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Continuing our examination of Anne of Brittany, here is more information on her marriage to King Charles VIII of France.

At sunrise on December 6, 1491 the 14 year old Anne, Duchess of Brittany, married the 21 year old King Charles VIII of France. The marriage was solemnized in the Great Hall of the Château de Langeais. The wedding was concluded discreetly and in a near clandestine fashion because technically the marriage was illegal because the proxy marriage between Anne and Maximilian of Austria was still valid.

To resolves this dilemma Pope Innocent VIII annulled the by-proxy marriage between Anne and Maximilian in February 1492. A dispensation for the marriage with Charles VIII was also obtained because Charles VIII and Anne were related within the fourth degree of consanguinity and this was forbidden under Church law.

Anne and Charles VIII were paternal third cousins both direct descendants of Charles V of France. Charles VIII was a direct male line descendant of Charles V via the eldest son of son of Charles V, Charles VI. Anne was a direct descendant of Louis, Duke of Orleans, younger brother of Charles VI. The Duke of Orleans daughter, Margaret, was the mother of Francis II, Duke of Brittany, the father of Anne of Brittany.

The marriage between Anne and Charles stipulated in a contract that if one of them died, the surviving spouse would retain possession of Brittany. The contract further stated that if Charles VIII died without male heirs, Anne would marry his successor. These conditions were proposed to insure the French kings would eventually, and permanently, annex Brittany.

Anne’s marriage contract, which heavily favored France, mentioned that these lopsided provisions were to ensure peace between the Duchy of Brittany and the Kingdom of France. Anne granted Charles VIII the right to be her her representative. Anne was crowned Queen of France at St. Denis Basilica on February 8, 1492 and she was the first Queen crowned and consecrated there. One slight to her dignity was that Charles VIII forbade her to use her title of Duchess of Brittany. This issue became a bone of contention between the two.

Anne of Brittany had a limited role in both France and Brittany. However, her role did mean she was frequently separated from her children in infancy. Her primary residences were in the royal castles of Amboise, Loches and Plessis or in the towns of Lyon. In 1494 She became Queen Consort of Naples and Jerusalem during the conquest of Naples by Charles VIII when he became king of Naples Italy. As Queen of Naples, Anne lived in the palaces of Grenoble or Moulins when the king was in Italy. At Amboise, when Charles VIII had work, she mainly resided in the nearby Clos Lucé, the future home of Leonardo da Vinci.

Charles VIII died as the result of a unfortunate accident on April 4, 1498. While on his way to watch a game of jeu de paume (real tennis) in Amboise he struck his head on the lintel of a door. At around 2pm, while returning from the game, he fell into a sudden coma, and died nine hours later, perhaps of a subdural hematoma. Charles VIII had reigned for 15 years and was only 27 years old. He left no heir and the throne was passed to Louis of Orleans who became King Louis XII of France. Louis XII was the son of Charles, Duke of Orléans, and Maria of Cleves, and a great-grandson of King Charles V of France.

Queen Anne was 21 years old and without surviving children. She now reassumed her position as reigning Duchess of Brittany and personally took charge of the administration of the Duchy. She restored the faithful Philippe de Montauban to the chancellery of Brittany, named Jean de Châlon, the Prince of Orange, as Hereditary Lieutenant General of Brittany. Anne convened the Estates of Brittany, and ordered production of a new gold coin bearing her name and likeness.


Her marriage with Charles VIII of France produced seven pregnancies:

Tomb of Charles Orland and Charles, two sons of Anne and Charles VIII at Tours Cathedral.

* Charles Orland, Dauphin of France (11 October 1492 – 16 December 1495). Her only healthy son, he died of the measles when three years old. Buried at Tours Cathedral.

* Francis (August 1493). Anne had become pregnant in late 1492/early 1493, but travelled with her husband from castle to castle; she went into labour during a drive in the forest of Courcelles, and the child was premature and stillborn. Buried at Notre-Dame de Cléry.

* Stillborn daughter (March 1494). In her third pregnancy, Anne avoided travel (instead residing in Amboise near the Dauphin). However, in February 1494 she accompanied the king to Lyon, where he was preparing to depart for the Italian Wars. After arriving on 15 March, she attended all of the ceremonies; the stress of the occasion caused her to go into premature labour, and the child was stillborn.

* Stillborn daughter (March 1495). She had become pregnant again in late 1494, but lost the child soon after.

* Charles, Dauphin of France (8 September 1496 – 2 October 1496). His death prompted Anne to withdraw temporarily to Moulins in despair. Buried at Tours Cathedral.

* Francis, Dauphin of France (July 1497). He died several hours after his birth. Buried at Tours Cathedral.

* Anne of France (20 March 1498). She died on the day of her birth at Château de Plessis-lez-Tours. Buried at Tours Cathedral.