Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Margaret (1425?-1445)

MARGARET of Scotland (1425?–1445), wife of the dauphin Louis (afterwards Louis XI, king of France), was the eldest child of James I of Scotland and Joan Beaufort. Her age as given in the dispensation for her marriage in 1436 would fix her birth to the end of 1424 or beginning of 1425 (Beaucourt, Hist. de Charles VII, iii. 37). But according to the 'Liber Pluscardensis' (vii. 375) she was only ten years old at her marriage. Charles VII of France at the critical moment of his fortunes sent an embassy, of whom Alain Chartier the poet was one, towards the close of April 1428, to request the hand of Margaret for the dauphin Louis (b. 3 July 1423), with renewed alliance and military aid (Beaucourt, ii. 396). James broke off his negotiations with England, renewed the Scoto-French alliance (17 April), and undertook (19 April) to send Margaret to France within a year of the following Candlemas, with six thousand men, if Charles would send a French fleet and cede to him the county of Saintonge and the seigniory of Rochefort (Acts of Parl of Scotl. ii. 26-28; Beaucourt, ii. 397). The French council disliked the conditions, but on 30 Oct. Charles signed the marriage treaty at Chinon, with the provision that should the dauphin die before the marriage was consummated Margaret should marry one of Charlesls next surviving son, if there should be one, while if Margaret died one of her sisters should be substituted at the choice of James (ib. ii. 398). In April 1429 the English were on the look-out for the fleet which who to carry Margaret and the troops to France (Proceedings of the Privy Council, iii. 324). But Charles was relieved by Joan of Arc from the necessity of purchasing help so dearly. He never sent the fleet, and it was not until 1433 that, in alarm at the renewed negotiations between England and Scotland, which ended in the despatch of English ambassadors to negotiate a marriage bet ween Henry and a daughter of the Scottish king, he wrote to James intimating that though he was no longer in need of his help, he would like the princess sent over. James in his reply (8 Jan. 1434) alluded dryly to the long delay and rumours of another marriage for the dauphin, and requested a definite understanding (Beaucourt, ii. 492-3). In November Charles sent Regnault Girard, his maitre d'hôtel, and two others, with instructions to urge, in excuse of the long delay in sending an embassy to make the final arrangements for Margaret's coming, the king's great charges and poverty. James was to be asked to provide the dauphine with an escort of two thousand men. If the Scottish king alluded to the cession of Saintonge, he was to be reminded that Charles had never claimed the assistance for which it was promised. The ambassadors, after a voyage of 'grande et merveilleuse tourmente,' reached Edinburgh on 25 Jan. 1435 (Relation of the Embassy by Girard, ii. ii. 493-8). A month later James agreed to send Margaret from Dumbarton before May, in a fleet provided by Charles, and guarded by two thousand Scotish troops, who might, if necessary, he retained in France. He asked that his daughter should Lave a Scottish household until the consummation of the marriage, though provision was to be made 'pour lui apprendre son estat et les manieres par la' (ib. ii. 499). After some delay, letters artived from Charles announcing the intended despatch of a fleet on 15 July, declining the offer of the permanent services of the Scottish escort, as he was entering on peace negotiations at Arras, and declaring that it would not be necessary to aasign a residence to the princess, as he meant to proceed at once to the celebration of the marriage (ib. 500-1). The French fleet reached Dumbarton on 12 Sept., but James delayed his daughter's embarkation till 27 March 14336. She landed on the island of Ré on 17 April, after a pleasant voyage (ib. iii. 35, not 'Half-dead' as {{sc|Michel, Écossais en France, i. 183, and Vallet de Viriville, Hist. de Charles VII. ii. 372, say). On the 19th she was received at La Rochelle by the chancellor, Hegnaidt do Chartre8,and after some stay there proceeded to Tours, which she reached on 24 June. She was welcomed by the queen and the dauphin. The marriage was celebrated next day in the cathedral by the Archbishop of Rheims, the Archbishop of Toura having (13 June) granted the dispensation rendered necessary by the tender age of the parties. The dauphin and dauphine were in royal costume, but Charles, who had just arrived, went through the ceremony booted and spurred (Beaucourt, iii. 37). A great feast followed, and the city of Tours provided Moorish dances and chorus-singing (ib. p. 38).

It was not until July 1437, at the earliest, that the married life of the young couple actuallv beran at Ciien on the Loire (ib. lii. 38, iv. 89). It was fated to be most unhappy. While under the queen's care Margaret had been treated with every kindness, but Louis regarded her with positive aversion (Æneas Silvius, Commentarii, p. 163; Comines, ii. 274). According to Grafton (i. 612, ed. 1809) she was 'of such nasty complexion and evill savored breath that he abhorred her company as acleane creature doth a canon.' But there is nothing of this in any contemporary chronicler, and Mathieu d'Escouchy praises her beauty and noble qualities (Beaucourt, iv. 89). Margaret sought consolation in poetry, surrounded herself with ladies of similar tastes, and is said to have spent whole nights in composing rondeaux. She regarded herself as the pupil of Alain Chartier, whom, according to a well-known anecdote reported by Jacques Boucbet in his 'Annals of Acquitaine' (p. 353, ed. 1644), she once publicly kissed as he lay asleep on a bench, and being taken to task for choosing so ugly a man, retorted that it was not the man she had kissed, but the precious mouth from which bad proceeded so many witty and virtuous sayings (Michel, i. 187; Beaucourt, iv, 90). We catch glimpses of her sallying into the fields with the court from Slontils-les-Toura on 1 May 1444 to gather May, and joining in the splendid festivities at Nancy and Châlons in 1444-5. At Châlons one evening in June of the latrer year she danced the 'basse dance de Bourgogne' with the queen of Sicily and two others. But the dauphin's dislike and neglect, for which he was warmly reproached by the Duchess of Burgundy, now on a visit to the court, induced a melancholy, said to have been sggravated by the reports spread by Janiet de Tillay, a councillor of the king, that she was unfaithful to Louis. Her health declined, she took a chill after a pilgrimage with the king to a neighbouring shrine on 7 Aug., and inflammation of the lungs declared itself and made rapid progress. She repeatedly asserted her innocence of the conduct imputed to her by Tillay, whom, until almost the last moment, she revised to forgive, and was heard to murmur, 'N'etoit ma foi, je me repentirois volontiers d'etre venue en France.' She died on 16 Aug. at ten in the evening ; her last words were, 'Fi de la vie de ce monde ! ne m'en parlez plus' (ib. iv. 105-10).

Her remains were provisionally buried in the cathedral of Chalons, until they could be removed to St. Denis, but Louis next year interred them in St. Laon at Thouars, where ber tomb, adorned with monuments by Charles, survived until the revolution (Michel, i. 191). If the heartless Louis did not feel the loss of his childless wife, it was a heavy blow to his parents, with whom Margaret had always been a favourite. The shock further impaired the queen's health, and Charles, hearing how much Margaret had taken to heart the charges of Tillay, and dissatisfied with the attempt of the physicians to trace her illness to her poetical vigils, ordered an inquiry to he held into the circumstances of her death and the conduct of Tillay (ib. iv. 109. 111). The depositions of the queen, Tillay, Margaret's gentlewomen, and the physicians were taken partly in the autumn, partly in the next summer. The commissioners sent in their report to the king in council, but; we bear nothing more of it, Tillay certainly kept his office and the favour of the king (li. iv. 181-2).

A song of some beauty on the death of the dauphine, in which she bewails her lot, and makes her adieux, has been printed by M. Vallet de Viriville (Revue dea Sociétés Savantes, 1857, iii. 713-15), who attributes it to her sister, Isabel, duchess of Brittany, and also by Michel (i. 193). A Scottish translation of another lament is printed by Stevenson (Life and Death of King James I of Scotland, pp. 17-27, Maitland Club). The Colbert MS. of Monstrelet contains an illumination, reproduced by Johnes, representing Margaret's entry into Tours in 1436.

[Du Fresne de Beaucourt, in his elaborate Histoire de Charles VII, has collected almost all that is known about Margaret ; Francisque Michel's Écossais en France is useful but inaccurate; Liber Pluscardensis in the Historians of Scotland; Mathieu d'Escouchy and Comines, ed. for the Société de l'Histoire de France; Proceedings of the Privy Council, ed. Harris Nicolas.]

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