Frock Flicks Guide to Lesser French Queens on Film: 15th c. Onwards

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I admit it, I am totally a (historical) royals geek. Of course, I understand that royalty are just people, some of whom aren’t very interesting or nice. But especially when I was younger, I read numerous “Queens of England” books and biographies of various queens. I always think about doing social media theme days with images of different queens, then get disappointed when I realize that there aren’t enough movies/TV series to make it worthwhile. I did the English queens in three posts, now I have to do the French! 

BEFORE YOU FREAK OUT, I am consciously skipping these people who are worthy of (or already have) their own posts:

  • Eleanor of Aquitaine
  • Catherine de’ Medici
  • Mary, Queen of Scots
  • Margaret of Valois
  • Anne of Austria
  • Françoise d’Aubigné, Marquise de Maintenon
  • Marie Antoinette of Austria
  • Joséphine de Beauharnais
  • Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma
  • Marie Thérèse of France
  • Eugénie de Montijo

I’m mostly working with Wikipedia data here, so if you know of a movie or TV series that has included any French queens, please feel free to add it in the comments! If they’re not listed here, it’s because I can’t find any onscreen portrayals. Also, I don’t wanna hear any bitching about the term “lesser.” I mean “less frequently depicted.” Breathe.

Last week it was up through the 14th century, now let’s do the rest!

Margaret of Anjou (1445-61)

I covered her in my medieval English queens post!

Charlotte of Savoy (1461-83)

Daughter of Louis, Duke of Savoy, she was the second wife of Louis XI. She was mostly ignored by her husband, but served as regent for him in 1465 and then on the regency council for her son in 1483 after his death.

Charlotte de Savoie, detail of the right pane of a diptych of devotion representing the Adoration of the shepherds with Charlotte of Savoy and Saint Francis, c. 1472, via Wikimedia Commons.

Charlotte de Savoie, detail of the right pane of a diptych of devotion representing the Adoration of the shepherds with Charlotte of Savoy and Saint Francis, c. 1472, via Wikimedia Commons.

1956 Si Paris nous etait conte - Marguerite Jamois Charlotte de Savoie

Marguerite Jamois in Si Paris nous était conté (1956). I feel like someone got VERY CONFUSED HERE.

 

Anne of Brittany (1491-98 and 1499-1514)

Duchess of Brittany 1488-1514, queen consort of France from 1491-98 and 1499-1514, queen consort of Naples from 1501-04, and duchess consort of Milan from 1499–1500 and 1500-12. Phew! She was the daughter of Francis II, Duke of Brittany, she married Charles VIII, and then after his death, married his cousin Louis XII. She is known for defending Brittany against French power grabs, and along with her husband was the patron of important architectural projects like the chateaux of Blois and Amboise.

Anne of Brittany from Horae ad usum Romanum , dites Grandes Heures d'Anne de Bretagne, 1505-10, Bibliotheque nationale de France.

Anne of Brittany from Horae ad usum Romanum , dites Grandes Heures d’Anne de Bretagne, 1505-10, Bibliotheque nationale de France.

2011-13 Borgia

Héléna Soubeyrand in Borgia (2011-13). Okay…

2011-13 Borgia

I had to lighten the shit out of this image to try to see WHAT IS ON HER HEAD. Please, someone link to a period example of this, because I gotta see the reference! (I like the damask dress!)

2011-14 Isabel

Marta Belmonte in Isabel (2011-14). Seems very early for this style of hood, but, maybe.

2011-14 Isabel

On the right. No idea what’s up with Leftie.

 

Mary Tudor, Queen of France (1514-15)

Younger sister of Henry VIII, she briefly married Louis XII. After his death, she secretly married Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk and incurred Henry’s wrath. Via her daughter Frances, Mary was grandmother to Lady Jane Grey. Her story is fascinating and you can read the longer version in our post about why she’s worthy of more screen attention.

Attributed to Jan Gossaert, Portrait of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon, c. 1516, collection of the Earl of Yarborough; Brocklesby Park, Lincolnshire.

Attributed to Jan Gossaert, Portrait of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon, c. 1516, collection of the Earl of Yarborough; Brocklesby Park, Lincolnshire.

1922 When Knighthood Was in Flower

Marion Davies in When Knighthood Was in Flower (1922). I give it all a pass because of the filming era.

1922 When Knighthood Was in Flower

Are those tulips?

1922 When Knighthood Was in Flower

PUPPER!

The Sword and the Rose (1953)

Glynis Johns in The Sword and the Rose (1953). So is this the slutty version?

1953 The Sword and the Rose

Pretty theatrical, but not totally horrible!

1953 The Sword and the Rose

That’s… a weird hood.

1974 La reine galante - Mireille Delcroix as Mary Tudor

Mireille Delcroix in La Reine galante (1974). Don’t look all shocked, missy. *I* didn’t do your hair.

The Tudors

Gabrielle Anwar in The Tudors (2007-10). SHE PAINS ME.

THE TUDORS

I keep wanting to make some kind of peacock-related meme for this for Snark Week, but I haven’t yet hit on it…

Claude of France (1514-24)

Daughter of Louis XII and Anne of Brittany, she married Francis I; she also ruled as Duchess of Brittany from 1514-24. She was extremely short, had scoliosis, and was almost constantly pregnant. She was very religious and devoted herself to that, leaving politics (including the ruling of Brittany) to her husband.

Guido Mazzoni, Miniature of Claude with a patron saint, Primer of Claude of France, 1505-10, via Wikimedia Commons.

Guido Mazzoni, Miniature of Claude with a patron saint, Primer of Claude of France, 1505-10, via Wikimedia Commons.

1974 La Reine galante

Anne Jouzier in La Reine galante (1974). In no way, shape, or form what Claude was like.

1974 La reine galante - Anne Jouzier

I LOVE THIS HAIR. SO NOT A WIG.

1978 Le Connétable de Bourbon - Laurence de Monaghan as Claude

Laurence de Monaghan in Le Connétable de Bourbon (1978). Her hair’s up, even if that’s a lot of visor!

2007-10 The Tudors

Gabriella Wright in The Tudors (2007-10). Claude would TURN OVER IN HER GRAVE if she knew they turned her into a pouty Kardashian.

2007-10 The Tudors

“Let me ‘elp you sign zis milord!”

2015-16 Carlos, rey emperador

Eva Rufo in Carlos, rey emperador (2015-16). Way too tall, but at least she’s not a Kardashian.

 

Eleanor of Austria (1518-21)

Daughter of Philip of Austria and Joanna of Castile, who would later co-rule Castile. She first married Manuel I of Portugal, then after his death Francis I. Although mostly ignored by her husband and left out of politics, she was involved in a few key peace treaties; she also did a lot of charitable works.

Joos van Cleve, Queen Eleanor of France, c. 1530, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien.

Joos van Cleve, Queen Eleanor of France, c. 1530, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien.

2015-16 Carlos, rey emperador

Marina Salas in Carlos, rey emperador (2015-16). SO WAIT IS SHE AUSTRIAN I’M UNCLEAR.

2015-16 Carlos, rey emperador

I SINCERELY doubt she wandered around in a Cranach dress.

 

Maria Theresa of Spain (1660-83)

Daughter of King Philip IV of Spain, she married Louis XIV. She was known for her virtue and piety, and was almost totally excluded from politics except for serving as regent briefly in 1667, 1672, and 1678 while Louis was away on military campaigns.

Charles Beaubrun and Henri Beaubrun the younger, Portrait of Queen Marie Thérèse of France, as patron of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, 17th c., via Wikimedia Commons.

Charles Beaubrun and Henri Beaubrun the younger, Portrait of Queen Marie Thérèse of France, as patron of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, 17th c., via Wikimedia Commons.

1954 Si Versailles m'était conté - Jany Castel as Marie Therese

Jany Castel in Si Versailles m’était conté (1954). Showing what happens when bad fabric happens to good sewing machines.

1954 Si Versailles m'était conté - Jany Castel as Marie Therese

Rocking the bling!

1964 Angélique - Claire Athana as Marie Therese

Claire Athana in Angélique (1964), in which she’s randomly dressed in 100-years-out-of-date fashions.

Angelique marquise des anges

See what I mean?

1977 The Man in the Iron Mask - Vivien Merchant as Marie-Therese

Vivien Merchant in The Man in the Iron Mask (1977). Can’t see enough to judge.

1977 The Man in the Iron Mask - Vivien Merchant as Marie-Therese

Oh dear, the crown is just ruining it all for me…

1995 l'Allée du Roi - Annie Grégorio

Annie Grégorio in L’Allée du Roi (1995). Meh?

2000 Le Roi danse - Veronique Maille

Veronique Maille in Le Roi danse (2000). Solid, if hard to see…

Vatel (2000), Maria Theresa of Spain

Nathalie Cerda in Vatel (2000). So she’s going full Spanish Infanta Hair, despite being, uh, the French queen now?

2008 Versailles, le rêve d'un roi - Sandrine Cohen

Sandrine Cohen in Versailles, le rêve d’un roi (2008).

Versailles (2016)

Elisa Lasowski in Versailles (2015- ). Waaaay too beautiful and elegant.

2015- Versailles

She calls this her “hot Catholic” look.

Who’s your favorite French queen, 15th century to now?

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

27 Responses

  1. thestoryenthusiast

    I’m loving this series! I get a history and a film lesson all in one. I would actually like to watch Knighthood in Flower if I could find it. I’ve seen several of Marion Davies other silent films and enjoyed them.

    Reply
  2. LovingTheSnark

    Gabrielle Anwar’s overall appearance in The Tudors was painful. At several points, you can clearly see a bikini tan line on her shoulders. Did no one care enough to try to even out the shoulder skin tone so it wasn’t nearly as obvious!?

    Reply
    • M.E. Lawrence

      She, and the guy who played Brandon, both irritated me no end. That international super-model look! Especially when they’re hanging out in some rustic manor, eating brunch and sniveling about being banished from court. I half-expected an espresso machine on the table.

      Reply
  3. Susan Pola Staples

    And they called her Margaret, her elder sister’s name and Queen of Scotland, (grandmother to MoS). The only semi-good thing about Tudors was Natalie Dormer.

    My favourite would be Anne of Brittany.

    Reply
    • Bond

      I believe the producers said that they intertwined both sisters into one for the show. Honesty it’s just lazy storytelling in my opinion.

      Reply
  4. Jill

    Hey, there’s three Cranach paintings that might answer the question about that weird hat in the Anne of Brittany photos. There are lots of other Cranach women with goofy hats. Must have been a German thing.

    “Cupid Complaining to Venus” – Venus is wearing a hat (and not much else–snort) that looks something like this. (National Gallery)
    “Portrait of a Woman” – another goofy hat and also the strange choking chain that is worn in the photo (Uffizi)
    “3/4 Portrait of a Young Woman” – yet another goofy hat with that silhouette.

    Reply
  5. Damnitz

    My favourite is Sylvie Testud in the role of Charlotte de Savoye in “Maximilian – Das Spiel von Macht und Liebe”. I don’t really care about the costumes there, although for a German and Austrian production they are quiet good. But Sylvie Testud is such a fine cast for the role of a French queen and along with Jean-Hugues Anglade a fine royal couple of decent French actors. The TV-production is’nt really historical accurate with many strange decissions changing the story, but it’s nice how they tried to use actors, who would be beauties in the period…

    Reply
  6. Rori

    “Frock Flicks Guide to Lesser French Queens on Film: A Series of Hot Mess Hair and Wigs”

    Reply
  7. Roxana

    Francis I was a total cad and his two queens were probably more gratified by his absence than upset by it. Claude btw was Anne Boleyn’s mistress during the latter’s time in France meaning Anne probably spent more time reading and thinking about religion than coquetting.

    I have no idea what all that fabric on Charlotte of Savoy’s head is supposed to be.

    Reply
  8. SarahV

    Why did no one tell me that “Hot Catholic” was a thing until now?!?!?!

    Also, Glynis Johns has long been a secret movie-star crush of mine! She was so beautiful and athletic while also having lethal comic timing. Also, even as a young woman, she had such a damned sexy voice! Raspy and mellifluous… and Welsh?

    Reply
  9. Lexy

    Allow me to mention a lesser known Medieval queen; Bertha of Holland, wife of Philip I and mother to Louis VI the Fat ( and grandmother in law to Eleanor), who was repudiated for being too fat and sent away so her husband could frolick with another woman in double polygamy bliss…

    Reply
  10. Roxana

    Among Francis I’s caddish ways was a tendency to make nasty little remarks about royal women. He called Mary Tudor more dirty than queenly which is obviously untrue and unfair. Mary’s conduct as Queen of France was irreprochable, and that can’t have been easy with Louis exerting himself in the bedroom every night. Poor Mary.

    Reply
    • Roxana

      Made out of black ostrich feathers…
      After careful study I think Marguerite Jamois is wearing a very bad hennin. I mean really bad.

      Reply
  11. Nico

    You have missed Marie Leczynska (Louis XV’s wife)!
    Charlotte de Turkheim was a fine choice to play her in Jeanne Poisson (TV series on Pompadour) though she was perhaps a bit too old. The same actress played Marie Antoinette 15 years earlier in Jefferson in Paris, again a fine choice as she actually ressembles Marie Antoinette (strong nose and lower lip).
    http://www.lapalatine.fr/2018/02/16-films-pour-vous-plonger-dans.html

    Reply
  12. Damnitz

    Sylvia Kristel was queen Maria Theresa in “The fifth musketeer” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079152/mediaviewer/rm638006016 although she maybe was casted only to give the show more sexapeal. But it’s the same like in modern “Versailles” with Elisa Lasowski.
    It’s a shame that Sylvia Kristel worked mostly in soft erotic films, as she was not stupid and not bad the bad actress at all (especially compared to Ursula Andress).

    Perhaps you missed the whole movie because it’s so poor.

    Reply

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