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Marguerite de Bourbon (c. 1217 – April 12, 1256) was Queen of Navarre and Countess of Champagne from 1234 until 1253 as the third wife of King Theobald I of Navarre. After her husband’s death, she ruled both the kingdom and the county as regent for three years in the name of their son, King Theobald II of Navarre.

Marguerite was born into the House of Dampierre, the eldest daughter of Archambaud VIII, Lord of Bourbon. Her mother was her father’s first wife, Alice of Forez, daughter of Guigues III, Count of Forez. Archambaud was the constable of Count Theobald IV of Champagne.

Queen

Marguerite was 15 years old when, on September 12, 1232, she became the third wife of the 32-year-old recently widowed Count Theobald. His first wife, Gertrude of Dagsburg, had been repudiated and already deceased, while the second, Agnes of Beaujeu, died leaving only a daughter, Blanche.

Their marriage was one of only two unions of the counts of Champagne with a significant age disparity between spouses, the other one being the marriage of Henri I of Champagne (1127 – 1181) and Marie of France (1145 – 1198) with Henri being eighteen years older than his wife.

Marie of France was a French the elder daughter of King Louis VII of France and Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine. Marie had numerous half-siblings on both her mother’s and father’s side, including the eventual kings Philippe II of France and Richard I and John of England.

Marguerite brought a large dowry, but an unusual clause in her marriage contract stipulated that only a prorated part of it would be returned to her father in case of her death without issue within the first nine years of the marriage and nothing if she died after nine years had passed. Only if the union ended in annulment, as her parents’ and Theobald’s first marriage had, was the entire sum to be returned.

Regency

Marguerite’s marriage lasted twenty years, during which she delivered seven children. In 1234, she became Queen of Navarre when Theobald inherited the kingdom from his maternal uncle, Sancho VII. Little is known about Margaret’s life as queen consort, which appears to have been spent in relative obscurity.

Her husband’s death in 1253, however, brought her to spotlight: their son, Theobald II of Navarre, was 14, while the laws of the realm required the king to be 21 to take control of his inheritance.

She immediately had to deal with a succession crisis in the kingdom. Although her husband, also Count of Champagne, had resided in Navarre much of the time after his accession to the royal throne, the nobility of the kingdom were unwilling to accept his son as their king.

Marguerite prevented the outbreak of an open rebellion by travelling with Theobald to the capital, Pamplona, and by allying with the neighbouring Kingdom of Aragon. She also inherited her husband’s long-standing dispute with the Knights Templar, who had bought much feudal property in Champagne despite his disapproval. Marguerite resolutely prohibited them from acquiring any more land within the county.

In 1254, Marguerite was persuaded by her son to arrange a marriage for him with Isabella, daughter of King Louis IX of France. King Theobald II reached the age of majority in 1256. No longer regent, Queen Marguerite retired to her large dower lands, consisting of seven castellanies (as much as a third of the comital revenues), where she spent the rest of her life. She died in Provins and was buried at the Saint Joseph de Clairval Abbey in Flavigny-sur-Ozerain.

Issue

Eleanor, died young
Theobald II of Navarre
Peter (died in 1265)
Margaret, who in 1255 married Frederick III, Duke of Lorraine and bore him Theobald II of Lorraine
Beatrice of Navarre, Duchess of Burgundy married Hugh IV Duke of Burgundy
Henry I of Navarre married Blanche of Artois