In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Marguerite de Navarre

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Bibliographies
  • Biographies
  • Medieval Legacy
  • Humanism, Evangelicalism, and the Reformation
  • Contemporary Influences
  • The Narrative Form
  • The Heptaméron
  • Marguerite and the Querelle Des Dames
  • Spiritual Poetry, Songs, and Plays
  • François I: His Court and Influence
  • Marguerite and Contemporary Culture
  • Influence

Renaissance and Reformation Marguerite de Navarre
Catharine Randall
  • LAST REVIEWED: 10 May 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 April 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0102


The highly cultured, erudite, and learned Marguerite de Navarre (1492–1549) was the daughter of Charles d’Angoulême and Louise de Savoie, and the sister of the Renaissance king François I. Marguerite’s mother had insisted on a solid humanist education for her; like her brother, Marguerite was proficient in Latin, Hebrew, Spanish, and Italian, and read philosophy and theology. She was an avid reader whose own literary production was to be much influenced by figures such as Plato, Plutarch, and Boccaccio. Married to the unsatisfying, unintelligent Charles, duc d’Alençon, Marguerite began to come into her own upon her brother’s ascension to the throne in 1515. Indeed, when François I (whom she adored) was taken prisoner in Italy, Marguerite was instrumental in securing his eventual release. In many respects, Marguerite was what we would today call a Renaissance woman, for she was intimately involved in court life, the artistic production of the day, political and diplomatic negotiations, and contemporary educational (“humanist”) and religious discussions and controversies. Both her life and her writings were to inspire many other French men and women writers (among them Hélisenne de Crenne) many of them “evangelical” (such as Anne de Marquets). At Nérac, Marguerite gathered around her artists, thinkers, and writers whom she encouraged. As an avid and faithful patron of the arts, she had considerable influence that can still be discerned in France today. Marguerite’s second marriage to Henri d’Albret, king of Navarre, resulted in a daughter, Jeanne, the future spouse of Henri IV.

General Overviews

Denis Hollier’s A New History of French Literature (Hollier 1989) is both a definitive edition of 16th-century French sources and scholarship and a cutting-edge literary-critical examination of seminal texts of the period, among them the works of Marguerite de Navarre. Each text is situated via a postmodern critical apparatus in new relationship to conventional literary history.

  • Defaux, Gérard. “Evangelism.” In A New History of French Literature. Edited by Denis Hollier, 162-166. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989.

    Provides ample information about Marguerite’s life and work as well as her significance for evangelicalism in 16th-century France.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.