Catherine de' Medici

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Medici, Catherine de':

see Catherine de' MediciCatherine de' Medici
, 1519–89, queen of France, daughter of Lorenzo de' Medici, duke of Urbino. She was married (1533) to the duc d'Orléans, later King Henry II.
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Catherine de' Medici

(dĕ mĕd`ĭchē, Ital. dā mĕ`dēchē), 1519–89, queen of France, daughter of Lorenzo de' Medici, duke of Urbino. She was married (1533) to the duc d'Orléans, later King Henry II. Neglected during the reign of her husband and that of her eldest son, Francis II, she became (1560) regent for her son Charles IXCharles IX,
1550–74, king of France. He succeeded (1560) his brother Francis II under the regency of his mother, Catherine de' Medici. She retained her influence throughout his reign.
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, who succeeded Francis. She remained Charles's adviser until his death (1574). Concerned primarily with preserving the power of the king in the religious conflicts of the time, with the aid of her chancellor Michel de L'HôpitalL'Hôpital or L'Hospital, Michel de
, c.1505–1573, chancellor of France under Catherine de' Medici.
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, she at first adopted a conciliatory policy toward the Huguenots, or French Protestants. The outbreak (1562) of the Wars of Religion (see Religion, Wars ofReligion, Wars of,
1562–98, series of civil wars in France, also known as the Huguenot Wars.

The immediate issue was the French Protestants' struggle for freedom of worship and the right of establishment (see Huguenots).
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), however, led her to an alliance with the Catholic party under François de Guise (see under GuiseGuise
, influential ducal family of France. The First Duke of Guise

The family was founded as a cadet branch of the ruling house of Lorraine by Claude de Lorraine, 1st duc de Guise, 1496–1550, who received the French fiefs of his father, René II, duke
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, family). After the defeat of royal troops by the Huguenot leader Gaspard de ColignyColigny, Gaspard de Châtillon, comte de
, 1519–72, French Protestant leader. A nephew of Anne, duc de Montmorency, he came to the French court at an early age.
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, Catherine agreed (1570) to the peace of St. Germain. Subsequently Coligny gained considerable influence over Charles IX. Fearing for her own power, and opposed to Coligny's schemes for expansion in the Low Countries which might lead to war with Spain, Catherine and Henri de Guise arranged Coligny's assassination. When the first attempt failed, she took part in planning the massacre of Saint Bartholomew's DaySaint Bartholomew's Day, massacre of,
murder of French Protestants, or Huguenots, that began in Paris on Aug. 24, 1572. It was preceded, on Aug. 22, by an attempt, ordered by Catherine de' Medici, on the life of the Huguenot leader Admiral Coligny.
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 (1572) in which Coligny and hundreds of other Protestants were murdered. After the accession of her third son, Henry III, she vainly tried to revive her old conciliatory policy.


See E. Sichel, Catherine de' Medici and the French Reformation (1905, repr. 1969) and The Later Years of Catherine de' Medici (1908, repr. 1969); P. Van Dyke, Catherine de Médicis (1922); R. Roeder, Catherine de' Medici and the Lost Revolution (1937); Sir J. E. Neale, The Age of Catherine de Medici (1962); W. H. Ross, Catherine de' Medici (1973).

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