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Catherine de Medici

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For nearly thirty years after the death of her Husband Henry II Catherine de Medici was involved in some deadly struggles to preserve France, her religion and the rights and position of her children. Describe her most challenging struggles and how she attempted to resolve them and serve all those interests simultaneously.

Catherine Maria Romola di Lorenzo de Medici was born in 1519 in Italy. She tolerated a solitary childhood, isolated in convents nearly all times, exiled form her rightful place in her own nation. She became a tool in diplomacy of her two uncles who sold her off basically to marry the prospect king of France just like many women of her time. When she was 14 years old, Catherine de Medici was married to Henri II. She tolerated the dominance of Dian de Poitier, Henri’s mistress, with patience and grace for sixteen years. She loved her husband even he obviously preferred the company of his much older mistress. Catherine was able to plan her way via shifting family coalitions, and learned strategy, deception and self-possession. She was led by the twists and turns of life at the French court to form brilliant political skills which held her in stead for the rest of her life.

Catherine had had ten children of which 3 became kings of France, 1 became Queen of Spain- as a wife of Philip the second, her lastborn son was a solemn contender to wed Queen Elizabeth of England. Catherine was launched into three decades as regent and chief advisor of her three sons who ruled France in succession by the unexpected death of Henri II in 1552 at a repartee. Her sons were not powerful kings, thus she become power behind the throne for quite a number of years. She was the all strongest Queen-Mother, the ruler of France in all but name. Catherine earned status as the final schemer, a woman with no bounds or surplus during this time.

She controlled over 8 wars of religion, civil wars between Protestants fighting for their right and freedom to worship freely, and Catholics attempting to preserve their nation from dividing apart. Numerous diplomatic efforts of Catherine to resolve the problems peacefully are discussed by the author. However, disloyal behavior among hardcore Huguenots hardened her attitude finally ending in the St Bartholomew Massacre of 1572 which left as many as 30.000 men, women and children killed all over France. For nearly thirty years after the death of her Husband Henry II Catherine de Medici was involved in some deadly struggles to preserve France, her religion and the rights and position of her children. He did this by helping her sons to rule among many other means. However, the most challenging struggles which Catherine attempted to resolve were catholic league and St. Bartholomew’s day massacre.    

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Catherine’s attempts to mollify the Huguenots appalled numerous leading Roman Catholics. They had begun to form local leagues to defend their religion following the Edict of Beaulieu. The Duke of Guise was prompted by the death of heir to the throne in 1984 to assume the leadership of the Catholic League. He planned to block succession of Henry of Navarre and put Henry’s Catholic uncle- cardinal Charles de Bourbon- on the throne instead. He employed the great catholic princes, prelates and noble in this cause and signed with Spain the treaty of Joinville, and arranged to make war on the heretics. As a result, Henry III had no option other than going to war against the league by 1585. Hence, Catherine placed it that peace is carried on the stick. She therefore wrote to the king asking him to take care particularly about his people. She said that there would be no much treachery about that she dying of fear.

Henry was not capable of fighting the Protestants and the Catholics at once due to the fact that both of them had powerful armies compared to his own. He was therefore forced to give in to all the league’s demands, even that he pays its troops in the Treaty of Nemours signed on 17th July 1585. He went into hiding to pray and fast, surrounded by a bodyguard called the Forty-five and left Catherine to sort the chaos. The nation’s control had been lost by the monarchy and was not in a position to help England within the face of coming Spanish assault. Philip II was told by the Spanish ambassador that the abscess was nearly bursting. The Roman Catholic repercussion against the Protestants had become a campaign throughout Europe by 1587. On 18th February 1587, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I of England’s excursion of Mary indignation the catholic world. Invasion of England was prepared by the Philip II of Spain. Much of northern France was controlled by the league so as to protect French ports for his navy.

Admiral Coligny was walking back to his rooms from the Louvre three days later when a shot rang out from a house and injured him in the hand and arm. A smoking arquebus was found out in a window although the criminal had made his escape from the rear of the building on a waiting horse. Coligny was carried to his rooms at the Hotel de Bethisy where Ambroise Pare, a surgeon, removed a bullet from his elbow and cut off a damaged finger with a pair of scissors. Catherine, who was said to have obtained the news without emotion, made a weepy visit to Coligny and assured to punish his attacker. Catherine has been blamed by numerous historians for the Coligny’s attack. However, the bloodbath that followed was beyond control of Catherine or any other leader.                        

St. Bartholomew’s day massacre

Catherine’s reputation ever since had been stained by the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre which started 2 days after shooting of Coligny. There is no cause to believe that she was not party to the resolution when Charles IX ordered on 23rd August that then all of them should be killed, all of them should be killed. The thoughts were apparent. Catherine and her consultants anticipated a Huguenot uprising to revenge the assault on Coligny. Hence, they chose to strike first and wipe out the leaders of Huguenot while they were still in Paris following the wedding.

The slaughter in Paris went on for nearly a weak. It spread to numerous parts of France, where it persevered into the autumn. According to words of Jules Michelet, a historian, St. Bartholomew was a season and not a day. Catherine turned to ambassadors and laughed when Navarre knelt before the altar as a roman catholic on 29th September, having converted to avoid being killed. Since this time, dates the legend of wicked Italian queen. Catherine was branded a scheming Italian by Huguenot writers who had acted on Machiavelli’s standards to murder all enemies within one blow.         

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