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.
Radegund of Poitiers (c. 539-61)
A Thuringian princess, she was one of six wives of Clotaire I, king of the Franks. She founded the Abbey of the Holy Cross at Poitiers.
Fredegund (c. 545-597)
Born into a low-ranking family but married Chilperic I, the Merovingian Frankish king of Soissons. She has a bad reputation (deserved?) and was “put aside” for another woman by her husband, but after his death served as regent for her son from 584-97.
She was played by Diane Delor in L’Enfant des loups (1991). I can’t find a photo…
Hildegard of the Vinzgau (771-83)
The daughter of Count Gerold of Kraichgau, she was the second wife of Charlemagne.
Anne of Kiev (1051-60)
Daughter of Yaroslav the Wise, Grand Prince of Kiev, she married Henry I. She served as regent for her son from 1060-65, and founded St. Vincent Abbey in Senlis. I can’t find an even vaguely-contemporary image of the real deal!
Blanche of Castile (1223-26)
Daughter of Alfonso VIII, King of Castile, she married Louis VIII. She was involved in politics and organized armies in support of her husband multiple times. She served as regent for her son during his minority (1226-34) and again when he was on Crusade (1248-52).
Margaret of Provence (1234-70)
Daughter of Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Provence, she married Louis IX. Her sisters were also queens: Eleanor of England, Sanchia of Germany, and Beatrice of Sicily. She joined her husband on crusade and was very politically active.
Margaret of Burgundy (1305-15)
Daughter of Robert II, Duke of Burgundy, she married Louis X of France and I of Navarre. She was caught up in a scandal when she and her sisters-in-law were accused of committing adultery in the “Tour de Nesle affair,” and she spent the last two years of her life in prison. I can’t find an even vaguely-contemporary image of the real deal! Maybe because she was considered a hoooor?
Clementia of Hungary (1315-16)
She was the daughter of Charles Martel of Anjou, the titular King of Hungary, although she was born and grew up in Naples. She was the second wife of Louis X of France/I of Navarre, who died shortly after their marriage while she was pregnant (the baby died). She continued to be active in royal life in Paris thereafter.
Joan II, Countess of Burgundy (1315-30)
She was the daughter of Otto IV, Count of Burgundy, and Mahaut, Countess of Artois. She married Philip V and ruled as Countess of Burgundy and Countess of Artois. She was implicated as possibly knowing about the adultery that happened in the “Tour de Nesle affair” and was imprisoned as a result, but eventually her name was cleared.
Blanche of Burgundy (1322)
Sister of Joan II of Burgundy, she was the daughter of Otto IV, Count of Burgundy. She married the future Charles IV, and was yet another accused of adultery in the “Tour de Nesle affair.” She was imprisoned until her death. Yet another for whom I can’t find an even vaguely-contemporary image of the real deal – again, maybe because of potential hoor-dom.
She was played by Anne Malraux in Les Rois maudits (2005), but I can’t find any images.
Joan of Burgundy aka Joan the Lame (1328-49)
Daughter of Robert II, Duke of Burgundy, she married Philip IV; she had some kind of limp, hence the nickname. She served as regent while her husband fought on campaign, and was a scholar.
She was played by Claude Gensac in Gaston Phébus, le Lion des Pyrénées (1978), but I can’t find any pics.
Tune in next week for the second half of my French queens run-down!
I’m not as knowledgeable about French queens as I am EmgliEn but I know the Merovingian ladies were colorful in the extreme ranging from saints to she wolves.
Also beige was not a favored royal color.
EVERYTHING WAS BEIGE
I mean, aside from some silly headpieces (and glued on plastic “jewels”) there are a number of “ok, that works” costumes in this bunch. I had to laugh at “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn this way.” Where’s the tits out tag? :-)
Different note, I wonder why medieval books so often feature women standing so curved. I mean, I’m down with an era where maybe having a bit of a belly rounding out is popular, but I have a hard time imagining that being the common way of standing.
This reminds me of a video I saw a couple of years ago by an instructor at the Barnau-Tachov History Park, a German educational park about the esrly-high middle ages, a Williamsburg for medieval times. https://www.geschichtspark.de/
The instructor claimed people actually walked on the balls of their feet rather than the heels before the development of fixed’sole shoes. His demonstration looked a lot like the posture we see in the Illuminations and it’s likely that the women were shown in an even more exaggerated pose to reflect their high station or femininity. Unfortunately the video isn’t available any more but the text and comments on the page where it used to be are interesting. https://pictorial.jezebel.com/this-video-of-how-medieval-people-walked-is-oddly-compe-1819217663
Yes! This was fascinating!!
yes, I remember seeing it, too! very interesting!
there’s a theory that if you cut the supportive under-dress in a particular way, you get the “slightly pregnant” posture. certainly that’s been my experience with over a dozen dresses on vastly different shaped women. the cut is not particularly exotic, but it does give that characteristic look (which is part of why i keep using it!)
I favor Charlemagne’s second wife bc I remember seeing a French production on the life of Charlemagne with heavy photos of the Aachen baths but cannot find it again. Help?
Also Saint Louis’s mother Blanche of Castile was formidable and deserves more screentime due to a granddaughter of great-granddaughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine.
The 2005 version of “Les Rois Maudits” has the worst interpretation of history. The costumes are worst than Reign, and the decors look like they were borrowed from German Expressionism movies of the 1920s. The outfits they dressed Jeanne Morreau in are from the 1980s. Seriously, I watched the whole mini-series and my eyes were bleeding.
I’ve only seen pics and I may never recover.
Les Rois Maudit is based on a series of novels (7 books) known as The Accursed Kings by Maurice Druon. I highly recommend the whole set — the history is accurate. They are hard to find here in the US, but worth the search. If there are DVDs of the miniseries, I may pick up a copy.
The entire Accursed Kings series were republished in the US by Harper Collins beginning in 2013. This includes an eighth book The King Without a Kingdom that Druon wrote in 1977 as a coda to the rest of the series. Apparently George R.R. Martin is a big fan of the books and used his influence to get them republished. The mini-series made on the books in 1972 is rather the French equivalent of I, Claudius. A low-budget but well done. Here is the first episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn96yxvUH80
George RR Martin of Game of Thrones fame, which you may have heard of, cites The Rois Maudit as one of his inspirations for his series, with all the treachery and blood feuds and many, many dynamic female characters who were powerbrokers in their own rights.
I recommend them,!
Blanche of Castile is not a lesser queen. She’s quite proeminent among the French medieval queens, because she is grand-daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine, she acted twice as regent for his son ( Louis IX), one of the greatest French kings in Middle Ages and a saint. She deserved a movie for herself, but she’s a woman and not a “scandalous one”, but a very clever politician and a devout mother.
From the top:
Also, I don’t wanna hear any bitching about the term “lesser.” I mean “less frequently depicted.” Breathe.
Blanche definitely took after grandma. She was a very effective regent and the mother in law from hell.
The first six are my ancestors. I need to start watching.
Lolz in the 1970s they had to take the time to stick those plastic flatbacks onto them upside down pet bowl hat things with Aleenes Tacky! Not hot glue guns for a few years yet! Oh the commitment!!
St. Radegunde’s cousin and co-wife Aregunde, grave was discovered in Saint Denis and her costume was well preserved enough to give an idea of the dress of a Merovingian Queen. See:
Oh, my, that eye shadow on some of the ladies–and the anachronistic eyebrows! However, I do find Marisa Berenson has a good medieval look (so did Anjelica Houston in one of her early movies), even though her acting range is limited.
Hildegarde is also depicted in “Charlemagne, le prince a cheval” (1993), and king’s mother Queen Berthe also features prominently. I remember there is also smaller role for Charlemagne’s last wife Queen Liutberga.
As for the Anne of Kiev, there is alleged mural portrait of her with sisters from Kiev cathedral https://uk.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%90%D0%BD%D0%BD%D0%B0_%D0%AF%D1%80%D0%BE%D1%81%D0%BB%D0%B0%D0%B2%D0%BD%D0%B0#/media/File:Princely_group_portrait.South_wall_of_the_nave.-_Google_Art_Project.jpg (hope that is embedded correctly). She must be the first or second, as she was the eldest.
There is also another film of her in the works, joint French-Ukrainian production. But it’s been filmed for several years now, and even if it comes out it is bound to be a spectacular trash, judging by a single poster with Anne in beige sleeveless I-am-kinda-roman-empress dress.
Wasn’t there a Charlemagne mini-series at some point that featured several of his wives?
St. Radegunda had a sister-in-law named Ultragotha, really, Ultragotha!
As near as I can tell from Wikipedia King Clotaire I’s six wives were at least as interesting as Henry VIII’s – but much less well documented. Apparently at least three of them were living in his household at the same time. The Merovingians didn’t give up polygyny when they converted to Christianity.
Ultragotha should totally have been my goth Wonder Woman superheroine pastiche.
I would choose Josine van Dalsum in “De leeuw van Vlaanderen” as Jeanne de Navarre (1985). Perfect evil, only looking for more power and smashing nice young women… The costumes are mostly strange, although some scenes from the French court are looking as taken fout of Medieval books.
I don’t know an English version, but you could maybe find the original film on YouTube.
That giant red headdress make me fucking cackle. I don’t know if that’s innaccurate but it looks fabulously wacky.