Catherine Henriette de Balzac d'Entragues
Marquise de Verneuil
Portrait of Catherine Henriette de Balzac d'Entragues
|Children||Gaston Henri, Duc de Verneuil
Gabrielle Angelique, Mlle de Verneuil
|Parents||Charles Balzac d'Entragues
Catherine Henriette de Balzac d'Entragues, Marquise de Verneuil [katʁin ɑ̃ʁjɛt də balzak dɑ̃tʁaɡ maʁkiz də vɛʁnœj] (1579–1633) was the favourite mistress of Henry IV of France after Gabrielle d'Estrées died. She was the daughter of Charles Balzac d'Entragues and his wife Marie Touchet, who was formerly the sole mistress of Charles IX of France.
Catherine Henriette de Balzac was raised at a time when women often sought to become a royal mistress to royalty, and her mother Marie had previously been a mistress to Charles IX before her birth. Ambitious, pretty and intriguing, by her late teens she had succeeded in becoming a mistress to Henry IV. While Henry was still deeply grieving over the death of Gabrielle d'Estrées, she induced him into a written promise to marry her. This alleged promise led to bitter scenes of jealousy and arguing at the court when shortly afterwards Henry married Marie de' Medici instead.
Terribly infuriated and feeling betrayed, she carried her spite so far as to be deeply compromised in a conspiracy against the king in 1608, but escaped with only a slight punishment after the plot was foiled, and in 1608 Henry actually took her back into favour again as one of his mistresses. She was later involved in the Spanish intrigues which preceded the death of the King in 1610. Upon the King's death, his wife, Queen Marie de' Medici, was named Regent by Parliament, and immediately exiled Catherine from the royal court. She lived 23 years after Henri's death, until 1633. She died at the age of 55, alone and unmourned.
She bore the king two children:
|Gaston Henri, Duc de Verneuil||1601||1603||1682||Married Charlotte Seguier, daughter of Pierre Séguier, Duc de Villemor.|
|Gabrielle Angelique, called Mademoiselle de Verneuil||1603||1627||Married Bernard de Nogaret de Foix, Duc de La Valette et d'Épernon.|
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- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press