Rene d’Anjou was born on the 16th January 1409 in Angers, France. Based on ‘Prieure Documents’ the young Rene became Grand Master of the Priory of Sion in 1418 with his uncle; Louis, Cardinal de Bar who created a Regency Grand Mastership which ran until 1428, when Rene had come of age.
In 1420 Rene married Isabella the daughter of Charles II of Lorraine.
Joan of Arc sought an audience with the Duke of Lorraine, Rene’s father-in-law in the spring of 1429. She informed the Duke she was on a mission from God. All I require of you, your son in-law Rene d’Anjou, a horse and an army to free France from these English forces.
The Dauphin, convinced by the sincerity of Joan’s words, gave his consent to such a mission, after an ecclesiastical commission proved without doubt, she was not a heretic.
So it was, Rene d’Anjou road alongside Joan, on her horse dressed in white armour at the head of the army. In the May of 1429, she inspired French defenders of Orleans, under attack by the English, to rise up and follow her to victory, driving the English out of France.
Charles II died in 1431, and Rene claimed the lands of Lorraine by right of marriage to his daughter. His claim received support from King Charles VII of France. Not everyone supported his claim to the lands of Lorraine, for Antony of Vaudemont contested his right to these lands.
On the 2nd July 1431, Rene and Antony fought at the Battle of Bulgneville, where Rene was defeated, taken prisoner and handed over to Philip the Good, the Duke of Burgundy. In the May of 1432, was released after his sons John and Louis became hostages. In 1433 Rene agreed to the marriage of his daughter Yolande with Ferry; Antony’s son. In the April of 1434, Sigismund the Holy Roman Emperor recognised Rene as the Duke of Lorraine and in the November of the same year, Rene went on to inherit the lands of Anjou and Provence from Louis III. Philip the Duke of Burgundy, felt betrayed and in the December of 1434, Rene found himself a prisoner once again, behind bars, where he would stay until 1437. His release was only made possible with territorial concessions and a mighty ransom.
Whilst Rene rotted in prison, Joan II of Naples died in February 1435, making Rene her heir. John son of Rene was promised in marriage to Philip’s niece.
In the spring of 1438 Rene sailed to Naples where his wife Isabella had been defending the city against Alfonso V of Aragon. In November 1441, lost Naples to Alfonso and abandoned the city in June of 1442, returning to Provence in the October.
Maine had been occupied by British forces since the 1420’s, and Rene sought to recover it for his younger brother Charles, so in the April of 1444 took part in Anglo-French talks at Tours. Negotiations led to the marriage of his daughter Margaret to King Henry VI of England in 1445. Promises and agreements were broken, and so it was, Maine had to be taken back by force in 1448.
In 1448, Rene established the ‘Order of the Crescent, which included Francesco Sforza, the Duke of Milan and father of the Count of Lenoncourt, patron to Leonardo da Vinci. The Order of the Crescent attracted much ecclesiastical displeasure, forcing the Pope to suppress the Order.
King Charles VII of France assisted Rene to pacify Lorraine and the marriage of Yolande and Ferry in the summer of 1445. Rene would accompany Charles VII during his victorious campaigns against the English in Normandy in the years 1449-1450.
Rene and Isabella of Lorraine were married as children, and had a happy marriage. With Isabella’s death in 1453, her duchy of Lorraine passed to Rene’s son John. Rene was inconsolable over her death; his beloved had been taken from him. He needed a change, and so he answered the call, to pick up his sword and go to war.
In 1466 received the title; King of Aragon and Count of Barcelona from Catalan rebels.
Rene had strained relations with Louis XI of France, and was forced into the position of having to yield Anjou to the French crown.
Rene a known lover of the arts was obsessed with the legend of the Holy Grail, and created an aura of a fairy tale within his own court. Being an accomplished painter, a skill he developed whilst in prison.
He was a writer and a poet, who would be mocked by Noble Lords. Rene sought knowledge, and he opened a school of the arts in his own duchy. He employed Jean de Saint-Reny a Jewish astrologer and physician, the great-grandfather of Nostradamus.
Cosimo de Medici, friend of Rene embarked on a joint venture, sending operatives around the world collecting ancient manuscripts, which would be displayed at the Public Library of San Marco. The University of Florence, then began teaching Greek, for the first time it had been read – written or spoken in 700 years.
Rene d’Anjou and Cosimo de Medici opened a Philosophical School, teaching Platonic, Neo-Platonic, Pythagorean, Gnostic and Hermetic thinking. Which combined served as a catalyst for the renaissance and the continuance of power from the Catholic Church begun by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund.
Rene d’Anjou would find love once again in the arms of Jeanne de Laval, a nobleman’s daughter, who brought his fairy tale court alive once again.
Rene d ‘Anjou died on the 10th July 1480 at Aix-la-Chappele, and was buried at the Church of Saint Maurice in Angers.
The symbol of the Free French Forces of the Second World War, derives itself from Rene d’Anjou, when he became the Duke of Lorraine.