Catherine de' Medici was born on 13 April 1519 in Florence, Republic of Florence, the only child of Lorenzo de' Medici, Duke of Urbino, and his wife, Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne, the countess of Boulogne.
Feb 02, 2021 · Catherine de’ Medici, also called Catherine de Médicis, Italian Caterina de’ Medici, (born April 13, 1519, Florence [Italy]—died January 5, 1589, Blois, France), queen consort of Henry II of France (reigned 1547–59) and subsequently regent of France (1560–74), who was one of the most influential personalities of the Catholic–Huguenot wars.
Italian-born politician Catherine de' Medici was married to the French King Henry II (1519– 1559) and was mother and regent (one who governs a kingdom in the absence of the real ruler) of three other kings—Francis II (1544–1560), Charles IX (1550–1574), and Henry III (1551–1589).
Jan 12, 2020 · Catherine de Medici (born Caterina Maria Romola di Lorenzo de Medici; April 13, 1519-January 5, 1589) was a member of the powerful Italian Medici family who became queen consort of France through her marriage to King Henry II.
Catherine de Medici © Italian-born French queen, regent and mother of three kings of France. She was a powerful influence in 16th century France, particularly during the Wars of Religion. Caterina...
Aug 15, 2019 · Catherine de Medici was known primarily as a smart and sometimes ruthless leader, the woman behind the men of the Valois court, but she was also a passionate supporter of the arts, and it was during her time as governor of France that ballet as we know it really began to flourish.
May 27, 2015 · Catherine de Medici played an important part in the history of Sixteenth Century France. Catherine de Medici has been held partly responsible for starting the French Wars of Religion. But has her contribution been exaggerated? It is all but impossible to blame one person for a war let alone what turned into a series of wars.
- Later life
The Medicis were not longstanding French allies. Having lost control of Florence in 1494, they were desperate to restore their former status and fortune, built up by Lorenzo the Magnificent. Despite sorely depleted finances, his younger sons, Giovanni and Giuliano, backed a group of Italian States to defeat the French, in return for help to bring them back to power in Florence. Giovanni, already a Cardinal, was soon elected Pope as Leo X and took Giuliano with him to Rome to extend Medici influence. Their nephew, Lorenzo II, was left to control Florence, with the backing of Papal funds.
In 1515, Giuliano was sent to meet Francis I in Bologna to agree an alliance between the French Crown and the Papacy. Francis provided Giuliano with the French Dukedom of Nemours, and marriage to his aunt, Philiberta of Savoy, but Giuliano died within a year. To maintain this alliance, Leo appointed Lorenzo II, now aged twenty-six, to attend the baptism, on 15 April 1518, of the French Kings first son, the Dauphin Francis for whom Leo became godfather. The King offered to arrange Lorenzos marriage to his extremely wealthy kinswoman, the sixteen-year-old Madeleine de la Tour dAuvergne. Despite Lorenzos strutting grandiosity, Francis hosted a spectacular wedding ceremony at Amboise with dazzling entertainments, and Madeleine was soon pregnant. Catherine was a good catch. After Henry VIIIs illegitimate son, the Duke of Richmond, James V of Scotland and Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, were rejected, Francis I proposed his second son, Henri, Duke of Orléans. It was secretly agreed that Pisa, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio, Modena and Leghorn should be annexed to the French Crown as part of her dowry. The Pope promised to back Francis in taking Genoa and Milan and in annexing Urbino for the young couple. The Papacy also promised Catherine a dowry of 100,000 gold écus, to replace her lost revenues from her Florentine estates, and she still retained her mothers substantial French inheritance. Francis promised her a further 10,000 livres per annum. This was a substantial fortune, but the Pope had achieved an astonishing match for someone not of Royal blood. For her official entry to Marseilles, Catherine, ever the brilliant horsewoman, rode a roan and was dressed in gold and silver silk. After the contract signing on 27 October 1533, Pope Clement performed the marriage on the next day. About midnight, the couple retired, but Francis attended their coucher to ensure consummation. He reported that each had shown valour in the joust. The principal importance for both Francis and the Pope was for Catherine to become pregnant. If she failed, the marriage could be repudiated. Henry did not find Catherine attractive and soon took Diane de Poitiers, seventeen years his senior as his mistress. Yet Diane became Catherines unexpected ally. So long as she failed to conceive and was not repudiated, the politically astute Diane retained Henrys ear. Catherine resorted to every possible potion suggested by Diane in the hope of becoming pregnant. She drank drafts of mules urine as an inoculation against sterility. Poultices were applied to her genitals during love-making. These included ground stags antlers and cow dung, the smell of which was relieved by crushed periwinkle blended with mares milk. These can hardly have been an aphrodisiac for the reluctant Dauphin. She went to Francis I in floods of tears, admitting that she should be repudiated, but the soft hearted King agreed to give her more time, against the better interests of his dynasty. Diane continued to send an unenthusiastic Henry (who soon became King as Henry II) to her on a regular basis. At last she consulted a new doctor, and whether by good luck or his sensible advice, almost immediately became pregnant. The Dauphin Francis was followed by a string of children, few of whom enjoyed robust health. Even now Catherine still found herself subordinated to Diane de Poitiers, but she bided her time. As her political acumen developed, she shrewdly positioned herself as Queen Dowager acting as guardian of the Crown on her childrens behalf, initially with the support of the Guise family. On 30 June 1559, Henri II arranged a spectacular jousting tournament in Paris in celebration of his daughter Elisabeths marriage to Philip II of Spain. This was to be attended by the bridal couples and their assembled guests. Catherine begged him not to take part after a premonition of his fate, but he was mortally wounded when a lance splintered after striking his visor. Henry died in agony ten days later and the fifteen-year-old Dauphin Francis, now married to Mary Queen of Scots, became King. Although Marys Guise uncles took control, Catherine was concerned at their ultra-Catholic and Imperialistic policies, and imperceptibly wean the Royal couple away from them. When the sickly Francis died in the following year, she was positioned to take control of Government on behalf of her next son Charles IX and Mary was packed off back to Scotland.
The couple returned to Florence for the birth of their daughter Catherine. Yet within a few months, first Madeleine and then Lorenzo died, she of puerperal fever and he, allegedly, of syphilis. The orphaned Catherine was removed to Rome to the care of Pope Leo, who intended that she should marry a Medici cousin, Ippolito, thus becoming the ruling couple of Florence. Yet Leo died on 1 December 1521. By then, he was being assisted by his ambitious cousin, Cardinal Giulio de Medici. Giulio had an illegitimate son, Alessandro, who he had ambitions to promote to Florence in preference to Ippolito and Catherine.
Before Leos death, Francis Is great rival, Charles I of Spain, had been elected Holy Roman Emperor as Charles V, and had pressurised Leo into alliance with him. He was no supporter of the Medicis, and nominated Hadrian VI as the next Pope. Giulio retired to Florence, accompanied by Catherine, Ippolito and Alessandro, who were housed with relations. Although they lacked access to Papal revenues, luck came to their rescue, when, in September 1523, Hadrian died, possibly as a result of poison. Giulio used every bribe at his disposal to gain election as Pope Clement VII.
Both Henry and Catherine were aged fourteen in 1533 and the wedding took place in Marseilles. A whole quartier of the town was cleared to make space for the celebrations The Pope accompanied Catherine, furnishing her with the finest gowns, and Francis planned a lavish entertainment. The Pope had struggled to raise the agreed dowry of 100,000 écus, but undertook to provide half the sum before the wedding, with two further amounts afterwards. Catherines escort included Ippolito and twelve other cardinals, arriving in a fleet of vessels. Francis arrived two days later.
Within a year, Pope Clement was dead. Alexander Farnese, was elected as Pope Paul III, but had no interest in honouring the outstanding instalments of the dowry, or in backing Franciss territorial ambitions in Italy. Catherines political importance suddenly disappeared, but the Italian shopkeepers daughter had married well above her station. When the Dauphin Francis died suddenly on 10 August 1536, the shopkeepers daughter from Florence was destined to become Queen of France, but was still not pregnant.
- The Orphaned Duchessia. Within a month of her birth, illness killed both of Catherine’s parents. For the rest of her childhood, the vulnerable Medici heiress would be shuffled between relatives and convents to protect her from the family’s enemies in an increasingly volatile Italy.
- More Deaths in the Family. Catherine de Medici never knew a stable childhood. After her parents died, her grandmother, Alfonsina Orsini, took custody of her, but more tragedy was on the horizon.
- Uncle Pope to the Rescue…For Now. Catherine’s fortunes shifted when her uncle Giulio de Medici became Pope Clement VII. Clement brought his young niece to live in an extravagant palace in Florence, where the people took to fondly calling her “The Little Dutchess.”
- A Pleasant Prison. Medici power in Florence came crashing down in 1527. Cardinal Silvio Passerini overthrew Pope Clement, and suddenly Catherine’s peaceful childhood was thrown into chaos once again.
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