Catherine de Medici - Famous Figures in History

The Jardin des Tuileries in Paris was created by Catherine de Medici. Editorial credit: Nadiia_foto /
The Jardin des Tuileries in Paris was created by Catherine de Medici. Editorial credit: Nadiia_foto /

Catherine de’ Medici was born on the 13th of April 1519. She was also known as Catherine de Médicis. Her birthplace was Florence in Italy. Catherine got married in 1533 at the age of fourteen years. Her husband, Henry, was the second son of Queen Claude and King Francis of France. When Henry took over the throne, he restricted her wife from participation in state affairs. Instead, she gave that mandate to Diane de Poitiers who was his chief mistress. Diane de Poitiers wielded much state influence than him. However, Catherine was forced to move into the political limelight after the death of her husband. Her fifteen-year-old son, King Francis II, took over the throne. She had to offer much support to him. Unfortunately, King Francis II passed on in 1560. Her ten-year-old son took over the mandate. He was known as King Charles IX. She played a major role during the reign of her third son, Henry III, by advising him. During the reign of her three sons, France was experiencing constant religious and civil war. Despite the complex problems in the monarchy, Catherine was able to keep the state institutions and the monarchy from collapsing. She was later blamed for religious persecutions that were experienced during the reign of her sons.

Early Life

Catherine’s father was the Duke of Urbino while her mother was from a prominent French family. Unfortunately, her parents passed while she was still very young. She was therefore forced to grow up with her paternal grandmother. Later she went to live with her aunt due to the death of her grandmother. Her uncle, Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, who was a known as Pope Clement made arrangements for her to move to Florence at a place called Palazzo Medici Riccardi. However, in 1527, the Medici family was overthrown from the throne. Catherine was forced to spend much of her later life in convents before joining her uncle Clement in Rome.

Final Months And Death

Since Catherine was a widow, she used to put on a Widow’s cap which is also known as the French hood. Henry had hired troops from the Swiss to help him in his defense in Paris. In 1588 Catherine was surprised to find the road that she used to go to Mass barricaded. However, she was allowed to pass through despite the fact that the troops only took orders from the Duke of Guise. She got emotional due to this act and ended up advising King Henry to compromise the battle. Henry gave in and signed the Act of Union on 15 June 1588. All the League's latest demands were accorded to them. Henry dismissed all his cabinet ministers in 1588 at Blois without any warning. At this time Catherine was very sick with a lung infection and was therefore kept in the dark about these political decisions. Henry really praised Catherine at the meeting of the estates. He described her as the mother of a king and the state. Henry was secretive about the plans he had to address the problems that he experienced. Catherine passed on 5th January 1589. She was sixty-nine years old.


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