Spunky little Anne of Brittany is an appealing character. Her tiny stature didn’t get in her way! Louis was first a family friend, then a subtle attraction that bloomed into deepest love. Together they were a ruling team to inspire their monarchy and France far into the future. They didn’t talk much about the term “Early Renaissance”, but they surely brought inspiration and innovation to their people.
Deep love doesn’t mean total submission! Anne’s independent spirit and awareness of her royal mission was often in conflict with the men who shared the throne with her.
Power Games from the Kings
Anne had little patience with both husbands’ desire to expand their power, especially into Italy.
First, Charles spent many months away from her warring for his ‘rights’ to rule. At the same time, he could indulge his wandering ways.
After Charles’ death, Louis was the next in line. He also wanted to rule over more territory in Italy, but his true love and loyalty was always to Anne. No other woman could entice this attractive man away from his first love. lthough older than Anne, the two had known of their attraction long before she became ruler of Brittany.
First marriages for both were difficult, but political. They were loyal to their spouses, but when the opportunity for them to be on the throne of France together, they worked as a magical, loving team.
Early Renaissance Brings Beauty to France
France bloomed artistically while they were ruling. Anne led the way for improvements to their castles and to churches. She commissioned memorials for Charles, for her children who died too soon and others.
While Louis was busy with other government, Anne made marriage arrangements for her ladies in waiting that would benefit France and the ladies. She had an extensive training school for young women who were selected to serve her at court. The ladies were well prepared to become rulers in their own right.
I really liked the way Anne promoted ladies in waiting for their benefit, but also their hearts. She understood the gains from a love match.
An Heir and A Spare
Deep heartbreak about children for both Anne and Louis saddened me for both of them. They buried several children, both boys and girls. Miscarriages in early pregnancy were part of their grief. Two little girls were the hope for their reign to stay strong in France and in Europe.
Anne’s deep attachment to Brittany. Inherited power over that country was important to her. If there was any serious difference between her and Louis it was over the future of Brittany. Both Anne and Louis connived royal matches for their daughter, Claude, seeking to benefit two endings.
In Anne and Louis’s relationship, as in all of these medieval situations, the pressure on a wife to produce an heir and then hopefully, a spare, shocks me EVERY time! Anne died at age 36, having been pregnant 14 times during her marriages. Too daughters survived to adulthood. These pressures on monarchs are no lighter today than they were in the early renaissance times of Anne of Brittany and Louis XII
Political Maneuvering for More Power
Louis wanted their daughter to marry distant relative, Francis d’Angoulême. Anne and Louis had no surviving sons, putting Francis in place to be heir to the throne of France.
Anne wanted Claude to marry outside of France’s royal lines because she feared France would succeed in absorbing Brittany.
An Author Who Channels Her Characters Wonderfully
Author, Rosza Gaston has three books in this series. The first, Anne and Charles, Passion and Politics in Late Medieval France covers Anne’s rise to ruler in Brittany, following her father’s death, Her first marriage agreement with Charles VIII of France, made her Queen of France but she kept her hold on her inheritance, Brittany. The second, Anne and Louis, Passion and Politics in Early Renaissance France , features the love match along with their hopes for France. It is more romantic than this third book, Anne and Louis, Rulers and Lovers in Early Renaissance France. The titles for books two and three are expressive! First Passion and Politics featuring their romance, then Rulers and Lovers featuring their ideals for France’s place in the world. The last one is my favorite, looking at Anne and Louis from some different points of view. However, I declare the me ‘keepers all three!’