Marie of France, Countess of Champagne
|Marie of France|
Seal of Marie of France
|Countess consort of Champagne|
|Tenure||1164 – 17 March 1181|
Kingdom of France
|Died||March 11, 1198 (aged 52-53)|
County of Champagne
|Spouse||Henry I, Count of Champagne|
|Issue||Henry II, Count of Champagne|
Marie, Latin Empress
Theobald III, Count of Champagne
Scholastique, Countess of Mâcon
|Father||Louis VII of France|
|Mother||Eleanor of Aquitaine|
Marie of France (1145 – March 11, 1198) was a French princess and Countess consort of Champagne. She was regent of the county of Champagne in 1179-1181, and in 1190-1197.
She was the elder daughter of King Louis VII of France and Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine. Her parents' marriage was annulled in 1152, and custody of Marie and her sister, Alix, was awarded to their father. Both Louis and Eleanor remarried quickly, with Eleanor becoming Queen of England as the spouse of King Henry II. Marie had numerous half-siblings, including kings Philip II of France and John and Richard I of England.
In 1160, when Louis married Adele of Champagne, he betrothed Marie and Alix to Adele's brothers. After her betrothal, Marie was sent to the abbey of Avenay in Champagne for her education. In 1164, Marie married Henry I, Count of Champagne. They had four children:
- Henry II of Champagne (1166–1197)
- Scholastique of Champagne (1172–1219), married William IV of Macon
- Marie of Champagne (c. 1174–1204), married Baldwin I of Constantinople
- Theobald III of Champagne (1179–1201)
Marie was left as regent for Champagne when Henry I went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land from 1179 until 1181. While her husband was away, Marie's father died and her half-brother, Philip, became king. He confiscated his mother's dower lands and married Isabelle of Hainaut, who was previously betrothed to Marie's eldest son. This prompted Marie to join a party of disgruntled nobles—including Queen Adele and the archbishop of Reims—in plotting against Philip. Eventually, relations between Marie and her royal brother improved. Her husband died soon after his return from the Holy Land.
Now a widow with four young children, Marie considered marrying Philip of Flanders, but the engagement was broken off suddenly for unknown reasons. Marie resumed regency when her son also went on Crusade, governing Champagne from 1190 to Henry's death in 1197.
Death and legacy
Marie retired to the nunnery of Châuteau de Fontaines-les-Nonnes near Meaux, and died there in 1198. She was buried in Meaux Cathedral.
On 25 June 1562, the Huguenots took over the town of Meaux and devastated many edifices, including the Cathedral. Backed up by Parisian refugees, the Huguenots of the Meaux region called a meeting in the market district and chose a leader, Louis de Meaux, seigneur de la Ramée. They took the keys to the town, put guards at the gates, and then made for the Cathedral. They attacked the sculpted stone decorations and liturgical furniture; it was on this occasion that the tomb of Marie de Champagne, in the choir, was destroyed.
Marie was also a patron of literature, including Andreas Capellanus, who served in her court, and Chrétien de Troyes. She was literate in French and Latin, and maintained her own library. A deep affection existed between Marie and her half-brother King Richard, and his celebrated poem J'a nuns hons pris, lamenting his captivity in Austria, was dedicated to her.
|Ancestors of Marie of France, Countess of Champagne|
- Wheeler, Bonnie. Eleanor of Aquitaine: Lord and Lady, 2002
- Evergates, Theodore. Aristocratic Women in Medieval France, 1999