Queen Regnant of Navarre (more...)
Reign 14 May 1610 - 17 November 1631
Coronation 26 June 1610
Predecessor Henry IV of France
Successor Antoine I of Navarre
Spouse Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria
Issue Elisabeth Charlotte, Duchess of Brittany

Antoine I
Margaret Louise
Louis, Elector of Bavaria
Henrietta Marie

Full name
Madeleine Elisabeth
House House of Bourbon
Father Henry IV of France
Mother Jane Margaret of England
Born 19 July 1573
Pau, Lower Navarre
Died 17 November 1631 (aged 58)
Château de Plessis-lèz-Tours, Navarre
Religion Calvinism

Madeleine Elisabeth (19 March 1573 - 17 November 1631) was the eldest child of Jane Margaret of England and Henry IV of France. Her mother convinced her father to allow her to succeed him in Navarre to prevent a personal union of France and Navarre. She became queen of Navarre in 1610 at the age of 37.

Early Life

Madeleine Elisabeth was the first child of Jane Margaret of England and Henry of Navarre. Her parents had been betrothed from a young age, although it was broken by her maternal grandmother, Isabella of Cleves, in 1572. Her father brought her mother to Navarre, anyway and their marriage was not announced until it was certain that Jane was pregnant. Isabella of Cleves was horrified, but immediately arrived in Navarre, herself pregnant, to ensure that her daughter was actually pregnant. On 19 March, Madeleine Elisabeth was born with her maternal grandparents present. Isabella was said to have remarked, "Sie ist hier. Sie ist ein hübsches Mädchen, obwohl nichts zu groß ist, um von ihr erwartet werden. Ihre Mutter ist nicht zu hell, selbst (She is here. She is a pretty girl, though nothing too great is to be expected of her. Her mother isn't too bright herself)" Her grandmother later brought her to England in 1576 where she stayed with her younger aunts and uncles for a few years when the French Wars of Religion had reignited. Unlike her mother, she delighted her grandmother by showing her that she was intelligent, being fluent in French, English, Spanish, German, and Latin. She could read and write well, and loathed embroidery, her mother's favortie hobby. She was close to her aunts Sophia and Cecily, and she was heartbroken when Cecily died at the age of eight. She returned to Navarre after the war ended and in 1580 she became the Madame Royale as her father had ascended the throne in France. Her mother had given birth to her younger sister, Charlotte Louise in 1578, and was struggling to provide a male heir, which had become essential because France functioned under the Salic law. Her brother Henry was born in 1580 and died a year later. A second, Charles, was born in 1581 and also died a year later. Her third brother, Louis, came in 1582, quickly followed by Gaston in 1583. Louis, like the two brothers before him, died a year after his birth, but Gaston lived, later succeeding their father as King of France. Madeleine Elisabeth was now displaced in the line of succession in Navarre, but her mother persuaded her father to keep her as his heir in Navarre. He eventually agreed, being closest to his eldest daughter. When she was 18, the nobles in Navarre and her younger brother Gaston swore to recognize her as heiress to Navarre.


In 1593, she married Maximilian, heir to the Duke of Bavaria. Despite religious differences, they had a harmonious marriage that produced seven children, five of whom lived to adulthood. Her eldest son succeeded her in Navarre and her younger son succeeded her husband. She lived in Germany with her husband until her father was murdered in 1610. She was not well liked in Germany, mainly because of her Calvinist faith, although she was welcomed by her aunt Constance, the Holy Roman Empress, who was still a convinced Protestant. When she became Queen of Navarre, she became estranged from her husband.

Queen of Navarre

She thought of the French as barbaric and hurried to Navarre to prevent her brother from annexing it despite his oath to allow her to become queen of Navarre. It was also to prevent her younger sister, Charlotte Louise, from claiming Navarre as her own. She did not trust either of her sisters, even after her coronation, and even went as far as to have Charlotte Louise beheaded after a rebellion. Blanche Marie fled Navarre to France under the protection of their brother Gaston. However, she was a good monarch and did much to reform the tax system of Navarre. She also kept Navarre out of foreign wars and worked to make Navarre a superpwer, eventually setting up small settlements in the Americas.


Madeleine Elisabeth died in 1631 after her carriage became disconnected from the horses drawing it and then fell into a river. The carriage was then swept downstream into a large boulder. Her body was found and no physician could determine if she died from drowning or a broken neck that she sustained.


  1. Elisabeth Charlotte
  2. Antoine I of Navarre
  3. miscarried twin son and daughter
  4. Margaret Louise
  5. Louis, Elector of Bavaria
  6. Henrietta Marie

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