Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Catherine de Medici and François I

Since I am going to be reviewing C.W. Gortner's The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, I was delighted to find this essay by the author on the blog of Renaissance scholar Julianne Douglas. It concerns Catherine's relationship with her father-in-law François I. As Mr. Gortner says:
Among the many misconceptions about Catherine de Medici, surely one of the saddest is that she was an amoral woman without a heart, who ruthlessly eliminated anyone who stood in her way. Some even went so far as to say, she did not know how to love.

However, it is not too surprising, given her background and the unfortunate circumstances in which she rose to power. In truth, Catherine has been the target of a smear campaign that began in her lifetime; of Italian birth, she came to France while a teenager to wed King François I’s second son, who later became Henri II. (Read More.)


tubbs said...

Whig history (read fiction) will always paint Catherine as the mastermind of the St Bart's Day murders. Her celluloid portrayals have always been so bad they border on camp/satire.(re the monstrously painted Verna Lisi in 'Queen Margot', the fat witch in MasterpieceTheatre's 'Elizabeth R', and the best (read worst) ever - D. W. Griffith's Catherine in 'Intolerance', where she's trapsing and gloating over the corpses in the streets of Paris.

tubbs said...

I think we must remember too, how the older contemporary families viewed the Medicis. They were considered upstarts; unbelievably wealthy and powerful, but really just gangster hustlers whose pawn-broker arms revealed their base origins. But Medici women came with huge dowries - something irresistible to even the lofty French royal house. The new Bourbon dynasty saw that, as Henry IV married Catherine's kinswoman Marie. Now Medici blood is in nearly all European royal bloodlines, including Britain's young Princes, William and Harry.