Life wasn’t easy for a Valois bastard. Life wasn’t easy for any Valois, but thanks in part to Queen Margot’s efforts, life eventually got very difficult for the ones born on the wrong side of the blanket.
Margot’s father, Henry II had a number of illegitimate children, and one in particular, Diane de France, managed to win Catherine de Medici’s affection. By the time that Catherine died in January of 1589, she was so estranged from Margot that at her deathbed she cut her only remaining child out of her will. Catherine’s estate instead went in part to her children by her elder two daughters, Charles de Valois, who his father Charles IX gave the title of Comte d’Auvergne, and Diane de France. Margot literally got nothing. When she learned of this, she must have been livid.
Margot sued Charles and Diane in 1604 on the basis that according to Henry II and Catherine’s wedding contract, none of their estates could be passed to anyone other than their legitimate offspring. That legally excluded both royal bastards. Sure of a legal victory, Margot started to make plans to leave Usson for the first time since her brother Henri III placed her there in 1586.
By 1605, she had news for Henry IV. Having learned that Charles was involved in a conspiracy against the king (one that included his half sister who was Henry IV’s current mistress and Marie de Medici’s worst enemy), she started towards Paris in the summer of 1605. Writing Henry that the conspirators were planning to take Usson, she formally handed it to him, saying that it would therefor go directly from her hands to his.
For his part, Henry worried that Margot would be captured by one of the conspirators, but she pressed on towards the chateau de Madrid outside of Paris in the Bois de Bolougne. Henry did his best to bribe her to stay farther away from Paris, offering her Chenonceau, but Margot would not be persuaded to stay away from Paris any longer. In August, she arrived at the chateau de Madrid, where Henry and Gabrielle’s son, Ceasar, the Duc de Vendrome, was there to greet her.