Jeanne of Boulogne

Coronation of Jean II (Paris, BnF, Français 2642 f. 186). Image Credit: BnF

By Louise Gay

Born around 1326, Jeanne was the daughter and heiress of the count of Boulogne and Auvergne while, through her mother, she was a great granddaughter of king Philippe III, son of Saint Louis. This prestige, as well as the inheritance due to it, made her an excellent match.

Her marriage to the heir to the duchy and county of Burgundy, Philippe « Monseigneur », would have assured them of being one of the most eminent couples of the time in France. However, the Hundred Years’ War profoundly affected Jeanne’s life.

The death of her husband at the siege of Aiguillon (1346), reported in a tragic tone by the chroniclers, made their young son Philippe de Rouvres the new heir to the Burgundian principality. Three years later, Jeanne was proclaimed regent on the disappearance of her father-in-law.

Himself very recently widowed, the duke of Normandy and son of the King, Jean, took advantage of the circumstances to marry Jeanne in 1350. He then granted himself the regency of Burgundy, as well as the inheritance of his new wife – minus Boulogne, occupied by the English.

That same year, Jean and Jeanne were crowned and anointed king and queen of France.

Very discreet politically during her second marriage, the queen only returned to centre stage when the king was captured at the battle of Poitiers in 1356. Leaving Paris, she then returned to Burgundy where she regained her position as regent in the name of her son.

For years she occupied herself with defending the territory from Anglo-Navarrese invasions, recruiting foreign mercenaries, ordering the fortification of towns, and signing treaties of alliance with neighboring powers.

In 1360, her son came of age but the queen continued to advise him until her death, probably caused by the plague, in the autumn. She preferred to join her first husband Philippe in death, refusing the honor of being buried in the royal necropolis at Saint-Denis.

Recommended Reading

Ernest Petit, Histoire des ducs de Bourgogne de la race capétienne (Paris, 1885)

Sylvie Le Strat-Lelong, Le comté de Bourgogne d’Eudes IV à Philippe de Rouvres (1330-1361) (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021).

%d bloggers like this: