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Margaret of Valois
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    (May 14, 1553-March 27, 1615)
    Born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
    Daughter of King Henri II of France and Catherine de' Medici
    Sister of French kings Francis II, Charles IX and Henri III
    Queen Consort of King Henri IV of France
    She had several affairs during her marriage.
    She frequently quarreled with her husband and at one point tried to poison him.
    While her brother Henri III and her husband were fighting for the French throne, she rebelled against both of them and seized the city of Agen.
    Her brother Henri III had her imprisoned for her scandalous behavior (1586).
    She was released after seducing her jailer, the Marquis de Canilac (1587).
    While imprisoned, she wrote her memoirs, which were considered scandalous when they were published posthumously.
    Her casket disappeared from the Basilica of St. Denis, with it being uncertain whether the casket was moved during restoration work or was destroyed by looters during the French Revolution.
    A court chronicler wrote, 'One could say that her natural beauty and the shimmering of her jewels competed with a brilliant night sky full of stars.'
    As a teen, when her parents found out that she was secretly involved with Henri of Guise, they beat her and pulled out handfuls of her hair.
    She saved the life of her husband and several prominent Protestants during the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre by hiding them in her rooms.
    Her husband was equally unfaithful, fathering kids with at least four mistresses.
    She eventually agreed to having the marriage annulled if she could retain the title of Queen (1599).
    She became a patron of the arts and benefactor to the poor.
    Shakespeare's comedy 'Love's Labour Lost' was inspired by one of her attempts at reconciliation with Henri IV.

Credit: C. Fishel

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