Marie of France, Countess of Champagne

Eleanor Aquitaine's Daughter

About Marie of France

Known for: French princess whose birth was a disappointment to parents who wanted a son to inherit the French throne

Occupation: French royal princess, Countess of Champagne, regent for her husband and then for her son

Dates: 1145 - March 11, 1198

Also known as: Marie Capet; Marie de France; Marie, Countess of Champagne

Sometimes confused with Marie de France, Mary of France, a medieval poet of England in the 12th century whose Lais of Marie de France survive along with a translation of Aesop's Fables into the English of the time -- and perhaps others works.

Background, Family:

Marriage, Children:

  • husband: Henry I, Count of Champagne (married 1164)
  • children:
    • Scholastique of Champagne, married to William V of Macon
    • Henry II of Champagne, 1166-1197
    • Marie of Champagne, married to Baldwin I of Constantinople
    • Theobald III of Champagne, 1179-1201

More About Marie of France:

Marie was born to Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII of France. That marriage was already shaky when Eleanor gave birth to a second daughter, Alix, in 1151, and the pair realixed that they were not likely to have a son.

Salic Law was interpreted to mean that a daughter or daughter's husband could not inherit the crown of France. Eleanor and Louis had their marriage annulled in 1152, Eleanor left first for Aquitaine and then married the heir to England's crown, Henry Fitzempress. Alix and Marie were left in France with their father and, later, stepmothers.

Marriage

In 1160, when Louis married his third wife, Adèle of Champagne, Louis betrothed Alix and Marie to brothers of his new wife. Marie and Henry, Count of Champagne, were married in 1164.

Henry went to fight in the Holy Land, leaving Marie as his regent. While Henry was away, Marie's half-brother, Philip, succeeded their father as king, and seized the dower lands of his mother, Adèle of Champagne, who was also Marie's sister-iin-law. Marie and others joined Adèle in opposing Philip's action; by the time Henry returned from the Holy Land, Marie and Philip had settled their conflict.

Widowhood

When Henry died in 1181, Marie served as regent for their son, Henry II, until 1187. When Henry II went to the Holy Land to fight in a crusade, Marie again served as regent. Henry died in 1197, and Marie's younger son succeeded him. Marie entered a convent and died in 1198.

Courts of Love

Marie may have been a patron of André le Chapelain (Andreas Capellanus), author of one of the works on courtly love, as a chaplain who served Marie was named Andreas (and Chapelain or Capellanus means "chaplain"). In the book, he attributes judgments to Marie and to her mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, among others.

Some sources accept the claim that the book, De Amore and known in English as The Art of Courtly Love, was written at the request of Marie. There is no solid historical evidence that Marie of France -- with or without her mother -- presided at courts of love in France, though some writers have made that claim.

 

More women's history biographies, by name:

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P/Q | R | S | T | U/V | W | X/Y/Z