The Creation of France

Chapter 11 : Bourbon

Another of the Frankish territories that only came into the control of the French crown during the sixteenth century, was the Bourbonnais, in central France. The lands were given to one Aymar of Souvigny (894 – 943) by the Carolingian king, Charles the Simple (before the time of the Capetians). Aymar’s distant descendant, Mathilde of Bourbon (c. 1169 – 1228), Lady of Bourbon, married Count Guy of Dampierre. Their descendant, Agnes of Dampierre, Lady of Bourbon (1237 – 1288) also left only a daughter, Beatrix of Bourbon (1257 – 1310).  Beatrix married Robert, Count of Clermont, (1256 – 1317) the younger son of Louis IX of France. Bourbon was raised to a duchy, but Beatrix’ own lands remained heritable by women. The descendant of Beatrix and Louis, Peter II of Bourbon (1438 – 1503), married Anne of France, also known as Anne of Beaujeu (1466 – 1521) – the daughter of Louis XI and sister of Charles VIII.  Anne dominated the minority of her brother, and continued to be influential until her death.

The right of Peter and Anne’s daughter, Suzanne (1491 – 1521), to succeed was questioned. The duchy of Bourbon had been created after the 1316 ruling on female inheritance, although the ancient Bourbon lands had been inherited by women before. As the price of Peter and Anne recognising Louis of Orléans as heir of Charles VIII, they agreed that Louis would accept Suzanne’s rights. Nevertheless, to avoid disputes, Suzanne was obliged to marry Charles of Bourbon-Monpensier (1490 – 1527), her cousin and nearest male heir.

Suzanne died young, with no heir, and Charles, her co-ruler did not remarry. Thus, in 1527, Bourbon escheated to the crown of France.

The house of Bourbon continued, in the person of Charles of Bourbon-Vendôme, a descendant of Duke Louis I of Bourbon. Charles of Bourbon-Vendôme’s son, Antoine of Bourbon-Vendôme (1518 – 1562), married Queen Jeanne III of Navarre (1528 – 1572). They were the parents of Henri IV, King of Navarre, and King of France (1553 – 1610). Thus, the house of Bourbon became the ruling family of France, and, later, of Spain.

The final map shows Europe in 1570. France has now, more-or-less, reached its modern shape. Upper Lorraine (the northern part of the middle kingdom) was still within the Holy Roman Empire, although the Dukes of Lorraine were often allies of France. 

Fig 7 France In 1570
Figure 7 Europe in 1570 picture credit