Queen Margot sprints to freedom following her divorce from Henry IV

Granted a divorce in 1599, Margot Valois, the now former Queen of France could almost taste her impending freedom. Still, she had to wait a few months before acting on her impulse to hurry back to the excitement of Paris.

Henry wrote to her after the divorce was ratified by the Parlement of Paris, sating: “…I intend to exercise more solicitude than ever in regard to everything which concerns you, and to make you recognize, on all occasions, that I do not intend to be henceforth your brother merely in name, but also in deed….” As part of the divorce settlement, Margot got her entire dowry back, along with the title of Duchess of Valois and the honorary title of Queen. Finally, she was a wealthy woman in her own right.

Left to waste away in the fortified chateau d’Usson, Margot remained there while Henry IV worked to secure his rule. Disgruntled nobles could have used her as a figurehead to oppose the new king’s rule, since Margot was the last remaining Valois princess in France. Henry still had the problem of finding a wife to give him an heir, so she stayed put until her ex married Marie de Medici. Margot immediately wrote to Marie, signing her letter “your very humble and obedient servant, sister, and subject.” By March, Margot had heard that Marie was pregnant, and she wrote a letter to Henry sincerely expressing her congratulations on the upcoming birth.

To help her advance her plan of getting back to Paris, Margot did her best to assure Henry that she was her staunchest military supporter. Informed that her brother Charles IX’s bastard son was plotting against the king, she sent word to Henry that the conspirators were planning to take Usson, which was a strategic outpost in southern France. Margot had little love for her illegitimate nephew, or any illegitimate members of the Valois family, but that’s a subject for a later post.

Margot Valois had to wait to gain her complete freedom and return to Parisian society. In all, she had to wait about five years from the day that her annulment was finally granted. Along the way, she continuously demonstrated her loyalty to her former husband and his new queen. Once Marie de Medici arrived in France, she quickly started alienating French courtiers, due in part from her lack of political skills, and due to the presence of her Italian entourage. Margot refrained from being bitter or starting cat fights with her successor. Over the years, she became “Auntie Margot” to Henry IV’s children, and upon her death her entire estate passed to Louis XIII.

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