Marguerite de Navarre, 11 April 1492 – 21 December 1549. She is also known in France as Marguerite d’Angoulême or Marguerite d’Alençon. In England, she is known as Marguerite of Angoulême or Margaret of Navarre. Marguerite was the princess of France, and her brother was Francis I, the King of France. With her brother, she fostered the intellectual growth in France, and was a major figure in the French Renaissance. Through her marriage to Henry II of Navarre, Marguerite was Queen of Navarre, and Duchess of Alençon and Berry. Her grandson, Henry of Navarre, became Henry IV of France, the first king in the Bourbon dynasty.
Marguerite was a patron of humanists and a supporter of reformation. She was also a prolific author, with popular works that are studied to this day. Her best-known work is the Heptameron, a collection of stories, with a structure based on Boccaccio’s Decameron. Her religious poem, Miroir de l’âme pécheresse (Mirror of the Sinful Soul) was very influential in and beyond France. Marguerite describes the yearning of a soul, personified as a woman, calling out to Jesus. This poem was also very popular in England, and ended up in the hands of Elizabeth I, who translated it. It is intriguing to think that Anne Boleyn, very involved in the Protestant Reformation, might have passed it on to her daughter.
Marguerite, Queen, consort of Henry II, King of Navarre, 1492-1549. The Heptameron: tales and novels of Marguerite, Queen of Navarre. Translated, with a new introduction by Arthur Machen. Hyperion Press, 1978.
Marguerite, Queen, consort of Henry II, King of Navarre, 1492-1549. Le miroir de l’âme pécheresse. Followed by the trnaslation made by the princess Elizabeth, The Glasse of the Synnefull Soule. Soumalainen Tiedeakatemia, 1979.