The Pearl of Princesses

The Pearl of Princesses: The Life of Marguerite of Angoulème, Queen of Navarre

by Noel Williams

Marguerite, perhaps best known now as the author of the Heptameron, was the eldest child of Louise of Savoy and Charles, Count of Angoulême. She was as clever as her mother but compassionate and generous where Louise was arrogant and greedy. She encouraged writers and intellectuals and spiritual free-thinkers at her court, and often had to defend them from attacks by the established church. At times she was even threatened herself with charges of heresy. But no attack on Marguerite was ever likely to succeed when her brother François, an unlikely heir-apparent from the age of three, became King of France.

From his birth, François was the lifelong focus of adoration for both his mother and his sister, their lives so inter-twined that this book is effectually a biography of each of the three.

François was the father of Henri II of France, and Marguerite was the mother of Jeanne d'Albret, Queen of Navarre, whose son Henri succeeded to the throne of France (as Henri IV) after the last of Henri II's sons had died.

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