In research for my Anne of Brittany Series I came across an interesting story. Anne of Brittany’s second husband, Louis XII, King of France, had been sexually harassed in his twenties by his sister-in-law.
Anne de Beaujeu was France’s most powerful woman from 1483-1491 when she served as regent of Charles VIII, King of France. She was referred to by her father Louis XI, known as the spider king, as the least foolish woman in France. Made in the spider king’s mold, she was intelligent, shrewd, and a master manipulator. But under Salic Law, she was only able to exercise her powers as regent during her younger brother’s minority.
Anne de Beaujeu, also known as Anne of France, was considered by all to be the most disciplined woman in France. But beneath her cool cover, her raging heart sought the affections of Louis, Duke d’Orléans, married to her younger sister Jeanne of France.
She pursued him with gifts and favors. He rebuffed her. In 1488 Louis fled across France’s western border to fight on Brittany’s side against her, as the head of France’s invasion of its smaller neighbor in what was known as the Mad War. Why? Many speculate it was not ideological conviction alone that drove the young Duke d’Orléans over the border, but his desire to escape the attentions of Anne de Beaujeu.
The Least Foolish Woman in France is a short account of what might have happened between the two. Historical records indicate that France’s regent nursed an unrequited crush on the duke d’Orléans that was not returned. Many believed that when she had Louis imprisoned after his capture at the battle of Saint-Aubin, it was due to a long-held grudge against him for having scorned her affections.