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Marie of France, Countess of Champagne

Marie of France, Countess of Champagne

Countess of Champagne
The basics
Occupations Poet Writer
Countries France
A.K.A. Marie de France
Gender female
Birth 1154 (Kingdom of France)
Death 1189 (County of Champagne)
Mother: Eleanor of Aquitaine
Father: Louis VII of France
Siblings: John of EnglandHenry the Young KingGeoffrey IIDuke of BrittanyPhilipRichard I of EnglandWilliam IXCount of PoitiersMargaret of FranceQueen of England and HungaryEleanor of EnglandQueen of CastileAgnes of FranceJoan of EnglandQueen of SicilyAlysCountess of the VexinMatilda of EnglandDuchess of SaxonyAlix of France
Spouse: Henry ICount of Champagne
Children: Henry IICount of ChampagneScholastique of ChampagneMarie of ChampagneTheobald IIICount of Champagne
Authority Library of congress id VIAF id
The details

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. Her parents' marriage was annulled in 1152, and custody of Marie and her sister, Alix, was awarded to their father. 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 1160, when Louis married Adele of Champagne, he betrothed Marie and Alix to Adele's brothers. After her betrothal, Marie was sent to the abbey of Avenay in Champagne for her education. In 1164, Marie married Henry I, Count of Champagne. They had four children:

  • Henry II of Champagne (1166–1197)
  • Scholastique of Champagne (1172–1219), married William IV of Macon
  • Marie of Champagne (c. 1174–1204), married Baldwin I of Constantinople
  • Theobald III of Champagne (1179–1201)


Marie was left as 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, 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 Queen Adele and the archbishop of Reims—in plotting against Philip. Eventually, relations between Marie and her royal brother improved. Her husband died soon after his return from the Holy Land. Now a widow with four young children, Marie considered marrying Philip of Flanders, but the engagement was broken off suddenly for unknown reasons. Marie resumed regency when her son also went on Crusade, governing Champagne from 1190 to Henry's death in 1197.

Death and legacy

She retired to the nunnery of Fontaines-les-Nones near Meaux, and died there in 1198, she was buried in Meaux Cathedral.

On 25 June 1562, the Huguenots took over the town of Meaux and devastated many edifices, including the Cathedral. Backed up by Parisian refugees, the Huguenots of the Meaux region called a meeting in the market district and chose a leader, Louis de Meaux, seigneur de la Ramée. They took the keys to the town, put guards at the gates, and then made for the Cathedral. They attacked the sculpted stone decorations and liturgical furniture, it is on this occasion that the tomb of Marie de Champagne, in the choir, was destroyed.

Marie was also a patron of literature, including Andreas Capellanus, who served in her court, and Chrétien de Troyes. She was literate in French and Latin and maintained her own library. A deep affection existed between Marie and her half-brother King Richard, and his celebrated poem J'a nuns hons pris, lamenting his captivity in Austria, was dedicated to her.


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