CATHERINE DE MEDICI
- (13 April 1519 – 5 January 1589), daughter of Lorenzo II de' Medici and of Madeleine de La Tour d'Auvergne.
- She was an Italian noblewoman who was Queen of France from 1547 until 1559, by marriage to King Henry II.
- As the mother of Kings Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III, she had extensive, if at times varying, influence in the political life of France and even ruled as regent.
- In 1533, at the age of fourteen, Catherine married Henry, second son of King Francis I and Queen Claude of France. Throughout his reign, Henry excluded Catherine from participating in state affairs and instead showered favours on his chief mistress, Diane de Poitiers (20 years his senior), who wielded much influence over him.
- She lived during the 16th century when Portugal and Spain were exploring the oceans of the world and colonising new lands. Between France and Florence there was a perpetual power struggle between the ruling families.
- She was orphaned right after birth and raised in various Florentine nunneries before being sent by her uncle the Pope to marry Henry at the age of 14.
- She was also linked with the Papacy more than one time via her family which helped her with political ties throughout her lifetime.
- Started and nurtured the development of Ballet and was a huge patron of the arts especially within the Italian and French Renaissance.
movements. She also had a love for Italian fashion, which she brought to French court.
- She was a master of poisons and had hidden poison cabinets in the castle walls.
- She was childless for the first ten years of her marriage though she eventually gave birth to ten children.
- She ruled the nation as its regent for nearly 30 years.