Isabeau de Bavière
Élisabeth de Wittelsbach-Ingolstadt, dite Isabelle de Bavière, ou Isabeau de Bavière (1371 - 24 septembre 1435) est reine de France par son mariage avec Charles VI. Son règne coïncide avec l'essentiel de la guerre civile entre Armagnacs et Bourguignons.
Isabeau est la fille d’Étienne III de Wittelsbach, duc de Bavière-Ingolstadt et de Taddea Visconti, fille du duc de Milan.
Le duc Philippe II de Bourgogne, tuteur du roi mineur Charles VI et régent de France, se lance dans une politique d'alliances matrimoniales à travers toute l'Europe, afin de conforter sa propre puissance et renflouer le Trésor royal. En avril 1385, il marie son fils Jean à Marguerite de Bavière, fille d'Albert Ier de Hainaut, et négocie pour le compte du roi de France avec Étienne III, déjà allié au duc de Milan : Barnabé Visconti avait marié son fils Marco Visconti à Elisabeth, fille de Frédéric II de Bavière-Landshut, et sa fille Taddea Visconti à Étienne III.
Isabeau de Bavière est mariée le 17 juillet 1385, à Amiens, à l'âge de 14 ans avec Charles VI de France qui en a 16 et devient reine de France. Ils ont douze enfants. Louis d'Orléans, frère de Charles VI, épouse Valentine Visconti, cousine au deuxième degré de Taddea Visconti. Le mariage d’Isabeau de Bavière avec le roi Charles VI n'apporte rien au royaume de France et seul le duc Philippe II de Bourgogne tire bénéfice de ces arrangements matrimoniaux en visant le Hainaut.
On sait peu de choses de l'enfance d'Isabeau, le duc Étienne III semble avoir à cœur de contracter le mariage entre sa fille et le roi de France et pour réaliser ce projet élude les questions d'usage. Il se montre évasif tant sur la ville et l'année de naissance de sa fille, situant son âge entre 13 ou 14 ans au moment des pourparlers diplomatiques. Cependant, d'autres sources laissent à penser qu'Isabeau pourrait avoir 16 ans lorsqu'elle est demandée en mariage pour le compte du jeune roi de France.
Par ailleurs, le duc de Bavière refuse pour sa fille l'examen des matrones comme c'est l'usage en France, refusant l'humiliation d'un examen pré-nuptial à sa fille et le risque d'un renvoi en Bavière si d'aventure on lui trouve des défauts physiques1,2. La jeune fille est présentée à Charles VI qui la choisit immédiatement pour reine, selon Froissart.
Reine de France
Une fois le mariage décidé, Isabeau vient en France accompagnée de sa nourrice, d'une amie et de quelques suivants.
Le mariage d'Isabelle et Charles VI en 1385 débute sous d'heureux auspices. Une fête splendide est donnée dans la capitale à laquelle assistent de nombreux nobles étrangers. Isabelle conserve sa suite auprès d'elle. Confinée volontairement, elle n'apprend que tardivement le français et ne visite jamais les provinces. Soucieuse de se préserver, elle amasse des richesses et dote ses proches.
La guerre de Cent Ans bat son plein et le Grand Schisme déchire la chrétienté occidentale. Charles VI ayant sombré dans la démence, elle préside à partir de 1393 un Conseil de Régence, où siègent les Grands du Royaume. Isolée politiquement — le pouvoir est entre les mains des oncles du roi —, non préparée à assumer la régence d'un pays comme la France, parlant peu et mal la langue de ce pays, sans alliés à la cour, elle reste en contact avec sa famille proche en recevant notamment, en 1400, son père Étienne III puis son frère Louis VII de Bavière en 1402, qu'elle fait entrer à la Cour de France. Manipulée par ce dernier, elle pille le Trésor royal pour son compte.
Le contexte est particulièrement difficile : le pouvoir réel est partagé entre les ducs d'Orléans (Louis d'Orléans, chef du parti des Armagnacs) et de Bourgogne (Philippe le Hardi puis à la mort de ce dernier en 1404, Jean sans Peur). Pour sa part, elle ne semble pas à la hauteur de la dignité qui lui échoit, d'autres reines de France avant elle avaient su gérer des situations aussi périlleuses dans des contextes aussi difficiles : Anne de Kiev nommée régente pour le compte du futur Philippe Ier>, Blanche de Castille nommée régente pour le compte du futur Louis IX…
Malgré la médiation du duc Jean de Berry, la rivalité entre les deux partis s'accentue pour aboutir à une véritable guerre civile entre Armagnacs et Bourguignons. La jeune reine de 22 ans soutient dans un premier temps le parti bourguignon puis, se rapprochant de Louis d'Orléans (les Bourguignons la soupçonnent d'être sa maîtresse et donc le futur Charles VII d'être leur fils adultérin) à la mort du duc de Bourgogne, soutient le parti des Armagnacs. Jean sans Peur, se sentant évincé du pouvoir, menace Paris en 1405 et fait assassiner le duc d'Orléans en 1407. Il entraîne la révolte des Cabochiens pour prendre le pouvoir à Paris en 1413.
Le roi Henri V d'Angleterre, profitant de ces troubles, porte le fer en France : il remporte la bataille d'Azincourt en 1415, véritable désastre pour l'armée française, et s'empare de la Normandie.
Pourtant, consciente de représenter le pouvoir légitime, Isabeau , avec le dauphin Louis, échoue à unir les deux factions ennemies. Exilée à Tours par les Armagnacs, elle épouse la cause du duc de Bourgogne, qui la délivre. À la fin de l'année 1417, elle organise à Troyes un gouvernement étroitement contrôlé par les Bourguignons.
Jean sans Peur est assassiné lors d'une entrevue avec le dauphin Charles au pont de Montereau le 10 septembre 1419, par des hommes de mains des Armagnacs qui craignent un rapprochement du dauphin avec les vues politiques bourguignonnes.
Henri V s'alliant, par le traité de Troyes (1420), avec la reine Isabeau et le jeune duc de Bourgogne, Philippe III désireux venger le meurtre de son père, se fait reconnaître comme héritier du trône et régent, après avoir épousé Catherine, fille d'Isabeau et de Charles VI. Ce dernier conserve néanmoins le titre de roi de France. Son dernier fils vivant (le futur Charles VII) est renié dans le traité comme « soi-disant dauphin de Viennois », « en raison de ses crimes énormes ». Charles installe à Bourges un gouvernement armagnac et contrôle environ la moitié sud du royaume.
La reine Isabeau, après avoir tenté en vain de négocier avec Henri V sur des bases différentes de celles du duc de Bourgogne, se résigne donc à la solution de ce dernier, qui instaure le principe d'une double monarchie, franco-anglaise, au profit du roi d'Angleterre. En 1422, la mort d'Henri V puis celle de Charles VI rendent cette « double monarchie » difficile à mettre en place, le nouveau « roi de France et d'Angleterre », Henri VI (petit-fils d'Isabeau) n'ayant qu'un an.
Fin de vie
Isabeau, retirée dans l'hôtel Saint-Pol, meurt en 1435, à peine une semaine après la réconciliation entre Bourguignons et Armagnacs (traité d'Arras). Un chroniqueur a affirmé qu'elle aurait pleuré à l'annonce de cette nouvelle.
Son tombeau est situé dans la nécropole royale de la basilique de Saint-Denis (chapelle des Valois).
Isabeau meurt dans la plus stricte indifférence, abandonnée de tous. Les cérémonies funèbres se réduisent à leur plus simple expression. Son corps n'est pas amené à Saint-Denis en carrosse et par la rue Saint-Denis comme le veut l'usage pour les rois et les reines de France. Son cercueil est posé dans une barque qui navigue de nuit dans la plus grande discrétion de Paris à Saint-Denis en suivant les courbes de la Seine.
Conçue au xixe siècle, une thèse sans fondement historique prétend que le 12e enfant d'Isabeau de Bavière serait illégitime et qu'il s'agirait en fait de Jeanne d'Arc, fille d'Isabeau de Bavière et de Louis Ier, duc d'Orléans3. Cette thèse a été régulièrement démentie par tous les historiens spécialistes de Jeanne d'Arc depuis deux siècles4.
Notes et références
Isabeau de Bavière dans la littérature
|Précédé par||Isabeau de Bavière||Suivi par|
|Jeanne de Bourbon||Reine de France|
Wikipédia: Isabeau de Bavière (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabeau_de_Bavi%C3%A8re : accessed 16 Mar 2013)
Isabeau of Bavaria
Isabeau of Bavaria (also Elisabeth of Bavaria-Ingolstadt; c. 1370 – 24 September 1435) was Queen consort of France from 1385 until 1422, as wife of the Valois King Charles VI of France. Born into the old and prestigious House of Wittelsbach, she was the eldest daughter of Duke Stephen III of Bavaria-Ingolstadt and Taddea Visconti of Milan. At around age 15, Isabeau was sent to France, on "approval" to the young French king, who liked her enough to marry her three days later on 17 July 1385.
In 1389, she was honored by a lavish entry into Paris, where her coronation ceremony was held. A few years later, in 1392, Charles VI suffered the first incident of what would be a lifelong progressive mental illness. The king was advised to be distracted from the burden of government, and when the queen hosted a masque for a lady-in-waiting in 1393, it resulted in the disastrous event known as Bal des Ardents. During his periods of insanity the king persistently requested his wife be removed from his presence. However, he consistently gave her authority to act on behalf of the dauphin and himself during periods of illness, which garnered her a seat on the regency council.
In 1403 and 1404, growing factionalism and rivalry built because of the vacancy caused by Charles' illness that would eventually result in civil war between the royal dukes of Burgundy and the Armagnacs, supporters of Charles' brother, Louis of Orléans. Isabeau vacillated between the factions, picking a course she believed best for the heir to the throne; when she chose to follow the Armagnacs, the Burgundians accused her of adultery with Louis of Orléans. In 1407, John the Fearless assassinated Orléans and the queen began to lose political influence; when she chose to side with the Burgundians, the Armagnacs removed her from Paris and had her imprisoned.
For many centuries Queen Isabeau was described as a spendthrift, irresponsible adulteress, but in the late 20th century and early 21st century historians began to re-examine the extensive chronicles written during her lifetime and came to the conclusion that much of her reputation was unearned and was most likely the result of factional political propaganda written by contemporary chroniclers.
eage and marriage
Born in Munich, she was baptized Elisabeth at the Church of Our Lady. Her parents were Duke Stephen III of Bavaria-Ingolstadt and Taddea Visconti, whom he married for 100,000 ducat dowry. She belonged to the ancient and well-established Merovingian Wittelsbach family, descended from Charlemagne. Her great-grandfather was Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor. Bavaria at the time was the most powerful of the German states and the Wittelsbachs the wealthiest of the Bavarian families.
In 1383, Isabeau's uncle, Duke Frederick of Bavaria, suggested her as a potential wife to King Charles VI; the match was again proposed in Cambrai in April 1385, at the occasion of John the Fearless and Margaret of Burgundy's marriages to Margaret and William of Bavaria respectively. The double wedding was a lavish affair with festivities; Charles, then 17, rode in the tourneys. Tuchman writes that he was attractive, physically fit, enjoyed jousting and hunting, and was ready to be married. Philip the Bold, Charles VI's uncle, saw the marriage as a means to create an alliance with the Holy Roman Empire against the English. A condition for the marriage was that the prospective bride be examined in the nude, which her father refused to allow. He was, however, convinced by his brother, so he sent Isabeau to France on the pretext of going on pilgrimage to Amiens with her uncle, with the condition that she was unaware of the reason for the visit. According to Jean Froissart, she was 13 or 14 when the match was proposed, and perhaps about 16 at the time of the marriage in 1385, suggesting a birth date of around 1370. Before meeting Charles, Isabeau went to Hainaut for about a month, where she was taught the etiquette of the French court, and then she traveled to Amiens where she was presented to Charles on 13 July 1385. Isabeau did not speak French and may not have reflected the idealized beauty of the period, inheriting perhaps her mother's Italian looks, but the young king approved of her greatly and the couple were married three days later. Froissart wrote about the royal wedding in his Chronicles, joking about the lascivious guests at the feast and the "hot young couple". Charles seemingly loved his wife, lavishing her with gifts. For their first New Year in 1386 he gave her a red velvet palfrey saddle, trimmed with copper and an interwined K and E; he continued to give her gifts of rings, tableware and clothing.
Isabeau's coronation was celebrated with a lavish entry into Paris on 23 August 1389. Her sister-in-law Valentina Visconti, married two years earlier by proxy and papal dispensation to her cousin Louis of Orléans, arrived in style, escorted from Milan by 1300 knights, bringing personal luxuries such as books and a harp. In the procession noble women wearing lavish dresses embroidered with thread-of-gold rode in litters escorted by knights. The Duke of Burgundy was dressed in a doublet embroidered with 40 sheep and 40 swans each wearing a bell of pearls.
The procession lasted from morning to night, with a variety of tableaux lining the streets with scenes from the Crusades, the Deesis, and the Gates of Paradise. Over a thousand burghers stood along the procession route, dressed in green on one side of the street and in red on the other. The procession began at the Porte de St. Denis, passing under a canopy of sky blue cloth beneath which children dressed as angels sang, and then entered Rue de St. Denis and on to Notre Dame for the coronation ceremony. Tuchman writes of the event that "So many wonders were to be seen and admired that it was evening before the procession crossed the bridge leading to Notre Dame and the climactic display." As she crossed the Grand Pont to Notre Dame an angel descended from the church by mechanical means and "passed through an opening of the blue taffeta with golden fleurs-des-lys, which covered the bridge, and put a crown on her head." The angel was then pulled up again into the church. An acrobat, with two candles, walked along a rope suspended from the spires of the cathedral to the tallest house in the city.
Once Isabeau was crowned, the procession returned from the cathedral along a route lit by 500 candles to a royal feast where the king and queen were presented with a progression of pageants complete with a depiction of the Fall of Troy. Isabeau, who was seven months pregnant, nearly fainted from the heat on the first of the five days of festivities. To pay for the extravagant event, taxes were raised in Paris two months later.
In 1392 Charles suffered the first in a lifelong series of bouts of insanity. On a hot August day outside Le Mans, he attacked his own household knights including his brother Orléans, killing four men. His uncles, the dukes of Burgundy and Berry, took advantage of the king's illness and quickly seized power and established themselves as regents. The king's sudden onset of insanity was seen by some as a sign of divine anger and punishment and by others as the result of sorcery; although modern historians speculate that Charles may have been experiencing the onset of paranoid schizophrenia.
Contemporary chronicler Jean Froissart wrote that the king's illness was so severe that he was "far out of the way; no medicine could help him". He recovered from the first attack of illness, and his physician who treated him, Guillaume de Harsigny, recommended a program of amusements, which prompted a member of the court to suggest that the king surprise the queen and the other ladies as a member of a group of courtiers disguised as wild men who were to make a sudden appearance at the ball given to celebrate the remarriage of Isabeau's lady-in-waiting, Catherine de Fastaverin. Charles was almost killed and four of the dancers were killed in a fire caused by a torch brought in by Orléans at the event, which came to be known as the Bal des Ardents. The event undermined confidence in Charles' capacity to rule; Parisians considered it proof of courtly decadence and threatened to rebel against the more powerful members of the nobility. The public's outrage forced the king and Orléans, whom a contemporary chronicler accused of attempted regicide and sorcery, into offering penance for the event. The following June he suffered his second attack, which lasted for about six months; he continued to suffer what were called "absences" for the next three decades. For the first 20 years of his illness he seemed capable of governing during the periods between attacks, which caused uncertaintly as to whether a regency should be established or whether Charles should continue to reign. During his attacks of illness, among those who sought to control the government were his brother Orléans, and their cousin, the Duke of Burgundy, John the Fearless. At the time of Charles' first attack Isabeau was a 22-year old woman with three children, with two having died as infants. By the turn of the century as his illness worsened she was accused of abandoning him, but historian Rachel Gibbons speculates that Isabeau wanted to distance herself from her husband and his illness. During the worst of his illness Charles was unable to recognize Isabeau, demanding her removal whenever she entered his chamber causing her great distress. The Monk of St Denis, Michel Pintoin, wrote in his chronicle, "What distressed [Isabelle] above all was to see how on all occasions ... the king repulsed her, whispering to his people, 'Who is this woman obstructing my view? Find out what she wants and stop her from annoying and bothering me.'" Since the king often did not recognize her during his psychotic episodes and was upset by her presence, it was eventually deemed advisable to provide him with a mistress, Odette de Champdivers, the daughter of a horse-dealer, who according to Tuchman is said to have resembled Isabeau and was called "the Little queen". Odette had probably assumed this role by 1405 with Isabeau's consent, but during his remissions the king still had relations with his wife, whose last pregnancy was in 1407—records show she was in the king's chamber on November 23, 1407, the night of Orléans' assassination and again in 1408.
Court politics and intrigue
Most likely because of Charles's illness, Isabeau's life is well-documented. Historian Tracy Adams describes Isabeau as a talented diplomat; a woman who from the time of her marriage navigated court politics with ease and grace, and that "Isabeau appears to have been charismatic"; for many years she was successful in her role as peace keeper among the various court factions.
Not long after she married Charles, a delegation from Florence approached Isabeau to gain her political influence in the Gian Galeazzo Visconti affair. Orléans and the Duke of Burgundy joined the pro-Visconti faction with the weaker anti-Visconti faction made up of Isabeau, her brother, Louis VII, Duke of Bavaria, and John III, Count of Armagnac. Isabeau lacked, at that early time in her marriage, political power to affect change. In 1396, at the wedding of Isabeau's daughter, Isabella, to Richard II of England (an event at which Charles attacked a herald for wearing Galeazzo livery), negotiations re-opened between the French and Florentines. Buonaccorso Pitti and Isabeau together negotiated an alliance between France and Florence, ratified on September 26, 1396.
In 1387 Charles assumed sole control of the monarchy at age 20. He immediately dismissed his uncles and reinstated the Marmousets—his father's traditional councilors—and increased responsibility for his brother Orléans. Tensions mounted between the Burgundian uncles and Orléans at the time of Charles' first attack of illness, with Isabeau assuming a greater role in maintaining peace in face of the growing power struggle.
Charles annointed Isabeau co-guardian of their children in 1393, a position shared with the royal dukes, Philip the Bold, of Burgundy, John, Duke of Berry, Louis II, Duke of Bourbon and her brother, Louis of Bavaria; and he gave Orléans full power of the regency. The appointments split the loyalty between Orléans and his royal uncles. Orléans was far more financially privileged as he was now the official tax-collector. This situation became exasperated in the following decade when Isabeau and Orléans agreed to raise the level of taxation. In 1401, during one of the King's absences, Orléans installed his own tax collectors, angering Philip the Bold who in retaliation raised an army, threatening to enter Paris with 600 men-at-arms and 60 knights. At that time Isabeau's intervention between Orléans and Burgundy prevented bloodshed and the outbreak of civil war.
Also in the 1390s, Isabeau aided with unsuccessful negotiations to eliminate the Western Schism, when the French called for the abdication of both popes. Clement VII welcomed Isabeau's presence on the council that included scholars from the University of Paris, the royal dukes and other members of the royal council to be beneficial because she was seen as an effective mediator. The effort ended when Clement VII died in 1394.
On his short lived recovery in the 1390s, Charles made arrangements for Isabeau to be "principal guardian of the dauphin" until he reached 13 years of age, giving her additional political power on the regency council. In 1402 he gave her full power to mediate between the dukes of Burgundy and Orléans, and as well as the power to access the treasury. A year later, in 1403, as his bouts of illness became more severe and prolonged, Isabeau became the leader of the regency council giving her power over the royal dukes and the Constable of France, while simultaneously putting her in a position to be attacked by various court factions.
In 1402, Charles assigned Isabeau to arbitrate the growing tension between the Orléanist and Burgundian factions with the belief that she was aligned only to him and thus impartial. In 1404, Philip the Bold died and his son John the Fearless became Duke of Burgundy and continued the political strife, because he wanted access to the royal treasury for Burgundian interests. The royal dukes and Orléans believed John was usurping power for his own interests and at that time Isabeau found no choice but to firmly align herself with Orléans to protect the interests of the crown and her children. Furthermore, she distrusted John the Fearless, and, she thought he overstepped himself in rank, as cousin to the king as opposed to Orléans' closer kinship.
Rumors began to circulate that Isabeau and Orléans were lovers, a relationship considered incestuous for the time. Whether the two were intimate has been doubted by contemporary historians such as Rachel Gibbons; she believes the rumor was propaganda against Isabeau in reaction to the tax increases she initiated with Orléans in 1405.
Nevertheless, Isabeau became the subject of attack. An Augustinian friar, Jacques Legrand, preached a long sermon to the court denouncing excess and depravity, in particular Isabeau and her fashions such as low-cut gowns exposing necks, shoulders and breasts. At about the same time a satirical political pamphlet, Le Pastorlet, now considered by historians to be pro-Burgundian propanda, was released and widely distributed in Paris. The pamphlet purported to expose the Queen's relations with Orléans.
John the Fearless accused Isabeau and Orléans of fiscal mismanagement and again demanded money for himself; in 1405, at the head of a force of 1000 knights he lured them out of Paris. The next day the dauphin, Louis, Duke of Guyenne, was separated from Isabeau, and taken by John the Fearless, who returned him to Paris under control of the Burgundian forces. The incident almost caused war to break out, but it was averted at that time.
Orléans' assassination and aftermath
In 1407 Orléans was assassinated at the orders of John the Fearless who claimed he wanted to "avenge" the crown of the alleged adultery between Isabeau and Orléans. He at first denied involvement in the assassination but soon admitted to it, to the chagrin of his royal uncles who forced him out of Paris while the royal council attempted a reconciliation between the House of Burgundy and the House of Orléans.
Bitter resentment over the assassination led to the Armagnac–Burgundian Civil War with Orléans' supporters known as the Armagnacs. The Queen and her influence was crucial to the power struggle. Gibbons writes that at that time physical control of Isabeau and her children became important to both parties and she was forced to change her alliances more frequently, for which she was criticized as being unstable. She allied herself with the Burgundians from 1409 to 1413, and with the Orléanists from 1413 to 1415.
In 1408, Charles pardoned John the Fearless for ordering Orléans' assassination after Jean Petit's justification was held in Paris; Petit argued convincingly that in the King's absence Orléans was a tyrant. Concerned about the situation, Isabeau had troops protect Paris and left the city for Melun to protect the dauphin. Some month later, Charles rescinded the pardon. In August Isabeau staged an entry to Paris for the dauphin. At the beginning of 1409, Charles signed an ordinance giving the 13 year old dauphin power to rule in the Queen's absence. During these years, Isabeau's greatest concern was the safety of the dauphin, preparing him to take up the duties of the king and she formed any alliance that furthered those aims.
At the Peace of Chartre, in 1409, John the Fearless who was reinstated to the royal council after Orléans' son (Charles, Duke of Orléans) reconciled publicly with him, although the feuding continued. In December of that year, Isabeau bestowed the tutelle (guardianship of the daughin)) upon John the Fearless, made him the master of Paris, and allowed him to mentor the dauphin. John the Fearless was popular in Paris because he opposed the taxes Isabeau and Orléans levied on the citizens. Her decision, however, angered the Armagnacs who, in the fall of 1410, marched to Paris to "rescue" the dauphin from John the Fearless' influence. At that time members of the University of Paris, Jean Gerson in particular, announced by proclamation that all feuding members of the royal council should step down and immediately be removed from power.
To defuse tension with the Burgundians another double marriage took place in 1409. Isabeau's daughter Michelle of Valois married Philip the Good, John the Fearless' son; and Marguerite of Burgundy (John the Fearless' daughter) married the dauphin, Louis, Duke of Guyenne. Before the wedding took place, Isabeau negotiated a treaty with John the Fearless in which she clearly defined family hierarchy and position in relation to the throne.
In 1411, full civil war broke out. John the Fearless won during the first year but the dauphin began to gain power for himself. Christine de Pizan wrote of him that he was the savior of France. Still only 15, he lacked the power the defeat John the Fearless, who fomented revolt in Paris. In retaliation Charles of Orléans, by proclamation, denied funds from the royal treasury to members of the royal family. In 1414, instead of allowing her son, then 17, to lead, Isabeau allied herself with Charles of Orléans. The dauphin, in return, then changed allegiance and joined John the Fearless, which Isabeau considered unwise and dangerous. The result was continued civil war in Paris. After 1415 both factions tried to gain control of the 17 year old dauphin but had to get past the Queen. Pintoin chronicled that Isabeau was at that time firmly allied with the Orléanists and the 60,000 Armagnacs who invaded Paris and Picardy.
Henry V of England took advantage of French internal strife, invaded the northwest coast and in 1415 delivered a crushing defeat to the French at Agincourt. Nearly an entire generation of military leaders died or were taken prisoner in a single day. John the Fearless, still feuding with the royal family and the Armagnacs, remained neutral as Henry V conquered towns in northern France.
In 1415 Louis de Guyenne, the dauphin, died in December (at 18) of illness at which point Isabeau's political status became unclear. Her fourth born son, Jean of Touraine became dauphin. Raised in the household of William II, Duke of Bavaria in Hainaut and married to Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut, Tourain was a Burgundian sympathizer. William II refused to send Tourain to Paris in a period of upheaval when the Burgundians were plundering the city and the Parisians were in revolt against another wave of tax increases initiated by Bernard VII, Count of Armagnac whom, in a period of lucidity, Charles had raised to be the constable of France. Isabeau attempted to intervene by arranging a meeting with Jacqueline in 1416, but Armagnac would not allow Isabeau to reconcile with the House of Burgundy and William II continued to prevent the young dauphin from entering Paris.
In 1417 Henry V invaded Normandy with 40,000 men. In April that year the newest dauphin, Touraine, died. Another shift in power occurred when Isabeau's son Charles became dauphin. He was married to Armagnac's daughter Marie of Anjou and favored the Armagnacs. At that time, Armagnac imprisoned Isabeau in Tours, confiscating her personal property (clothing, jewels and money), dismantling her household, and separating her from the younger children as well as her ladies-in-waiting. She secured her freedom in November through the help of John the Fearless. Accounts of her release vary with Monstrelet writing she was "delivered" by John the Fearless to Troyes, and Pintoin writing that Fearless negotiated Isabeau's release to gain control of her authority. Isabeau maintained her alliance with Burgundy from that period until the Treaty of Troyes.
Isabeau proclaimed herself sole regent but quickly changed her stance; by January she proclaimed John the Fearless sole regent. Together Isabeau and John the Fearless abolished parliament (Chambre des comptes) and turned to securing control of Paris and the King. John the Fearless took control of Paris by force on May 28, 1418, slaughtering Armagnacs. The dauphin fled the city. According to Pintoin's chronicle, the dauphin refused Isabeau's invitation to join her in an entry to Paris. She entered the city with John the Fearless on July 14.
Shortly after her fifth and final son Charles assumed the title of dauphin he negotiated a truce with John the Fearless in July 1419 in Pouilly. Charles then requested a private meeting with John the Fearless at a bridge in Montereau under Charles's guarantee of protection. The meeting was a ploy to assassinate John the Fearless who was "hacked to death" on the bridge. The King disinherited his son for killing the John the Fearless, the Duke of Burgundy, bringing an end to the civil war, fueling the rumor of the dauphin's illegitimacy—the result of an alleged affair between Isabeau and Orléans—and setting the stage for the Treaty of Troyes.
Treaty of Troyes and later years
By 1419 much of Normandy was under the occupation of Henry V of England. The new Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good, was allied with the English and pressured Isabeau to join him. She, however, remained loyal to her husband the king and to France. In 1420 Henry V sent to Paris, to confer with Isabeau, Louis de Robersart, whom she knew from his ties to Bavaria. The two met alone and Isabeau seems to have been convinced to accept the Treaty of Troyes. Adams writes that the Treaty wouldn't have been controversial at that time when the Plantagenets had held much of France in previous centuries.
Because the King had effectively disinherited the Dauphin, writing in 1420 that Charles VII had "rendered himself unworthy to succeed to the throne or any other title", because he had broken the truce with the Burgundians in the assassination of John the Fearless, confirmed by Nicolas Rolin in December of that year, France effectively was without an heir to the throne. Charles of Orléans had been taken prisoner at the Battle of Agincourt, and under Salic law next in line as heir, he was imprisoned in London.
Without an heir to the throne, it was Isabeau who accompanied Charles to sign the treaty in May, 1420. Her presence lent credence to future allegations that she gave away France to the English. For many centuries, Isabeau stood accused of relinquishing the crown because of the treaty. Under the terms of the Treaty, Henry V's son, at that time only 9 months old, was named heir to the French throne. The infant, with the Duke of Bedford his regent, would be raised as French in Paris and come to the throne as the king on Charles' VI's death. Isabeau was to live in English controlled Paris.
Charles VI died in October 1422. As Henry V had died earlier that year, Henry's infant son, Henry VI, was declared successor as king of France to Charles VI, per the terms of the Treaty of Troyes, with the Duke of Bedford acting as regent.
Isabeau lost her political power at this time, although she is known to have received visitors such as the Duke of Bedford. She retired to live in the Hôtel Saint-Pol with her brother's second wife, Catherine of Alençon, and ladies-in-waiting Amelie von Orthenburg and Madame de Moy, the latter who had come from Germany and been with her as dame d'honneur since 1409. Many rumors began to be circulated about Isabeau during this period and some chronicles describe her living in a "degraded state". Tuchman writes she had a farmhouse built in St. Ouen where she looked after livestock, and that during her later years, during a lucid episode, Charles arrested one of her lovers whom he tortured and then drowned in the Seine. However, Seward attributes this same episode to Charles VII who had at his own court as a favorite, the "poisoner and wife-murderer" and former lover whom he had drowned.
In 1429 Isabeau lived in English-occupied Paris, when once again the accusation was put forth that Charles VII was not the son of Charles VI. At that time, with two contenders for the French throne—the young Henry VI and disinherited Charles—this may have been propaganda to prop up the English position. Furthermore, gossip spread that Joan of Arc was Isabeau and Orlean's illegitimate daughter—a rumour Gibbons finds incredible given the date of Joan of Arc's birth and Orlean's death. Allegations then began to be spread that the earlier deaths of the younger Dauphins were perhaps unnatural, and that daughters had been poisoned, all of which added to Isabeau's reputation of one of history's great villains.
The disinherited Dauphin, Charles VII, was nineteen when his father died. He claimed the Treaty of Troyes was illegal and assumed leadership of the Armagnac party, ruling the regions of France not under English or Burgundian control until Joan of Arc won a series of victories against the English and brought him back to full power in France.
Reputation and legacy
Isabeau has been bitterly attacked by various historians through the centuries, attributed by 20th century historians to Charles VI's illness that caused her to assume an unusually active leadership role for a queen of her period. Her attackers accepted skewed interpretations of her important role in the negotiations with England that resulted in the Treaty of Troyes and the rumors of her marital infidelity with Orléans that were started in Paris in the period 1422–1429 at the time of the English occupation, Adams writes that historians reassessed her reputation in the late 20th century, exonerating her at that time of many of the accusations, particularly in the work of scholars such as Gibbons. Adams writes that she thought the allegations against Isabeau to be true, until she delved into the chronicles: where she found little evidence against the Queen, instead discovering that many of the rumors came from a few passages written by contemporary chroniclers.
After the king became ill, Isabeau was frequently accused of sorcery. It was commonly accepted that Charles' mental illness and inability to rule was a result of spells she cast, while as early as the 1380s rumors spread that the court was steeped in sorcery. In 1397, Orléans' wife, Valentina Visconti was forced to leave the court because she was accused of using magic. Magicians were attracted to the court of the "mad king" with promises of cures and by the early 15th century accusations of sorcery were used as a political tool by the various factions. Lists of people accused of bewitching Charles were compiled. Isabeau and Orléans were both included as those who bewitched the king.
Chronicles record that "[Orléans] clung a bit too closely to his sister-in-law, the young and pretty Isabeau of Bavaria, the queen. This ardent brunette was twenty-two; her husband was insane and her seductive brother-in-law loved to dance, beyond that we can imagine all sorts of things". Pintoin wrote of the queen and Orléans that they neglected to care for the king; that they behaved scandalously; that "they lived on the delights of the flesh"; and that the two spent large amounts money on court entertainment rather than spending the money on the people. Of Isabeau's alleged affair with him, Adams explains that it is based on a single paragraph from Pintoin's chronicles and is now no longer considered reliable.
Isabeau was accused of extravagant and expensive fashions, including jewel-laden dresses and elaborate braided hairstyles coiled into tall shells and covered with wide double hennins that—reportedly—required doorways to be widened to accommodate them. In 1405 an Augustinian friar preached a lengthy sermon on the depravity at Charles and Isabeau's court with emphasis on the fashion she introduced; especially gowns that exposed necks, shoulders and breasts.
In 1406 a pro-Burgundian satirical pamphlet in verse allegory was published, mentioning a variety of Isabeau's potential lovers. She was accused of leading France into a civil war because of her inability to support a single faction; she was described as an "empty headed" German; of her children that she "took pleasure in a new pregnancy only insofar as it offered her new gifts"; that she was too fat which caused her political ineptitude.
A popular saying late in her life was that France had been lost by a woman and would be recovered by a girl. Many took this to be a prediction of Joan of Arc.
In the 18th and 19th centuries Isabeau was characterized by historians as "an adulterous, luxurious, meddlesome, scheming, and spendthrift queen", and at this time her political influence was overlooked and lost. A popular book written by Louise de Karalio (1758-1822) about "bad" French queens who came before Marie Antoinette is, according to Adams where "Isabeau's black legend attains its full expression in a violent attack on the French royalty in general and queens in particular." Karalio wrote: "Isabeau was raised by the furies to bring about the ruin of the state and to sell it to its enemies; Isabeau of Bavaria appeared, and her marriage, celebrated in Amiens on July 17, 1385, would be regarded as the most horrifying moment in our history". Furthermore, Isabeau was painted as Orléans' passionate lover. She was the inspiration for the Marquis de Sade's unpublished 1813 novel Histoire secrete d'Isabelle de Baviere, reine de France about which Adams writes, "who, submitting the queen to his ideology of gallantry, gives her rapaciousness a cold and calculating violence .... a woman who carefully manages her greed for maximum gratification." She goes on the say that de Sade knew the charges against Isabeau to be groundless because "he scolds the 15th century chroniclers for failing to report the [full] story of the adulterous queen".
She briefly appears in the last scene of Shakespeare's Henry V during a truce between France and England.
Like many of the Valois, Isabeau was an appreciative art collector. She loved jewels and is responsible for the commissions of particularly lavish pieces of Ronde-bosse—a newly developed technique of making enamel-covered gold pieces. She exchanged New Year's gifts with the Duke of Berry as New Year's gifts; one extant such piece includes the ronde-bosse statuette Saint Catherine. Documentation suggests she commissioned several fine pieces of tableaux d'or from Parisian goldsmiths.
In 1404, Isabeau gave Charles a particularly spectacular ronde-bosse, called the Little Golden Horse Shrine, (or Goldenes Rössli), now held in a convent church in Altötting, Bavaria. Contemporary documents identify the statuette as a New Year's gift, an étrennes, a Roman custom he revived as a means of establishing rank and alliances at a period of factionalism and war. With the exception of manuscripts, the Little Golden Horse is the single surviving documented étrennes of the period. Weighing 26 pounds, the gold piece is encrusted with rubies, sapphires and pearls. It depicts Charles kneeling on a platform above a double set of stairs, presenting himself to the Virgin Mary and child Jesus, who are attended by John the Evangelist and John the Baptist. A jewel encrusted trellis or bower is above; beneath stands a squire holding the golden horse.
Medieval author Christine de Pizan solicited the Queen's patronage at least three times. In 1402 Pizan sent Isabeau a compilation of her literary argument Querelle du Roman de la Rose—in which she questions the concept of courtly love—with a letter in which she said to Isabeau, "I am firmly convinced the feminine cause is worthy of defense. This I do here and have done with my other works." In 1410 and then again in 1411, Pizan solicited the Queen, presenting her in 1411 an illuminated copy of her works.
The birth of cach of Isabeau's 12 children's is well chronicled. She had six sons and six daughters; the first born in 1386 and the last, Philip. born in 1407, only lived a single day. Of the six sons she bore, three died young with her last living son, Charles VII, surviving to adulthood. Five of the six daughters survived; four were married and one, Marie (1393–1438), was sent at age four to be raised in a convent, where the became the prioress.
In 1386, at age 16 she bore her first son, Charles, who did died in infancy. A daughter, Joan, born two years later lived to 1390. Her second daughter, Isabella, born in 1389, was married at age seven first to Richard II of England; and later to Charles, Duke of Orléans. The third daughter, Joan (1391–1433), who lived to age 42, married John VI, Duke of Brittany. The fourth daughter, Michelle (1395–1422), first wife to Philip the Good, died childless at age 27. Catherine, Queen of England, (1401–1438) married Henry V of England, taking Sir Owen Tudor as her second husband. Charles VII, (1403–1461) married Marie of Anjou.
Charles, Dauphin of Viennois, Duke of Guyenne (1392–1401), had no issue. Louis, Dauphin of Viennois (1397–1415), married Marguerite of Burgundy, was depicted as the Dauphin in Shakespeare's Henry V; he died at age 19. John, Dauphin of France (1398–1417), Dauphin of Viennois, Duke of Touraine (1398–1417) was first husband to Jacqueline, Countess of Hainault. Charles VII, (1403–1461) married Marie of Anjou, and too was depicted as the Dauphin in Shakespeare's Henry VI.
According to modern historians Isabeau stayed close during their childhood, traveled with them, bought them gifts, wrote letters, bought devotional texts, and arranged for daughters to be educated. She disliked when her sons were sent to other households to live (as was the custom at the time), and was dismayed at the marriage contract that stipulated her third surviving son, Jean, be sent Hainaut. She maintained relationships with her daughters after their marriages, writing to letters frequently letters.
Joanna of Bourbon
|Queen consort of France|
Marie of Anjou
Wikipedia: Isabeau of Bavaria (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabeau_of_Bavaria : accessed 16 Mar 2013)
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On 17 Oct 2018 at 13:50 GMT I (Rassinot) R wrote: