Margaret of Provence

20 Nov 2017
20 Dec 1295
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Margaret of Provence (1221 – 20 December 1295) was Queen of France as the wife of King Louis IX.

Margaret was born in the spring of 1221 in Forcalquier.[1] She was the eldest of four daughters of Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Provence, and Beatrice of Savoy. Her younger sisters were Queen Eleanor of England, Queen Sanchia of Germany, and Queen Beatrice of Sicily. She was especially close to Eleanor, to whom she was close in age, and with whom she sustained friendly relationships until they grew old.

In 1233, Blanche of Castile sent one of her knights to Provence, partly to offset the troublesome Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse, and partly to meet Margaret, whose grace and beauty were widely reported. Margaret and her father entertained the knight well, and soon Blanche was negotiating with the count of Provence, so that his daughter might marry the king. Margaret was chosen as a good match for the king more for her religious devotion and courtly manner than her beauty. She was escorted to Lyon by her parents for the marriage treaty to be signed. From there, she was escorted to her wedding in Sens by her uncles from Savoy, William and Thomas. On 27 May 1234 at the age of thirteen, Margaret became wife of Louis IX of France and queen consort of France.[3] She was crowned the following day.[1] The wedding and her coronation as queen were celebrated at the cathedral of Sens.[3]

The marriage was a difficult one in numerous aspects.[3] Blanche still wielded strong influence over her son, and would throughout her life.[4] As a sign of her authority, shortly after the wedding Blanche dismissed Margaret’s uncles and all of the servants she had brought with her from her childhood. Margaret resented Blanche and vise versa from the beginning.[3]

Margaret, like her sisters, was noted for her beauty, she was said to be “pretty with dark hair and fine eyes”,[5] and in the early years of their marriage she and Louis enjoyed a warm relationship. Her Franciscan confessor, William de St. Pathus, related that on cold nights Margaret would place a robe around Louis’ shoulders, when her deeply religious husband rose to pray. Another anecdote recorded by St. Pathus related that Margaret felt that Louis’ plain clothing was unbecoming to his royal dignity, to which Louis replied that he would dress as she wished, if she dressed as he wished.

They enjoyed riding together, reading, and listening to music. The attentions of the king and court being drawn to the new queen only made Blanche more jealous, and she worked to keep the king and queen apart as much as possible.

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