Marie I de Coucy, Countess of Soissons

For other people named Marie de Coucy, see Marie de Coucy (disambiguation).
Marie I de Coucy
suo jure Dame de Coucy and d'Oisy
suo jure Countess of Soissons
Spouse(s) Henry of Bar, Marquis de Pont-à-Mousson


Enguerrand of Bar
Robert of Bar
Noble family Coucy
House of Plantagenet
Father Enguerrand VII de Coucy
Mother Isabella of England
Born April 1366
Coucy Castle, Picardy, France
Died After 3 March 1405

Marie I de Coucy, Dame de Coucy and d'Oisy, Countess of Soissons (April 1366 – after 3 March 1405) was the wife of Henry of Bar, and the granddaughter of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. She succeeded to the title of suo jure Countess of Soissons, on 18 February 1397, upon the death of her father, Enguerrand VII de Coucy. In addition to her titles, she also owned numerous estates in North-Eastern France. Mary, Queen of Scots, King Henry IV of France, and the Bourbon kings of France were her direct descendants.


Coucy Castle, the birthplace of Marie de Coucy, and the lords of Coucy

Marie was born in April 1366 at Coucy Castle, Picardy, France. She was the eldest daughter of a powerful French nobleman, Enguerrand VII de Coucy, and Isabella of England, daughter of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. She had a younger sister, Philippa de Coucy (1367–1411), who married Robert de Vere, 9th Earl of Oxford, Marquess of Dublin, Duke of Ireland.

When Marie was about a month old, she accompanied her parents to England, where on 11 May 1366 her father received the title of Earl of Bedford and was inducted into the Order of the Garter.[1] In 1376 at the age of ten, Marie joined the household of the French queen, Joanna of Bourbon and was educated alongside the Dauphin and his siblings.[2]

Marriage and issue

In November 1384, she married Henry of Bar, Marquis de Pont-à-Mousson (1362 – October 1397 Treviso, Italy), son of Robert I, Duke of Bar and Marie of Valois, sister of King Charles V of France.[3] The marriage produced two sons:

Through her son Robert who married Jeanne de Béthune, and had one daughter, Jeanne de Bar (1415 – 14 May 1462), Marie was the direct ancestress of Mary, Queen of Scots, King Henry IV of France, and the Bourbon kings of France.

Marie's mother, Isabella, died in 1379, and her father remarried in February 1386, a girl about thirty years his junior. Her name was Isabelle, and she was the daughter of John I, Duke of Lorraine. They had one daughter, Isabel. Upon Enguerrand's death on 18 February 1397 in a Turkish prison at Bursa, Anatolia, five months after the ferocious Battle of Nicopolis,[4] Marie inherited his title and became the suo jure Countess of Soissons. Near the end of that same year, she was widowed. Following the Battle of Nicopolis, her husband Henry was also taken prisoner and later ransomed. In October 1397, on the lengthy journey home to France, Henry of Bar died at the Crusaders' camp in Treviso after having contracted the plague during his sojourn in Venice.[5] He was buried at the convent of the Celestines in Paris.[6]

Marie disputed the wealthy de Coucy inheritance with her stepmother, with Marie claiming the entire inheritance, while Isabelle insisted upon receiving half. Neither lady yielded. The rich barony was described as "having castles of grandeur, with its 150 towns and villages, its famous forests, fine ponds, many good vassals, much great nobility and inestimable revenues".[7] The women lived in mutual hostility, each in a separate castle of the domain, with her own captains and entourage of relatives, both ladies endlessly pursuing lawsuits.[8] Marie was coerced by Louis d'Orléans into selling the barony to him in 1404. She brought at least eleven lawsuits against Orléans in an attempt to recover her property, but following a wedding feast which she had attended in 1405, Marie died suddenly. There were persistent rumours that she had been poisoned, but nothing could be proven to substantiate the allegations.[9] Her son Robert continued the litigation, but eventually, the barony of Coucy passed to the French Crown.



  1. Barbara Tuchman (1978) A Distant Mirror. New York: Knopf ISBN 0394400267; pp. 232-33.
  2. Tuchman, p. 314
  3. Tuchman, pp. 367, 423.
  4. Tuchman,p.603
  5. Tuchman, p. 606.
  6. Charles Cawley, Medieval Lands; Dukes of Bar
  7. Tuchman, p. 609.
  8. Tuchman, p. 609.
  9. Tuchman, pp. 609-10.


  1. Barbara W. Tuchman, A Distant Mirror published by Alfred A.Knopf, 1978
  2. Charles Cawley, Medieval Lands, Dukes of Bar
French nobility
Preceded by
Enguerrand VII, Lord of Coucy
Countess of Soissons
Succeeded by
Louis I, Duke of Orleans
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