Agnes of France (a1265-1325)

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Entry by Anne-Hélène Allirot, 2004

Agnes of France, youngest daughter of King Louis IX (Saint Louis) and Marguerite of Provence, born around 1265, married Robert II, Duke of Burgundy in 1279. She had nine children: Jean, Hugues (future Duke of Burgundy), Eudes (his successor), Louis of Burgundy (King of Thessalonica, Prince of Achaia and Moree), Robert (count of Tonnerre), Blanche (wife of Edouard, count of Savoy), Marguerite (wife of King Louis X of France), Jeanne (wife of Philip VI of Valois) and Marie of Burgundy (married to Edouard, count of Bar). At the death of her husband in 1306, Agnes became regent of the duchy and was given control of her children. The heir, the future Hugues V, was only twelve years old. The duchess then negotiated the best possible matches for her daughters' marriages: in particular, she arranged the marriage of Marguerite to the oldest son of Philip the Fair, and in 1313 the union of Jeanne and Philip, the nephew of the King of France (the future Philip VI). During her regency, Agnes very strictly applied the royal edict concerning the assets of Jews, which she had seized and inventoried, whereas her husband Robert had refused to carry out the order. In his will, her son, Duke Hughes V, promised to return some of these possessions.

The duchess also negotiated tooth and nail with her son to ensure that she would receive half of the acquisitions that her husband had made during their marriage, as well as her dower in its entirety. She insisted on recuperating both the ten thousand livres from her dowry and the income generated from her dower. In 1315, Eudes IV succeeded his brother at the head of the duchy, but Agnes continued to participate actively in political decision-making, especially regarding the issue of the succession of the king of France. The Dowager of Burgundy, the last of Saint Louis' surviving children, then tried to use all her influence in support of her granddaughter, Jeanne of France, Marguerite's daughter, who in 1314 had been imprisoned with her cousins following the "scandal of Philip the Fair's daughters-in law". When Louis X ("the Quarrelsome") died in 1316, Agnes demanded the guardianship of her granddaughter, who had lost both her parents and was heiress to the French throne. However, several months later her uncle, Philip of Poitiers (Philip V, known as the Tall) seized power. Before giving in, Agnes tried to rally the nobility of Champagne, then actively supported the compromise which was reached: the attribution of Navarre to Jeanne, in compensation for the renouncement of her right to the French throne. Agnes even initially profited from the transformation of the county of Angoulême into a duchy-peerage for her grand-daughter's benefit, a first in the history of that institution.

Agnes seems to have attached great importance to the memory of her father, Louis IX: she owned his Psalter, which she then passed down to her daughter Jeanne. She founded the chapel of Saint-Louis in the Sainte-Chapelle in Dijon and had a mass performed there every year. Agnes died on 19 December 1325, and was buried next to her husband in Cîteaux.

First chroniclers and then historians, especially Paul Lehugeur in his writings on the reign of Philip V, have emphasized Agnes' intervention in favour of Jeanne of France, rather than the role she played as regent of the duchy of Burgundy.

(translated by Michelle Sommers)

Select bibliography

- Lehugeur, Paul, Histoire de Philippe le Long, roi de France (1316-1322), Paris, Hachette, 1897.

- Petit, Ernest, Comptes de Volnay en 1316 pour la duchesse douairière de Bourgogne Agnès de France, fille de saint Louis, Paris, Imprimerie nationale, 1902, (extrait du Bulletin historique et philologique, 1901)

- Petit, Ernest, Histoire des ducs de Bourgogne de la race capétienne, VI-VII, Paris, Lechevalier, 1885-1905.

- Plancher (Dom), Histoire générale et particulière de Bourgogne, II, Dijon, imp. de A. de Fay, 1761.

- Viollet, Paul, Comment les femmes ont été exclues en France de la succession à la couronne, Paris, Klincksieck, 1893 [Extrait des Mémoires de l'Académie des sciences, inscriptions et belles lettres, 34, 1894, p.125-178].

Catégorie:Historical figuresCatégorie:Siefar dictionary

Agnes of France (a1265-1325)
Spouses Robert II, Duke of Burgundy
Birth date around 1265
Death 1325
Biographical entries in old dictionaries
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