Monday, October 17, 2011


ANNE DE BRETAGNE  1476-1514 Duchess of Brittany, Queen of France
Anne  had always been prepared to become Duchess. When she was about 12  her father died and she became ruler of Brittany, a major player in European politics. Marriage to King Charles VIII of France seemed a solution to its battles and financial woes. Left a widow at 21, she married his successor, Louis XII. As Queen, her most critical role was to give birth to a dauphin. Despite nine pregnancies, she failed, yet lived a rich and productive life, helping to lead France into the Renaissance, fostering the arts, knowledge, and religion. Her court was a center for European politics . 

Cardinal Georges d’Amboise  1460-1510.  Friend and advisor to Louis XII,  his role was supportive, political and diplomatic, as well as religious. 

ANNE DE BEAUJEU, 1460-1522 Duchess of Bourbon, also known as Anne of France.  Sister of Charles VIII and Regent until he was old enough to assume the throne, then reluctant to relinquish power.  Frequent rival of Anne.

Jacques de Beaune, 1445-1527 Merchant whose power and importance grew as he  became Treasurer-General to Queen Anne and eventually chief Financial Officer for François I.

Anne Boleyn. 1502-1536 Lady-in-waiting to Mary Tudor and Queen Claude until she returned to England and court of  Henry VIII. 

CHARLES VIII, 1470-1498 King of France, Anne’s husband. Frequently at war, first with Brittany, then in Italy, in attempt to gain crowns of Naples and Milan. Died at 28, childless, after hitting his head on his way to watch a tennis match.

CLAUDE, 1499-1524 Daughter of Anne and Louis XII.  Queen of France and Duchess of Brittany. Often a political pawn. Married to François d’Angoulême who inherited the crown of France when Louis died, so she became Queen and achieved the goal her mother did not: her many pregnancies produced  a successor,  King Henri II, and she was grandmother of  three kings. 

Michel Colomb, 1430-1513 Master sculptor of Tours. He designed and supervised the tomb of Anne’s parents and was a major influence on other French artists.

Madame Francoise  de Dinan. 1436-1499 Governess, then Councilor to Anne who later joined a plot against her.

FRANÇOIS II, 1435-1488 Duke of Brittany.  Anne's father and last Duke.

Henry VIII.  1491-1547 King of England. Brother of Mary Tudor

LOUIS XII,  1462-1515 King of France. Ascended to throne and married Anne after Charles VIII died. Known as “father of his people,’ he did a  great deal to help his country but his invasions of Italy to  claim  other thrones were failures.  From his sojourns in Italy he learned to appreciate its arts and letters, and brought  home libraries, craftsmen, and artists, including Leonardo da Vinci.

Louise de Savoie 1477-1531  Mother of François I and Marguerite d’Angoulême. After the death of her husband she often lived in the court of Louis XII  and groomed her son to be king. An educated, smart, and sometimes devious woman, she was jealous of Anne in many ways, but felt superior because she had a son who would and could become king.

Niccolo di Bernardo dei Machiavelli   1469-1527 Italian writer, political scientist, philosopher, statesman, diplomat who met with Louis XII several times in attempts to improve relations between  Italy and France.

MARGUERITE D’ ANGOULÊME (de Navarre) 1492-1549   Daughter of Louise de Savoie, Sister of François I. Married  Charles d’Alençon and  Henry de Navarre. Like her mother, for many years she lived to support her brother’s position. A brilliant woman and writer, as she matured she was involved in politics and religion, and highly respected.

Marguerite of Austria. 1480- 1530 Daughter of Maximilian. Lived in  French court  as a child, since her betrothal  at the age of two to Charles VIII. When he decided to marry Anne of Brittany, she was sent back to Austria.  Maximilian, attempting to ally with Spain, arranged with Ferdinand and Isabella for Marguerite to marry their son John and for his son Philip to marry their daughter Juana.

MARGUERITE DE FOIX, 1453-1486.  Second wife of  François II, mother of Anne and Isabeau.

MARY TUDOR. 1494-1558. Sister of  Henry VIII. Third wife of Louis XII.

Maximillian of Austria. 1459-1519. King of Germany, King of the Romans, Archduke of Austria, Holy Roman Emperor. Married by Proxy to Anne 1490. Father of Marguerite of Austria. 

Jean Meschinot, Household poet and Master of the Court

Maréchal Philippe de Montauban.  1455-1513 Councilor to Duke of Brittany and then his daughter Anne’s closest advisor.

Ofelia Devora Amador-Espinosa. Medical advisor to Anne. Forced to leave Spain after her physician father , a “New Christian,” was killed in the Inquisition.

François de Paule. 1416-1507. Hermit-Priest and Holy Man thought to have great powers.

RENÉE, Daughter of Anne and Louis XII. 1510-1575 

LOUIS XI, King of France. 1423-1483. Father of Charles VIII, Anne de Beaujeu and Jeanne Valois.  Known as “the  Spider King” as much for his webs of intrigue as for his physical appearance.

JEANNE DE VALOIS. 1465-1505  Daughter of Louis XI, sister of Charles VIII and Anne de Beaujeu. First wife of Louis XII.

Etienne de Vesc.  1445-1501  As a member of the court of Louis XI, he was and remained a strong influence on Charles VIII and encouraged him to invade Italy.

Leonardo da Vinci. Artist, 1452-1519 resident at court of François I, where he died.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pursuit…curiosity….and writing
came together when I was in the beautiful city of Nantes, which has many reminders of  Anne and her family. I spent a fascinating hour pursuing another of my interests—graphic arts—at the Musée de l’imprimerie—the Museum of Printing.
I admired a print being made on an old lithography press, and then found it among the graphics offered for sale. I knew enough French to relate the text to pursuit and writing; and thought the piece was beautiful, so bought it.

The text says:  “Tant et tant d’or j’ai dépensé pour l’écriture enfin trouver”

Once home, with my French dictionary at hand, I set to a precise translation, which eluded me. I have now asked for help from people I know who are fluent in French, who are themselves immersed in literature and the arts. I’ve gotten some literal translations, which fall short; and some more complex interpretations, which are probably closer. Michelle, a very cultured Parisian who knows several languages, identified the calligraphy as Arabic and tried to translate it, but could not be precise. Brigitte, a Swiss-born academic, thinks it may be old French. Annette, who is immersed in literature and the arts, but whose French is not great, gave it a metaphorical interpretation, which I really like, that “ all the gold and worldly goods are an empty pursuit next to the art or beauty in the design itself.”
She’s a very perceptive old friend, who knows me, and added that she saw I was pursuing another journey to satisfy my curiosity. She is right, and I will add that my pursuit of curiosity has been noted and appreciated by many of my blog followers and friends.
I received a response from the president of the museum in Nantes, who said that the Arabic calligraphy is by a Tunisian-born artist who lives in Nantes, named Lassaâd Metoui, whom he will ask about the meaning.
Anyone else have any ideas?