Catherine de' Medici

Catherine de' Medici

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Catherine de' Medici was an Italian noblewoman who was Queen consort of France from 1547 until 1559, as the wife of King Henry II of France
Henry II of France
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559.-Early years:Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany .His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy,...

.

In 1533, at the age of fourteen, Caterina married Henry, second son of King Francis I
Francis I of France
Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death. During his reign, huge cultural changes took place in France and he has been called France's original Renaissance monarch...

 and Queen Claude of France
Claude of France
Claude of France was a princess and queen consort of France and ruling Duchess of Brittany. She was the eldest daughter of Louis XII of France and Anne, Duchess of Brittany....

. Under the gallicised
Francization
Francization or Gallicization is a process of cultural assimilation that gives a French character to a word, an ethnicity or a person.-French Colonial Empire:-Francization in the World:...

 version of her name, Catherine de Médicis, she was Queen consort of France as the wife of King Henry II of France
Henry II of France
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559.-Early years:Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany .His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy,...

 from 1547 to 1559. Throughout his reign, Henry excluded Catherine from participating in state affairs and instead showered favours on his chief mistress, Diane de Poitiers
Diane de Poitiers
Diane de Poitiers was a French noblewoman and a prominent courtier at the courts of kings Francis I and his son, Henry II of France. She became notorious as the latter's favourite mistress...

, who wielded much influence over him. Henry's death thrust Catherine into the political arena as mother of the frail fifteen-year-old King Francis II
Francis II of France
Francis II was aged 15 when he succeeded to the throne of France after the accidental death of his father, King Henry II, in 1559. He reigned for 18 months before he died in December 1560...

. When he died in 1560, she became regent
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

 on behalf of her ten-year-old son King Charles IX
Charles IX of France
Charles IX was King of France, ruling from 1560 until his death. His reign was dominated by the Wars of Religion. He is best known as king at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Childhood:...

 and was granted sweeping powers. After Charles died in 1574, Catherine played a key role in the reign of her third son, Henry III
Henry III of France
Henry III was King of France from 1574 to 1589. As Henry of Valois, he was the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the dual titles of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.-Childhood:Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau,...

. He dispensed with her advice only in the last months of her life.

Catherine's three sons reigned in an age of almost constant civil and religious war in France. The problems facing the monarchy were complex and daunting. At first, Catherine compromised and made concessions to the rebelling Protestants, or Huguenot
Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

s, as they became known. She failed, however, to grasp the theological issues that drove their movement. Later, she resorted in frustration and anger to hard-line policies against them. In return, she came to be blamed for the excessive persecutions carried out under her sons' rule, in particular for the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre
St. Bartholomew's Day massacre
The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations, followed by a wave of Roman Catholic mob violence, both directed against the Huguenots , during the French Wars of Religion...

 of 1572, in which thousands of Huguenots were killed in Paris and throughout France.

Some historians have excused Catherine from blame for the worst decisions of the crown, though evidence for her ruthlessness can be found in her letters. In practice, her authority was always limited by the effects of the civil wars. Her policies, therefore, may be seen as desperate measures to keep the Valois monarchy on the throne at all costs, and her patronage of the arts as an attempt to glorify a monarchy whose prestige was in steep decline. Without Catherine, it is unlikely that her sons would have remained in power. The years in which they reigned have been called "the age of Catherine de' Medici".

Birth and upbringing



Catherine was born in Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, as Caterina Maria Romula di Lorenzo de' Medici.
The Medici family was at the time the de facto rulers of Florence
Republic of Florence
The Republic of Florence , or the Florentine Republic, was a city-state that was centered on the city of Florence, located in modern Tuscany, Italy. The republic was founded in 1115, when the Florentine people rebelled against the Margraviate of Tuscany upon Margravine Matilda's death. The...

: originally bankers, they came to great wealth and power by bankrolling the monarchies of Europe. Catherine's father, Lorenzo II de' Medici, was made Duke of Urbino by his uncle Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X , born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, was the Pope from 1513 to his death in 1521. He was the last non-priest to be elected Pope. He is known for granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter's Basilica and his challenging of Martin Luther's 95 Theses...

, and the title reverted to Francesco Maria I della Rovere
Francesco Maria I della Rovere
Francesco Maria I della Rovere was an Italian condottiero, who was Duke of Urbino from 1508 until 1538.- Biography :...

 after Lorenzo's death. Thus, even though her father was a duke, Catherine was of relatively low birth. However her mother, Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne
Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne
Madeleine de La Tour d'Auvergne was a younger daughter of Jean III de La Tour , Count of Auvergne and Lauraguais, and Jeanne de Bourbon-Vendôme . She was a penultimate representative of the senior branch of the house de La Tour d'Auvergne...

, the Countess of Boulogne, was from one of the most prominent and ancient French noble families; this prestigious maternal heritage was of benefit to her future marriage to a Royal Prince of France
Fils de France
Fils de France was the style and rank held by the sons of the kings and dauphins of France. A daughter was known as a fille de France .The children of the dauphin, who was the king's heir apparent, were accorded the same style and status as if they were the king's children instead of his...

.

According to a contemporary chronicler, when Catherine de' Medici was born, her parents, were "as pleased as if it had been a boy". Madeleine died on 28 April and Lorenzo died on 4 May. The young couple were married the year before at Amboise
Amboise
Amboise is a commune in the Indre-et-Loire department in central France. It lies on the banks of the Loire River, east of Tours. Today a small market town, it was once home of the French royal court...

 as part of the alliance between King Francis I of France
Francis I of France
Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death. During his reign, huge cultural changes took place in France and he has been called France's original Renaissance monarch...

 and Pope Leo against the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
Maximilian I , the son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor and Eleanor of Portugal, was King of the Romans from 1486 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1493 until his death, though he was never in fact crowned by the Pope, the journey to Rome always being too risky...

. King Francis wanted Catherine to be raised at the French court, but Pope Leo had other plans for her. He intended to marry her to his brother's illegitimate son, Ippolito de' Medici
Ippolito de' Medici
Ippolito de' Medici was the illegitimate only son of Giuliano di Lorenzo de' Medici.Ippolito was born in Urbino. His father died when he was only five , and he was subsequently raised by his uncle Pope Leo X and his cousin Giulio.When Giulio de' Medici was elected pope as Clement VII, Ippolito...

, and set them up to rule Florence.

Catherine was first cared for by her paternal grandmother, Alfonsina Orsini (wife of Piero de' Medici
Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici
Piero de' Medici , called Piero the Unfortunate, was the Gran maestro of Florence from 1492 until his exile in 1494.-Life and death:...

). After Alfonsina's death in 1520, Catherine joined her cousins and was raised by her aunt, Clarice Strozzi
Clarice de' Medici
Clarice de' Medici was the daughter of Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici and Alfonsina Orsini.Born in Florence, she was the granddaughter of Lorenzo de' Medici, niece of Pope Leo X and sister to Lorenzo II de' Medici...

. The death of Pope Leo in 1521 interrupted Medici power briefly, until Cardinal Giulio de' Medici was elected Pope Clement VII
Pope Clement VII
Clement VII , born Giulio di Giuliano de' Medici, was a cardinal from 1513 to 1523 and was Pope from 1523 to 1534.-Early life:...

 in 1523. Clement housed Catherine in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi
Palazzo Medici Riccardi
The Palazzo Medici, also called the Palazzo Medici Riccardi after the later family that acquired and expanded it, is a Renaissance palace located in Florence, Italy.-History:...

 in Florence, where she lived in state. The Florentine people called her duchessina ("the little duchess"), in deference to her unrecognised claim to the Duchy of Urbino.

In 1527, the Medici were overthrown in Florence by a faction opposed to the regime of Clement's representative, Cardinal Silvio Passerini
Silvio Passerini
Silvio Passerini was an Italian cardinal.-Biography:Born in Cortona, Passerini was taken under the wing of the powerful Florentine Medici family, after his father, Rosado, was imprisoned for too openly supporting the Medici cause during one of the reversals of power in 15th‑century Florence...

, and Catherine was taken hostage and placed in a series of convents. Clement had no choice but to crown Charles
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 Holy Roman Emperor in return for his help in retaking the city. In October 1529, Charles's troops laid siege to Florence. As the siege dragged on, voices called for Catherine to be killed and exposed on the city walls. Soldiers made her ride through the streets on a donkey, jeered by an angry crowd. The city finally surrendered on 12 August 1530. Clement called Catherine to Rome and greeted her with open arms and tears in his eyes. Then he set about the business of finding her a husband.

Marriage


On her visit to Rome, the Venetian envoy described Catherine as "small of stature, and thin, and without delicate features, but having the protruding eyes peculiar to the Medici family". Suitors, however, lined up for her hand, including James V of Scotland
James V of Scotland
James V was King of Scots from 9 September 1513 until his death, which followed the Scottish defeat at the Battle of Solway Moss...

 who sent the Duke of Albany to Clement to conclude a marriage in April and November 1530. When Francis I of France proposed his second son, Henry, Duke of Orléans
Henry II of France
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559.-Early years:Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany .His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy,...

, in early 1533, Clement jumped at the offer. Henry was a prize catch for Catherine, who despite her wealth was from commoner origins.

The wedding, a grand affair marked by extravagant display and gift-giving, took place in Marseille
Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

 on 28 October 1533. Prince Henry danced and jousted
Jousting
Jousting is a martial game or hastilude between two knights mounted on horses and using lances, often as part of a tournament.Jousting emerged in the High Middle Ages based on the military use of the lance by heavy cavalry. The first camels tournament was staged in 1066, but jousting itself did not...

 for Catherine. The fourteen-year-old couple left their wedding ball at midnight to perform their nuptial duties. Henry arrived in the bedroom with King Francis, who is said to have stayed until the marriage was consummated. He noted that "each had shown valour in the joust". Clement visited the newlyweds in bed the next morning and added his blessings to the night's proceedings.

Catherine saw little of her husband in their first year of marriage, but the ladies of the court treated her well, impressed with her intelligence and keenness to please. The death of Pope Clement VII on 25 September 1534, however, undermined Catherine's standing in the French court. The next pope, Paul III
Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III , born Alessandro Farnese, was Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 1534 to his death in 1549. He came to the papal throne in an era following the sack of Rome in 1527 and rife with uncertainties in the Catholic Church following the Protestant Reformation...

, broke the alliance with France and refused to pay her huge dowry. King Francis lamented, "The girl has come to me stark naked."

Prince Henry showed no interest in Catherine as a wife; instead, he openly took mistresses. For the first ten years of the marriage, Catherine failed to produce any children. In 1537, on the other hand, Philippa Duci, one of Henry's mistresses, gave birth to a daughter, whom he publicly acknowledged. This proved that Henry was fertile and added to the pressure on Catherine to produce a child.

Dauphine


In 1536, Henry's older brother, Francis, caught a chill after a game of tennis, contracted a fever, and died, leaving Henry the heir. As Dauphine, Catherine was now expected to provide a future heir to the throne. According to the court chronicler Brantôme
Pierre de Bourdeille, seigneur de Brantôme
Pierre de Bourdeille, seigneur de Brantôme was a French historian, soldier and biographer.-Life:Brantôme was born in Périgord, Aquitaine, the third son of the baron de Bourdeille...

, "many people advised the king and the Dauphin to repudiate her, since it was necessary to continue the line of France". Divorce was discussed. In desperation, Catherine tried every known trick for getting pregnant, such as placing cow dung and ground stags' antlers on her "source of life", and drinking mule's urine. On 19 January 1544, she at last gave birth to a son
Francis II of France
Francis II was aged 15 when he succeeded to the throne of France after the accidental death of his father, King Henry II, in 1559. He reigned for 18 months before he died in December 1560...

, named after King Francis.

After becoming pregnant once, Catherine had no trouble doing so again. She may have owed her change of luck to the physician Jean Fernel
Jean Fernel
Jean François Fernel was a French physician who introduced the term "physiology" to describe the study of the body's function. He was the first person to describe the spinal canal...

, who had noticed slight abnormalities in the couple's sexual organs and advised them how to solve the problem. Catherine went on to bear Henry a further nine children, seven of whom survived infancy, including the future Charles IX
Charles IX of France
Charles IX was King of France, ruling from 1560 until his death. His reign was dominated by the Wars of Religion. He is best known as king at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Childhood:...

 (born 27 June 1550); the future Henry III
Henry III of France
Henry III was King of France from 1574 to 1589. As Henry of Valois, he was the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the dual titles of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.-Childhood:Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau,...

 (born 19 September 1551); and Francis, Duke of Anjou (born 18 March 1555). The long-term future of the Valois dynasty, which had ruled France since the 14th century, seemed assured.

Catherine's new-found ability to bear children, however, failed to improve her marriage. In 1538, at the age of nineteen, Henry had taken as his mistress the thirty-eight year old Diane de Poitiers
Diane de Poitiers
Diane de Poitiers was a French noblewoman and a prominent courtier at the courts of kings Francis I and his son, Henry II of France. She became notorious as the latter's favourite mistress...

, whom he adored for the rest of his life. Even so, he respected Catherine's status as his consort. When King Francis I died in 1547 Catherine became queen consort of France. She was crowned in the basilica of Saint-Denis in June 1549.

Queen of France



Henry allowed Catherine almost no political influence as queen. Although she sometimes acted as regent during his absences from France, her powers were strictly nominal. Henry gave the Château of Chenonceau
Château de Chenonceau
The Château de Chenonceau is a manor house near the small village of Chenonceaux, in the Indre-et-Loire département of the Loire Valley in France. It was built on the site of an old mill on the River Cher, sometime before its first mention in writing in the 11th century...

, which Catherine had wanted for herself, to Diane de Poitiers
Diane de Poitiers
Diane de Poitiers was a French noblewoman and a prominent courtier at the courts of kings Francis I and his son, Henry II of France. She became notorious as the latter's favourite mistress...

, who took her place at the centre of power, dispensing patronage and accepting favours.

The imperial ambassador reported that in the presence of guests, Henry would sit on Diane's lap and play the guitar, chat about politics, or fondle her breasts. Diane never regarded Catherine as a threat. She even encouraged the king to sleep with her and father more children. In 1556, Catherine nearly died giving birth to twin daughters. Surgeons saved her life by breaking the legs of one of the two babies, who died in her womb. The surviving daughter died seven weeks later. Catherine had no more children.

Henry's reign also saw the rise of the Guise brothers, Charles
Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine
Charles de Lorraine , Duke of Chevreuse, was a French Cardinal, a member of the powerful House of Guise. He was known at first as the Cardinal of Guise, and then as the second Cardinal of Lorraine, after the death of his uncle, John, Cardinal of Lorraine . He was the protector of Rabelais and...

, who became a cardinal
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

, and Henry's boyhood friend Francis
Francis, Duke of Guise
Francis de Lorraine II, Prince of Joinville, Duke of Guise, Duke of Aumale , called Balafré , was a French soldier and politician.-Early life:...

, who became Duke of Guise. Their sister Mary of Guise
Mary of Guise
Mary of Guise was a queen consort of Scotland as the second spouse of King James V. She was the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots, and served as regent of Scotland in her daughter's name from 1554 to 1560...

 had married James V of Scotland
James V of Scotland
James V was King of Scots from 9 September 1513 until his death, which followed the Scottish defeat at the Battle of Solway Moss...

 in 1538 and was the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots. At the age of five and a half, Mary was brought to the French court, where she was promised to the Dauphin, Francis. Catherine brought her up with her own children at the French court, while Mary of Guise governed Scotland as her daughter's regent
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

.
On 3–4 April 1559, Henry signed the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis with the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 and England, ending a long period of Italian wars
Italian Wars
The Italian Wars, often referred to as the Great Italian Wars or the Great Wars of Italy and sometimes as the Habsburg–Valois Wars, were a series of conflicts from 1494 to 1559 that involved, at various times, most of the city-states of Italy, the Papal States, most of the major states of Western...

. The treaty was sealed by the betrothal of Catherine's thirteen-year-old daughter Elisabeth
Elisabeth of Valois
Elisabeth of Valois was the eldest daughter of Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici.-Early life:She was born in the Château de Fontainebleau...

 to Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

. Their proxy wedding
Proxy wedding
A proxy wedding or is a wedding in which the bride or groom is not physically present, usually being represented instead by another person...

 in Paris on 22 June 1559 was celebrated with festivities, balls, masque
Masque
The masque was a form of festive courtly entertainment which flourished in 16th and early 17th century Europe, though it was developed earlier in Italy, in forms including the intermedio...

s, and five days of jousting
Jousting
Jousting is a martial game or hastilude between two knights mounted on horses and using lances, often as part of a tournament.Jousting emerged in the High Middle Ages based on the military use of the lance by heavy cavalry. The first camels tournament was staged in 1066, but jousting itself did not...

.

King Henry took part in the jousting, sporting Diane's black-and-white colours. He defeated the dukes of Guise and Nemours, but the young Gabriel, comte de Montgomery
Gabriel, comte de Montgomery
Gabriel, comte de Montgomery, seigneur de Lorges , a French nobleman, was a captain in Henry II's Scots Guards...

, knocked him half out of the saddle. Henry insisted on riding against Montgomery again, and this time, Montgomery's lance shattered into the king's face. Henry reeled out of the clash, his face pouring blood, with splinters "of a good bigness" sticking out of his eye and head. Catherine, Diane, and Prince Francis all fainted. Henry was carried to the Château de Tournelles, where five splinters of wood were extracted from his head, one of which had pierced his eye and brain. Catherine stayed by his bedside, but Diane kept away, "for fear", in the words of a chronicler, "of being expelled by the Queen". For the next ten days, Henry's state fluctuated. At times he even felt well enough to dictate letters and listen to music. Slowly, however, he lost his sight, speech, and reason, and on 10 July 1559 he died. From that day, Catherine took a broken lance as her emblem, inscribed with the words "lacrymae hinc, hinc dolor" ("from this come my tears and my pain"), and wore black mourning
Mourning
Mourning is, in the simplest sense, synonymous with grief over the death of someone. The word is also used to describe a cultural complex of behaviours in which the bereaved participate or are expected to participate...

 in memory of Henry.

Reign of Francis II


Francis II
Francis II of France
Francis II was aged 15 when he succeeded to the throne of France after the accidental death of his father, King Henry II, in 1559. He reigned for 18 months before he died in December 1560...

 became king at the age of fifteen. In what has been called a coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

, the Cardinal of Lorraine and the Duke of Guise
Francis, Duke of Guise
Francis de Lorraine II, Prince of Joinville, Duke of Guise, Duke of Aumale , called Balafré , was a French soldier and politician.-Early life:...

—whose niece, Mary, Queen of Scots, had married Francis the year before—seized power the day after Henry II's death and quickly moved themselves into the Louvre
Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

 with the young couple. The English ambassador reported a few days later that "the house of Guise ruleth and doth all about the French king". For the moment, Catherine worked with the Guises out of necessity. She was not strictly entitled to a role in Francis's government, because he was deemed old enough to rule for himself. Nevertheless, all his official acts began with the words: "This being the good pleasure of the Queen, my lady-mother, and I also approving of every opinion that she holdeth, am content and command that ...." Catherine did not hesitate to exploit her new authority. One of her first acts was to force Diane de Poitiers to hand over the crown jewels and return the Château de Chenonceau
Château de Chenonceau
The Château de Chenonceau is a manor house near the small village of Chenonceaux, in the Indre-et-Loire département of the Loire Valley in France. It was built on the site of an old mill on the River Cher, sometime before its first mention in writing in the 11th century...

 to the crown. She later did her best to efface or outdo Diane's building work there.

The Guise brothers set about persecuting the Protestants with zeal. Catherine adopted a moderate stance and spoke up against the Guise persecutions, though she had no particular sympathy for the Huguenots, whose beliefs she never shared. The Protestants looked for leadership first to Antoine de Bourbon, King of Navarre
Antoine of Navarre
Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme was head of the House of Bourbon from 1537 to 1562, and jure uxoris King of Navarre from 1555 to 1562.-Family:...

, the First Prince of the Blood, and then, with more success, to his brother, Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Condé, who backed a plot to overthrow the Guises by force. When the Guises heard of the plot, they moved the court to the fortified Château of Amboise
Château d'Amboise
The royal Château at Amboise is a château located in Amboise, in the Indre-et-Loire département of the Loire Valley in France.-Origins and royal residence:...

. The Duke of Guise launched an attack into the woods around the château. His troops surprised the rebels and killed many of them on the spot, including the commander, La Renaudie. Others they drowned in the river or strung up around the battlements while Catherine and the court watched.

In June 1560, Michel de l'Hôpital
Michel de l'Hôpital
Michel de l'Hôpital was a French statesman.-Biography:De l'Hôpital was born near Aigueperse in Auvergne ....

 was appointed Chancellor of France. He sought the support of France's constitutional bodies and worked closely with Catherine to defend the law in the face of the growing anarchy. Neither saw the need to punish Protestants who worshipped in private and did not take up arms. On 20 August 1560, Catherine and the chancellor advocated this policy to an assembly of notables at Fontainebleau
Château de Fontainebleau
The Palace of Fontainebleau, located 55 kilometres from the centre of Paris, is one of the largest French royal châteaux. The palace as it is today is the work of many French monarchs, building on an early 16th century structure of Francis I. The building is arranged around a series of courtyards...

. Historians regard the occasion as an early example of Catherine's statesmanship. Meanwhile, Condé raised an army and in autumn 1560 began attacking towns in the south. Catherine ordered him to court and had him imprisoned as soon as he arrived. He was tried in November, found guilty of offences against the crown, and sentenced to execution. His life was saved by the illness and death of the king, as a result of an infection or an abscess
Abscess
An abscess is a collection of pus that has accumulated in a cavity formed by the tissue in which the pus resides due to an infectious process or other foreign materials...

 in his ear.

When Catherine had realized Francis was going to die, she made a pact with Antoine de Bourbon by which he would renounce his right to the regency of the future king, Charles IX
Charles IX of France
Charles IX was King of France, ruling from 1560 until his death. His reign was dominated by the Wars of Religion. He is best known as king at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Childhood:...

, in return for the release of his brother Condé. As a result, when Francis died on 5 December 1560, the Privy Council appointed Catherine as governor of France (gouvernante de France), with sweeping powers. She wrote to her daughter Elisabeth: "My principal aim is to have the honour of God before my eyes in all things and to preserve my authority, not for myself, but for the conservation of this kingdom and for the good of all your brothers".

Reign of Charles IX


At first Catherine kept the nine-year-old king, who cried at his coronation, close to her, and slept in his chamber. She presided over his council, decided policy, and controlled state business and patronage. However, she was never in a position to control the country as a whole, which was on the brink of civil war. In many parts of France the rule of nobles held sway rather than that of the crown. The challenges Catherine faced were complex and in some ways difficult for her to comprehend as a foreigner.

She summoned church leaders from both sides to attempt to solve their doctrinal differences. Despite her optimism, the resulting Colloquy of Poissy ended in failure on 13 October 1561, dissolving itself without her permission. Catherine failed because she saw the religious divide only in political terms. In the words of historian R. J. Knecht, "she underestimated the strength of religious conviction, imagining that all would be well if only she could get the party leaders to agree". In January 1562, Catherine issued the tolerant Edict of Saint-Germain
Edict of Saint-Germain
The Edict of Saint-Germain, also known as the Edict of January, was a decree of tolerance promulgated by the regent, Catherine de' Medici, in January 1562. It provided limited tolerance of Protestantism in her Roman Catholic realms, especially in relation to the French Huguenots.It was among...

 in a further attempt to build bridges with the Protestants. On 1 March 1562, however, in an incident known as the Massacre of Vassy, the Duke of Guise and his men attacked worshipping Huguenots in a barn at Vassy (Wassy)
Wassy
Wassy , formerly known as Wassy-sur-Blaise, is a commune in the Haute-Marne department in north-eastern France.Population : 3,294.-History:...

, killing 74 and wounding 104. Guise, who called the massacre "a regrettable accident", was cheered as a hero in the streets of Paris while the Huguenots called for revenge. The massacre lit the fuse that sparked the French Wars of Religion
French Wars of Religion
The French Wars of Religion is the name given to a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants . The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise...

. For the next thirty years, France found itself in a state of either civil war or armed truce.

Within a month Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Condé, and Admiral Gaspard de Coligny
Gaspard de Coligny
Gaspard de Coligny , Seigneur de Châtillon, was a French nobleman and admiral, best remembered as a disciplined Huguenot leader in the French Wars of Religion.-Ancestry:...

 had raised an army of 1,800. They formed an alliance with England and seized town after town in France. Catherine met Coligny, but he refused to back down. She therefore told him: "Since you rely on your forces, we will show you ours". The royal army struck back quickly and laid siege to Huguenot-held Rouen
Rouen
Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

. Catherine visited the deathbed of Antoine de Bourbon, King of Navarre
Antoine of Navarre
Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme was head of the House of Bourbon from 1537 to 1562, and jure uxoris King of Navarre from 1555 to 1562.-Family:...

, after he was fatally wounded by an arquebus
Arquebus
The arquebus , or "hook tube", is an early muzzle-loaded firearm used in the 15th to 17th centuries. The word was originally modeled on the German hakenbüchse; this produced haquebute...

 shot. Catherine insisted on visiting the field herself and when warned of the dangers laughed, "My courage is as great as yours". The Catholics took Rouen, but their triumph was short lived. On 18 February 1563, a spy called Poltrot de Méré
Jean de Poltrot
Jean de Poltrot , sieur de Méré or Mérey, was a nobleman of Angoumois, who murdered Francis, Duke of Guise.He had lived some time in Spain, and his knowledge of Spanish, together with his swarthy complexion, which earned him the nickname of the Espagnolet, procured him employment as a spy in the...

 fired an arquebus into the back of the Duke of Guise
Claude, Duke of Guise
Claude de Lorraine, duc de Guise was a French aristocrat and general. He became the first Duke of Guise in 1528....

, at the siege of Orléans. The murder triggered an aristocratic blood feud
Feud
A feud , referred to in more extreme cases as a blood feud, vendetta, faida, or private war, is a long-running argument or fight between parties—often groups of people, especially families or clans. Feuds begin because one party perceives itself to have been attacked, insulted or wronged by another...

 that complicated the French civil wars for years to come. Catherine, however, was delighted with the death of her ally. "If Monsieur de Guise had perished sooner", she told the Venetian ambassador, "peace would have been achieved more quickly". On 19 March 1563, the Edict of Amboise
Edict of Amboise
The Edict of Amboise was signed at the Château of Amboise on March 19, 1563 by Catherine de' Medici, acting as regent for her son Charles IX of France. The treaty officially ended the first phase of the French Wars of Religion...

, also known as the Edict of Pacification, ended the war. Catherine now rallied both Huguenot and Catholic forces to retake Le Havre
Le Havre
Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

 from the English.

Huguenots


On 17 August 1563, Charles IX was declared of age at the Parlement
Parlement
Parlements were regional legislative bodies in Ancien Régime France.The political institutions of the Parlement in Ancien Régime France developed out of the previous council of the king, the Conseil du roi or curia regis, and consequently had ancient and customary rights of consultation and...

 of Rouen, but he was never able to rule on his own and showed little interest in government. Catherine decided to launch a drive to enforce the Edict of Amboise
Edict of Amboise
The Edict of Amboise was signed at the Château of Amboise on March 19, 1563 by Catherine de' Medici, acting as regent for her son Charles IX of France. The treaty officially ended the first phase of the French Wars of Religion...

 and revive loyalty to the crown. To this end, she set out with Charles and the court on a progress
Royal Entry
The Royal Entry, also known by various other names, including Triumphal Entry and Joyous Entry, embraced the ceremonial and festivities accompanying a formal entry by a ruler or his representative into a city in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period in Europe...

 around France that lasted from January 1564 until May 1565. Catherine held talks with the Protestant Queen Jeanne III of Navarre
Jeanne III of Navarre
Jeanne d'Albret , also known as Jeanne III or Joan III, was the queen regnant of Navarre from 1555 to 1572. She married Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme, and was the mother of Henry of Bourbon, who became King of Navarre and of France as Henry IV, the first Bourbon king...

 at Mâcon
Mâcon
Mâcon is a small city in central France. It is prefecture of the Saône-et-Loire department, in the region of Bourgogne, and the capital of the Mâconnais district. Mâcon is home to over 35,000 residents, called Mâconnais.-Geography:...

 and Nérac
Nérac
Nérac is a commune in the Lot-et-Garonne department in south-western France.-External links:*...

. She also met her daughter Elisabeth
Elisabeth of Valois
Elisabeth of Valois was the eldest daughter of Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici.-Early life:She was born in the Château de Fontainebleau...

 at Bayonne
Bayonne
Bayonne is a city and commune in south-western France at the confluence of the Nive and Adour rivers, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, of which it is a sub-prefecture...

 near the Spanish border, amidst lavish court festivities
Catherine de' Medici's court festivals
Catherine de' Medici's court festivals were a series of lavish and spectacular entertainments, sometimes called "magnificences", laid on by Catherine de' Medici, the queen consort of France from 1547 to 1559 and queen mother from 1559 until her death in 1589...

. Philip II
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 excused himself from the occasion. He sent the Duke of Alba
Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba
Don Fernando Álvarez de Toledo y Pimentel, 3rd Duke of Alba was a Spanish general and governor of the Spanish Netherlands , nicknamed "the Iron Duke" in the Low Countries because of his harsh and cruel rule there and his role in the execution of his political opponents and the massacre of several...

 to tell Catherine to scrap the Edict of Amboise and to find punitive solutions to the problem of heresy.

In 1566, through the ambassador to the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 Guillaume de Grandchamp de Grantrie
Guillaume de Grandchamp de Grantrie
Guillaume de Grandchamp de Grantrie was French Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1566 to 1571.From 1566, he notably proposed to the Ottoman Court a plan, devised by Charles IX of France and Catherine de Medicis, to settle French Huguenots and French and German Lutherans in Moldavia, in order to...

 and because of a long-standing Franco-Ottoman alliance
Franco-Ottoman alliance
The Franco-Ottoman alliance, also Franco-Turkish alliance, was an alliance established in 1536 between the king of France Francis I and the Turkish ruler of the Ottoman Empire Suleiman the Magnificent. The alliance has been called "the first non-ideological diplomatic alliance of its kind between a...

, Charles IX of France
Charles IX of France
Charles IX was King of France, ruling from 1560 until his death. His reign was dominated by the Wars of Religion. He is best known as king at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Childhood:...

 and Catherine de Medicis proposed to the Ottoman Court a plan to resettle French Huguenots and French and German Lutherans in Ottoman-controlled Moldavia
Moldavia
Moldavia is a geographic and historical region and former principality in Eastern Europe, corresponding to the territory between the Eastern Carpathians and the Dniester river...

, in order to create a military colony and a buffer against the Hapsburg. This plan also had the added advantage of removing the Huguenots from France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, but it failed to interest the Ottomans.

On 27 September 1567, in a swoop known as the Surprise of Meaux
Surprise of Meaux
The surprise of Meaux was a conspiracy organised in 1567 by Louis I de Bourbon, prince de Condé to capture Charles IX and the rest of the French royal family...

, Huguenot forces attempted to ambush the king, triggering renewed civil war. Taken unawares, the court fled to Paris in disarray. The war was ended by the Peace of Longjumeau
Peace of Longjumeau
The Peace of Longjumeau was signed on March 23, 1568 by Charles IX of France and Catherine de' Medici. This accord officially ended the second phase of the French Wars of Religion. Overall, the treaty confirmed the Edict of Amboise, which granted significant religious privileges and freedoms to...

 of 22–23 March 1568, but civil unrest and bloodshed continued. The Surprise of Meaux
Surprise of Meaux
The surprise of Meaux was a conspiracy organised in 1567 by Louis I de Bourbon, prince de Condé to capture Charles IX and the rest of the French royal family...

 marked a turning point in Catherine's policy towards the Huguenots. From that moment, she abandoned compromise for a policy of repression. She told the Venetian ambassador in June 1568 that all one could expect from Huguenots was deceit, and she praised the Duke of Alba's reign of terror in the Netherlands, where Calvinists and rebels were put to death in the thousands.
The Huguenots retreated to the fortified stronghold of La Rochelle
La Rochelle
La Rochelle is a city in western France and a seaport on the Bay of Biscay, a part of the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Charente-Maritime department.The city is connected to the Île de Ré by a bridge completed on 19 May 1988...

 on the west coast, where Jeanne d'Albret and her fifteen-year-old son, Henry of Bourbon
Henry IV of France
Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

, joined them. "We have come to the determination to die, all of us", Jeanne wrote to Catherine, "rather than abandon our God, and our religion". Catherine called Jeanne, whose decision to rebel posed a dynastic threat to the Valois, "the most shameless woman in the world". Nevertheless, the Peace of Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Peace of Saint-Germain-en-Laye
The Peace of Saint-Germain-en-Laye was a treaty signed August 5, 1570 at the royal Château of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, ending the third of the French Wars of Religion....

, signed on 8 August 1570 because the royal army ran out of cash, conceded wider toleration to the Huguenots than ever before.

Catherine looked to further Valois interests by grand dynastic marriages. In 1570, Charles IX married Elisabeth of Austria
Elisabeth of Austria (1554-1592)
Elisabeth of Austria was a German princess member of the House of Habsburg, by birth Archduchess of Austria and by marriage Queen of France.She was the daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II and Maria of Spain....

, daughter of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor
Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor
Maximilian II was king of Bohemia and king of the Romans from 1562, king of Hungary and Croatia from 1563, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation from 1564 until his death...

. Catherine was also eager for a match between one of her two youngest sons and Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

. After Catherine's daughter Elisabeth died in childbirth in 1568, she had touted her youngest daughter Margaret as a bride for Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

. Now she sought a marriage between Margaret and Henry III of Navarre, with the aim of uniting Valois and Bourbon interests. Margaret, however, was secretly involved with Henry of Guise
Henry I, Duke of Guise
Henry I, Prince of Joinville, Duke of Guise, Count of Eu , sometimes called Le Balafré, "the scarred", was the eldest son of Francis, Duke of Guise, and Anna d'Este...

, the son of the late Duke of Guise. When Catherine found this out, she had her daughter brought from her bed. Catherine and the king then beat her, ripping her nightclothes and pulling out handfuls of her hair.

Catherine pressed Jeanne d'Albret to attend court. Writing that she wanted to see Jeanne's children, she promised not to harm them. Jeanne replied: "Pardon me if, reading that, I want to laugh, because you want to relieve me of a fear that I've never had. I've never thought that, as they say, you eat little children". When Jeanne did come to court, Catherine pressured her hard, playing on Jeanne's hopes for her beloved son. Jeanne finally agreed to the marriage between her son and Margaret, so long as Henry could remain a Huguenot. When Jeanne arrived in Paris to buy clothes for the wedding, she was taken ill and died, aged forty-four. Huguenot writers later accused Catherine of murdering her with poisoned gloves. The wedding took place on 18 August 1572 at Notre-Dame, Paris.

St. Bartholomew's Day massacre


Three days later, Admiral Coligny
Gaspard de Coligny
Gaspard de Coligny , Seigneur de Châtillon, was a French nobleman and admiral, best remembered as a disciplined Huguenot leader in the French Wars of Religion.-Ancestry:...

 was walking back to his rooms from the Louvre when a shot rang out from a house and wounded him in the hand and arm. A smoking arquebus was discovered in a window, but the culprit had made his escape from the rear of the building on a waiting horse. Coligny was carried to his lodgings at the Hôtel de Béthisy, where the surgeon Ambroise Paré
Ambroise Paré
Ambroise Paré was a French surgeon. He was the great official royal surgeon for kings Henry II, Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III and is considered as one of the fathers of surgery and modern forensic pathology. He was a leader in surgical techniques and battlefield medicine, especially the...

 removed a bullet from his elbow and amputated a damaged finger with a pair of scissors. Catherine, who was said to have received the news without emotion, made a tearful visit to Coligny and promised to punish his attacker. Many historians have blamed Catherine for the attack on Coligny. Others point to the Guise family or a Spanish-papal plot to end Coligny's influence on the king. Whatever the truth, the bloodbath that followed was soon beyond the control of Catherine or any other leader.

The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre
St. Bartholomew's Day massacre
The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations, followed by a wave of Roman Catholic mob violence, both directed against the Huguenots , during the French Wars of Religion...

, which began two days later, has stained Catherine's reputation ever since. There is no reason to believe she was not party to the decision when on 23 August Charles IX ordered, "Then kill them all! Kill them all!". The thinking was clear. Catherine and her advisers expected a Huguenot uprising to revenge the attack on Coligny. They chose therefore to strike first and wipe out the Huguenot leaders while they were still in Paris after the wedding.

The slaughter in Paris lasted for almost a week. It spread to many parts of France, where it persisted into the autumn. In the words of historian Jules Michelet
Jules Michelet
Jules Michelet was a French historian. He was born in Paris to a family with Huguenot traditions.-Early life:His father was a master printer, not very prosperous, and Jules assisted him in the actual work of the press...

, "St Bartholomew was not a day, but a season". On 29 September, when Navarre knelt before the altar as a Roman Catholic, having converted to avoid being killed, Catherine turned to the ambassadors and laughed. From this time dates the legend of the wicked Italian queen. Huguenot writers branded Catherine a scheming Italian, who had acted on Machiavelli
Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian historian, philosopher, humanist, and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He is one of the main founders of modern political science. He was a diplomat, political philosopher, playwright, and a civil servant of the Florentine Republic...

's principles to kill all enemies in one blow.


Reign of Henry III


Two years later, Catherine faced a new crisis with the death of Charles IX at the age of twenty-three. His dying words were "oh, my mother ...". The day before he died, he named Catherine regent, since his brother and heir, Henry the Duke of Anjou, was in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

, where he had been elected king the year before. However three months after his coronation at Wawel Cathedral
Wawel Cathedral
The Wawel Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Stanisław and Vaclav, is a church located on Wawel Hill in Kraków–Poland's national sanctuary. It has a 1,000-year history and was the traditional coronation site of Polish monarchs. It is the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Kraków...

, Henry abandoned that throne and returned to France in order to become king of France. Catherine wrote to Henry: "I am grief-stricken to have witnessed such a scene and the love which he showed me at the end ... My only consolation is to see you here soon, as your kingdom requires, and in good health, for if I were to lose you, I would have myself buried alive with you".

Henry was Catherine's favourite son. Unlike his brothers, he came to the throne as a grown man. He was also healthier, though he suffered from weak lungs and constant fatigue. His interest in the tasks of government, however, proved fitful. He depended on Catherine and her team of secretaries until the last few weeks of her life. He often hid from state affairs, immersing himself in acts of piety, such as pilgrimage
Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

s and flagellation
Flagellation
Flagellation or flogging is the act of methodically beating or whipping the human body. Specialised implements for it include rods, switches, the cat o' nine tails and the sjambok...

. On the other hand: he was famous for his circle of favorites, called Les Mignons (from mignon, French for "the darlings" or "the dainty ones") It was a term used by polemicists in the toxic atmosphere of the French Wars of Religion and taken up by the people of Paris, to designate the favourites of Henry III of France, from his return from Poland to reign in France in 1574, to his assassination in 1589, a disastrous end to which the perception of effeminate weakness contributed.[1] The mignons were frivolous and fashionable young men, to whom public malignity attributed heterodox sexuality, rumors that some historians have found to be a factor in the disintegration of the late Valois monarchy.

According to the contemporary chronicler Pierre de l'Estoile,[2] they made themselves "exceedingly odious, as much by their foolish and haughty demeanour, as by their effeminate and immodest dress, but above all by the immense gifts the king made to them." The Joyeuse wedding in 1581 occasioned one of the most extravagant display of the reign.
Henry married Louise de Lorraine-Vaudémont
Louise de Lorraine-Vaudémont
Louise of Lorraine was a member of the House of Lorraine who became Queen consort of France from 1575 until 1589...

 in February 1575, two days after his coronation. His choice thwarted Catherine's plans for a political marriage to a foreign princess. Rumours of Henry's inability to produce children were by that time in wide circulation. The papal nuncio
Nuncio
Nuncio is an ecclesiastical diplomatic title, derived from the ancient Latin word, Nuntius, meaning "envoy." This article addresses this title as well as derived similar titles, all within the structure of the Roman Catholic Church...

 Salviati observed, "it is only with difficulty that we can imagine there will be offspring ... physicians and those who know him well say that he has an extremely weak constitution and will not live long". As time passed and the likelihood of children from the marriage receded, Catherine's youngest son, Francis, Duke of Alençon, known as "Monsieur", played upon his role as heir to the throne, repeatedly exploiting the anarchy of the civil wars, which were by now as much about noble power struggles as religion. Catherine did all in her power to bring Francis back into the fold. On one occasion, in March 1578, she lectured him for six hours about his dangerously subversive behaviour.

In 1576, in a move that endangered Henry's throne, Francis allied with the Protestant princes against the crown. On 6 May 1576, Catherine gave in to almost all Huguenot demands in the Edict of Beaulieu
Edict of Beaulieu
The Edict of Beaulieu was promulgated from Beaulieu-lès-Loches on 6 May 1576 by Henry III of France, who was pressured by Alençon's support of the Protestant army besieging Paris that spring....

. The treaty became known as the Peace of Monsieur because it was thought that Francis had forced it on the crown. Francis died of consumption
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 in June 1584, after a disastrous intervention in the Low Countries during which his army had been massacred. Catherine wrote, the next day: "I am so wretched to live long enough to see so many people die before me, although I realize that God's will must be obeyed, that He owns everything, and that he lends us only for as long as He likes the children whom He gives us". The death of her youngest son was a calamity for Catherine's dynastic dreams. Under Salic law
Salic law
Salic law was a body of traditional law codified for governing the Salian Franks in the early Middle Ages during the reign of King Clovis I in the 6th century...

, by which only males could ascend the throne, the Huguenot Henry of Navarre now became heir presumptive to the French crown.

Catherine had at least taken the precaution of marrying Margaret, her youngest daughter, to Navarre. Margaret, however, became almost as much of a thorn in Catherine's side as Francis, and in 1582, she returned to the French court without her husband. Catherine was heard yelling at her for taking lovers. Catherine sent Pomponne de Bellièvre
Pomponne de Bellièvre
Pomponne de Bellièvre was a French statesman, chancellor of France .-Life:Bellièvre was born in Lyon in 1529....

 to Navarre to arrange Margaret's return. In 1585, Margaret fled Navarre again. She retreated to her property at Agen
Agen
Agen is a commune in the Lot-et-Garonne department in Aquitaine in south-western France. It lies on the river Garonne southeast of Bordeaux. It is the capital of the department.-Economy:The town has a higher level of unemployment than the national average...

 and begged her mother for money. Catherine sent her only enough "to put food on her table". Moving on to the fortress of Carlat, Margaret took a lover called d'Aubiac. Catherine asked Henry to act before Margaret brought shame on them again. In October 1586, therefore, he had Margaret locked up in the Château d'Usson
Château d'Usson
The Château d'Usson is one of the so-called Cathar castles in what is now southwestern France. It is located in the commune of Rouze, in the Ariège département. It is sited upstream from Axat, along the Aude River gorge, carved out of the foothills of the Pyrenees. It is situated at 920 m in...

. D'Aubiac was executed, though not, despite Catherine's wish, in front of Margaret. Catherine cut Margaret out of her will and never saw her again.

Catherine was unable to control Henry in the way she had Francis and Charles. Her role in his government became that of chief executive and roving diplomat. She travelled widely across the kingdom, enforcing his authority and trying to head off war. In 1578, she took on the task of pacifying the south. At the age of fifty-nine, she embarked on an eighteen-month journey around the south of France to meet Huguenot leaders face to face. Her efforts won Catherine new respect from the French people. On her return to Paris in 1579, she was greeted outside the city by the Parlement and crowds. The Venetian ambassador, Gerolamo Lipomanno, wrote: "She is an indefatigable princess, born to tame and govern a people as unruly as the French: they now recognize her merits, her concern for unity and are sorry not to have appreciated her sooner". She was under no illusions, however. On 25 November 1579, she wrote to the king, "You are on the eve of a general revolt. Anyone who tells you differently is a liar".

Catholic League


Many leading Roman Catholics were appalled by Catherine's attempts to appease the Huguenots. After the Edict of Beaulieu, they had started forming local leagues to protect their religion. The death of the heir to the throne in 1584 prompted the Duke of Guise to assume the leadership of the Catholic League
Catholic League (French)
The Catholic League of France, sometimes referred to by contemporary Roman Catholics as the Holy League, a major player in the French Wars of Religion, was formed by Duke Henry of Guise in 1576...

. He planned to block Henry of Navarre's succession and place Henry's Catholic uncle Cardinal Charles de Bourbon
Charles, Cardinal de Bourbon
Charles de Bourbon was a French cardinal. The Catholic League considered him the rightful King of France after the death of Henry III of France in 1589.-Biography:...

 on the throne instead. In this cause, he recruited the great Catholic princes, nobles and prelates, signed the treaty of Joinville
Treaty of Joinville
The Treaty of Joinville was signed in secret in December 31, 1584 by the French Catholic League, led by France's first family of Catholic nobles, the Guises, and Habsburg Spain. In this treaty, Philip II, King of Spain, agreed to finance the Catholic League...

 with Spain, and prepared to make war on the "heretics". By 1585, Henry III had no choice but to go to war against the League. As Catherine put it, "peace is carried on a stick" (bâton porte paix). "Take care", she wrote to the king, "especially about your person. There is so much treachery about that I die of fear".

Henry was unable to fight the Catholics and the Protestants at once, both of whom had stronger armies than his own. In the Treaty of Nemours
Treaty of Nemours
Articles of the Treaty of Nemours were agreed upon in writing and signed in Nemours on July 7, 1585 between the Queen Mother, Catherine de' Medici, acting for the King, and representatives of the House of Guise, including the Duke of Lorraine...

, signed on 7 July 1585, he was forced to give in to all the League's demands, even that he pay its troops. He went into hiding to fast and pray, surrounded by a bodyguard known as "the Forty-five
The forty-five guards
The Forty-five guards were forty-five guards recruited by the Duke of Épernon to provide Henri III of France with trusted protection in the midst of the War of the Three Henrys....

", and left Catherine to sort out the mess. The monarchy had lost control of the country, and was in no position to assist England in the face of the coming Spanish attack. The Spanish ambassador told Philip II that the abscess was about to burst.

By 1587, the Catholic backlash against the Protestants had become a campaign across Europe. Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

's execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, on 18 February 1587 outraged the Catholic world. Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 prepared for an invasion of England. The League took control of much of northern France to secure French ports for his armada
Spanish Armada
This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

.

Last months and death


Henry hired Swiss troops to help him defend himself in Paris. The Parisians, however, claimed the right to defend the city themselves. On 12 May 1588, they set up barricades in the streets and refused to take orders from anyone except the Duke of Guise. When Catherine tried to go to mass, she found her way barred, though she was allowed through the barricades. The chronicler L'Estoile reported that she cried all through her lunch that day. She wrote to Bellièvre, "Never have I seen myself in such trouble or with so little light by which to escape". As usual, Catherine advised the king, who had fled the city in the nick of time, to compromise and live to fight another day. On 15 June 1588, Henry duly signed the Act of Union, which gave in to all the League's latest demands.

On 8 September 1588 at Blois, where the court had assembled for a meeting of the Estates, Henry dismissed all his ministers without warning. Catherine, in bed with a lung infection, had been kept in the dark. The king's actions effectively ended her days of power.

At the meeting of the Estates, Henry thanked Catherine for all she had done. He called her not only the mother of the king but the mother of the state. Henry did not tell Catherine of his plan for a solution to his problems. On 23 December 1588, he asked the Duke of Guise to call on him at the Château of Blois
Château de Blois
The Royal Château de Blois is located in the Loir-et-Cher département in the Loire Valley, in France, in the center of the city of Blois. The residence of several French kings, it is also the place where Joan of Arc went in 1429 to be blessed by the Archbishop of Reims before departing with her...

. As Guise entered the king's chamber, the Forty-five plunged their blades into his body, and he died at the foot of the king's bed. At the same moment, eight members of the Guise family were rounded up, including the Duke of Guise's brother, Louis II, Cardinal of Guise
Louis II, Cardinal of Guise
Louis II, Cardinal of Guise was the third son of Francis, Duke of Guise and Anna d'Este. His maternal grandparents were Ercole d'Este II, Duke of Ferrara and Renée of France....

, whom Henry's men hacked to death the next day in the palace dungeons. Immediately after the murder of Guise, Henry entered Catherine's bedroom on the floor below and announced, "Please forgive me. Monsieur de Guise is dead. He will not be spoken of again. I have had him killed. I have done to him what he was going to do to me". Catherine's immediate reaction is not known; but on Christmas Day, she told a friar, "Oh, wretched man! What has he done?...Pray for him...I see him rushing towards his ruin". She visited her old friend Cardinal de Bourbon on 1 January 1589 to tell him she was sure he would soon be freed. He shouted at her, "Your words, Madam, have led us all to this butchery". She left in tears.

On 5 January 1589, Catherine died at the age of sixty-nine, probably from pleurisy
Pleurisy
Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, the lining of the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs. Among other things, infections are the most common cause of pleurisy....

. L'Estoile wrote: "those close to her believed that her life had been shortened by displeasure over her son's deed". He added that she had no sooner died than she was treated with as much consideration as a dead goat. Because Paris was held by enemies of the crown, Catherine had to be buried at Blois. Diane
Diane de France
Diane de France was the natural daughter of Henry II, King of France, and his Piedmontese mistress Filippa Duci. Some sources claim that she was the daughter of Diane de Poitiers....

, daughter of Henry II and Philippa Duci, later had her body moved to Saint-Denis basilica. In 1793, a revolutionary mob tossed her bones into a mass grave with those of the other kings and queens. Eight months after Catherine's burial, a friar called Jacques Clément
Jacques Clément
Jacques Clément was the assassin of the French king Henry III.He was born at Serbonnes, in today's Yonne département, in Burgundy, and became a Dominican lay brother....

 stabbed Henry III to death. At the time, Henry was besieging Paris with the King of Navarre, who succeeded him as Henry IV of France
Henry IV of France's succession
Henry IV of France's succession to the throne in 1589 was followed by a four-year war to establish his legitimacy. Henry IV inherited the throne after the assassination of Henry III, the last Valois king, who died without children...

, ending nearly three centuries of Valois rule and bringing in the Bourbon dynasty
House of Bourbon
The House of Bourbon is a European royal house, a branch of the Capetian dynasty . Bourbon kings first ruled Navarre and France in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Bourbon dynasty also held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma...

.

Henry IV was later reported to have said of Catherine:

Patron of the arts




Catherine believed in the humanist
Renaissance humanism
Renaissance humanism was an activity of cultural and educational reform engaged by scholars, writers, and civic leaders who are today known as Renaissance humanists. It developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of Mediæval...

 ideal of the learned Renaissance prince whose authority depended on letters as well as arms. She was inspired by the example of her father-in-law, King Francis I of France
Francis I of France
Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death. During his reign, huge cultural changes took place in France and he has been called France's original Renaissance monarch...

, who had hosted the leading artists of Europe at his court, and by her Medici
Medici
The House of Medici or Famiglia de' Medici was a political dynasty, banking family and later royal house that first began to gather prominence under Cosimo de' Medici in the Republic of Florence during the late 14th century. The family originated in the Mugello region of the Tuscan countryside,...

 ancestors. In an age of civil war and declining respect for the monarchy, she sought to bolster royal prestige through lavish cultural display. Once in control of the royal purse, she launched a programme of artistic patronage that lasted for three decades. During this time, she presided over a distinctive late French Renaissance
French Renaissance
French Renaissance is a recent term used to describe a cultural and artistic movement in France from the late 15th century to the early 17th century. It is associated with the pan-European Renaissance that many cultural historians believe originated in northern Italy in the fourteenth century...

 culture in all branches of the arts.

An inventory
Inventory
Inventory means a list compiled for some formal purpose, such as the details of an estate going to probate, or the contents of a house let furnished. This remains the prime meaning in British English...

 drawn up at the Hôtel de la Reine after Catherine's death shows her to have been a keen collector. Listed works of art included tapestries
Tapestry
Tapestry is a form of textile art, traditionally woven on a vertical loom, however it can also be woven on a floor loom as well. It is composed of two sets of interlaced threads, those running parallel to the length and those parallel to the width ; the warp threads are set up under tension on a...

, hand-drawn maps, sculptures, rich fabrics, ebony
Ebony
Ebony is a dense black wood, most commonly yielded by several species in the genus Diospyros, but ebony may also refer to other heavy, black woods from unrelated species. Ebony is dense enough to sink in water. Its fine texture, and very smooth finish when polished, make it valuable as an...

 furniture inlaid with ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

, sets of china, and Limoges
Limoges
Limoges |Limousin]] dialect of Occitan) is a city and commune, the capital of the Haute-Vienne department and the administrative capital of the Limousin région in west-central France....

 pottery. There were also hundreds of portraits, for which a vogue had developed during Catherine's lifetime. Many portraits in her collection were by Jean Clouet
Jean Clouet
Jean Clouet was a miniaturist and painter who worked in France during the Renaissance. He was the father of François Clouet.-Biography:Clouet was allegedly born in Brussels....

 (1480–1541) and his son François Clouet
François Clouet
François Clouet , son of Jean Clouet, was a French Renaissance miniaturist and painter, particularly known for his detailed portraits of the French ruling family.-Historical references:Clouet was born in Tours....

 (c. 1510–1572). François Clouet drew and painted portraits of all Catherine's family and of many members of the court. After Catherine's death, a decline in the quality of French portraiture set in. By 1610, the school patronised by the late Valois court and brought to its pinnacle by François Clouet had all but died out.

Beyond portraiture, little is known about the painting at Catherine de' Medici's court. In the last two decades of her life, only two painters stand out as recognisable personalities: Jean Cousin the Younger
Jehan Cousin the younger
Jehan Cousin the younger was born in Sens, France around 1522, the son of the famous painter and sculptor Jean Cousin the Elder ca. 1490–ca. 1560) who was often compared to his noted contemporary, Albrecht Dürer...

 (c. 1522–c. 1594), few of whose works survive, and Antoine Caron
Antoine Caron
Antoine Caron was a French master glassmaker, illustrator, Northern Mannerist painter and a product of the School of Fontainebleau.He is one of the few French painters of his time who had a pronounced artistic personality...

 (c. 1521–1599), who became Catherine's official painter after working at Fontainebleau
Fontainebleau
Fontainebleau is a commune in the metropolitan area of Paris, France. It is located south-southeast of the centre of Paris. Fontainebleau is a sub-prefecture of the Seine-et-Marne department, and it is the seat of the arrondissement of Fontainebleau...

 under Primaticcio
Francesco Primaticcio
Francesco Primaticcio was an Italian Mannerist painter, architect and sculptor who spent most of his career in France.-Biography:...

. Caron's vivid Mannerism
Mannerism
Mannerism is a period of European art that emerged from the later years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520. It lasted until about 1580 in Italy, when a more Baroque style began to replace it, but Northern Mannerism continued into the early 17th century throughout much of Europe...

, with its love of ceremonial and its preoccupation with massacres, reflects the neurotic atmosphere of the French court during the Wars of Religion
French Wars of Religion
The French Wars of Religion is the name given to a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants . The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise...

.

Many of Caron's paintings, such as those of the Triumphs of the Seasons, are of allegorical
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 subjects that echo the festivities
Catherine de' Medici's court festivals
Catherine de' Medici's court festivals were a series of lavish and spectacular entertainments, sometimes called "magnificences", laid on by Catherine de' Medici, the queen consort of France from 1547 to 1559 and queen mother from 1559 until her death in 1589...

 for which Catherine's court was famous. His designs for the Valois Tapestries
Valois Tapestries
The Valois Tapestries are a series of eight tapestries depicting festivities or "magnificences" at the Court of France in the second half of the 16th century. The tapestries were worked in the Spanish Netherlands, probably in Brussels or Antwerp, shortly after 1580.Scholars have not firmly...

 celebrate the fêtes, picnics, and mock battles of the "magnificent" entertainments hosted by Catherine. They depict events held at Fontainebleau in 1564; at Bayonne
Bayonne
Bayonne is a city and commune in south-western France at the confluence of the Nive and Adour rivers, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, of which it is a sub-prefecture...

 in 1565 for the summit meeting with the Spanish court; and at the Tuileries
Tuileries Palace
The Tuileries Palace was a royal palace in Paris which stood on the right bank of the River Seine until 1871, when it was destroyed in the upheaval during the suppression of the Paris Commune...

 in 1573 for the visit of the Polish ambassadors who presented the Polish crown to Catherine's son Henry of Anjou
Henry III of France
Henry III was King of France from 1574 to 1589. As Henry of Valois, he was the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the dual titles of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.-Childhood:Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau,...

. Biographer Leonie Frieda suggests that "Catherine, more than anyone, inaugurated the fantastic entertainments for which later French monarchs also became renowned".

The musical shows in particular allowed Catherine to express her creative gifts. They were usually dedicated to the ideal of peace in the realm and based on mythological
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 themes. To create the necessary dramas, music, and scenic effects for these events, Catherine employed the leading artists and architects of the day. Historian Frances Yates has called her "a great creative artist in festivals". Catherine gradually introduced changes to the traditional entertainments: for example, she increased the prominence of dance in the shows that climaxed each series of entertainments. A distinctive new art form, the ballet de cour
Ballets de cour
Ballets de cour is the name given to ballets performed in the 16th and 17th centuries at court. Jean-Baptiste Lully is considered the most important composer of music for ballets de cour and was instrumental to the development of the form...

, emerged from these creative advances. Owing to its synthesis of dance, music, verse, and setting, the production of the Ballet Comique de la Reine
Ballet Comique de la Reine
The Ballet Comique de la Reine was a court entertainment, now considered to be the first ballet de cour. It was staged in Paris, France, in 1581 for the court of Catherine de' Medici. It was produced and choreographed by Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx and danced by Queen Louise and the women of the court...

in 1581 is regarded by scholars as the first authentic ballet.

Catherine de' Medici's great love among the arts was architecture. "As the daughter of the Medici", suggests French art historian Jean-Pierre Babelon, "she was driven by a passion to build and a desire to leave great achievements behind her when she died." After Henry II's death, Catherine set out to immortalise her husband's memory and to enhance the grandeur of the Valois monarchy through a series of costly building projects. These included work on châteaux at Montceaux-en-Brie, Saint-Maur-des-Fossés
Saint-Maur-des-Fossés
Saint-Maur-des-Fossés is a commune in the southeastern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located 11.7 km. from the center of Paris.-The abbey:...

, and Chenonceau. Catherine built two new palaces in Paris: the Tuileries and the Hôtel de la Reine. She was closely involved in the planning and supervising of all her architectural schemes.

Catherine had emblems of her love and grief carved into the stonework of her buildings. Poets lauded her as the new Artemisia, after Artemisia II of Caria
Artemisia II of Caria
Artemisia II of Caria was a sister, the wife and the successor of the king Mausolus. She was a daughter of Hecatomnus, and after the death of her husband she reigned for two years, from 353 to 351 BC...

, who built the Mausoleum
Mausoleum of Maussollos
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus or Tomb of Mausolus was a tomb built between 353 and 350 BC at Halicarnassus for Mausolus, a satrap in the Persian Empire, and Artemisia II of Caria, his wife and sister....

 at Halicarnassus
Halicarnassus
Halicarnassus was an ancient Greek city at the site of modern Bodrum in Turkey. It was located in southwest Caria on a picturesque, advantageous site on the Ceramic Gulf. The city was famous for the tomb of Mausolus, the origin of the word mausoleum, built between 353 BC and 350 BC, and...

 as a tomb for her dead husband. As the centrepiece of an ambitious new chapel, she commissioned a magnificent tomb for Henry at the basilica of Saint Denis. It was designed by Francesco Primaticcio
Francesco Primaticcio
Francesco Primaticcio was an Italian Mannerist painter, architect and sculptor who spent most of his career in France.-Biography:...

 (1504–1570), with sculpture by Germain Pilon (1528–1590). Art historian Henri Zerner has called this monument "the last and most brilliant of the royal tombs of the Renaissance". Catherine also commissioned Germain Pilon
Germain Pilon
Germain Pilon was a French Renaissance sculptor.-Biography:He was born in Paris. Trained by his father and Pierre Bontemps, Pilon was an expert with marble, bronze, wood and terra cotta; from about 1555 he was providing models for Parisian goldsmiths...

 to carve the marble sculpture that contains Henry II's heart. A poem by Ronsard, engraved on its base, tells the reader not to wonder that so small a vase can hold so large a heart, since Henry's real heart resides in Catherine's breast.

Although Catherine spent ruinous sums on the arts, most of her patronage left no permanent legacy. The end of the Valois dynasty so soon after her death brought a change in priorities.

Titles, styles, honours, and arms



Titles and styles

  • 13 April 1519-1524: Lady Caterina de' Medici
  • 1524-28 October 1533: Lady Caterina de' Medici, Countess of Auvergne
  • 28 October 1533-10 August 1536: The Duchess of Orléans, Countess of Auvergne
  • 10 August 1536-31 March 1547: The Dauphine of France and of Viennois, Countess of Auvergne
  • 31 March 1547-10 July 1559: Her Most Christian Majesty The Queen of France, Countess of Auvergne
  • 10 July 1559-5 January 1589: Her Most Christian Majesty The Queen Mother of France, Countess of Auvergne

Issue


Catherine de' Medici married Henry, Duke of Orléans, the future Henry II of France
Henry II of France
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559.-Early years:Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany .His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy,...

, in Marseille
Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

 on 28 October 1533. She gave birth to ten children, seven of whom survived to adulthood. Her three oldest sons became king of France; two of her daughters married kings; and one married a duke. Catherine outlived all her children except Henry III, who died seven months after her, and Margaret, who inherited her robust health.
  • Francis II, King of France
    Francis II of France
    Francis II was aged 15 when he succeeded to the throne of France after the accidental death of his father, King Henry II, in 1559. He reigned for 18 months before he died in December 1560...

     (19 January 1544 – 5 December 1560). Married Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1558.
  • Elizabeth, Queen consort of Spain
    Elisabeth of Valois
    Elisabeth of Valois was the eldest daughter of Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici.-Early life:She was born in the Château de Fontainebleau...

     (2 April 1545 – 3 October 1568). Married Philip II, King of Spain
    Philip II of Spain
    Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

    , in 1559.
  • Claude, Duchess consort of Lorraine
    Claude of Valois
    Claude of Valois was born at Fontainebleau on 12 November 1547 and died in Nancy on 21 February 1575. She was the second daughter of King Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici.-Biography:...

     (12 November 1547 – 21 February 1575). Married Charles III, Duke of Lorraine
    Charles III, Duke of Lorraine
    Charles III , known as the Great, was Duke of Lorraine from 1545 until his death.-History:He was the eldest surviving son of Francis I, Duke of Lorraine, and Christina of Denmark...

    .
  • Louis, Duke of Orléans (3 February 1549 – 24 October 1549). Died in infancy.
  • Charles IX, King of France
    Charles IX of France
    Charles IX was King of France, ruling from 1560 until his death. His reign was dominated by the Wars of Religion. He is best known as king at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Childhood:...

     (27 June 1550 – 30 May 1574). Married Elizabeth of Austria
    Elisabeth of Austria (1554-1592)
    Elisabeth of Austria was a German princess member of the House of Habsburg, by birth Archduchess of Austria and by marriage Queen of France.She was the daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II and Maria of Spain....

     in 1570.
  • Henry III, King of France
    Henry III of France
    Henry III was King of France from 1574 to 1589. As Henry of Valois, he was the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the dual titles of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.-Childhood:Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau,...

     (19 September 1551 – 2 August 1589). Married Louise of Lorraine in 1575.
  • Margaret, Queen consort of France and Navarre (14 May 1553 – 27 March 1615). Married Henry, King of Navarre, the future Henry IV of France
    Henry IV of France
    Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

    , in 1572.
  • Francis, Duke of Anjou (18 March 1555 – 19 June 1584).
  • Victoria
    Victoria of Valois
    Victoria of Valois and her twin sister, Joan of Valois), were the last children born to King Henry II of France and his wife, Catherine de' Medici.Catherine's confinement came on June 24, 1556...

     (24 June 1556 – August 1556). Twin of Joan. Died in infancy.
  • Joan (24 June 1556 – 24 June 1556). Twin of Victoria. Died in utero.

Ancestry





In popular culture



Film

  • Josephine Crowell
    Josephine Crowell
    Josephine Crowell was a Canadian film actress of the silent film era. She appeared in 94 films between 1912 and 1929....

     - Intolerance
    Intolerance (film)
    Intolerance is a 1916 American silent film directed by D. W. Griffith and is considered one of the great masterpieces of the Silent Era. The three-and-a-half hour epic intercuts four parallel storylines each separated by several centuries: A contemporary melodrama of crime and redemption; a...

    (1916
    1916 in film
    The year 1916 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* October 17 - release of A Daughter of the Gods, the first US production with a million dollar budget, with the first nude scene by a major star....

    )
  • Marguerite Moreno - Pearls of the Crown
    Pearls of the Crown
    The Pearls of the Crown is a 1937 partially historical film by Sacha Guitry who plays four roles in it. Guitry's Jean Martin is investigate the history of seven pearls, four of which end up on the crown of England, the other three end up missing.-Cast:...

    (1937
    1937 in film
    The year 1937 in film involved some significant events, including the Walt Disney production of the first full-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.- Events :*April 16 - Way Out West premieres in the US....

    )
  • Françoise Rosay
    Françoise Rosay
    Françoise Rosay was a French opera singer, diseuse, and actress who enjoyed a film career of over sixty years and who became a legendary figure in French cinema...

     - La Reine Margot
    La Reine Margot (1954 film)
    La Reine Margot is a 1954 French drama film directed by Jean Dréville, scripted by Abel Gance from the novel of the same name by Alexandre Dumas. It stars Jeanne Moreau and Louis de Funès...

    (1954
    1954 in film
    The year 1954 in film involved some significant events and memorable ones.-Events:*May 12 - The Marx Brothers' Zeppo Marx divorces wife Marion Benda...

    )
  • Marisa Pavan
    Marisa Pavan
    Marisa Pavan is an Italian-born actress who first became famous as the twin sister to movie star Pier Angeli before achieving movie stardom on her own...

     - Diane
    Diane (film)
    Diane is a 1956 American historical film drama about the life of Diane de Poitiers, produced by MGM. It was directed by David Miller and produced by Edwin H. Knopf from a screenplay by Christopher Isherwood based on a story by John Erskine. The music score was composed by Miklós Rózsa, Robert H....

    (1956
    1956 in film
    The year 1956 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* October 5 - The Ten Commandments opens in cinemas and becomes one of the most successful and popular movies of all time, currently ranking 5th on the list of all time moneymakers * February 5 - First showing of documentary films by...

    )
  • Isa Miranda
    Isa Miranda
    Isa Miranda was an Italian actress with an international film career.A native of Bergamo, Isa Miranda worked as a typist whilst attending the drama academy in Milan and training as a stage actress. She went on to play bit parts in Italian films in Rome...

     - Hardi Pardaillan!
    Hardi Pardaillan!
    Hardi Pardaillan! is a 1964 French-Italian comedy film directed by Bernard Borderie and starring Gérard Barray, Valérie Lagrange, Philippe Lemaire, Sophie Hardy and Guy Delorme...

    (1964
    1964 in film
    The year 1964 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* January 29 - The film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is released....

    )
  • Virna Lisi
    Virna Lisi
    Virna Lisi is a Cannes and César award-winning Italian film actress. She was born in Ancona, Marche, as Virna Lisa Pieralisi.-Early career:...

     - La Reine Margot
    La Reine Margot (1994 film)
    La Reine Margot is a 1994 French period film directed by Patrice Chéreau, based on the 1845 historical novel of the same name by Alexandre Dumas, père. It stars Isabelle Adjani, Daniel Auteuil, Virna Lisi and Vincent Pérez...

    (1994)
  • Evelina Meghnagi - The Princess of Montpensier
    The Princess of Montpensier
    The Princess of Montpensier is a 2010 French period romance film directed by Bertrand Tavernier, inspired by a short story anonymously published by Madame de La Fayette. It stars Mélanie Thierry in the title role, alongside Gaspard Ulliel, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, Lambert Wilson and Raphaël...

    (2010)

Television

  • Alice Sapritch
    Alice Sapritch
    Alice Sapritch was a French film actress of Armenian descent. She appeared in 66 films between 1950 and 1989.-Filmography:* Candide ou l'optimisme au XXe siècle * Who Are You, Polly Magoo?...

     - la Reine Margot (television film, 1961)
  • Joan Young - The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve
    The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve
    The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 5 February to 26 February 1966...

    (episode of Doctor Who
    Doctor Who
    Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor who explores the universe in a sentient time machine called the TARDIS that flies through time and space, whose exterior...

    , 1966)
  • Maria Meriko La Dame de Monsoreau (mini-series, 1971)
  • Dominique Blanchar - Le Chevalier de Pardaillan (series, 1988)
  • Alice Sapritch
    Alice Sapritch
    Alice Sapritch was a French film actress of Armenian descent. She appeared in 66 films between 1950 and 1989.-Filmography:* Candide ou l'optimisme au XXe siècle * Who Are You, Polly Magoo?...

     - Catherine de Médicis : Le Tocsin de la révolution (television film, 1989)
  • Marie-Christine Barrault
    Marie-Christine Barrault
    Marie-Christine Barrault is a French actress, who has appeared in 45 films and numerous television productions.Born in Paris, she got her start on television, in L'Œuvre, in 1967 and in the series Que ferait donc Faber? Her film debut was in 1969 in My Night at Maud's in 1969.In 1970 Barrault...

     - Saint-Germain ou la Négociation (television film, 2003)

External links