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Women in the Arts and Letters in Navarre (5). Queens of Navarre in the Lands of Ultrapuertos. Humanists, writers, patrons


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Diario de Navarra

Carmen Jusué Simonena

PhD in History

Diario de Navarra, in partnership with the Chair of Heritage and Navarrese Art of the University of Navarra, addresses, monthly, with the help of specialists from various universities and institutions, aspects on the relationship of women with the arts and literature in Navarra.

For a century after the conquest of Navarre, the inhabitants of the Navarre of Ultrapuertos, Royaume de la Navarre deÇaPorts, or "Land of the Basques", had kings of their own, as did Henry II, his daughter Joan III and his grandson Henry III.

The denomination "kings of Navarre" always accompanied and identified the children and grandchildren of John III of Albret and Catherine, since it was the degree scroll of the highest category they held. The so-called Court of Navarre, whether it was that of Pau, in the viscounty of Bearne, or that of Nerac, in the duchy of Albret, was for various reasons, a brilliant cultural and religious center in 16th century France, given that, during the decades of 1530 and 1540, Marguerite de Valois or Navarre, wife of Henry II, author of several works, promoted reformist humanism, neoplatonism and welcomed religious dissidents. Years later, her daughter, Joan III of Albret, queen of Navarre, imposed Calvinism and promoted the translation of the New Testament into Basque by Juan de Leizarraga.

Margarita de Navarra

Marguerite of Angoulême or Navarre (Angoulême, 1492 - Odos-en-Bigorre, 1549), whose passion for literature made her known as "The Tenth Muse" and "The Fourth Grace", was the daughter of Louise of Savoy and Charles of Orleans, Count of Angoulême, cousin of the King of France Louis XII, so that she and her brother Francis, were educated with the King in Blois and Amboise and when he died, the throne passed to Francis, so Marguerite became one of the first ladies of the Court.

During the first period of her life, during which she resided at the French Court, she had an important political role in partnership with her brother Francis I, whom she supported unconditionally, and also contributed to his cultural training turning the Court into a focus of humanist ideas. Margarita is an example of the ideals of the time, as Dr. Cristina Segura points out, because she had the paradox of humanism, which, together with a great intellectual curiosity, showed a great piety and religious concern that she always maintained, but, at the same time, she was the author of a series of libertine tales collected in the Heptameron.

Marguerite married (1509) in first marriage to Charles, III Duke of Alençon and Constable of France and, when she was widowed, she married (1527) in second marriage to the King of Navarre, Henry II of Albret, thus becoming Queen of Navarre.

He was intelligent and developed a great cultural training . From the age of four, his mother, who was Italian and close to Renaissance principles, took care of his education, basing it on the reading of classical authors and the Holy Scriptures. In addition to French, he learned Italian, Latin, German, Hebrew, Greek and Spanish, and always had a deep theological concern. He protected humanists, Protestants and maintained contacts with Calvin and Melachton. He surrounded himself with personalities of the time, such as the scholar Robert Estienne and the writers and poets Bonaventura des Périers, Mellin de Saint Geldis and Marot. Rabelais must have felt admiration for her, for he dedicated one of his works to her.

Her intellectual dedication led her to be the author of several works, some poetic and others of a philosophical and theological nature. Among them are: Diálogo en forma de visión nocturna (1523), her first poems; El espejo del alma pecadora (1531), in which she expressed her double religious and cultural concern and was attacked by the Sorbonne after its reprinting in 1533, needing the intervention of Francisco I; El Navío ( 1547), where she expresses her sorrow for the death of her brother Francisco; Margaritas de la Margarita de las Princesas (1547), where most of her poems are collected....He also wrote a series of comedies, some of biblical character and others profane.

The Heptameron

The Heptameron (1542), considered to be her masterpiece, follows the model of Boccaccio's Decameron of Boccaccio, but with the inversion of the situations of men and women, since, in Margherita's work it is the women who ridicule the men, but she could not finish it, because death came upon her before finishing the work. The literary framework in which the narratives are inscribed is that of some nobles who are resting in the shelter of Sarrance or Cauterets, in the Pyrenees, and who tell stories to entertain themselves while they are cut off by storms. The theme of the work is generally of love subject : romances, infidelities, deceit or mockery, lasciviousness or strong criticism of the Franciscans.

The work gathers 72 stories that take place during seven days. As in Boccaccio's work, the stories are part of a closed story. Margherita has five men and five women, trapped by the collapse of a bridge due to heavy rain, tell a story every day for ten conference days until fill in one hundred stories. However, she was only able to fill in seven conference, hence degree scroll de Heptamerón.

A curiosity, according to the narrative technique of the Heptamerón, the topic of each Nouvelle is announced before the beginning of the story; thus in the edition of François Michel, as H. Viñes points out, the topic of the Nouvelle 26 can be read in the initial introduction: Monsieur d'Avannes abandons his lover, a noble woman who lives in Pamplona, for the affectionate advice of a very prudent lady who lives in the same city. That is to say, the action takes place in the capital of Navarre, in Pamplona. In the first introductory lines of the story, the protagonist, Lord d'Avannes, is presented as the brother of King John of Navarre. In addition, throughout the narrative there are secondary actions in the towns of Olite and Tafalla.

Joan III of Navarre

Joan III of Navarre or Joan of Albret (Saint Germain-en-Laye, 1528 - Paris, 1572) was the daughter and heiress of Henry II of Albret, King of Navarre and Margaret of Valois and Angoulême. Her parents had gathered extensive estates, mainly in the southwest of France and in the Central-Western Pyrenees, bordering Spain. Among them, two stood out, for which they considered themselves sovereigns: the kingdom of Navarre and the viscountcy of Béarn; however, as counts of Bigorra, Armagnac, Perigord, Rodez and Foix, viscounts of Marsan, Nebuzan and Limoges, lords of Albret and the land of Domezan, among other lordships, they paid homage to the French king.

She was born in one of the many castles -residency program of her uncle, King François I, and grew up as a princess under the attentive tutelage of Madame de Silly and her aunt Isabelle d'Albret, Duchess of Rohan. During her first ten years she remained almost isolated in a small castle in Normandy (Lonray). As sole heiress of the kingdom of Navarre, her marriage became a matter of state, so that, to avoid a marriage with a Spaniard, the king of France kept her at his court until she was betrothed, at the age of 12 (1540), to the German duke William of Clèves, a marriage that Joan refused to ratify and was annulled.

Later, in 1548, Jeanne d'Albret married Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme, firstborn of a powerful house through whose veins ran royal blood, the most immediate in the order of succession to the reigning Valois. Thus, on the death of Henry II of Navarre (1555), Anthony and Jeanne III were sworn kings of Navarre and proclaimed sovereigns of Béarn.

The Joanes Leizarraga Bible

Joan III, queen of Navarre from 1555, professed with deep conviction the Calvinist religion in which she educated her son and heir Henry III of Navarre(1553-1610), king of Navarre and, later, king of France under the name of Henry IV, so that, in 1559, she publicly announced her adherence to the reformation.

After the death of Anthony of Bourbon in 1562, he promulgated a series of measures aimed at implementing the new reform, such as the organization of the Synod of Bearne, held in Pau in 1564, the publication of a catechism by John Calvin in Bearnese(1563), the founding of a Protestant academy in Orthez(1566), the essay of new ecclesiastical Ordinances (1566-1571), the translation of the New Testament into Basque by Juan or Joanes Leizarraga (1571) and the translation into Béarnese of the Psautier de Marot, by Armand de Salette(1568).

In this context, the Protestant Synod gathered in Pau, commissioned in 1563 to member of the clergy Juan Leizarraga, a native of the town of Beskoitze - Briscous, a translation into Basque of the New Testament, which Leizarraga finished in 1566. The work was published in 1571 and other Basque-speaking clergymen collaborated in it, so that the text contains elements taken from the Laborta Basque and from the Souletin and Bajonavarro dialects. The work is completed with two other minor texts(Kalendrera and ABC edo Christinoen instructionea), and it is the second oldest printed work in Basque that has been preserved after Bernard Dechepare's Linguae vasconum primitiae ( Bordeaux, 1545).

In 1995, the Caja de Ahorros de Navarra acquired one of the few copies of this work, Iesus Christ Gure Iaunaren Testamentu Berria, (Pierre Hautin Imprimicale, Rochellan, 1571). In this New Testament dedicated to Jeanne d'Albret, Leizarraga had also included a letter addressed to the queen, Gucizco Andre noble Ioanna Albrete Naffarroaco Reguina Bearnoco Andre guehiénic, denari...

On October 24, 2014, this copy was ceded in deposit by the Fundación Caja Navarra to the Library Services General de Navarra. For its formal care, the facsimile edition made by the Caja de Ahorros de Navarra in 2007 from the original copy stands out, accompanied by a volume of programs of study on the life and work of Leizarraga.

Like her mother, Jeanne was cultured and enjoyed writing poetry, including a song about the loves of Condé and Mademoiselle de Limeuil. Response de la Royne aux alaba de du Bellaya song about the loves of Condé and Mademoiselle de Limeuil, as well as an impromptu piece written during a visit to the printer Henri Estienne. He also wrote his Memoirs in which he justified his actions as leader of the Huguenots.