Queen of France: Catherine de Medici

Written by: Emily Vargo

Growing up, we all probably learned about Kings and queens and how most rulers were Kings. But there was a queen who was monarch from December 5, 1560, to August 17, 1563, in France.

The Queen’s name is Catherine de Medici. Catherine was born on April 13, 1519, in Florance, France. Catherine was an only child whose parents married to be an alliance between France and the Roman Empire.

Catherine’s parents passed away at just a month old, and Pope Leo X made her a dutches but annexed most of it. Catherine only had a title and was known as “little dutches.”

Catherine was sent from a household to hold in her family during her childhood because everyone kept dying of illness. When Pope Leo X died, Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici was elected Pope Clement VI in 1523 and housed Catherine.

In 1527 the Medici family was overthrown, and Catherine was taken hostage and was placed in several convents. When the uproar ended on August 12, 1530, Clement had Catherine brought to him in Rome.

On October 28, 1553, Catherine was married to Henry, Duke of Orleans, at 14. This marriage was far from true love. For the first ten years of the marriage, Catherine had no children. Herny would publicly shame his wife for not being able to produce children for ten years, and divorce was talked about. Finally, Catherine gave birth to a son on January 19, 1544, named after King Francis.

When King Francis I died, Catherine became Queen consort of France. However, even though she was Queen, her Husband Henry refused Catherine to have any political influence. In 1556 Catherine gave birth to her 7th and 8th children, who were twins. She almost died and was told not to have any more children. Her husband never visited her bedroom again and spent all of his time with his mistress from that day on.

In April of 1559, King Henry was able to end the Italian wars by having his thirteen-year-old daughter marry Phillip II of Spain. During the celebration of the Marriage in June of 1559, the King participated in five days of jousting. She had a terrible accident and passed away on July 10, 1559. Catherine never left her husband’s side until he passed on and mourned for him even though the marriage was awful.

Catherine’s firstborn became King, and even though he was old enough to rule, Catherine gained some powers. The first she did was take back the crown jewels that her late husband gave to his mistress and kicked the mistress out of a family house that the late king gave her.

Catherine’s son always looked to his mother’s advice, and she helped him come to decisions as king. Catherine helps all of her sons who became king and even played matchmaker on several occasions. On January 5, 1589, at 69, Catherine did form an illness. Her life was anything but easy, and had
many twists and turns.

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