Jeanne III of Navarre: Wikis


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Jeanne III
Jeanne III of Navarre, painted by François Clouet, 1570.
Queen of Navarre
Reign 25 May 1555 – 9 June 1572
Predecessor Henry II
Successor Henry III
Spouse Antoine de Bourbon
Henry III of Navarre (later King Henry IV of France)
Catherine, Duchess of Lorraine
House House of Albret
Father Henry II of Navarre
Mother Marguerite of Angoulême
Born 16 November 1528
Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Died 9 June 1572
Religion Huguenot

Jeanne III, also known as Joan III or Jeanne d'Albret (16 November 1528 – 9 June 1572), was Queen regnant of Navarre from 1555 to 1572. She was the wife of Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme, and mother of Henry of Bourbon, who became King of Navarra and also of France. She was the acknowledged spiritual and political leader of the French Huguenot movement.[1]


Early years

Jeanne was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France[2][3]at five o'clock in the afternoon on 16 November 1528,[4][5][6] the daughter of Henry II of Navarre and Marguerite of Angoulême, the sister of King Francis I of France. Jeanne grew up at the French court. She was a Huguenot, raised in the French Protestant Reformed faith. In her youth she had been a frivolous and high-spirited princess, but she had also, at an early age, displayed a tendency to be stubborn and unyielding.[7] In 1541, when Jeanne was twelve, her uncle King Francis I married her, against her will, to William "the Rich", Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, brother of Anne of Cleves, the fourth wife of Henry VIII of England. She had to be carried bodily to the altar by the Constable of France, Anne de Montmorency.[7][8] This political marriage was annulled four years later due to unconsummation.

After the death of Francis in 1547, and the accession of King Henry II, Jeanne was married to Antoine de Bourbon, "first prince of the blood", who would become heir to the French throne in the event that the Valois' produced no male heirs. Her marriage to Antoine was a romantic match, despite the fact that he was a notorious philanderer whose frequent absences left Jeanne in complete charge of the household which she managed with a firm and resolute hand. They had five children; only two of whom, Henry, king of France from 1589 to 1610 and king of Navarre from 1572 to 1610, and Catherine, lived to adulthood.

On 25 May 1555, Henry II of Navarre died, and Jeanne and her husband became joint rulers of Navarre until 1562, but on becoming a widow of the Navarre King Consort Antoine de Bourbon, she kept on ruling as a sole Queen regnant until 1572.

Queen of Navarre

In the first year of her reign, Queen regnant Jeanne III called a conference of beleaguered Huguenot ministers. She went on to declare Calvinism the official religion of her kingdom after publicly embracing the teachings of Calvin on Christmas Day 1560. Following the imposition of Calvinism, priests and nuns were duly banished, Catholic churches destroyed, and Catholic ritual prohibited.[9] She commissioned the translation of the New Testament into Basque and Béarnese for the benefit of her subjects.

She was described as "small of stature, frail but erect". Her face was narrow, her light- coloured eyes cold, unmoving, and her lips thin. She was highly intelligent, but austere and self-righteous. Her speech was sharply sarcastic and vehement. Agrippa d' Aubigne, the Huguenot chronicler described Jeanne as having "a mind powerful enough to guide the highest affairs".[9]

French Wars of Religion

The power struggle between Catholics and Huguenots for control of the French court and France as a whole led to the outbreak of the French Wars of Religion in 1562. Antoine de Bourbon chose to support the Catholics, but was mortally wounded at the siege of Rouen. Jeanne's son Henry now became "first prince of the blood."

Jeanne's position in the conflicts remained neutral until 1568, when she actively supported the Huguenot cause and sought refuge in the city of La Rochelle[10]. She took a leading role in negotiating the peace settlement which ended this war, and in 1570 a marriage of convenience was arranged between her son Henry and King Charles IX's sister Marguerite. On 9 June 1572, two months before the wedding was due to take place, Jeanne died, unexpectedly, in Paris. A popular rumour which circulated shortly afterward, contended that Jeanne had been poisoned by the regent Catherine de' Medici, the mother of her son's prospective bride who allegedly sent her a pair of perfumed gloves, skillfully poisoned by her profumer, René Bianco, a fellow Florentine. This fanciful chain of events also appears in the Romantic writer Alexandre Dumas's 1845 novel La Reine Margot. An autopsy, however, proved that Jeanne died of natural causes.[11]


Statue of Jeanne III in Jardin du Luxembourg.

by birth

  • Queen of Navarre (1555–1572)
  • Duchess of Albret (1555–1572)
  • Countess of Limoges (1555–1572)
  • Countess of Foix (1555–1572)
  • Countess of Armagnac (1555–1572)
  • Countess of Bigorre (1555–1572)
  • Countess of Périgord (1555–1572)

by marriage

  • Duchess of Jülich-Cleves-Berg (1541–1545)
  • Duchess of Vendôme (1550–1562)
  • Duchess of Beaumont (1550–1562)
  • Countess of Marle (1548–1562)
  • Countess of La Fère (1548–1562)
  • Countess of Soissons (1550–1562)

Marriages and Issue

In 1541 Jeanne married William, Duke of Jülich-Berg-Ravensberg-Kleve-Mark, annulled in 1545, with no issue.

On 20 October 1548, she married Antoine de Bourbon and they had the following children:


Jeanne's ancestors in three generations

Alain I of Albret
John III of Navarre
Françoise of Châtillon-Limoges
Henry II of Navarre
Gaston of Foix, Prince of Viana
Catherine I of Navarre
Magdalena of Valois
Jeanne III of Navarre
John, Count of Angoulême
Charles, Count of Angoulême
Marguerite de Rohan
Marguerite of Angoulême
Philip II, Duke of Savoy
Louise of Savoy
Margaret of Bourbon


  1. ^ Strage 1976, p. 148.
  2. ^ Nancy Lyman Roelker, 1968, p. 7
  3. ^ Pierre Babelon, Henri IV, 1982, p. 28
  4. ^ Roelker, p.7
  5. ^ Babelon, p.27
  6. ^ Francis Hackett, Francis the First, p.347
  7. ^ a b Strage 1976, p. 149.
  8. ^ Hackett 2007, p. 419.
  9. ^ a b Strage 1976, p. 150.
  10. ^ Departing on August 23 (Nancy Lyman Roelker, Queen of Navarre, Jeanne d'Albret: 1528-1572, (Cambridge Massachusetts, 1968) p297) and arriving on September 28 (Roelker, Queen of Navarre, p301)
  11. ^ Strage 1976, p. 155-6.


  • Babelon, Jean-Pierre (1982). Henri IV. Paris: Fayard. ISBN 2213012016. 
  • Hackett, Francis (2007). Francis the First. City: Burman Press. ISBN 1406706825. 
  • Roelker, Nancy Lyman (1968). Queen of Navarre, Jeanne d'Albret: 1528-1572. Cambridge Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674741501. 
  • Strage, Mark (1976). Women of Power. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. ISBN 0151983704. 
Jeanne III of Navarre
Born: 7 January 1528 Died: 9 June 1572
Preceded by
Henry II
Queen of Navarre
25 May 1555 – 9 June 1572
with Antoine
Succeeded by
Henry III
Countess of Foix
25 May 1555 – 9 June 1572


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