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Germaine of Foix (1488–18 October 1538) was queen consort of Aragon as the second wife of Ferdinand II of Aragon, whom she married in 1505 after the death of his first wife, Isabella I of Castile.

Birth and background

Germaine was a daughter of Jean de Foix, Viscount of Narbonne, infante of Navarre and comte d'Étampes, by his wife, Marie d'Orléans. Her paternal grandparents were Gaston de Grailly, comte de Foix and the Queen regnant Eleanor of Navarre. Her maternal grandparents were Charles, duc d'Orléans and Marie of Cleves. Her only maternal uncle was Louis XII of France.

Marriage to Ferdinand and Queen of Aragon

Following the death of his wife Isabella I, Ferdinand had to yield the government of Castile to his son-in-law Philip of Habsburg (1478–1506), who assumed power in the name of his wife Joanna (1479–1555), Isabella's heiress. Ferdinand objected to Philip's policies and to prevent Philip from gaining Aragon through Joanna, he sought to have a male heir with a new wife. A new male heir would displace Joanna (and by extension her husband) from the line of succession. He negotiated with King Louis XII of France for a marriage, hoping perhaps to salve generally bad French-Aragonese relations. At the Treaty of Blois, Louis agreed to have his niece Germaine of Foix marry Ferdinand. Louis XII also ceded in the treaty his weak claim to the Kingdom of Naples (already controlled by Aragon) and Kingdom of Jerusalem (controlled by neither) to his niece, conditional on a male child being produced. A short truce and brief alliance between the two kings resulted, despite several wars before and after the Treaty.

In 1506 Philip of Habsburg died and Ferdinand became regent of Castile for his mentally unstable daughter Joanna. Ferdinand and Germaine did have a son, Juan, Prince of Aragon on 3 May 1509, but he died shortly after birth. Despite the use of love potions, they did not have another. If Juan had lived, then the Crown of Aragon would have split from the Crown of Castile once again (after being semi-unified by Ferdinand and Isabella's marriage). This included Aragonmarker, Valencia, and Cataloniamarker in Spain, and the Kingdom of Naples, Kingdom of Sicily and Sardinia in the Italian peninsula and the Tyrrhenian Seamarker. With Juan's death, both Castile and Aragon would eventually go to Ferdinand and Isabella's daughter Joanna.

Ferdinand's diplomatic deviousness and off and on alliances with France infuriated Henry VIII of England (born 1491, reigned 1509–1547), married to Ferdinand and Isabella's youngest daughter, Catherine of Aragon (1485–1536). Seeing this match devalued, Henry in 1514 forced his sister Mary (1496–1533) into a loveless marriage with Louis XII to spite Ferdinand. Louis XII died the next year, regardless.

Death of Ferdinand and Succession of Charles

Ferdinand died after two years of health problems in 1516, leaving Germaine a widow. Ferdinand's successors were Joanna and her son Charles. Ferdinand did, however, leave Germaine a yearly income of 50,000 gold florins, and exhorted his grandson Charles in his last letter not to abandon her.

In 1517, Charles moved from the Netherlands to Castile as the new King of Castile and Aragon. Germaine moved from Aragon to Castile to join his court as well, where the 17-year-old king took well to his 29-year-old stepgrandmother. He organized several tournaments and banquets in her honor. A year or thereabouts later, Germaine gave birth to a daughter, Isabel. It is widely speculated among historians that Charles was Isabel's father; Germaine refers to her in her will as the "Infanta Isabel"—a title that only makes sense if her father was the King.

Charles, Germaine, and Charles's sister Eleanor moved from Castile to Aragon in 1519, where he would be formally sworn in as King of Aragon. He would spend a year in Aragon, negotiating with its parliament and managing affairs. While in Barcelona, Charles arranged for Germaine to marry the margrave Johann of Brandenburg-Ansbach, a landless cadet and cousin of Joachim I, Elector of Brandenburg. Germaine left Spain to travel with Charles to Germany, where she was married.

Viceroy of Valencia

In 1523 Charles appointed the couple jointly viceroys of Valencia. There Germaine, recently returned to Spain, dealt with the fallout of the Revolt of the Brotherhoods by the Valencian guilds (Germanies). Germaine favored harsh treatment of the agermanats; she is thought to have signed the death warrants of 100 former rebels personally, and sources indicate that as many as 800 executions may have occurred in total. This undid the more lenient policy of Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, who had favored reconciliation with the rebels. In December 1524, Germaine signed a pardon that officially ended the persecution of all former participants in the rebellion. However, fines imposed on the guilds and guild-aligned cities as punishment would take many years to be repaid.

On Johann's death in 1526, Germaine married Ferdinand of Aragón, Duke of Calabria, a son of King Frederick IV of Naples (1496–1501) by his second wife Isabella del Balzo. The two continued as viceroys of Valencia and were patrons of the arts and music. The cosmopolitan Germaine also encouraged the slow integration of Valencia with Castilian-dominated Spain as a whole.

Germaine died in Liriamarker in 1538, and was interred in the Monastery of San Miguel de los Reyes. The Duke of Calabria continued in office until his death in 1550.



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