Margaret of France, Queen of England and Hungary

For other people with the same name, see Margaret of France (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Margaret of France, Queen of England.
Margaret of France

Queen Margaret being given in marriage to the king of Hungary by her brother Philip
Junior Queen consort of England
Tenure 1170 – 11 June 1183
Coronation 27 August 1172 (Westminster Abbey)
Queen consort of Hungary and Croatia
Tenure 1186–1196
Born 1157
Died after 10 September 1197 (aged 40)
St John of Acre
Burial Cathedral of Tyre
Spouse Henry the Young King
Béla III of Hungary
House Capet
Father Louis VII of France
Mother Constance of Castile

Margaret of France (1157 – aft. 10 September 1197) was, by her two marriages, queen of England, Hungary and Croatia.

She was the eldest daughter of Louis VII of France by his second wife Constance of Castile. Her older half-sisters, Marie and Alix, were also older half-sisters of her future husband.

First marriage

She was betrothed to Henry the Young King on 2 November 1160. Henry was the second of five sons born to King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He was five years old at the time of this agreement while Margaret was three. Margaret's dowry was the vital and much disputed territory of Vexin.[1][2]

Her husband became co-ruler with his father in 1170. Because Archbishop Thomas Becket was in exile, Margaret was not crowned along with her husband on 14 July 1170. This omission and the coronation being handled by a surrogate greatly angered her father. To please the French King, Henry II had his son and Margaret crowned together in Winchester Cathedral on 27 August 1172.[3] When Margaret became pregnant, she did her confinement period in Paris, where she gave birth prematurely to their only son William on 19 June 1177, who died three days later on 22 June.

She was accused in 1182 of having a love affair with William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, although contemporary chroniclers doubted the truth of these accusations. Henry may have started the process to have their marriage annulled, ostensibly due to her adultery but in reality because she could not conceive an heir. Margaret was sent back to France, according to E. Hallam (The Plantagenets) and Amy Kelly (Eleonore of Aquitaine and the Four Kings), to ensure her safety during the civil war with Young Henry's brother Richard the Lionheart. Her husband died in 1183 while on campaign in the Dordogne region of France. By virtue of her marriage to Young King Henry, duke of Anjou, she was installed as the duchess. The coronet he and she would have worn was chronicled in about 1218 as "the traditional ring-of-roses coronet of the house of Anjou".[4] Margaret may have taken her coronet to Hungary in 1186 when she married King Bela III. A ring-of-roses coronet was discovered in a convent grave in Budapest in 1838, which may be the same one.

Second marriage

After receiving a substantial pension in exchange for surrendering her dowry of Gisors and the Vexin, she became the second wife of Béla III of Hungary in 1186.[5] The difficult delivery of her only known child in 1177 seems to have rendered her sterile, as she had no further children.

Later life

She was widowed for a second time in 1196 and died on pilgrimage to the Holy Land at St John of Acre in 1197, having only arrived eight days prior to her death.[6] She was buried at the Cathedral of Tyre, according to Ernoul, the chronicler who continued the chronicles of William of Tyre.

Fictional portrayal

Margaret was portrayed by Lucy Durham-Matthews (as a young girl) and Tracey Childs (as a teenager) in the 1978 BBC TV drama series The Devil's Crown, which dramatised the reigns of Henry II, Richard I and John.



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  1. Gilbert of Mons, Gislebertus, Laura Napran; Chronicle of Hainaut; Boydell Press, 2005
  2. Elizabeth M. Hallam, Judith Everard; Capetian France, 987-1328; Pearson Education, 2001
  3. W. L. Warren, Henry II, (Univ. of California Press, 1973), 111
  4. Monk, Unknown (1218). Life of William Earl Marshall.
  5. Local Tradition or European Patterns? The grave of Gertrude in the Pilis Cistercian Abbey, Jozsef Laszlovszky, Medieval East Central Europe in a Comparative Perspective, ed. Gerhard Jaritz, Katalin Szende, (Routledge, 2016), 84.
  6. The Chronicle of Ernoul records the arrival of "une reine en Hongrie...veve sans hoir" at Tyre [in 1197] and her death eight days later, specifying that she was the sister of the mother of Henri Comte de Champagne King of Jerusalem and had been "feme...le jouene roi d'Englietere…et suer…le roi Phelippe de France". Louis de Mas Latrie (ed.) (1871) Chronique d'Ernoul et de Bernard le Trésorier (Paris) (“Ernoul”) 26, p. 302.
Margaret of France, Queen of England and Hungary
Cadet branch of the Robertian dynasty
Born: 1158 Died: 1197
Royal titles
Preceded by
Eleanor of Aquitaine
as sole consort
Queen consort of the English
27 August 1172 – 11 June 1183
Served alongside: Eleanor of Aquitaine
Succeeded by
Eleanor of Aquitaine
as sole consort
Title last held by
Agnes of Antioch
Queen consort of Hungary
1186 – 1196
Title next held by
Constance of Aragon
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