Extract from 1492 and all that!
Henry II of Navarre married very well, to Marguerite of Angoulême the sister of King Francis I of France.
Their daughter Jeanne d’Albret was forced by Francis to marry William ‘The Rich’ but this was annulled never having been consummated. Once Francis had died she married Antoine de Bourbon in 1548, rekindling the family’s interests and significance.
When Henry II died in 1555, Jeanne III and Antoine de Bourbon ruled the province of Navarre jointly; he was often absent, thus effectively she ruled alone.
Something of a free thinker she converted to Calvinism which she declared the official religion of Navarre, becoming the most senior Protestant in France. Jeanne III had the region’s Catholic churches demolished, their priests and nuns banned, as she forced her new religion onto her subjects. She also arranged for the New Testament to be translated into Basque and Béarnese.
She also found time to reform the economic and judicial processes in her realm. Often outspoken, she is said to have referred to Catherine de Medici as the ‘Florentine grocer’s daughter’.
It was Henry (Henri) of Bourbon, the son of Jeanne and Antoine, who became Henry III of Navarre in 1572 and would subsequently become the first Bourbon king of France – as Henry IV from 1589.
The Bourbon dynasty would provide kings of Navarre and kings of France from 1589 until the French Revolution, kings of Spain from 1700 right up until today, and also kings of The Two Sicilies (Naples and Sicily). The dynasty included Dukes of Bourbon, Orléans, Parma, Seville and Vendôme.
The family also provided emperors of Brazil and grand dukes of Luxembourg from 1572 until modern times. Though today’s grand duke’s powers are very much diminished and Brazil ceased to be an empire from 1889.