Marie de' Medici
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|Marie de' Medici|
Portrait by Frans Pourbus the Younger, 1610
|Queen consort of France and Navarre|
|Tenure||17 December 1600 – 14 May 1610|
|Coronation||13 May 1610|
26 April 1575|
Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Tuscany
|Died||3 July 1642
Cologne, Holy Roman Empire
|Burial||Basilica of St Denis, Paris, France|
|Spouse||Henry IV of France|
|Father||Francesco I, Grand Duke of Tuscany|
|Mother||Joanna of Austria|
Marie de' Medici (French: Marie de Médicis, Italian: Maria de' Medici; 26 April 1575 – 3 July 1642) was Queen of France as the second wife of King Henry IV of France, of the House of Bourbon. She was a member of the wealthy and powerful House of Medici. Following the assassination of her husband in 1610, which occurred the day after her coronation, she acted as regent for her son, King Louis XIII of France, until he came of age. She was noted for her ceaseless political intrigues at the French court and extensive artistic patronage.
She was born as Maria at the Palazzo Pitti of Florence, Italy, the sixth daughter of Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Archduchess Joanna of Austria. Marie was one of seven children, but only she and her sister Eleonora survived to adulthood.
Marie is not a male-line descendant of Lorenzo the Magnificent but from Lorenzo the Elder, a branch of the Medici family sometimes referred to as the 'cadet' branch. She does descend from Lorenzo in the female-line however, through his daughter Lucrezia de' Medici. Nonetheless this 'cadet' branch produced every Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1537 to 1737, and the kings of France from Louis XIII in 1601 to Louis XVI in 1793. This cadet branch (Marie's line) is already 700 years old, beginning with Averardo de' Medici in 1320 and flourishes to this day with Louis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou.
Her daughter, Henrietta Maria was queen consort of England, Scotland, and Ireland as the wife of King Charles I. Henrietta Maria, in turn, was mother of two immediate successors, Charles II and James II.
Lorenzo the Magnificent's line instead became extinct shortly after the death of Lorenzo in 1492, and had lasted some 100 years only. At the time of his death the Medici Bank was already in bankruptcy.
A portrait of Marie as a young girl shows her with regular features and a high forehead. Her wavy hair was light brown in colour, and she had honey-brown eyes and fair skin. The painter was from the school of Santi di Tito.
Queen of France
Queen Marie of France as consort
|Reference style||Her Majesty|
|Spoken style||Your Majesty|
She married Henry IV of France in October 1600 following the annulment of his marriage to Margaret of Valois. The wedding ceremony in Florence, Italy (to which Henry did not turn up, marrying her by proxy) was celebrated with 4,000 guests and lavish entertainments, including examples of the newly invented musical genre of opera, Jacopo Peri's Euridice. She brought as part of her dowry 600,000 crowns. Her eldest son, the future King Louis XIII, was born at Fontainebleau the following year.
Her husband was almost 47 at the marriage and had a long succession of mistresses. Dynastic considerations required him to take a second wife (Margaret of Valois had never produced children by Henry or by her many lovers). Henry chose Marie de' Medici because Henry "owed the bride's father, Francesco de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who had helped support his war effort, a whopping 1,174,000 écus and this was the only means Henry could find to pay back the debt...." The marriage was successful in producing children, but it was not a happy one. The queen feuded with Henry's mistresses in language that shocked French courtiers. She quarreled mostly with her husband's leading mistress, Catherine Henriette de Balzac d'Entragues, whom he had promised he would marry following the death of his former "official mistress", Gabrielle d'Estrées. When he failed to do so, and instead married Marie, the result was constant bickering and political intrigues behind the scenes. Catherine referred to Maria as "the fat banker's daughter"; Henry used Maria for breeding purposes exactly as Henry II had treated Catherine de' Medici. Although the king could have easily banished his mistress, supporting his queen, he never did so. She, in turn, showed great sympathy and support to her husband's banished ex-wife Marguerite de Valois, prompting Henry to allow her back into the realm.
Marie was crowned Queen of France on 13 May 1610, a day before her husband's death. Hours after Henry's assassination, she was confirmed as regent by the Parliament of Paris. She immediately banished his mistress, Catherine Henriette de Balzac, from the court.
The construction and furnishing of the Palais du Luxembourg, which she referred to as her "Palais Médicis", formed her major artistic project during her regency. The site was purchased in 1612 and construction began in 1615, to designs of Salomon de Brosse. Her court painter was Peter Paul Rubens. It was well known that Henry of Navarre (her husband) was not wealthy.
She brought her own fortune from Florence to finance various construction projects in France. But more importantly, she contributed to the financing of several expeditions including Samuel de Champlain's to North America, which saw France lay claim to Canada.
During her husband's lifetime Marie showed little sign of political acumen, and her abilities scarcely improved after she assumed the regency. Extremely stubborn and of limited intellect, she was heavily influenced by her maid Leonora "Galigai" Dori. (They shared the Italian-Portuguese physician of Jewish extraction Elijah Montalto.) Dori conspired with her unscrupulous Italian husband, Concino Concini, who was created Marquis d'Ancre and a Marshal of France, even though he had never fought a battle.
The Concinis had Henry IV's able minister, the Duke of Sully, dismissed, and Italian representatives of the Roman Catholic Church hoped to force the suppression of Protestantism in France by means of their influence. Half-Habsburg herself, Marie abandoned the traditional anti-Habsburg French foreign policy. She lent support to Habsburg Spain by arranging the marriage of her daughter Elisabeth to the future Philip IV of Spain. Marie overturned the Treaty of Bruzolo, an alliance signed between Henry's representatives and Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy.
Under the regent's lax and capricious rule, the princes of the blood and the great nobles of the kingdom revolted. The queen, too weak to assert her authority, consented to buy them off on 15 May 1614. The opposition to the regency was led by Henri de Bourbon, Duke of Enghien, who pressured Marie into convoking the Estates General in 1614 and 1615.
In 1616 Marie's rule was strengthened by the addition to her councils of Armand Jean du Plessis (later Cardinal Richelieu), who had come to prominence at the meetings of the Estates General. However, her son Louis XIII, already several years into his legal majority, asserted his authority the next year. The king overturned the pro-Habsburg, pro-Spanish foreign policy pursued by his mother, ordered the assassination of Concini, exiled the queen to the Château de Blois and appointed Richelieu to his bishopric.
Revolt of 1619
After two years of virtual imprisonment "in the wilderness", as she put it, Marie escaped from Blois in the night of 21/22 February 1619 and became the figurehead of a new aristocratic revolt headed by Louis's brother Gaston d'Orléans, which Louis's forces easily dispersed. Through the mediation of Richelieu the king was reconciled with his mother, who was allowed to hold a small court at Angers. She resumed her place in the royal council in 1621. The portrait by Rubens was painted at this time. Marie rebuilt the Luxembourg Palace (Palais du Luxembourg) in Paris, with an extravagantly flattering cycle of paintings by Rubens as part of the luxurious decoration, called the Marie de' Medici Cycle.
Conflict with Richelieu
After the death of his favourite, the duke of Luynes, Louis turned increasingly for guidance to Richelieu. Marie de' Medici's attempts to displace Richelieu ultimately led to her attempted coup; for a single day, the "Day of the Dupes", in November 1630, she seemed to have succeeded; but the triumph of Richelieu was followed by her self-exile to Compiègne in 1630, from where she escaped to Brussels in 1631 and Amsterdam in 1638.
Her visit to Amsterdam was considered a diplomatic triumph by the Dutch, as her visit lent official recognition to the newly formed Dutch Republic; accordingly she was accorded an elaborate ceremonial royal entry, of the sort the Republic avoided for its own rulers. Spectacular displays (by Claes Corneliszoon Moeyaert) and water pageants took place in the city's harbour in celebration of her visit. There was a procession led by two mounted trumpeters, and a large temporary structure erected on an artificial island in the Amstel River was built especially for the festival. The structure was designed to display a series of dramatic tableaux in tribute to her once she set foot on the floating island and entered its pavilion. Afterwards she was offered an Indonesian rice table by the burgomaster Albert Burgh. He also sold her a famous rosary, captured in Brazil. The visit prompted Caspar Barlaeus to write his Medicea hospes ("The Medicean Guest", 1638). She also visited England in 1638 (her youngest daughter was Queen Henrietta Maria), staying en route to London in Gidea Hall. Marie subsequently travelled to Cologne, where she died in 1642, scheming against Richelieu to the end. She was buried in the Basilica of St Denis in northern Paris.
Honoré de Balzac, in his essay Catherine de Medicis, encapsulated the Romantic generation's negative view. She was born and raised in Italy and the French never really accepted her; hence, the negative reviews. However, Henry IV of Navarre was not a rich man and needed Marie's money. The French were still not pleased with his choosing an Italian wife.
Marie de' Medici, all of whose actions were prejudicial to France, has escaped the shame which ought to cover her name. Marie de' Medici wasted the wealth amassed by Henry IV; she never purged herself of the charge of having known of the king's assassination; her intimate was d'Épernon, who did not ward off Ravaillac's blow, and who was proved to have known the murderer personally for a long time. Marie's conduct was such that she forced her son to banish her from France, where she was encouraging her other son, Gaston.
The French were in need of money, yet were quick to bite the hand of the giver. It is a fact that she brought her own wealth to France. Her money was used to finance wars, build palaces and clear the many pre-existing debts of Henry IV.
|Louis XIII, King of France||27 September 1601||14 May 1643||Married Anne of Austria (1601–1666) in 1615. Two sons survived to adulthood.|
|Elisabeth, Queen of Spain||22 November 1602||6 October 1644||Married Philip IV, King of Spain (1605–1665) in 1615. A son and a daughter survived to adulthood.|
|Christine, Duchess of Savoy||10 February 1606||27 December 1663||Married Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy (1587–1637) in 1619. One son and three daughters survived to adulthood.|
|Nicholas Henri, Duke of Orléans||16 April 1607||17 November 1611||Died young.|
|Gaston, Duke of Orléans||25 April 1608||2 February 1660||Married (1) Marie de Bourbon (1605–1627) in 1626. 1 daughter survived to adulthood.
Married (2) Marguerite of Lorraine (1615–1672) in 1632. Three daughters survived to adulthood.
|Henrietta Maria, Queen of England||25 November 1609||10 September 1669||Married Charles I, King of England (1600–1649) in 1625. Three sons and two daughters survived to adulthood.|
|Ancestors of Marie de' Medici|
- Lawrence, Cynthia Miller (1997). Women and Art in Early Modern Europe: Patrons, Collectors, and Connoisseurs. Pennsylvania State Univ Pr. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-271-01568-2.
- Lawrence, Cynthia Miller (1997). Women and Art in Early Modern Europe: Patrons, Collectors, and Connoisseurs. Marie de Médici's Patronage of Art and Architecture: Pennsylvania State Univ Pr. ISBN 978-0-271-01568-2.
- Leonie Frieda (14 March 2006). Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France. HarperCollins. pp. 386–. ISBN 978-0-06-074493-9. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
- Goldstone, Nancy, The Rival Queens, (Little Brown and Company, 2015), p. 377
- THE AMERICAN CYCLOPEADIA. 1874. pp. 671–. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
- Goldstone, Nancy, The Rival Queens, (Little Brown and Company, 2015), footnote: p. 377
- Herman, Eleanor (2005). Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge. p. 80.
- Bergin, Joseph (1 March 1990). Cardinal Richelieu: Power and the Pursuit of Wealth. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-300-04860-5. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
- Helga Hübner and Eva Regtmeier (2010), Maria de' Medici: eine Fremde; hrsg. v. Dirk Hoeges (Dialoghi/Dialogues: Literatur und Kultur Italiens und Frankreichs; Band 14). Frankfurt: Peter Lang ISBN 978-3-631-60118-1
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Maria de' Medici.|
- Rubens cycle of paintings apotheosizing Marie de Medici Definitive statements of Baroque art.
- National Maritime Museum
- Drawing by Claes Cornelisz. Moeyaert the entrance of Maria de Medici in Amsterdam
- Festival Books
- Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Maria de' Medici". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- Life of Marie dei Médicis. Engravings after Rubens from the De Verda Collection
- "Medicea Hospes, Sive Descripto Pvblicae Gratvlations: qua Serenissiman, Augustissimamque reginam, Mariam de Meicis, except Senatvs popvlvvsqve Amstelodamensis" (1638), Illustrated with engravings of Maia de' Meici
Marie de' MediciBorn: 26 April 1575 Died: 3 July 1642
Title last held byMargaret of Valois
|Queen consort of France and Navarre
17 December 1600 – 14 May 1610
Title next held byAnne of Austria