I finished filling out our WCW’s on English/British queens, now it’s time to get to all the French queens we haven’t covered! Marguerite de Valois (aka Margot or Margaret, 1553-1615) was the daughter of King Henri II and Queen Catherine de’ Medici; she married the king of Navarre, who ended up inheriting the French throne as Henri IV. She’s the famous “Queen Margot” from the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (1572), in which thousands of Protestants were assassinated/killed by mobs a few days after her wedding.
Marguerite and Henri had a famously fractious marriage, and Marguerite took sides against him in political infighting, which led to her being exiled for 20 years. Eventually the two divorced, and Henri went on to marry Marie de’ Medici; they had never had children. Marguerite was very involved in the cultural life of the court, was a fashion leader, and wrote her own memoirs during her exile. After her divorce, she eventually was allowed to return to Paris, where she supported the theater and philosophers, poets, and scholars. She’s known for her scandalous reputation, supposedly having many lovers, but modern historians argue this comes from anti-Valois propaganda.
Let’s look at Marguerite de Valois on screen!
Léontine Massart in La Reine Margot (1914)
There were a LOT of silent films about Marguerite; this is one of the few I can find images of. This is also one of the first of many adaptations of Alexandre Dumas’s novel about her, Queen Margot.
Constance Talmadge in Intolerance (1916)
A major silent epic that showed human intolerance across the ages via four stories, one of which is the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.
Jeanne Moreau in La Reine Margot (1954)
Another adaptation of the Dumas story.
Nelly Benedetti in La Caméra explore le temps (“Qui a tué Henri IV?”) (1960)
One episode of this French TV show that dramatized various events in French history.
Françoise Prévost in La Reine Margot (1961)
A French TV adaptation of, you guessed it, the Dumas novel.
Magali Noël in Les Trois Henry (1962)
Another French TV movie, but that’s all I know! I presume it’s about Henri III and Henri IV, since they’re in the cast list, but I’m not sure who the third Henry is. Aha! It’s Henri, duc de Guise.
Katerina Jacob in Le Roi qui vient du Sud (1979)
Aka “The King who came from the South” – a French TV miniseries about Henri IV.
Marianne Basler in Dames Galantes (1990)
A film about the life of Pierre de Bourdeille, seigneur de Brantôme, French historian, soldier, and biographer. I can’t figure out the connection with Marguerite, but Brantôme was at the French court and his memoirs are filled with juicy court gossip about sexual “immorality,” so.
Isabelle Adjani in Queen Margot (1994)
Probably the film that most of us know her from! This is yet another adaptation of the Dumas novel.
Yevgeniya Dobrovolskaya in Koroleva Margo (1996)
A Russian TV miniseries that yet again adapts the Dumas novel.
Catherine Conet in La Reine Margot (2001)
I think this is actually a stage play adaptation of (you guessed it) Dumas’s novel.
Armelle Deutsch in Henri 4 (2010)
A biopic about King Henri IV.
? in Secrets d’Histoire (“La légende noire de la reine Margot”) (2017)
A French TV docu-drama series that looks at various episodes in French history.
Who’s your favorite Marguerite de Valois on screen?