Anne de Bretagne

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Anne de Bretagne, detail from a painting by Jean Bourdichon

Anne de Bretagne , also Anne / Anna von (der) Bretagne ( Breton Anna Breizh ; born January 25, 1477 in Nantes , † January 9, 1514 in Blois ), was Duchess of Brittany between 1489 and 1491 and from 1498 until her death . Through their marriages, she was also Archduchess of Austria (1490–1491), Queen of France (1491–1498), Queen of Sicily and Jerusalem and again Queen of France (1499–1514) and Duchess of Milan . She became known among other things for her interest in the arts she sponsored.


Anne receives a book from Antoine Dufour . Miniature, which is ascribed to the painter Jean Bourdichon , was made around 1508. “Musée Dobrée”, Nantes .

Childhood and youth

Anne was the eldest daughter of Duke Francis II of Brittany (1435-1488) and his second wife Margaret of Foix , Princess of Navarre (1449-1486).

Anne's upbringing and education was placed in the care of Françoise de Dinan, who came from one of the oldest and most distinguished families (House Dinan-Rohan) in Brittany. Under her supervision, Anne was taught Latin, Greek, French, Breton and Hebrew.

Since Brittany, as an independent duchy, needed allies against France, early negotiations were made with England about a marriage between Anne and the eldest son of the English King Edward IV , Edward V. As early as 1471, his father named Edward V Prince of Wales, the English Heir to the throne, and had this decision recognized by Parliament. De jure, the young prince was given full power over England when his father set out on a campaign to France in 1475.

On April 9, 1483 Edward IV died surprisingly after a short illness. Previously, Edward IV had the guardianship of the heir to the throne and his younger brother Richard of Shrewsbury his own brother, the future King Richard III. , together with the reign for his then 12-year-old son Eduard V. In the course of 1483, Eduard and his brother were arrested in the Tower . There were no witnesses who saw the two boys after 1483, so it is widely believed that they died that year.

When the French King Louis XI. Died in 1483, the court of the Duke of Brittany once again became the rendezvous for the disaffected French nobles, Duke Louis of Orléans , Count Dunois and others who tried to save feudalism from oppression by royal power. Due to the defeat in the Battle of St. Aubin on July 28, 1488 (→ Guerre folle ), Brittany lost the independence it had previously claimed. In the Treaty of Sablé on August 20, 1488, Francis II had to renounce all ties with the enemies of the French king and promised not to marry his daughters without the consent of the French king. Shortly afterwards, on September 9, 1488, Franz II died.

When she was twelve, Anne became Duchess of Brittany. Marshal de Rieux , her governess Madame de Dinan-Laval and a half-brother of Francis II, Alain d'Albret, took over the reign of the minor Anne . On February 10, 1489, Anne was enthroned as Duchess of Brittany in the Cathedral of Rennes . On July 22nd, 1489, she was officially recognized by King Charles VIII and Maximilian I as the legitimate ruler of Brittany.

Marriage to Maximilian I.

Deputy Polheim climbed into the wedding bed in full armor to touch Anna with his bare knee.
(Illustration from La Lecture Journal des Romans N ° 83 , 1857)

In December 1490 joined the then Roman-German king and later Emperor Maximilian I , a 31-year-old widower, with a nearly 14-year-old orphan marriage per procurationem . On December 19, 1490, the wedding took place in Rennes Cathedral .

On behalf of Maximilian, Wolfgang Freiherr von Polheim stood at Anne's side. Since the consent of the French king to the marriage had not been obtained, as stipulated in the Treaty of Sablé , Charles VIII officially protested against the marriage. On March 20, 1491, French troops marched into Nantes . Anne and her court also lived under house arrest in Rennes, as France controlled all trade routes in and out of Brittany.

Since Anne's marriage to Maximilian had never been consummated and her husband sent her neither money nor troops to defend himself against the overwhelming power from France, Anne agreed to a meeting with Charles VIII to negotiate her marriage to Maximilian. Just three days after the meeting between Anne and Charles VIII, on November 19, 1491, their secret engagement took place in Rennes Cathedral. On November 23, shortly before the departure of Anne and her court to the place of the wedding with Charles VIII in Langeais , Polheim was given a letter informing Maximilian I that Anne would marry the French king on December 6, 1491 and invite him to the wedding as King of Rome .

Marriage to Charles VIII.

Marriage to Charles VIII of France in Langeais Castle on December 6, 1491.

The situation for Maximilian was now doubly precarious. In May 1483, Charles VIII had already married Maximilian's three-year-old daughter Margaret of Austria from his marriage to Maria von Burgundy . As a result of the marriage between Charles VIII and Anne de Bretagne, Maximilian lost his wife to his own son-in-law and the husband for his daughter. Although Maximilian protested against the marriage of the French king and there was also no papal dispensation that dissolved both marriages previously entered into, the marriage between Anne and Charles VIII took place.

With this wedding, Anne became Queen of France and Brittany lost its independence. In the marriage contract, the succession, under which conditions Brittany would forever become part of France, was regulated. Should Charles VIII die before Anne, Brittany would revert to Anne. A remarriage of Anne would only come into question with the new King of France if he would consent to a relationship with her. If Anne died, Brittany would lose its independence forever. With this step into the dependence of France Anne wanted to avoid feared unrest and bloody disputes of the Breton aristocrats for her country, which was largely isolated and could not find a European ally.

On February 8, 1492, Anne was crowned Queen of France in the Cathedral of St. Denis . The Archbishop of Bordeaux performed the coronation ritual. Shortly after the coronation, the court moved to Paris , where Anne first met Margaret of Austria , the former child bride of her new husband. It was not until June 13, 1493, that Margarete went back to her father, who married her in 1497 to the Infante of Spain.

Anne's first child, the Dauphin of France, was born on October 10, 1492. For reasons of admiration for Charlemagne , Charles VIII wanted to name his firstborn after Charlemagne's favorite nephew Roland . A compromise was agreed and, according to the tradition of the French kings, the heir to the throne was named Karl-Orland. Just three years later - it is still uncertain whether on December 6 or 16, 1495 - little Dauphin died. The son, born on September 8, 1496, also died after just one month. The graves of all six children of Anne and Charles VIII who died prematurely can be seen in a separate chapel in Tours Cathedral .

Only 27 years old, Charles VIII died on April 7, 1498 in an accident at Amboise Castle . During a party, he banged his head on a lintel so badly that he died of a cerebral haemorrhage. Ludwig von Orléans , as the cousin of the deceased and his successor according to the rule of inheritance, was now called Louis XII. King of France.

According to tradition, Anne locked herself in her chambers at Amboise Castle for forty days to mourn.

Marriage to Louis XII. from Orleans

After his coronation as French king on May 27, 1498 in Reims , Louis XII. also proclaimed King of Sicily , Apulia , Calabria and Naples , King of Jerusalem and Duke of Milan . Ludwig had been married to Joan of France since September 8, 1476 . Since the marriage was childless, Ludwig began his first talks with Pope Alexander VI shortly after the death of his cousin . to initiate an annulment of his marriage in order to be able to marry his cousin's widow.

On August 10, 1498, Pope Alexander VI called. a commission of a cardinal and two bishops to annul the marriage between Joan of France and Louis XII. should consider. The papal commission, consisting of Fernando de Almeida o Coutinho (1493–1499), Louis d'Amboise and Philip of Luxembourg , traveled to France and personally invited Johanna to examine her husband's concern. Ludwig swore before the commission that he had never consummated the marriage and that he had been forced to marry by his father. Johanna refused an examination of her intactness and finally complied with the decision of the commission or her husband's wishes. She received the Duchy of Berry as a severance payment with the associated title of Duchess.

Grave of Louis XII. and Anne de Bretagne in the cathedral of Saint-Denis

In return for the divorce, Alexander VI demanded . the marriage of his son Cesare Borgia to a French princess. It was also Cesare who, as the former cardinal and son of the Pope, brought the papal bull to France and thus officially made the new marriage to Anne possible. In France he married Charlotte d'Albret, daughter of the Duke of Guyenne and sister of the King of Navarre .

The new marriage contract between Anne and Ludwig also reorganized Brittany's independence. In contrast to the Treaty of Langeais, Brittany was given back some freedoms. The succession of the dukes of Brittany was also reorganized. The first-born son of Anne and Ludwig would become Dauphin of France, while the second-born son would inherit Brittany. Should the marriage remain childless, Ludwig would rule Brittany as regent until his death. After his death, Brittany would fall to the descendants of Anne and continue to exist as an independent duchy. The couple were married on January 8, 1499 in the castle chapel of Nantes . Anne had only been a widow for nine months and Joan of France had been a widow of Louis XII for three weeks. divorced.

On October 13, 1499, Anne gave birth to a healthy girl who was baptized Claude . Claude married Francis of Angoulême, later King Francis I of France , in 1514 , and later became the mother of King Henry II . At the beginning of 1503 Anne was given birth to a son, whom she named Franz, who died shortly after her baptism. In the Cathedral of St. Denis, Anne was crowned Queen of France for the second time on November 18, 1504.

The marriage between Claude and Franz von Angoulême was at the beginning of 1505 by Louis XII. already established in the will. The official engagement between the children aged five and twelve took place on May 22, 1506 in the castle of Plessis-lès-Tours . On October 25, 1510, Anne gave birth to a healthy child in Blois. The girl was christened Renée . Renée later married the Duke of Ferrara, Ercole II. D'Este , a son of Lucrezia Borgia . In early 1512 Anne gave birth to another son who was not viable.

Last days and death

Gold relic: Anne's heart in the “Musée Dobrée” in Nantes

In the winter of 1513/14 Anne became seriously ill. According to Jurewitz-Freischmidt, she should have suffered from urine semolina . After a third colic, Anne could no longer hide her illness and from this time onwards she was constantly concerned with her successor. In her will she decreed that her heart should be buried in the crypt of Nantes Cathedral , near her parents' burial site. On January 9th, 1514 at 6 am Anne de Bretagne died in Blois .

It was not until February 4, 1514 that the funeral procession set out for Paris , where it arrived on February 12. Her body was buried in the tomb of the French kings, the cathedral of Saint-Denis , her heart in Nantes. When the royal tombs of Saint-Denis were sacked during the French Revolution , their grave was opened and looted on October 18, 1793, and their remains were buried in a mass grave outside the church.

Louis XII. died barely a year after his wife, on the night of December 31, 1514 to January 1, 1515, barely three months after the marriage to Maria Tudor, who was 37 years his junior .


Children from his marriage to Charles VIII (1470–1498) of France:

  • Charles Orland (October 10, 1492 - December 6, 1495),
  • François (* / † 1493),
  • a daughter (* / † 1495),
  • Charles (8 September 1496 - 2 October 1496),
  • François (* / † 1497),
  • Anne (* / † 1498).

Children from the marriage with Louis XII. (1462–1515) from France:

See also


Web links

Commons : Anne de Bretagne  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Manfred Hollegger: Maximilian I , Kohlhammer -Urban. Stuttgart, 2005, ISBN 3-17-015557-1 .
  2. Sylvia Jutrewitz-Freischmidt: The mistresses of the Loire castles . P. 92.
  3. The papal dispensation came more than a year later.
  4. ^ A b Sylvia Jurewitz-Freischmidt: The mistresses of the Loire castles . P. 119.
  5. Sylvia Jurewitz-Freischmidt: The mistresses of the Loire castles . P. 154 f.
  6. ^ A b Sylvia Jurewitz-Freischmidt: The mistresses of the Loire castles . P. 485.
predecessor Office successor
Francis II Duchess of Brittany 1488-1514
Blason region for Brittany.svg
Claudia of France
Charlotte of Savoy
Joan of France
Queen of France 1491–1498 1499–1514
COA french queen Anne de Bretagne.svg

Joan of France
Mary Tudor