Anne of France: Lessons for My Daughter

The daughter of Louis XI, Anne of France (1461-1522) was one of the most powerful women of the fifteenth century. Referred to by her contemporaries as Madame la Grande, she controlled the government of France for eight years after the death of her father, guiding the kingdom through a series of crises. While ceding formal power to her brother Charles VIII in 1491, she remained an active and influential figure in France throughout her life. As the fifteenth century drew to a close, Anne composed a series of enseignements, or "lessons," for her daughter Suzanne of Bourbon. These instructions represent a distillation of her lifetime of reading and her own first-hand knowledge of the world--having managed to steer her own course successfully, she offered her daughter advice intended to help her negotiate the difficult passage of a woman in the world of politics. Her lessons carefully  prepare Suzanne to act both circumspectly and politically; in drawing her portrait of an ideal princess, Anne presents a guidebook on governance for Suzanne, one not altogether unlike Machiavelli's more famous book of advice for a would-be prince, written some fifteen years later. Anne of France's Lessons have never before been translated into English.


From the “Preface”:


"In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf suggested that 'we think back through our mothers if we are women.' I found myself remembering her words as I began translating Anne of France’s lessons for her daughter, Suzanne of Bourbon. The process was a strangely intimate one: slowly, word by word, sometimes even letter by letter, I was deciphering the admonitions, advice, and warnings a fifteenth-century princess directed to her daughter, all the while and against all logic hearing my own mother’s voice in my mind. And then one day, midway, through the process of turning French into English, I looked away from my pile of dictionaries to the framed portraits of Anne and Suzanne that sat on my desk where I was working. Studying their faces, I knew I had to find the quotation that I remembered. . . ."




[Jansen’s translation] offers explication for non-specialist readers but at the same time provides serious scholarship. . . . A thoughtful and informative book which offers a sympathetic reassessment of Anne.”—The Ricardian




The translation is well-annotated where historical and literary explanations are needed.”—The Year’s Work in Modern Language Studies


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Anne of France: Lessons for My Daughter is a volume in the Library of Medieval Women series, edited by Jane Chance. From the publisher: “The Library of Medieval Women aims to make available, in English translation, significant works by, for, and about medieval women, from the age of the Church Fathers to the fifteenth century.”


 Click here to learn more about the Library of Medieval Women series from Boydell & Brewer.