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Memoirs of Marguerite de Valois   By: (1553-1615)

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Written by Herself

Being Historic Memoirs of the Courts of France and Navarre


Marguerite de Valois Etching by Mercier

Bussi d' Amboise Painting in the Versailles Gallery

Duc de Guise Painting in the Versailles Gallery

Catherine de' Medici Original Etching by Mercier

Henri VI. and La Fosseuse Painting by A. P. E. Morton

A Scene at Henri's Court Original Photogravure


The first volume of the Court Memoir Series will, it is confidently anticipated, prove to be of great interest. These Letters first appeared in French, in 1628, just thirteen years after the death of their witty and beautiful authoress, who, whether as the wife for many years of the great Henri of France, or on account of her own charms and accomplishments, has always been the subject of romantic interest.

The letters contain many particulars of her life, together with many anecdotes hitherto unknown or forgotten, told with a saucy vivacity which is charming, and an air vividly recalling the sprightly, arch demeanour, and black, sparkling eyes of the fair Queen of Navarre. She died in 1615, aged sixty three.

These letters contain the secret history of the Court of France during the seventeen eventful years 1565 82.

The events of the seventeen years referred to are of surpassing interest, including, as they do, the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, the formation of the League, the Peace of Sens, and an account of the religious struggles which agitated that period. They, besides, afford an instructive insight into royal life at the close of the sixteenth century, the modes of travelling then in vogue, the manners and customs of the time, and a picturesque account of the city of Liege and its sovereign bishop.

As has been already stated, these Memoirs first appeared in French in 1628. They were, thirty years later, printed in London in English, and were again there translated and published in 1813.


The Memoirs, of which a new translation is now presented to the public, are the undoubted composition of the celebrated princess whose name they bear, the contemporary of our Queen Elizabeth; of equal abilities with her, but of far unequal fortunes. Both Elizabeth and Marguerite had been bred in the school of adversity; both profited by it, but Elizabeth had the fullest opportunity of displaying her acquirements in it. Queen Elizabeth met with trials and difficulties in the early part of her life, and closed a long and successful reign in the happy possession of the good will and love of her subjects. Queen Marguerite, during her whole life, experienced little else besides mortification and disappointment; she was suspected and hated by both Protestants and Catholics, with the latter of whom, though, she invariably joined in communion, yet was she not in the least inclined to persecute or injure the former. Elizabeth amused herself with a number of suitors, but never submitted to the yoke of matrimony. Marguerite, in compliance with the injunctions of the Queen her mother, and King Charles her brother, married Henri, King of Navarre, afterwards Henri IV. of France, for whom she had no inclination; and this union being followed by a mutual indifference and dislike, she readily consented to dissolve it; soon after which event she saw a princess, more fruitful but less prudent, share the throne of her ancestors, of whom she was the only representative. Elizabeth was polluted with the blood of her cousin, the Queen of Scots, widow of Marguerite's eldest brother. Marguerite saved many Huguenots from the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day, and, according to Brantome, the life of the King, her husband, whose name was on the list of the proscribed. To close this parallel, Elizabeth began early to govern a kingdom, which she ruled through the course of her long life with severity, yet gloriously, and with success... Continue reading book >>

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