Marie of France, Countess of Champagne  

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Marie of France, or Marie Capet, Countess of Champagne (1145 – March 11, 1198), was the elder daughter of Louis VII of France and his first wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Her younger sister was Alix of France.

She was an older paternal half-sister to Marguerite of France, Alys, Countess of the Vexin, Philip II of France and Agnes of France. She was also an older maternal half-sister to William IX, Count of Poitiers, Henry the Young King, Matilda, Duchess of Saxony, Richard I of England, Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany, Leonora of England, Joan of England and John of England.

Her parents' marriage was annulled in 1152, and custody of Marie and her sister, Alix, was awarded to their father, King Louis. Their mother, Eleanor, married King Henry II of England, and so left France. In 1160, when her father, King Louis, married Adele of Champagne, he betrothed Marie and Alix to Adele's brothers. After her betrothal, Marie was sent to the abbey of Avenay in Champagne for her education.

In 1164, Marie married Henry I, Count of Champagne. They had four children:

Marie was left as Regent for Champagne when Henry I went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. While her husband was away, Marie's father died and her half-brother, Philippe, became king. He confiscated his mother's dower lands and married Isabelle of Hainaut, who was previously betrothed to Marie's eldest son. This prompted Marie to join a party of disgruntled nobles -- including Queen Adele and the archbishop of Reims -- in plotting against Philippe. Eventually, relations between Marie and her royal brother improved. Her husband died soon after his return from the Holy Land. Now a widow with four young children, Marie considered marrying Philip of Flanders, but the engagement was broken off suddenly for unknown reasons.

After Henry I's death in 1181, Marie acted as regent until 1187 when her son, Henry, came of age. However, Henry II also went on Crusade and so Marie was regent from 1190 to Henry's death in 1197. She retired to the nunnery of Fontaines-les-Nones near Meaux, and died there in 1198.

Marie is remembered today mainly for her role in the heresy that was the target of the Albigensian Crusade. She was also a patron of literature, including Andreas Capellanus, who served in her court, and Chrétien de Troyes. She was literate in French and Latin and maintained her own library.

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