Margaret of Navarre

Margaret of Navarre, along with Margaret of Valois, is a prototype for the purported ancestor of Margarita. Margaret of Navarre, also known as Margaret of Angouleme, b. Apr. 11, 1492, d. Dec. 21, 1549, was a sister of the French king Francis I. An important protector of John Calvin, the poet Clement Marot, and other early reformers of the church, she expressed her intensely felt religious views in poetry and plays.

The portrait at right is from a 16th Century illuminated manuscript at the Bodleian Library in Oxford (304K)

Her best-known work is the incomplete Heptameron, published in 1558 (Eng. trans., 1924). Modeled on Boccaccio's Decameron, it contains short stories told by fictional characters who probably represent Margaret and her circle. The stories, and especially the conversations between the characters, stress the frequent unhappiness of women and the joys of chaste love leading to the love of God.

Bibliography: Cottrell, R. D., The Grammar of Silence: A Reading of Marguerite de Navarre's Poetry (1986); Davis, Betty, Marguerite de Navarre (1990); Freer, M., The Life of Marguerite D'Angouleme, 2 vols. (1986).

From the Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, 1997

Marguerite de Navarre was the sister of François I, grandfather of Marguerite de Valois. She was also herself the grandmother of Henry IV, whom the later Marguerite married. To add to the confusion, the University of Angers Library Site (see below) refers to Marguerite de Navarre as "Marguerite de Valois, reine de Navarre." No wonder Bulgakov conflated them!

There is an edition of her Heptameron at the Women Writers site at Penn.