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Between the Loire Valley and the prosperous trading city of Lyon to the east lay the extensive territory of the dukes of Bourbon, with its capital in Moulins. The dukes proudly traced their descent from Louis IX of France, who was revered as Saint Louis. As "princes of the blood" they played a major role in the kingdom. Pierre of Bourbon married Anne of France, the formidable older sister of Charles VIII, and in the 1480s the two governed the kingdom together on behalf of the young king. After Pierre became duke in 1488, the couple employed Jean Hey, known as the Master of Moulins, as their painter. Of Netherlandish origin, Hey had earlier served Pierre's brother, Cardinal Charles of Bourbon.

Pierre and Anne rebuilt their castles and chapels, commissioning grand sculpture and altarpieces. Especially innovative were their additions to the château of Moulins, for the chapel, decorative arcade, and symmetrical pavilion there were among the first reflections of Renaissance architecture in France. The wall mural to your right gives an impression of the original appearance of this arcade, which was substantially damaged over the years and is now extensively restored. Pierre and Anne's only child, Suzanne, married her cousin Charles de Bourbon-Montpensier, the Constable of France. After Suzanne's death in 1521, the relations between her husband, a hero of the Italian wars, and the new king, Francis I, broke down. Feeling ill-used, the Constable offered his services to France's archrival, the emperor Charles V; in punishment for this treason the crown seized all Bourbon possessions, leading to their dispersal or neglect.


Jean Hey, known as the Master of Moulins. Madeleine of Burgundy Presented by Saint Mary Magdalene, c. 1490. Musée du Louvre, Paris, Department of Paintings, RF 1521.