Anne of Brittany

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Anne of Brittany

Anne of Brittany, 1477–1514, queen of France as consort of Charles VIII from 1491 to 1498 and consort of Louis XII from 1499 until her death. The daughter of Duke Francis II of Brittany, she was heiress to his duchy. Shortly before her father's death (1488), a French army under Louis de La Trémoille successfully invaded Brittany and secured the duke's promise that Anne would marry only with the consent of the French crown. Upon becoming duchess, the young Anne's hand and her duchy were eagerly sought. To prevent France from swallowing up the duchy, a coalition including Archduke Maximilian of Austria (later Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I), King Henry VII of England, and King Ferdinand II of Aragón sent forces to Anne's aid. Nevertheless, Anne's situation was perilous and she appealed (1489) directly to Maximilian for protection. In 1490, Maximilian married Anne by proxy but failed to assist her with armed strength. Besieged at Rennes in 1491, Anne was forced by the French to annul her marriage and was quickly married to Charles VIII. It was agreed that if Charles died before Anne without issue, she was to marry his successor. Accordingly, in 1499, she married Louis XII, who had previously obtained a divorce from his first wife. The marriage (1514) of Claude, Anne's daughter by Louis XII, to Francis of Angoulême (later Francis I of France) led to the eventual incorporation (1532) by France of Brittany, which had previously remained theoretically separate.

See biography by H. J. Sanborn (1917).

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