By R J Knecht
Catherine de' Medici (1519-89) was once the spouse of 1 king of France and the mummy of 3 extra - the final, sorry representatives of the Valois, who had governed France considering that 1328. She herself is of preeminent significance to French background, and the most arguable of all old figures. Despised until eventually she was once strong adequate to be hated, she used to be, in her personal lifetime and because, the topic of a "Black Legend" that has made her a favorite topic of old novelists (most particularly Alexandre Dumas, whose Reine Margot has lately had new foreign money on film). but there's no contemporary biography of her in English. This new research, via a number one pupil of Renaissance France, is an incredible event.
Catherine, a missed and insignificant member of the Florentine Medici, entered French heritage in 1533 while she married the son of Francis I for short-lived political purposes: her uncle used to be pope Clement VII, who died the subsequent yr. Now of no diplomatic price, Catherine used to be taken care of with contempt on the French courtroom even after her husband's accession as Henry II in 1547. in spite of this, she gave him ten childrens prior to he was once killed in a match in 1559. She used to be left with 3 younger boys, who succeeded to the throne as Francis II (1559-60), Charles IX (1560-74) and Henry III (1574-89).
As regent and queen-mother, a girl and with out average power-base of her personal, she confronted very unlikely odds. France used to be accelerating into chaos, with political faction at courtroom and spiritual clash through the land. because the state disintegrated, Catherine's overriding situation was once for the pursuits of her teenagers. She used to be tireless in her efforts to guard her sons' inheritance, and to settle her daughters in useful marriages.
But France wanted extra. Catherine herself used to be either peace-loving and, in an age of frenzied spiritual hatred, unbigoted. She attempted to exploit the Huguenots to counterbalance the becoming strength of the ultra-Catholic Guises yet extremism on both sides annoyed her. She was once drawn into the violence. Her identify is ineradicably linked to its fruits, the bloodbath of St Bartholomew (24 August 1572), whilst hundreds of thousands of Huguenots have been slaughtered in Paris and somewhere else. To this present day no-one is aware for sure no matter if Catherine instigated the bloodbath or no longer, yet the following Robert Knecht explores the possibilities in a significantly level-headed fashion.
His ebook is a gripping narrative in its personal correct. It bargains either a lucid exposition of immensely complicated occasions (with their profound imact at the way forward for France), and in addition a resounding portrait of its enigmatic relevant personality. In going at the back of the frequent Black Legend, Professor Knecht doesn't make the error of whitewashing Catherine; yet he indicates how intractable was once her international, and the way shifty or intransigent the folk with whom she needed to deal. For all her flaws, she emerges as a extra sympathetic - and, in her pragmatism, extra smooth - determine than so much of her major contemporaries.
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Extra info for Catherine de'Medici
As the close friend of Anne de Montmorency, he would not allow any of the Constable's enemies to remain at court. He also cashiered Francis's 'fair band', some of whom took refuge in the household of the longsuffering Queen Eleanor. Madame d'Etampes, who had retired to Limours shortly before Francis's death, was refused accommodation at court. She retired to one of her chateaux and devoted herself to pious works. Eleanor returned to Spain, where she died in 1558. The person who benefited most from Madame d'Etampes' overthrow was Diane de Poitiers.
His younger brother, Charles, was highly intelligent and a fine orator. His appointment as archbishop of Reims in 1538 had given him the highest position in the Gallican church and one of the richest. Both brothers had the backing of Diane de Poitiers, who needed to balance the Constable's influence. She gave them property, including Meudon, which had belonged to Madame d'Etampes' uncle, Cardinal Sanguin. Her daughter, Louise de Breze, married Claude, marquis de Mayenne, the youngest son of Claude, first duc de Guise.
Two years later, on 10 September, Pier Luigi was assassinated in Piacenza by imperial agents and the city handed over to Ferrante Gonzaga, the imperial governor of Milan. Henry II promptly assured the pope of his support, and Charles de Lorraine was asked to persuade the pope to sign a defensive alliance with France. The refusal of Venice to join it deterred Henry from going to war, but he decided to show himself in Italy. He left Fontainebleau in April 1548 with a large escort, leaving Catherine as regent.
Catherine de'Medici by R J Knecht