MEDICI, Catherine de'
Catherine de' Medici's childhood provided no indication of her later central position on the European stage as queen of France in the turbulent years of the Wars of Religion. The subject of controversy during her lifetime and thereafter, she worked tirelessly in her children's interests, to maintain monarchical authority, and to neutralize the sectarian strife that divided the country.Catherine, the daughter of Lorenzo, duke of Urbino, and a French princess, was the first member of her Florentine family to be nobly born. Orphaned shortly after her birth, she grew up under the guardianship of relatives, sometimes living in convents. In 1533 her cousin, Pope Clement VII, arranged her marriage to Henri, duc d'Orleans, the second son of Francois I* of France. Although Catherine was supported by her Italophile father-in-law, her husband greatly favored his mistress, Diane de Poitiers.* Compounding Catherine's situation, the young couple had difficulty conceiving and produced no children during the first ten years of their marriage, although they eventually had ten, of whom seven survived.An improbable series of events brought—and kept—Catherine close to the throne. First, her husband's older brother died, leaving him heir apparent. Henri became king—and Catherine queen—in 1547. He was killed accidentally twelve years later and succeeded by Francois II, aged fourteen. In 1560 he too died, followed by Charles IX, who had not yet reached his majority. Catherine served as regent and began pacification efforts between opposing religious factions, but they failed, and in 1562 the first of the Wars of Religion broke out.Catherine spent the rest of her seventy-year life working in her children's interests. She sought advantageous marriages for all and snared the crown of Poland for the future Henri III. She tried unsuccessfully to wage peace through mediation. This required constant travel, which she undertook even in advanced age. Catherine also staged lavish court entertainments that effected allegorical reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants. One, celebrating the marriage of her youngest daughter, Marguerite de Valois,* a Catholic, to Henri de Navarre, the Protestant heir to the throne, brought many Protestants to Paris. It turned into the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, during which over two thousand Huguenots were killed in Paris, and more in the provinces.Catherine de' Medici has been painted as one of history's greatest villains, accused of any number of poisonings and masterminding the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, but some accounts are exaggerated due to gender bias and xenophobia. She can be credited with working to shore up French monarchical authority and to defuse religious strife. As an architectural patron, she built the Valois Chapel—the first independent tomb chapel to be appended to the Church of St. Denis, the French royal mausoleum—and two Parisian houses, the Tuileries and the Hotel de la Reine.BibliographyS. ffolliott, "The Ideal Queenly Patron of the Renaissance: Catherine de' Medici Defining Herself or Defined by Others?" in Women and Art in Early Modern Europe: Patrons, Collectors, and Connoisseurs, ed. Cynthia Lawrence, 1997.M. P. Holt, The French Wars of Religion, 1562-1629, 1995.R. J. Knecht, Catherine de' Medici, 1998.N. M. Sutherland, Catherine de' Medici and the Ancien Regime, 1966.Sheila ffolliott
Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. Jo Eldridge Carney. 2001.
Look at other dictionaries:
Medici, Catherine de' — • Born 13 April, 1519; died 5 January, 1589; she was the daughter of Lorenzo de Medici (II), Duke of Urbino, and Madeleine de la Tour d Auvergne who, by her mother, Catherine of Bourbon, was related to the royal house of France Catholic… … Catholic encyclopedia
Catherine de' Medici — Catherine de Medici, attributed to François Clouet, c. 1555 Queen consort of France Reign 31 March 1547 – 10 July 1559 … Wikipedia
Catherine de' Medici — • Born 13 April, 1519; died 5 January, 1589; she was the daughter of Lorenzo de Medici (II), Duke of Urbino, and Madeleine de la Tour d Auvergne who, by her mother, Catherine of Bourbon, was related to the royal house of France Catholic… … Catholic encyclopedia
Catherine de' Medici's court festivals — Ball at the Court of Henri III (detail), Franco Flemish school, c. 1582. 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… … Wikipedia
Catherine de Medicis — François Clouet (zugeschrieben): „Katharina von Medici“, Miniatur, um 1550/1555, Victoria Albert Museum Caterina Maria Romula de’ Medici (* 13. April 1519 in Florenz; † 5. Januar 1589 in Blois) war Prin … Deutsch Wikipedia
Catherine de Clèves — Zeitgenössisches Porträt Catherines de Clèves eines unbekannten Malers im Schloss Eu Catherine de Clèves (* 1548; † 11. Mai 1633 in Paris) war Gräfin von Eu und durch ihre Heirat mit Henri I. de Lorraine von 1570 bis 1588 Herzogin von Guise … Deutsch Wikipedia
Medici — Infobox Family colour = LightCoral name =Medici crest = caption = Money to get power, and power to guard the money ethnicity = region = early forms = origin = members =Lorenzo de Medici Catherine Leo X Clement VII Leo XI Marie Cosimo de Medici… … Wikipedia
Catherine de Clèves, duchesse de Guise — Zeitgenössisches Porträt Catherines de Clèves eines unbekannten Malers im Schloss Eu Catherine de Clèves (* 1548; † 11. Mai 1633 in Paris) war Gräfin von Eu und durch ihre Heirat mit Henri I. de Lorraine von 1570 bis 1588 Herzogin von… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Catherine de' Medici's patronage of the arts — made a significant contribution to the French Renaissance. Catherine was inspired by the example of her father in law, King Francis I of France (reigned 1515–1547), who had hosted the leading artists of Europe at his court. As a young woman, she… … Wikipedia
Catherine de' Medici's building projects — included the Valois chapel at Saint Denis, the Tuileries Palace, and the Hôtel de la Reine in Paris, and extensions to the château of Chenonceau, near Blois. Born in 1519 in Florence to an Italian father and a French mother, Catherine de Medici… … Wikipedia