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Marie de' Medici (1573-1642)
daughter of Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany 1574-1587
and Archduchess Johanna of Austria
Born 26 April 1573 Firenze
Died 3 July 1642 Koeln
Buried St.Denis
Married 27 December 1600 Lyon
Henri IV
King of France 1589-1610
Born 14 December 1553 Pau
Died 14 May 1610 Paris (murdered)
Buried St.Denis
 

Even though she was a woman of mediocre intelligence and considerable piety, at twenty-seven she found herself Queen of France.
Henri IV had hoped to marry Gabrielle d'Estrees after his first marriage was annulled but she had died in childbirth. He had then considered another of his mistresses, Henriette Catherine de Balzac. However, his chief minister, the Duc de Sully arranged the marriage
with Marie de' Medici. Even though far from attractive and known as "the fat banker", she
provided the king with several children, so did several other ladies including Henriette Catherine de Balzac. All these children were brought up together. In November 1609 she prepared to give birth to her last child. One evening her eldest son, Louis, climbed into the waiting cradle and rocked himself to sleep. Marie had performed her prime duty by
providing the king with healthy children but found it difficult to accept his many infidelities while the king despised his fat blonde Florentine wife.
Being so much older then Marie, Henri IV foresaw a possible regency. As well Marie wanted to be crowned queen which would make it easier to claim the regency. Henri IV had always rejected the idea as a soothsayer had prophesised he would be murdered the day after
Marie's coronation. The astrologer had also mentioned the date, 13 May. However, to pacify Marie, he consented. Sully tried to delay the ceremony but Marie insisted, claiming she had waited long enough. 
Even though he suffered from nightmares, Henri IV tried to ignore the prophecy. As predicted the coronation took place on 13 May 1610 and the following day Henri IV was murdered by Ravaillac. When the news was broken to Marie, she at first thought it had been their son, the Dauphin, who had been killed and showed unexpected affection when
for at least seven years she had never embraced her son. Returning to the palace she wailed there as loudly as she had argued with her husband during the previous weeks. When Sully arrived at the palace she cried: "The king is dead, the king is dead", at which he coldly replied that the kings of France never died and, pointing to her son, said, "Madame, there is the living king." Marie then took her son to Parliament and demanded the Regency;
she also ordered that her son should from now on sleep in her own bedroom. France's rule had gone suddenly from an experienced man to an unintelligent woman. Marie was now Queen-Regent which she remained until 1617, but it was a bad time for France. Sully, her husband's trusted minister, was replaced by Concini, an Italian and husband of her foster-sister, Leonora Galigai. The Princes of the Blood objected and so did the nobility. To counter-act the League they had formed, Concini granted pensions which impoverished the crown. However, in 1617 Louis XIII, Marie's eldest son, came of age and Concini, after
being arrested, was murdered and Marie was banished to Blois to enable Louis XIII, who had never liked his fat, indolent and stupid mother, to assume government.
In 1619 Marie climbed out of a window and escaped from her confinement. At last a meeting with her son was arranged and when she saw him, after exclaiming how much he had grown, she burst into tears. She remained free but did not return to the Court. When Louis XIII wanted to arrange the marriage of her youngest daughter, he required her consent. However, she asked him not to decide until she had returned to Court. However, she remained in the country and was soon joined by opponents of her son. Moreover, as the prospective groom was one of those who had joined her, the marriage never took place. Later, when again reconciled with her son, she returned to the Court and put her hand to having her daughter married to the future king of England.
 

Source: Leo van de Pas


 
 
 
 
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