René II, Duke of Lorraine

René II (2 May 1451 – 10 December 1508) was Count of Vaudémont from 1470, Duke of Lorraine from 1473,[1] and Duke of Bar from 1483 to 1508. He claimed the crown of the Kingdom of Naples and the County of Provence as the Duke of Calabria 1480–1493 and as King of Naples and Jerusalem 1493–1508. He succeeded his uncle John of Vaudémont as Count of Harcourt in 1473, exchanging it for the county of Aumale in 1495. He succeeded as Count of Guise in 1504.

René II
Duke of Lorraine
Effigie René II de Lorraine
Born2 May 1451
Died10 December 1508 (aged 57)
SpousePhilippa of Guelders
FatherFrederick II of Vaudémont
MotherYolande of Lorraine


He was born in Angers, the son of Yolande of Lorraine and Frederick, Count of Vaudémont.[2]

René spent his youth in the court of his grandfather René I of Anjou between Angers and Provence, succeeding to his father in Vaudémont in 1470 and, three years later, to his uncle as captain of Angers, senechal and governor of Anjou. In the same year he became Duke of Lorraine, which was at the time under the pressure of both Louis XI of France and Charles the Bold of Burgundy, with whom he initially allied. When the latter began to establish garrisons in Lorraine, however, René secretly allied with Louis (1474).

Charles invaded the duchy and René was forced to quit Nancy (30 November 1475). He regained the city on 5 October the following year and moved to Switzerland to hire an army of Swiss mercenaries. With this force René defeated and killed Charles at the Battle of Nancy (5 January 1477), ending the Burgundian Wars.[3] In 1476, upon the death of his grandmother, he became sole Count of Harcourt and Baron of Elbeuf.

Later, René got to bad terms with Louis, who had taken most of his heritage. In June 1478, as compensation for the royal seizure of Anjou and Provence, Louis XI reaffirmed his rights to the formerly Burgundian possessions of the Duchy of Luxembourg and the County of Burgundy, and then transferred those rights to René and all of his descendants.[4]

The transfer of the County of Burgundy to France in 1482 with the Treaty of Arras made realization of these rights possible,[5] but the County was returned to the Habsburgs in 1493 with the Treaty of Senlis and René would not exercise control over the County again. Likewise, any authority over Luxembourg was merely theoretical outside of the seizure of Virton, as the Duchy remained in possession of the Habsburgs throughout René's lifetime.

In 1480 René succeeded his grandfather as Duke of Bar while his mother was still living. In 1482 he conquered the prévôté of Virton, a part of the Duchy of Luxembourg, and annexed it to Bar. In 1484 Peter II, Duke of Bourbon, regent for the young King Charles VIII of France, formally installed him in the Duchy of Bar.[6]

When his mother Yolande died in 1483, he succeeded her in her claims to the kingdoms of Naples and Jerusalem. In 1482, René traveled to Italy and defeated the Duke of Ferrara in the Battle of Adria as an ally of the Republic of Venice.

In 1485 René took part in the first phase of the so-called "Mad War", but prudentially retired after a while. In 1488 the Neapolitans offered him the crown of the Kingdom of Naples, and René set an expedition to gain possession of the realm; he was however halted by the new French king, Charles VIII, who intended to claim the realm himself.

In 1495, to settle a dispute with his second cousin, Jean IV de Rieux, over their grandmothers' inheritance, he ceded to Jean the county of Harcourt and its appurtenances, retaining only Elbeuf and Brionne, and receiving the county of Aumale.[7]


René fell ill during a hunt in Fains, and died on 10 December 1508, aged 57.


On his mother's side, he was a grandson of Isabella, Duchess of Lorraine. His father was a member of the Vaudémont family, a junior branch of the Lorraine ducal family, descending from John I, Duke of Lorraine. He was thus both heir-general and heir-male to the Duchy when he succeeded on the death of his cousin Nicholas in 1473.

On 9 September 1471 he married Jeanne d'Harcourt (d. 1488), Countess of Tancarville,[8] but the marriage was annulled in 1485.

René married Philippa of Guelders,[8] daughter of Adolf, Duke of Guelders, in Orléans on 1 September 1485 and had the following children:

See also


  1. ^ Carroll 1998, p. 14-15.
  2. ^ a b Carroll 2011, p. 310.
  3. ^ Carroll 1998, p. 15.
  4. ^ de Laurière 1828, pp. 406-406.
  5. ^ Gillespie 2017, p. 29.
  6. ^ Monter 2007, pp. 23–24.
  7. ^ Carroll 1998, pp. 17–19.
  8. ^ a b Bogdan 2013, p. 100.
  9. ^ a b c Wellman 2013, p. 236.


  • Bogdan, Henry (2013). La Lorraine des ducs (in French). Tempus.
  • Carroll, Stuart (1998). Noble Power During the French Wars of Religion: The Guise Affinity and the Catholic Cause in Normandy. Cambridge University Press.
  • Carroll, Stuart (2011). Martyrs and Murderers: The Guise Family and the Making of Europe. Oxford University Press.
  • Gillespie, Alexander (2017). The Causes of War: Volume III: 1400 CE to 1650 CE. III. Hart Publishing.
  • de Laurière, Eusèbe (1968). Ordonnances des roys de France de la troisième race: recueillies pur ordre chronologique dix-huitième volume. Farnborough, Hampshire: Gregg Press Limited.
  • Lepage, Henri (1884). "La guerre de Sedan: Episode du règne de René II (1493–1496)". Mémoires de la Société d'archéologie lorraine. 3. 34: 183–224.
  • Monter, E. William (2007). A Bewitched Duchy: Lorraine and Its Dukes, 1477–1736. Paris: Librairie Droz.
  • Wellman, Kathleen (2013). Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France. Yale University Press.
Titles of nobility
Preceded by
Frederick II
Count of Vaudémont
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Nicholas I
Duke of Lorraine
with Yolande 1473–1483

Title last held by
Nicholas I
Marquis of Pont-à-Mousson
Preceded by
Duke of Bar
French nobility
Preceded by
Count of Harcourt
Succeeded by
Jean IV
Baron of Elbeuf
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Jean IV
Count of Aumale
Preceded by
Count of Guise

Year 1451 (MCDLI) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

Antoine, Duke of Lorraine

Antoine (4 June 1489 – 14 June 1544), known as the Good, was Duke of Lorraine from 1508 until his death in 1544.

Battle of Morat

The Battle of Morat (also known as the Battle of Murten) was a battle in the Burgundian Wars (1474–77) that was fought on 22 June 1476 between Charles the Bold, the Duke of Burgundy, and a Swiss Confederate army at Morat/Murten, about 30 kilometres from Bern. The result was a crushing defeat for the Burgundians at the hands of the Swiss.

Battle of Nancy

The Battle of Nancy was the final and decisive battle of the Burgundian Wars, fought outside the walls of Nancy on 5 January 1477 by Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, against René II, Duke of Lorraine, and the Swiss Confederacy.

René's forces won the battle, and Charles' mutilated body was found three days later.

Burgundian Wars

The Burgundian Wars (1474–1477) were a conflict between the Dukes of Burgundy and the Old Swiss Confederacy and its allies. Open war broke out in 1474, and in the following years the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, was defeated three times on the battlefield and killed in the Battle of Nancy in 1477. The Duchy of Burgundy and several other Burgundian lands then became part of France, while the Burgundian Netherlands and the Franche-Comté were inherited by Charles's daughter Mary of Burgundy, and eventually passed to the House of Habsburg upon her death because of her marriage to Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor.

Béatrice Hiéronyme de Lorraine

Béatrice Hiéronyme de Lorraine (1 July 1662 – 9 February 1738) was a member of the House of Lorraine and was the Abbess of Remiremont. She was a member of the household of Le Grand Dauphin and was the supposed wife of her cousin the Chevalier de Lorraine. She died childless.

Charles the Bold

Charles the Bold (also translated as Charles the Reckless) (French: Charles le Téméraire, Dutch: Karel de Stoute, 10 November 1433 – 5 January 1477), baptised Charles Martin, was Duke of Burgundy from 1467 to 1477. He was the last Duke of Burgundy from the House of Valois.

His early death at the Battle of Nancy at the hands of Swiss mercenaries fighting for René II, Duke of Lorraine was of great consequence in European history. The Burgundian domains, long wedged between the growing powers of France and the Habsburg Empire, were divided, but the precise disposition of the vast and disparate territorial possessions involved was disputed among the European powers for centuries.

Claude, Duke of Guise

Claude de Lorraine, duc de Guise (20 October 1496, Château de Condé-sur-Moselle, – 12 April 1550, Château de Joinville) was a French aristocrat and general. He became the first Duke of Guise in 1528.

He was a highly effective general for the French crown. His children and grandchildren were to lead the Catholic party in the French Wars of Religion.

Emmanuel Maurice, Duke of Elbeuf

Emmanuel Maurice de Lorraine (Emmanuel Maurice; 30 December 1677 – 17 July 1763) was Duke of Elbeuf and Prince of Lorraine. He succeeded his older brother Henri de Lorraine (1661–1748) as duke. He died without any surviving issue.

François Louis, Count of Harcourt

François Louis de Lorraine (1623–27 June 1694) was a member of the House of Lorraine. He was Count of Harcourt. He was also the Count of Rieux, Rochefort and Montlaur. He was also Marquis of Maubec as well as the Baron of Aubenas.

François de Lorraine

Francois de Lorraine (1506–1525) was the Lord of Lambesc, and a commander in the French army under Francis I of France. He was son of René II, Duke of Lorraine and Philippa of Guelders. He commanded the Black Band of renegade Landsknechts at the Battle of Pavia, and in the bitter combat that ensued between the Black Band and Frundsberg's Imperial Landsknechts, Lorraine was killed.

Henri, Duke of Elbeuf

Henri de Lorraine (7 August 1661–17 May 1748) was the Duke of Elbeuf and member of the House of Lorraine. He succeeded his father Charles de Lorraine to the Duchy-Peerage of Elbeuf. He was also a Peer of France.

Jean, Count of Harcourt

John of Lorraine-Vaudémont (died 1473) was a younger son of Antoine of Lorraine, Count of Vaudémont and Marie of Harcourt. He was Count of Harcourt and Count of Aumale, as well as Baron of Elbeuf.

His mother was the eldest daughter of John VII of Harcourt, Count of Harcourt and Aumale. Her brother, John VIII of Harcourt, her father's heir, died in 1424. In anticipation of this, she assigned to John the County of Harcourt in 1448. In 1449, at the breakdown of the Truce of Tours, he was sent as an ambassador to Philip III, Duke of Burgundy, by King Charles VII of France.

In 1452, his maternal grandfather died. John attempted to secure the whole inheritance for himself and his mother. After his father, he was Count of Harcourt and Count of Aumale (as "John VI"). While briefly effective, by 1454, his mother's younger sister had gained control of the County of Aumale.He was appointed captain of Angers in 1469, and later seneschal and governor of Anjou. He died in 1473, unmarried, and was succeeded by his nephew, René II, Duke of Lorraine.

Kings of Naples family tree

This is a complete family tree of the Kings of Naples.

Lords and Counts of Harcourt

When the Viking chieftain Rollo obtained via the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte the territories which would later make up Normandy, he distributed them as estates among his main supporters. Among these lands were the seigneurie of Harcourt, near Brionne, and the county of Pont-Audemer, both of which Rollo granted to Bernard the Dane, ancestor of the lords (seigneurs) of Harcourt. The first to use Harcourt as a name, however, was Anquetil d'Harcourt at the start of the 11th century.

Louis, Count of Vaudémont

Louis de Lorraine (27 April 1500 – 23 August 1528) was a nobleman of Lorraine who attempted to claim the Kingdom of Naples. He was styled as the Count of Vaudémont.

A younger son of René II, Duke of Lorraine, he was born in Bar-le-Duc in 1500. His family possessed a hereditary claim to the throne of Naples, and his father had accepted the throne of Naples in 1493. However, the ambitions of Charles VIII towards the same object prevented René from taking up rule in Italy. Upon his death in 1508, Louis' older brother Antoine reverted to the style of Duke of Calabria to indicate his family's claims on Naples.

Originally destined for the Church and styled Prince de l'Eglise, he became Bishop of Verdun in 1508 and Abbot of Saint-Mihiel in 1512. He was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. He abandoned his ecclesiastical career in 1522, taking the title of Count of Vaudémont.

Louis was present with the army led by Francis I into Italy in 1524, and fought at the Battle of Pavia. With the outbreak of the War of the League of Cognac, Louis was sent into Italy with an army under the command of Lautrec, and was invested by Pope Clement VII as King of Naples and Sicily. Salerno fell to the invaders on 17 March 1527, but the siege of Naples by the French army was prolonged and unsuccessful. When plague broke out in the encampment, both Lautrec and Vaudémont succumbed.

Louise Henriette Françoise de Lorraine

Louise Henriette Françoise de Lorraine (1707 – 31 March 1737) was a French noblewoman and member of the House of Guise, a cadet branch of the House of Lorraine. She was the last wife of Emmanuel Théodose de La Tour d'Auvergne (1668–1730).

Mad War

The Mad War (French: la Guerre folle) was a late medieval conflict between a coalition of feudal lords and the French monarchy. It occurred during the regency of Anne of Beaujeu in the period after the death of Louis XI and before the majority of Charles VIII. The war began in 1485 and ended in 1488.

The principal lords involved were Louis II of Orléans, the cousin of the king (and future Louis XII of France); Francis II of Brittany; René II, Duke of Lorraine; Alain d'Albret; Jean de Châlon, Prince of Orange; and Charles, Count of Angoulême. Other leading lords supported the revolt, including Philippe de Commines and Odet d’Aydie, count of Commines and governor of Guyenne.

As a revolt against French royal authority it was supported by the foreign enemies of the King of France: England, Spain and Austria. Its principal outcome was the absorption of Brittany into the French kingdom.

Philippa of Guelders

Philippa of Guelders (French: Philippe de Gueldres) (9 November 1467 – 28 February 1547), was a Duchess consort of Lorraine. She served as regent of Lorraine during the absence of her son.

Ancestors of René II, Duke of Lorraine
8. Frederick I, Count of Vaudémont
4. Antoine, Count of Vaudémont
9. Margaret of Joinville
2. Frederick II, Count of Vaudémont
10. John VII, Count of Harcourt
5. Marie, Countess of Harcourt
11. Marie d'Alençon
1. René II, Duke of Lorraine
12. Louis II of Naples
6. René of Anjou
13. Yolande of Aragon
3. Yolande, Duchess of Lorraine
14. Charles II, Duke of Lorraine
7. Isabella, Duchess of Lorraine
15. Margaret of the Palatinate

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.