History

A few weeks ago, I shared a picture of Marguerite de Valois, comparing her to the flower of the same name. Or at least that’s what I meant to do.

Instead, I mistakenly used a picture of Marguerite d’Angoulême. Both women were Queen of Navarre (a region between present day France and Spain on the Atlantic side of the Pyrenees mountains), but Marguerite d’Angoulême was actually the grandmother of Marguerite de Valois’s husband, Henri de Navarre (the future Henri IV, king of France and Navarre).

Princesse et reine (Princess and queen)

Marguerite de Valois was not only the wife of a French King, she was also the sister of not one, not two, but three other French kings as well. You see, while her husband Henri IV was the first of the Bourbon kings (a line the led eventually to Louis XVI and his bloody end on the guillotine), Marguerite’s (or Margot as she was also known) brothers where the last three kings of the Valois dynasty which ruled France for over 200 years from the early 1300’s until 1589. Francois II, Charles IX, and Henri III, the three sons of Henri II and Catherine de Médicis, all died without heir, leaving the throne of France open for their brother-in-law to claim. The Bourbon’s were related to the Valois line and thus entitled to the throne when that line stopped (for in France, only son’s could take the throne).

Margot dans la littérature et au cinéma (Margot in books and movies)

The story of exactly how all three of Margot’s brothers managed to die and for her husband, a Protestant in a strongly Catholic France, to take the throne in their place is a messy one full of betrayals, intrigues, plots and counter-plots, and, yes, even love. If you want to know more, the highly-enjoyable La reine Margot, by Alexandre Dumas, is a great read. There is also an excellent 1994 movie staring the beautiful and talented Isabelle Adjani. A word of warning though, the movie is equally literal in its depiction of the violence and of the intimate relationships that brought Margot and Henri together.

Divertissement (Diversions)

Speaking of beautiful and talented, a few weeks ago I shared a song from Céline Dion. This week I came across a video from ealier in her career. It’s from one of her first appearances on French television, just a few months shy of her 15th birthday. She already had an incredible voice, but its fun to see how – like any awkward teen – she’s grown since then.

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Photo reference: Marguerite de Valois – By François Clouet –, Public Domain,

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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget. / Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. / An American in Paris