Historical story

How in the Turkish soap opera? The father took his son's wife, but he did not cope with the task ...

A raging epidemic decimated the country. There was a great war. It was in such circumstances that this turbulent love story unfolded. Its heroes were an ancient ruler, an aspiring heir to the throne and a young woman. Just like a decent (if you can say so ...) soap opera.

The year 1347 seemed to herald only good events for the French dynasty. After the compromising defeat with the British, a truce for several years was signed at Crécy, so it was possible to take a break from the war and focus on more pleasant matters.

The family grew. The 54-year-old King Philip VI did not beget children with the almost as old Queen Joan of Burgundy, but his daughter-in-law Bona gave birth to another heir to the throne, Jan, almost every year.

Queen Joan was an overbearing woman. It was said that she was in charge of the husband. It happened that she forged his documents in order to get revenge on someone. Trying to kill a bishop with a poison bath, she almost killed ... her son John. After such incidents, the king beat his wife, but was unable to part with her.

Philip VI with his wife Joanna Burgundzka. Though it fell under his skin more than once, he stayed with her ... until her death (source:public domain).

Epidemic doesn't choose

It soon got complicated. Black death, brought from the east, began to decimate the inhabitants of France. A monstrous epidemic, spreading at an alarming rate and turning people into smelly wrecks , she killed quickly and regardless of social position.

She also reached the royal court. At the beginning of September 1349, Bona died, who had managed to give the kingdom four sons. Though the world seemed to be falling apart around, and no one was sure if he would live to see tomorrow, the marriage policy of the Valois dynasty must have continued . The thirty-year-old heir to the throne could not be left without a wife.

New Heroine on the Event Horizon

A quick search ended with the choice of Blanka d'Évreux, Princess of Navarre . The eighteen-year-old girl was the perfect age to marry, and the alliance with her family, who also owned estates in the north of France, was immensely beneficial in terms of further struggle with the English.

The situation was spiced up by the fact that Blanka's mother - Queen Joan of Navarre, who died a month after Bona - was once the heir to the throne of France. It is the only child of King Louis X that would have taken the throne if it had not been for the swift change of the law of inheritance.

The situation was spiced up by the fact that - if it were not for the hasty change of inheritance law - Blanka's mother would have been the ruler of France. In the miniature, Queen of Navarre Joanna II Mała in conversation with an angel. "Hours of Joanna Nawarska" by Jean le Noir (source:public domain).

Blanka was not only young. It also had numerous advantages. She went down in history as "Belle Sagesse" - Smart Beauty which perfectly reflected her qualities. The delightful girl arrived at the Parisian court, which was already getting ready for an official engagement.

Marry me, my son!

The plague, however, continued to rage. In December, three months after her daughter-in-law, Queen Joan, wife of Philip VI, passed away from this world. and… the great-aunt of beautiful Blanka. The aged, but still lively king, who went crazy about the lovely girl as soon as she appeared at court, must have considered it a special smile of fate ...

Barely a month later there was news that shocked everyone. In a quiet and private celebration at the castle of Joanna d'Évreux, Blanka's aunt and widow of the previous king, the 56-year-old king was married to his son's fiancée three times younger .

Jan had to be content with his would-be stepmother's hand ... but first he showed dissatisfaction with the situation, ostentatiously going crazy at the tournaments (source:public domain).

It was an unimaginable act. The king not only violated any rules of mourning for the deceased . It was an impulse of heart which could not be justified by any political considerations. In addition, through an engagement with Jan Blanka, she became related to Philip to a degree requiring dispensation. But who cares about incest when the world is collapsing ...

The heir to the throne did not take part in the modest wedding. Father curled his beautiful fiancée from under his nose ... and made fun of him in the eyes of the nation . Stubborn Jan took up the tournament matches with Blanka's name on his lips.

In return you will get ... a stepmother

The father quickly decided to appease the heir and reward him for his humiliation. During the brief widowhood of Philip VI, 23-year-old Joan of Auvergne, the widow of the Duke of Burgundy… and cousin of Blanka! Since the king took his son's fiancée, he gave him ... his ex-would-be wife .

Jan took her for his wife, although he was not completely satisfied with it. Joanna brought him a much needed enormous dowry, but at Blanka she looked like an ugly, elderly and not very charming woman . He could only swear under his breath that at family celebrations his wife remained in the shadow of his stepmother. Anyway, unlike the fertile Bona, Joanna only gave birth to three children who died in infancy.

Admittedly, it was a year of weddings in the royal family. Soon, a twelve-year-old dolphin, who married his equal-year-old, joined his grandfather and father. In a family where three young women appeared in a short time, the excitement reached its zenith.

The king is burning with passion

King Philip became very animated with his young wife. He gave Blanka numerous gifts - jewels, precious books, valuables previously belonging to his first half. And most of all - he was giving her a lot of himself.

When Filip was playing with Blanka, Jan could feel foolish. At least Bona was a prolific wife, and Joanna… it's a pity to talk. A miniature from the Bona Luxemburg psalter showing her and John during prayer (source:public domain).

It was said that the king was too zealous in his duty to the young wife. Obsessed with passion, as he left the bed, he thought only about returning to it. Intensive exploitation of an aging organism had fatal consequences. His body could not stand the daily games of love. Before that, he was a good-looking man, slightly overweight, but lively and graceful. Now, as Maurice Druon described it in "The Damned Kings":

Requested medications to enhance his masculinity (...). The brightest Lady Blanka accepted the evidence of this outburst of passion, which flattered her, although she was also a bit worried. The king publicly boasted that she suffered more quickly in bed than he did. He was losing weight fast. He was neglecting the affairs of the kingdom. Each week made him a year old.

The 57-year-old king died on August 22, 1350, just seven months after his wedding.

Eternal Widow

Little did he know that the efforts made almost to the day of his death had borne fruit. The Dowager Queen soon found out she was pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl almost nine months after her husband died , called Joanna or Blanka.

After seven months of marriage, the exhausted Philip VI left this vale of tears, leaving Blanka a widow for almost half a century ... The miniature shows the coronation of John II the Good and the funeral of Philip VI (source:public domain).

Even when Blanka was pregnant, the teenage Castilian king Peter I the Cruel asked for her hand. The woman replied that: The Queen of France is not remarrying . Though historically this was not true, the young widow made clear pledges of allegiance to her deceased spouse.

She probably regretted this decision later, because fate had allowed her to survive her husband by ... forty-eight years! Due to the privacy of her wedding ceremony and the lack of a coronation - which was not completed before the death of Philip VI - her status as widow queen has been frequently questioned. It was only through her own abilities that she managed to achieve authority.

The article was inspired by a series of novels by Maurice Druon entitled "The Cursed Kings" (Otwarte Publishing House 2016).

Uncle son-in-law

A lonely life was not given to her. She lived in Melun for a long time with Aunt Joanna, the elderly widow queen. She had an only daughter in her care, and for some time also Princess Joanna. This little younger than her daughter of the would-be (and the granddaughter of the actual) husband, was married at the age of 8 for ... Blanka's brother , King Charles II of Navarre. Therefore, Maurice Druon put in his mouth the following witty words about King John II the Good:

We are cousins ​​since birth, we almost became brothers-in-law, but his father married my sister and so I became his uncle and now I will be his son-in-law.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Trouble with my brother

The three queens of Melun often interceded for Charles II the Bad at John II the Good. And there was a point, because the ambitious king of Navarre turned out to be a traitor many times, almost eternally in alliance with the English, and he dared to kill the favorite of King John ... and planned to throw the monarch from the throne.

Charles II the Bad could always count on the support of two queens of France:aunt Joanna and sister Blanka. However, it did not help him much ... He died tragically while his long-lived sister was still alive. Stained glass window in the Notre Dame collegiate church in Mantes-la-Jolie (photo:Reinhardhauke, license CC BY-SA 3.0).

Fate took revenge on him with a cruel death. Blanka's cold brother was tightly wrapped with alcohol-soaked warm bandages to warm him up. It was unfortunate that an unskillful servant accidentally set fire to the dressing. Charles found himself in a fiery shroud . Badly burned, he lived for two more painful weeks.

And the long-lived Blanka? She was given a daughter to survive, who died on her way to her fiancée, the king of Aragon. She outlived her stepson (and would-be husband) Jan, and even his son Charles V the Wise. She died on October 5, 1398, during the reign of her husband's great-grandson, King Charles VI the Mad.

Since there was no room for her at the side of her husband, buried with her first wife, she had her lie next to her only daughter's body.