From infinity and beyond, princess Bonne of Bourbon swiftly got in touch with us following the shock interview with her daughter-in-law, Bonne of Berry. Today, the countess gives us her side of the story and an exclusive glimpse into her trademark skills: glorifying her bloodline and reigning as a woman in the Middle Ages…
Answers researched by Lise Leyvraz Dorier / Translation by Amy Reid
around 1340 Birth
1355 Marriage by proxy with Amédée VI of Savoy
1355 Arrival of Bonne in Savoy
from 1356 Birth of four children including the future Amédée VII who will marry Bonne de Berry in 1377
1366 Regency of Bonne de Bourbon organized by her husband
1383 Death of Amédée VI and regency of Bonne de Bourbon
1391 Death of Amédée VII and continuation of the regency of Bonne de Bourbon
1391-1393 struggle to keep the regency against Bonne de Berry
May 8, 1393 Renunciation of the rights of regency on Savoy
October 30, 1393 Marriage of the count Amédée VIII with Marie de Bourgogne
Your Highness, what an honour it is to have you request this one-of-a-kind interview! I hear you would like to give your version of the events told by Bonne of Berry, who was married to your son, Amadeus VII.
Bonne of Bourbon: That’s right. Yes, I know all about what my daughter-in-law told you. She has been spreading these kinds of defamatory accusations against me for over 600 years. Shouting them from the rooftops in fact…
That doctor supposedly admitted under torture that I had ordered him to poison my much-beloved son Amadeus. My goodness! And you would believe him… a crook who tried to flee Savoy, over a model mother like me?!
The truth is that my daughter-in-law was jealous of me – and with good reason! We’re talking about a young lady who wanted to change the world… Poor thing! I almost feel sorry for her.
Now, if we could move on to more interesting topics… such as my regencies for example…
Of course, we will get to that, My Lady. We now know that your son in fact died of injuries he sustained during a boar-hunting accident. History is on your side.
Well, quite. Was there ever any doubt? Tsssk… I must say that, in the beginning, Bonne and I did have some good times together. Mainly at Chillon Castle, either over a nice glass of Clos de Chillon in the wooden room reserved for the ladies of Savoy, or even in Saint George’s Chapel, for the purest of devotions…
Then came the jealousy and the drama.
The legend of this seal of Bonne de Bourbon indicates her quality of regent - administratix Amedei comitis - which she exercised during the first years of the minority of her grandson Amédée. Two angels support the shield divided in two, with on the right, the cross of Savoy, and on the left, the flowers of lilies on which passes a band (cotice brochant), emblem of Bourbon. The shield is surmounted by a bird surrounded by flowering branches. Click to see the one of Marie de Bourgogne!
So, in short, your role was basically to give birth and then reign for thirty years…
Yes. Those were my two main tasks in life. Firstly, my husband Amadeus VI of Savoy and I went to Condat Abbey around a year after our wedding – which we celebrated in style in 1355 – to help boost our chances of being blessed with our first child. Secondly, I took the initiative to have a wax statue made in my image. This was given as an offering to the Virgin in Lausanne Cathedral. It’s clear that this divine contribution helped us to produce a male heir. Thirdly, my husband entrusted me with the reins of power while he was away fighting wars and supporting our allies, such as the Byzantine Empire – they fought against the Ottomans in 1366.
So, were you a ‘match’?
Oh yes, we got married by proxy and then I joined my husband in Pont-de-Veyle… We were the best, for sure. Our nicknames express it: “Le Comte Vert” and “La Grande Madame”. If you look at my dress, it is the perfect link between our two allied families: the Savoy and the Bourbon.
Dare we ask about your morning routine, quickly?
If you must… Well, the usual, really: I take a bath filled with rose petals and essences of rosemary and orange peel, then I apply my lavender and jasmine ointments – all to the sound of the harp… Music lifts the mood and strengthens the soul, don’t you know? And I’ll let you in on a little secret… I was the one who made this heavenly musical instrument so fashionable in Savoy. Anyway, then I style my hair with my favourite comb and brush my teeth. I say ‘I’. This is of course all done by my ladies in waiting – that goes without saying.
And let’s not forget my daily prayers. And no, I don’t do any ‘sun salutations.’
Would you say your image was more important than ever as an aristocrat living in the Middle Ages?
Why yes. I was a constant source of inspiration. If you need any proof, just take a look at my portrait. Well, portraits, plural. They’re like the world’s first Instagram carousel. You see… I was a trailblazer. A pioneer, if you will. Just like the Instagrammers, influencers and vloggers of your day who post pictures. The only difference is they get to decide which images to keep. I had artisans paint my portraits. It was such a divine task that they created several versions, even after my death.
What do you think – flowers or no flowers? Never mind!
Anyway, I’m not making this up. You’re the ones who decided to use my image as the avatar for your website chatbot! I was and still am a global showcase…
Interview based primarily on the French scientific paper on the women of Savoy in the Middle Ages: Vies de princesses ? Les femmes de la Maison de Savoie (XIIIe-XVIe siècle).