(Princess Margaret of Austria)
We are in the town of Bourg-en-Bresse. We arrived at lunchtime in front of a huge abbey, called The Royal Monastery of Brou. It was commissioned by Princess Margaret of Austria who was from the Netherlands (or at least ruled the Netherlands for a time) in 1506.
(I love the cloisters)
She had a tough life. When she was little her mother died. Then her father promised her to a future king and she had to go live in Amboise to become trained for her new role. She was only 8. She was great friends with her fiancé until they were both 17 and he broke it off with her to marry a different princess. She was very hurt. But her father found her another king (can’t remember where he was from) and they got married. Unfortunately, he died.
(Can you see the fancy tile mosaic on the roof of the church?)
Margaret didn’t throw in the towel yet, no she found, or maybe it was her father who found, another suitor. Philibert the Handsome. He was very handsome. They were both very much in love. She was 24 when he died… can it get any worse?
(It started raining while I was inside)
She decided not to get married again. Then her brother died. She was given the job of ruling the Netherlands which she did very well. She was very rich and she decided to become a patron of the arts and started work on the Monastery. She had a plan for spending the rest of her life here with the tomb of her Philibert.
(Tomb of Philibert the Handsome…)
She hired master builder, Louis van Boghem from Brussels who in turn hired Flemish skilled stone masons and wood carvers. It was nearly finished when she died. Yes Princess Margaret died before she even set foot in her creation. She was fifty years of age.
(…and just a few feet away, the tomb of Princess Margaret of Austria)
She’s here now, though, in a tomb in the church with her husband (the handsome one) and her mother-in-law (who gave her the idea for building.)
Things could be worse, Mairead.