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Joan of France, Duchess of Berry

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Joan of France
Duchess of Berry (suo iure)
Duchess consort of Orléans
Joan of Valois Queen of France.jpg
Queen consort of France
Tenure 7 April 1498 - 15 December 1498
Spouse Louis XII of France
House House of Valois
Father Louis XI of France
Mother Charlotte of Savoy
Born 23 April 1464(1464-04-23)
Nogent-le-Roi, France
Died 4 February 1505 (aged 40)
Bourges, France
Burial Annonciades Convent, Bourges
Religion Catholic

Joan of France (French: Jeanne de France, Jeanne de Valois; 23 April 1464 – 4 February 1505) was briefly Queen consort of France as wife of King Louis XII of France, in between the death of her brother (the previous King), and the annulment of her marriage.

Born at Nogent-le-Roi (Eure-et-Loir), she was the second daughter of Louis XI of France and his second wife Charlotte of Savoy, her siblings were Charles VIII of France and Anne of France.

MarriageEdit

On 8 September 1476, at the age of twelve, Joan was married for political reasons to her father's second cousin Louis, Duke of Orléans, later king Louis XII of France. However, when Louis acceded to the throne after the death of Joan's brother Charles VIII in April 1498, he was forced to annul the marriage in order to marry the former king's widow, Anne of Brittany, in the hope of annexing the Duchy of Brittany to the French Crown. Described as "one of the seamiest lawsuits of the age",[1] Louis did not, as might be expected, argue the marriage to be void due to consanguinity (the general excuse for the dissolution of a marriage at that time): though he could produce witnesses to claim that the two were closely related due to various linking marriages, there was no documentary proof, merely the opinions of courtiers. Likewise, Louis could not argue that he had been below the legal age of consent (fourteen) to marry: nobody was certain when he had been born, with Louis claiming to have been twelve at the time, and others ranging in estimates between eleven and thirteen. Since there was no proof, however, he was forced to make other excuses.

Accordingly, much to the horror of the Queen, Louis claimed that she was physically malformed, providing a rich variety of detail as to how she was malformed, and that he had therefore been unable to consummate the marriage. Joan, unsurprisingly, fought this uncertain charge fiercely, producing witnesses to Louis boasting of having "mounted my wife three or four times during the night."[1] Louis also claimed that his sexual performance had been inhibited by witchcraft; Joan responded by asking how, in that case, he was able to know what it was like to try to make love to her.[2] Had the Pope been a neutral party, Jeanne would likely have won, for Louis' case was exceedingly weak. Unfortunately for the Queen, Pope Alexander VI was committed for political reasons to grant the annulment, and accordingly he ruled against the Queen.[3] The annulment was pronounced on 15 December 1498. Outraged, Joan reluctantly stepped aside, saying that she would pray for her former husband. She was made Duchess of Berry and retired to Bourges (Cher).

Religious Life and SainthoodEdit

Saint Joan of Valois
Foundress
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 1742 by Benedict XIV
Canonized 1950 by Pope Pius XII
Feast 4 February

Supposedly deformed, and sickly through her life, Joan had developed a devotion to the Virgin Mary in her early childhood. At Bourges, she founded the Catholic Franciscan contemplative Order of the Annonciades in 1502. She died on 4 February 1505 and was buried in the chapel of the Annonciades convent. Her grave was desecrated and her body burned by the Huguenots during the sack of Bourges on 27 May 1562.[4] Soon after her death, miracles and healings attributed to her were said to have occurred, and, on 21 April 1742, Pope Benedict XIV declared her "blessed". She was canonized on 28 May 1950 [5] by Pope Pius XII and is known to Roman Catholics as Sainte Jeanne de Valois. [6]

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Hale, p.15
  2. Hale, p.16
  3. Hale, p.16 "The King's case was so weak that if the Pope, Alexander VI, had not been committed to granting the annulment for political purposes, he would have lost it."
  4. http://www.saint-ambroise.com/ St. Ambroise church site at Bourges (French)
  5. "Pope Pius XII". http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintp0m.htm.  Catholic Forum website
  6. "St. Jeanne de Valois". http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintj34.htm.  Catholic Forum website

BibliographyEdit

AncestryEdit

French royalty
Preceded by
Anne, Duchess of Brittany
Queen consort of France
7 April 1498 – 15 December 1498
Succeeded by
Anne, Duchess of Brittany

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