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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Marguerite of Bourgogne

b. circa 1249, Burgundy, France; d. 1308, Tonnerre, France

Marguerite of Bourgogne (Margaret of Burgundy), patroness of a magnificent hospital in Tonnerre, France, spent her formative years in an abbey at Fontevrault. In 1268, she became the second wife of Charles d’Anjou, king of Sicily; she was often entrusted with the administration of her husband’s realm during his lengthy absences. When he died in 1285, she returned to France and settled in Tonnerre, where she held the title of countess. By 1293, she had conceived a plan for a hospital to serve the destitute, and issued a charter outlining its administration, staffing, and revenues. Consecrated in 1295, the hospital featured a number of innovations. The principal ward, a vast hall 300 feet long and 60 feet wide, held forty beds, situated in partitioned alcoves along the walls. The whole was lit by traceried stained-glass windows. The complex included a library and chapel, where Marguerite was buried in 1308.