Author Topic: Catherine de Medicis  (Read 50274 times)

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Offline umigon

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Catherine de Medicis
« on: August 18, 2005, 06:59:18 PM »


Well, she is one of my favourite historical figures, so I would like to start a new thread on her...


What do you think about this woman?? Was she a fantastic politician, as I think, or do you really believe the black press she received in her times who called her 'Madame Serpent'?
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Offline Lisa

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2005, 02:33:48 AM »



Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2005, 04:02:51 AM »
Quote

Well, she is one of my favourite historical figures, so I would like to start a new thread on her...


What do you think about this woman?? Was she a fantastic politician, as I think, or do you really believe the black press she received in her times who called her 'Madame Serpent'?


She was, without doubt, a wonderful politician, as was any woman who made it 'in a man's world' in those days. At the same time, though, she was a cold, hard, calculating and often cruel woman who orchestrated the slaughter of many Hugenots at the St Bartholemew's Day Massacre.
"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
-Sherlock Holmes

"Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget."

Offline umigon

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2005, 04:16:43 AM »


The issue of the Saint Bartholomew is not an easy one. I mean, Catherine had spent 13 years, since her husbands death, trying to bring Catholics and Huguenots together. She had tried with all her heart and her own desire was that of peace. But, from one side or the other, they continued to quarrel.


Then, after Margot's marriage to Navarre, people still thought that Catherine had murdered Jeanne d'Albret (which was untrue). Coligny had an enormous influence in the King, an influence that went against France's interests... Catherine just did what the politics of those times urged her to do: kill  Coligny, he had escaped justice too many times, he had been pardoned by Charles IX and his mother too many times and he had become a manipulating governor...

King Charles, after hearing his mother's advice, accepted on the killing of Coligny, whom he called 'father', but said that then all the big bosses should be killed aswell. The people that were going to die were 14, at a start, and they were going to leave Henry of Navarre alive.

But, Guise and his companions (ie the King's brother, Anjou), gave other orders... So, it was not all Catherine's fault. She was the one who thought of the idea and the one who ordered it, but she was not directly responsible of thousands of deaths, she never thought that order would have such an impact on her Catholic subjects, who took justice by their own hand, killing with impunity men, women and children if they were suspected of being a Huguenot.


Although the massacre might seem nonsense after marrying her daughter the most important of the Huguenot leaders, it was some kind of 'political' need. Believe me, that thing had reached a point that it was just a matter of time that one party massacred the other. Catholics took  the first step....

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Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2005, 04:57:20 AM »
Hmm . . . what you say may be true, there, umigon.

In any case, I admire Catherine for her patience - she waited and waited all through Henri II's reign until he died, and then waited through the brief influence of the Guise's through Francois's reign. After that, France was hers to rule.
"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
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"Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget."

Offline umigon

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2005, 05:43:44 AM »


Even when the Guises had Mary Stuart under their control (which was the same as having François II), they had to quarrel with Catherine in some things, François was manipulated by both sides.

Still, in those times, and although Catherine personally disliked  the Guises, they were still allies!
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Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2005, 05:58:29 AM »
I have often heard that Henri III was Catherine's favourite son . . . she must have been the mother-in-law from hell for all her son's wives!
"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
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Offline umigon

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2005, 07:06:49 AM »
In fact, and maybe not as surprisingly as it may seem, she was not so bad a mother-in-law!

Yes she was an overprotective mother who loved all of her children dearly, loving Henry above all! Here is how she felt for her children's partners:

1. Mary Stuart, wife of her son François II. Their relationship was cordial, but not affectionate. Catherine always considered Mary as if she was one of her own children, but a disloyal and ungrateful one! Mary was no saint and called her mother-in-law the merchant. This infuriated Catherine. However, when in 1587 Mary was executed, Catherine was really sorry for her and said that her death was an affront!

2. Felipe II, husband of her daughter Elisabeth. She always tried to gain his favour, but never achieved it, as she always denied him his desires: eliminating all trace of protestantism in France and implantig the Inquisition, along with other demands. Felipe ended by treating Catherine as a traitor to his religious cause and a protector of heretics. Despite this fact, Catherine always tried to regain his favour trying to marry her children with Felipe's family, but Felipe was categorical: no more Valois marriages (he would only consent in his niece marrying Charles ix).

3. Charles III de Lorraine, husband of her daughter Claude. She had a great affinity with Charles, who gave her permission to educate some of his children when Claude died. As far as I know Catherine was a good mother-in-law to Charles and she brought up his orphaned children.

4. Elisabeth of Austria, wife of her son Charles IX. She considered her a great woman, full of virtue and a calm spirit, just what France and her King, the violent and impatient Charles IX, needed. She encouraged her son's relations with her in order to get an heir. In vain, only a daughter was born and she would die aged 5.

5. Louise de Lorraine, wife of her son Henry III. Catherine loved her tenderness and her sweet character. She had the desire that it would be Louise who would give her favourite and homosexual son the heir that France needed. But that baby never arrived.

6. Henri III de Navarre, husband of her daughter Marguerite. She hated him since he was a small child because a sorcerer had told her that he would substitute the Valois in the French throne when their family died out. In the end Catherine found him useful to manipulate the protestant parties and her own children (the intrigant Margot and Hercule François). When he was no longer useful, he escaped to Navarre, where Margot, dismissed from the French court, followed soon after.

Gonzalo Velasco Berenguer

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2005, 10:11:36 PM »
Personally this is one woman I don't admire, and look at as evil incarnate.  Just my opinion.  I just think she was absolutely vile.

Her reputation may not be deserved...but I doubt that.

Offline ilyala

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2005, 01:23:02 AM »
i don't think she was as evil as everyone portrayed her. i think she was a very intelligent, but cold woman. and i think her coldness was the way it was because of the circumstances she grew up in. she was an orphaned child pawned around for her immense dowry. then she married henry and she thought it was going to get better but of course he neglected her for a woman twenty years his senior. not a very happy life...
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Offline umigon

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2005, 04:54:33 AM »


Absolutely true, ilyala. Not only that, when she was an small child, she was in danger because all of the revolutions and wars that were taking place in Italy.


She was very intelligent and she was also very cold indeed. But she had her little heart and she wasn't a woman who recreated herself in revenge. The magnanimity she showed towards Diane de Poitiers when Henry died speaks for itself!! She was no devil, she was a woman born in the wrong time!
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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2005, 09:51:19 AM »
Quote

Absolutely true, ilyala. Not only that, when she was an small child, she was in danger because all of the revolutions and wars that were taking place in Italy.


She was very intelligent and she was also very cold indeed. But she had her little heart and she wasn't a woman who recreated herself in revenge. The magnanimity she showed towards Diane de Poitiers when Henry died speaks for itself!! She was no devil, she was a woman born in the wrong time!



Yes the magnaminity she showed during the St Bartholomew's Day massacre was generosity itself, but what's a few thousand dead heretics or so, right?

Offline umigon

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2005, 09:54:42 AM »


Do you know what really happened that night?? And the nights afterwards? She showed much more mercy than your beloved Elizabeth Tudor...


What is more important: do you know what happened between July 1559 and August 1572? What was Catherine's attitude towards religion? By your assertions I assume you don't...
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Offline cimbrio

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2005, 10:08:13 AM »
Well frankly I don't know much about her, but I know that considering the times she lived, not many monarchs could be called saints. Some are admirable, some aren't, but for both good and bad things they did. I don't, for example, think too highly of Nicholas II of Russia, but I do like to read about him and his family (obviously...), though I personally think he was a pathetic ruler.

Catherien de Medicis, Elizabeth I of England, they're all the same. All killed, all loved, all were good sometimes and bad at others, so who here can say this and this person were truly saintly? In some cases (I believe it's the same with you Umigon) I think one admires a person but not because she was good; she probably did her best to avoid killings, I don't know, but I find your admiration as natural for her as mine for Nicholas. I'm not sure what my point is but I think I can assure everyone that there are very few people in royalty even today that diserve the status of "prince", let alone King or Saint... Still, it's history, there's no point in saying "what if..." let's just enjoy reading about these odd and fabulous people :)

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2005, 12:28:46 PM »
Quote

Do you know what really happened that night?? And the nights afterwards? She showed much more mercy than your beloved Elizabeth Tudor...


What is more important: do you know what happened between July 1559 and August 1572? What was Catherine's attitude towards religion? By your assertions I assume you don't...


Umigon, Elizabeth I is not my "beloved", she surely behaved in a much more sane manner than Catherine.
Yes I do know what happened that between those years, and in looking at it , IMO Catherine is still an evil woman.  I dislike revisionism in history.  Catherine's motives were quite clear in what she was doing, and I believe in holding leaders responsible for their actions.
It's not a religious issue with me.  I just don't like the portrayal of Catherine as this admirable person.

First regardless of "what happened" that night, or "what was planned", this is an event of the same calibre in my opinion as Kristallnacht in Germany in the 1930's, but as I stated what's the death of 70,000 "heretics" more or less....


Below from Wikipedia:

The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre (Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy in French) was a wave of Catholic mob violence against the Huguenots (French Protestants), under the authority of Catherine de Medici, starting on August 24, 1572, and lasting for several months. It marked a turning-point in the French Wars of Religion by stiffening Huguenot intransigence.

In 1572, a series of inter-related incidents occurred after the royal wedding of Marguerite of Valois to Henry of Navarre, an alliance that strengthened his claim to the throne of France. On 22 August, Catherine de' Medici's agent, a Catholic named Maurevel, attempted to assassinate Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, leader of the Huguenots, in Paris, but succeeded only in wounding him and infuriating the Huguenot party. Then in the early hours of the morning of 24 August, St. Bartholomew's Day, Admiral de Coligny and several dozen other Huguenot leaders were murdered in Paris, a series of coordinated assassinations that could only have been planned at the highest level. That was the signal for a widespread massacre. Beginning on 24 August, and lasting to 17 September, there was a wave of popular killings of Huguenots by the Paris mob, as if spontaneous.

From August to October, similar seemingly spontaneous massacres of Huguenots took place in other towns, such as Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lyon, Bourges, Rouen, and Orléans. Estimates of the number of those murdered range as high as 100,000. Historians generally agree on the figure of 70,000. Among the slain was composer Claude Goudimel.

"Catholics say only 30,000 were slain in the Inquisition of France. Protestants put the number at 70,000. We would prefer the latter figure. If there were 70,000 Huguenots in Paris on the night of the massacre, so much more the justification for the slaughter… We have heard ring out many times that the very bells that called the Catholics together on that fatal night. They always sounded sweetly in our ears." (Western Watchman, No. 21, 1912)  Contemporary accounts report bodies in the rivers for months afterwards, so that no one would eat fish. Pope Gregory XIII's reaction was jubilant: all the bells of Rome pealed for a public day of thanksgiving, the guns of the castle of St. Angelo sounded a joyous salute, a special commemorative medal was struck, to honor the occasion, and Gregory commissioned Giorgio Vasari to paint a mural celebrating the Massacre, which is in the Vatican. In Paris, the poet Jean-Antoine de Baïf, founder of the Academie de musique et de poésie, wrote a sonnet extravagantly praising the killings. The Pope sent Cardinal Orsini to convey, in person, his happy blessings and goodwill to the Queen Mother for her butchery. It was not the first such pogrom of the Wars of Religion, nor would it be the last.

Background to the massacres
After the third war in 1570, there was a possibility of peace. The House of Guise had fallen from favor at the court and had been replaced by moderates who were more willing to find a peaceful solution to the crisis. The Huguenots were in a strong military position as a result of the Edict of Saint-Germain (August 1570). They controlled the fortified towns of La Rochelle, La Charité, Cognac, and Montauban. Catherine de Medici had hoped that the marriage alliances of her children would support her move for peace, including the proposed marriage of her son the Duke of Anjou (Henry III) and Elizabeth I of England.

By 1571, however, hopes of peace were collapsing. Relations between the Huguenots and the Catholics had deteriorated, and in Rouen on a Sunday in March, forty Huguenots were killed because they refused to kneel in front of the host (the eucharist) during a Catholic procession.

The Guise faction had fallen from favor at the French court, and the Huguenot leader, Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, was readmitted into the king's council in September 1571. The Guises hated de Coligny for two reasons: he was the leader of the Huguenots, and they thought he was implicated in the assassination of Francis, Duke of Guise, in February 1563.

The Catholic fleet assembled under Don John of Austria defeated the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto. This confirmed to the Huguenots that Catholicism could resurge across Western Europe, led by Philip II of Spain. In April 1572, 'Sea Beggars' took control of Brielle thus taking control of Holland. This meant that there was pressure within France to intervene on behalf of the rebels in the Netherlands to prevent a Spanish intervention in France. De Coligny was the main supporter of this intervention. There was then the possibility of either another civil war or a major war against Spain, which was at that time western Europe's greatest Catholic power.

Ostensibly to quell the rancour between the Protestants and the Catholics (the House of Bourbon and the House of Guise), the Queen-Mother, Catherine de Medici, arranged for Henry of Navarre, Duke of Bourbon (the patron of the Huguenots) to marry her daughter Marguerite. The wedding provided an extraordinary occasion to get all of the powerful Huguenots in one place. Catherine therefore planned the massacre of many of the Huguenots while they were in town for the wedding, but she had a hard time convincing her son, King Charles IX of France, to go along, since he had developed a friendly relationship with de Coligny. Finally, after much argument, Charles became furious and lashed out at his mother, commanding the massacre to be done thoroughly if it were to be done at all (in other words, he didn't want to face any retaliation, so he ordered them all to be killed).