Marie of France, Countess of Champagne
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Marie of France, Countess of Champagne

Marie of France (1145 - March 11, 1198) was a French princess and Countess consort of Champagne. She was regent of the county of Champagne in 1179-1181, and in 1190-1197.

She was the elder daughter of King Louis VII of France and Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Early life

Marie was just two years old when her parents went to Crusade to the Holy Land. Not long after their return, when she was seven, her parents' marriage was annulled in 1152.[1] Custody of Marie and her sister, Alix, was awarded to their father, since they were at that time the only heirs to the French throne. Both Louis and Eleanor remarried quickly, with Eleanor becoming Queen of England as the spouse of King Henry II. Marie had numerous half-siblings, including kings Philip II of France and John and Richard I of England.


In 1153, before Louis remarried Adele of Champagne, he betrothed Marie and Alix to Adele's brothers.[2] After her betrothal, Marie was sent to live with the Viscountess Elizabeth of Mareuil-sy-Aÿ and then to the abbey of Avenay in Champagne for her Latin-based education. In 1159, Marie married Henry I, Count of Champagne.[1] They had four children:


Marie became regent for Champagne when Henry I went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land from 1179 until 1181. While her husband was away, Marie's father died and her half-brother, Philip Augustus, became king. He confiscated his mother's dower lands and married Isabelle of Hainaut, who was previously betrothed to Marie's eldest son. This prompted Marie to join a party of disgruntled nobles--including the queen mother Adela of Champagne and the archbishop of Reims--in plotting against Philip. Eventually, relations between Marie and her royal brother improved.[2] Her husband died soon after his return from the Holy Land in 1181, leaving her again as regent for her young son Henry.

Now a widow with four young children, Marie considered marrying Philip of Flanders, but the engagement was broken off suddenly for unknown reasons. In 1187, after Saladin won a significant victory over the West and recaptured Jerusalem, Marie served again as regent for Champagne as her son Henry II joined the Third Crusade, from 1190 to 1197. He remained in the Levant, marrying Isabelle of Jerusalem in 1192. Over the course of her regencies, Champagne was transformed from a patchwork of territories into a significant principality.[1]

Death and legacy

Marie was able to retire only briefly to the nunnery of Châuteau de Fontaines-les-Nonnes near Meaux (1187-1190), before being called back to govern Champagne. She died March, 1198 after hearing the tragic news of her son's death.[1] She was buried in Meaux Cathedral.

On 25 June 1562, rioting Huguenots devastated many edifices, including the Cathedral of Maux; it was on this occasion that the tomb of Marie de Champagne, in the choir, was destroyed.[2]

Literary patronage

medieval illumination of sitting woman
Marie pictured as patroness in a medieval manuscript

As granddaughter of the first troubadour, Guillaume IX, it is not surprising that Marie would be an avid supporter of the arts.[3] Marie was a patron of literature and her court became a sphere of influence on authors and poets[4] such as Andreas Capellanus, who served in her court and referred to her several times in his writing,[3]Chrétien de Troyes, who credits her with the idea for his Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart, the troubadours Bertran de Born and Bernart de Ventadorn, Gautier d'Arras and Conon de Bétune.[2]

She is credited with the widely held belief of fin'amors or Courtly Love, that love cannot exist within the bounds of marriage.[5]

She was literate in French and Latin, and maintained her own library.[1] A deep affection existed between Marie and her half-brother King Richard, and a stanza from his celebrated poem J'a nuns hons pris, lamenting his captivity in Austria, was addressed to her.[2]

Historical Fiction

Marie's life is fictionalized in Eleanor's Daughter: A Novel of Marie de Champagne (2018), a novel written by medieval scholar June Hall McCash.[6]



  1. ^ a b c d e Evergates, Theodore (11 December 2018). Marie of France : Countess of Champagne, 1145-1198 (1st ed.). Philadelphia. ISBN 978-0-8122-5077-0. OCLC 1033578543.
  2. ^ a b c d e McCash, June Hall Martin (1979). "Marie de Champagne and Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Relationship Reexamined". Speculum. 54 (4): 698-711. doi:10.2307/2850324. JSTOR 2850324.
  3. ^ a b "Marie de Champagne". Academic Dictionaries and Encyclopedias. Retrieved .
  4. ^ Benton, John F. (1961). "The Court of Champagne as a Literary Center". Speculum. 36 (4): 551-591. doi:10.2307/2856785. ISSN 0038-7134. JSTOR 2856785.
  5. ^ "A letter from Marie of France, countess of Champagne and Troyes (1174?)". Epistolae: Medieval Women's Latin Letters. Retrieved 2020.
  6. ^ McCash, June Hall (2018). Eleanor's Daughter: A Novel of Marie de Champagne. Twin Oaks Press. ISBN 9781937937218.


  • Wheeler, Bonnie. Eleanor of Aquitaine: Lord and Lady, 2002
  • Evergates, Theodore. Aristocratic Women in Medieval France, 1999
  • McCash, June Hall Martin. "Marie de Champagne and Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Relationship Reexamined." Speculum 54.4 (Oct. 1979): 698-711.
  • Evergates, Theodore. Marie of France : Countess of Champagne, 1145-1198, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018.  (ISBN 9780812250770)

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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