Author Topic: Catherine de Medicis  (Read 55330 times)

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Mgmstl

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #75 on: September 02, 2005, 12:41:24 PM »
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Michael, you are of course entitled to your opinion, but I would prefer if you do not label umigon's opinion a 'disgrace'. Something like 'I disagree' would have been more tactful.



Prince, I was referring to Umigon's defense of her as being disgusting, however that is just my opinion, & I meant no reference to Umigon personally.  

Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #76 on: September 02, 2005, 12:42:34 PM »
My sincerest apologies Michael. I cannot of course prevent you from expressing your opinion on umigon's theroy. I am sorry I misunderstood.
"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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umigon

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #77 on: September 02, 2005, 12:44:07 PM »
Yes, bell, I agree with you in most of it. I must disagree in her indifference to the massacre and to her children. As I have already stated with some proof, she HAD to order Coligny's death, it couldn't be other way. It was either Coligny or herself (including all of her family, as Coligny's plans said!). And about her children, she loved them all. Her weak point: loving Sandrin (Henry), more than anything else in this world. But Margot... well, she had been conspiring against Charles IX and Catherine, in order to force the first one to crown her brother Alençon (Hercule-François) and imprison her mother in a remote convent!

And even though those were Margot's intentions (in 1573) and even though she continued conspiring against Henri III and Catherine, it was not until 1586 that they agreed on her imprisonment in Usson. Perhaps the son for whom Catherine had less affection was Hercule-François, the youngest, who was an absolut traitor and changed from party constantly. He feared Catherine, but he had also said to her once that her only mother had been Diane de Poitiers. Catherine could never forgive him that, but she still cared for him and apeased Henri III many times, thus avoiding Hercule-François's imprisonment and, possibly, death.


I think she is a maligned character in History, although I give in that she was cold and had a calculating mind.

bell_the_cat

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #78 on: September 03, 2005, 05:02:10 AM »
I think it possible that for Catharine there was “no other way”. However I think another person would not have got herself into a corner like that. This to me shows another aspect of Catharine – she was an inept politician.

This is not surprising: she arrived on the political scene in her forties, with not even second-hand experience. I don’t think Henri talked to her about very much at all during their marriage, let alone statecraft. She wasn’t a “natural” either - she had no talents of charm or persuasion to deal with a very difficult situation, and didn’t have the self knowledge to realise she was out of her depth - turning instead to charlatans and astrologers.

Her children, starting with Francois and with the exception of Henri all drew away from her in the end. Maybe they didn’t trust her either!

It’s also possible that she did feel some remorse for the massacre, but it’s difficult to be sure. One clue: in her later years she was responsible for bringing up her granddaughter Christina of Lorraine, who was later regent of Tuscany for her own son and grandson. I like to think Catharine had learnt from her mistakes and passed on this wisdom to Christina. She may have been a better gran than a mother!

Christina didn’t do a bad job in Florence (Catharine’s home town) – her regency was a period of economic decline, but at least no massacres!

Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #79 on: September 03, 2005, 06:26:01 AM »
Well, most bad parents make better grandparents.  ;)
"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."

umigon

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #80 on: September 03, 2005, 07:27:47 AM »


I agree with you that she had made her own trap for herself and that another politician could have done it better. But she fell into that trap because she had been 13 years trying to bring both parties into a peaceful situation. She failed to do that, another monarch would have murdered all  of their political ennemies at a start...


She was not so badly prepared for politics (studied Machiavelli's works) and she had also been a witness to the dangerous and violent times of Italy  during her childhood and then she was a first class witness to the reigns of François I and Henri II. And, she was not at all an inept politician (of course, from my point of view), as she managed to keep her children's throne for thirteen years, challenged by many wars, conspiracies and murders!


About her children, I must agree with you. Claude was also faithful to her mother and François died too young, so we won't know which party he would have finally chosen (Catherine's or Guises, though these two were allies during François's reign). The rest stopped fighting for her interests, even Henri when he decided to follow his mignons advice (an error, in most of the cases!). But she suffered a lot because of Margot and Hercule's plots against her!

Mgmstl

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #81 on: September 03, 2005, 10:22:38 PM »
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I think she is a maligned character in History, although I give in that she was cold and had a calculating mind.



I don't think she is maligned, as she is excused by some for unexcusable behavior.  There is a group of people in the US who love revisionism in history, they take someone like Joseph McCarthy who ruined the lives of many people, and try to say he was a great guy.

This is the same with Catherine, for all of the "good intentions" you claim she had, for all the political wisdom you state she posessed, for all the good she MAY have done, it was all WIPED OUT forever with the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, and the genocide of religious politics instigated by the vatican.  

This is what perplexes me about people such as Catherine who had intelligence,  I lose respect for her, or feel she loses any legitimacy in dealing with her entire character for the Massacre.

Robert_Hall

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #82 on: September 03, 2005, 10:35:52 PM »
I have read every post on this subject. And, trying to be objective, I must agree with Michael [he and I do not always agree, btw].
How could someone who is admittedly "cold and calculating" be "maligned"? Are those supposed to be positive attributes?
For all the positive attributes she did seem to have, she is indeed condemed [in my opinion] for her aquiessence to to the massacres. Even there, she seems to have been in on it from conception !  The fact that the event did get out-of-hand, beyond her control does not excuse the  fact that she instigated it . Political expediency does not excuse a massacre, no matter what the number or religion of the victims.

umigon

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #83 on: September 04, 2005, 06:39:02 AM »
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This is the same with Catherine, for all of the "good intentions" you claim she had, for all the political wisdom you state she posessed, for all the good she MAY have done, it was all WIPED OUT forever with the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, and the genocide of religious politics instigated by the vatican.  

.



I suppose your are not accusing me of historical revisionism! What we must agree in, Michael, is that we didn't live those events. We weren't there and the people we discuss have been long dead. So, the only way we have of knowing about them and discussing their personalities and acts are by written works by people living in their times and people who wrote about them from these same sources. So, I don't think the word is revision. I think it's just two different versions of the same thing. Catherine is a person who will always have her defenders and detractors, the same way other controversial historical figures (Henry VIII, Edward, Mary and Elizabeth Tudor, Philip II of Spain, Mary Stuart... the list goes on...) also have theirs.

Of course you can think the Saint Bartholomew is an absolut proof of Catherine's evilness and I say it was a mistake. She had trapped herself and it was either herself and her faimly or Coligny and his friends. Catherine always tried to bring the different parts (was it in a war, a political issue or a domestic problem) together in peace, both before and after the Saint Bartholomew. That is something her worst enemies can't deny.

I am not doing historical revisionism, I am just writing my point of view, after what I have read and studied , the same way you do. The thing is we have just adhered to different versions. Logically, mine is, for me, the correct one, the same way yours is the correct one for you. But I am not accusing you of revising history.

umigon

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #84 on: September 04, 2005, 06:45:16 AM »
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The fact that the event did get out-of-hand, beyond her control does not excuse the  fact that she instigated it . Political expediency does not excuse a massacre, no matter what the number or religion of the victims.



I agree with you there, Robert. But again she had no choice. Well, she had: wait for Coligny and his allies to strip power and probably life (as they pretended to do) from all of her family. No mother would have waited for that to occur.

We agree in the fact that if it had been the other way round (Coligny murdering the Royal Family and Huguenots killing catholics on the streets), he would also be regarded as a monster. I am not saying that Catherine was a saint, I have never said that. But I do say that she was not evil, as many think. She didn't order that massacre as a caprice, as many try us to believe.

I wish I have made my point clear!



bell_the_cat

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #85 on: September 04, 2005, 07:15:22 AM »
Umigon, I don't think she was evil either, but she was selfish and callous.

You say Coligny and the Huguenots would have had them all murdered. I suppose they're was a "fear" that this would happen - as a reprisal for the first botched assassination attempt. How far Catharine was involved in the first attempt has always been a matter of speculation. I don't think that Coligny/ the Huguenots were planning anything when they arrived in Paris for the wedding - they thought they were still in favour with the king. Whether they had time to think of reprisals after the attempt we will never know.

I'm reading up on Catharine and the events of the 1560s. I think it's a fascinating story! I'll let you know if I think better of her political skills after reading up. I'm sure, as you wrote, that she had read Machiavelli. "The Prince" was dedicated to her father I believe. I wonder how many marks out of ten Machiavelli would have given her!

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by bell_the_cat »

umigon

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #86 on: September 04, 2005, 07:34:57 AM »
Coligny had been planning that 'coup d'état', that is a fact, as the documents proving it where found in his desk after he was murdered. The plan was deposing the King and his family and start some sort of Republic (with him as the first person of state, of course), similar in many ways to that of Cromwell in England a century later.

About Catherine's involvement in Coligny's murder attempt, she was involved and she tried to make all heads turn to the Guises as the guilty party in the murder attempt. However she finally realised the danger this implied, and the Saint Bartholomew was decided. Catherine and Michel de L'Hospital wanted Coligny dead. Once Charles IX was convinced (after hearing about his 'father's' betrayal) he decided that all the Huguenot leaders should be murdered, so there wouldn't be anyone to point at him. He said: 'Tuez-les tous!' and his message was misunderstood. About 20 people should have been killed, all Huguenot leaders except Henri de Navarre and his cousin Condé ('The blood of France is sacred' had said Catherine) should be killed. Instead, thousands of people were killed because Catherine hadn't the sufficient political view in that occasion as to foresee what would happen. When she tried to stop the murders, she had been disobeyed and it all had already started.


I think Machiavelli would have given her an 8 (hehe! ;)). She was cold when she had to be and warm when circumstances made her be so. She could be pleasant and friendly or cruel, but her only God was power and she was a servant to France and its monarchy. Two black points for a follower of Machiavelli: the great political mistake she did with the Saint Bartholomew, and the great confidence she had in all of her children, even though they would never get tired of betraying her and the Crown.

Mgmstl

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #87 on: September 04, 2005, 10:18:37 AM »
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I agree with you there, Robert. But again she had no choice. Well, she had: wait for Coligny and his allies to strip power and probably life (as they pretended to do) from all of her family. No mother would have waited for that to occur.

We agree in the fact that if it had been the other way round (Coligny murdering the Royal Family and Huguenots killing catholics on the streets), he would also be regarded as a monster. I am not saying that Catherine was a saint, I have never said that. But I do say that she was not evil, as many think. She didn't order that massacre as a caprice, as many try us to believe.

I wish I have made my point clear!




No Umigon, you misunderstand my statements, I don't think that this was a caprice, or fleeting idea, I think that the massacre was planned.  It was executed according to her plans, and when it snowballed into what she had to know it could become, it became her cross to bear.    I don't give one ounce of credence that we should judge her by 16th century thought, I judge by I know what her acts & actions to be.  When I see a genocide of people of whatever creed, race, or religion, by a government, for political expediency or religious issues, then I call it what it is, a genocide.  I don't try to hide it nicely and say that Catherine didn't expect this, or wasn't Machavellian, or that she wasn't evil.  She shows us all of the opposite by her actions, just my opinion.

So over 100,000 French citizens paid with their lives & their blood flowed in the rivers of France & stained her soil, because Catherine de Medici believed herself & her family threatened by Coligny????   Your defense of her perplexes me.  

umigon

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #88 on: September 04, 2005, 10:36:53 AM »


That is just an exaggeration, and you know it. To start with, there were 25,000 dead and not 100,000. Ok that doesn't make it better but lets not pay attention to false legends; if we are talking with facts, lets talk with real facts from a start.


Well, if you are not judging her with a mind as closer as you can to the 16th century, then you simply can't judge her. What would we have to say about so many men marrying 14 years-old... ? When you judge someone that didn't live your era the best is that one tries to put himself in this person's place, not otherwise.


I defend her because she DIDN'T plan the massacre that then occured. Mary Tudor executed people to save their soul, Elizabeth I to end with every threat to her power, Hitler to eliminate what he thought weren't persons, Truman killed thousands of people in order to end with a six-year war and Catherine decided murdering twenty people to save herself and to retain power. All of them had different reasons and that doesn't make their killings better or worse, but it is not the same judging Catherine (1519-1589) or Elizabeth (1533-1603) as judging Hitler (1889-1945) and Truman (1884-1972).

Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: Catherine de Medicis
« Reply #89 on: September 04, 2005, 11:43:05 AM »
I agree umigon. As I have said from this thread's beginning - things must be looked at in perspective.

Nowadays, we would think a 14-year-old girl being pointed towards a 23-year-old man for marriage was awful and obscene. But do we think of Fritz as a pervert? Or do we think Charles I was a pervert for marrying 15 y/o Henrietta Maria? The answer is no, of course we don't.

And also, as umigon, says, please stick to the facts.
"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."