Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Catharinede Medici

Catharine de Medici, the daughter of Lorenzo de Medici, Duke of Urbino, and Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne, was born in 1519 at Florence. At the age of 14 she married the second son of Francis I. of France, who subsequently came to the throne as Henry II. For many years she played no part in politics, being overshadowed by the influence of Diane de Poitiers during her husband's life, and of the Cardinal de Lorraine and the Duc de Guise for the few months that her son, Francis II., was king. On the death of the latter, in 1560, Catharine became Regent, as Charles IX. was only ten years of age. Her ambitious, crafty, and unscrupulous character now asserted itself. France was torn by the struggle between the Catholics, headed by the House of Guise, and the Huguenots, with Coligny and the Prince tie Conde as their chiefs. For a time she openly adopted the neutral policy recommended by Michel l'Hopital, but her real aim was only to secure her own position by playing off one party against the other. A Catholic at heart, she was resolved never to allow the Protestants to prevail. The Italian arts of lying, dissimulation, assassination, and licentiousness were freely exercised by her and by her agents to effect her purposes. When the Duke of Guise had defeated Conde at Dreux (1562) and Orleans (1563) and become a person of commanding power, he perished by the hand of a zealot. Coligny's return to favour with the young monarch, after the peace of St. Germain in 1570, stimulated Catharine to plan the massacre of St. Bartholomew two years later. Her fear of the revival of the Protestant cause, and her jealousy for her favourite son, Henry III., are believed to have led her to connive at the death of the Duc d'Alencon. The succession of Henry did not restore her influence so completely as she had hoped, and the debauched and degraded king was as ready us his mother to rid himself of a dangerous rival by the murder of the Duc de Guise in 1588, and by the use of Henry of Navarre to break up the League. Catharine had given her daughter, Marguerite de Valois, in marriage to the latter prince in accordance with her scheme for hoodwinking the Huguenots, and extending her personal sphere of action; but the result was disappointing, for Marguerite, though us little bound by moral law as her mother, proved a less skilful and less ambitious intriguer. Catharine did not live to witness the extinction of the House of Valois by the assassination of Henry III., for she died a few months before that event, in 1589. Her one redeeming feature was her love for literature and art. She built the Chateau de Monceau and other noble edifices, and she planned and began the palace of the Tuileries.