Visual History of the World

(CONTENTS)
 

 


HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION & CULTURE

From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Photography
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
Prehistory
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists

 




The Early Modern Period

16th - 18th century


 


The smooth transition from the Middle Ages to the Modern Age is conventionally fixed on such events as the Reformation and the discovery of the "New World," which brought about the emergence of a new image of man and his world. Humanism, which spread out of Italy, also made an essential contribution to this with its promotion of a critical awareness of Christianity and the Church. The Reformation eventually broke the all-embracing power of the Church. After the Thirty Years' War, the concept of a universal empire was also nullified. The era of the nation-state began, bringing with it the desire to build up political and economic power far beyond Europe. The Americas, Africa, and Asia provided regions of expansion for the Europeans.
 



Proportions of the Human Figure by Leonardo da Vinci (drawing, ca. 1490)
is a prime example of the new approach of Renaissance
artists and scientists to the anatomy of the human body.

 

 


see also
text


MONTAIGNE MICHEL "The Essays"

 

 


France: From the Wars of Religion to the Eve of the Revolution
 


1562-1789
 

 

The last kings of the House of Valois were bested by the Habsburgs in the struggle for supremacy in Italy. Domestically, they had to contend with religious schism and a powerful and fractious nobility. The kings of the House of Bourbon presided over conflict between Catholics and Protestants. After compromises failed, a policy of repression saw the forced expulsion of the Protestant Huguenots. A series of capable kings and ministers built up an absolutist monarchy and made France a great European power. French became the universal language of European diplomacy and aristocratic society while Paris became the center of European culture. Under weaker successors, costly wars drained the royal coffers, and political and economic crises paved the way for social upheaval and revolution.

 

see also:

RENAISSANCE ART

BAROQUE AND ROCOCO ART

THE 17-18th CENTURY LITERATURE

RENAISSANCE PHILOSOPHY

CLASSICAL MUSIC-The Middle Ages and the Renaissance, The Baroque Era
 

 


The Struggle Against the Habsburgs
 

Francis I and his successors tried to weaken the power of the Habsburgs. The spread of Calvinism led to the first conflicts. At the same time, Renaissance ideas and culture became predominant in France.

 

In 1515 1, 2 Francis I, a member of a side branch of the House of Valois, ascended to the throne of France.


Portrait of Francis I, King of France
c. 1540 by
Francois Clouet
 







see also collection:



Francois Clouet


1 The Castle of Chambord, built by Francis I
 

 


2 Portrait of Francis I
   Portrait of Francis I, bronze medallion by Benvenuto Cellini, 16th century







see also collection:



Benvenuto Cellini


During his reign, the French court developed into a center of the European Renaissance, attracting important artists such as 5 Leonardo da Vinci  and Andrea del Sarto.

Francis also spent money building up a considerable collection of Italian paintings including works by Raphael and Titian.
 


5 Francis I at the death bed of Leonardo da Vinci, painting by Jean-Auguste-D. Ingres, 19th century



5
The Death of Leonardo da Vinci in the Arms of Francois I,  by Francois Guillaume Ménageot






see also collections:


Leonardo da Vinci

Andrea del Sarto

Raphael

Titian

In foreign affairs, the king, like his predecessors, continued to compete with the Habsburgs for dominance in central Europe and Italy. Having lost out to Charles V for the emperor's crown in 1519, Francis was then defeated by him in the Italian Wars. Despite these reverses, Francis managed to cause his adversary considerable difficulty by allying himself with the Ottoman Empire and forcing the emperor into a war on two fronts. In the end, neither side managed to prevail.

Francis I was succeeded in 1547 by his son 3 Henry II, who was married to Catherine de Medicis.


3 Double grave monument of Henry II and Catherine de Medicis in the Abbey of St. Denis near Paris


She was the niece of Pope Clement VII, an ally against the Habsburgs.

Henry was under the political influence of his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, and on her advice, he took repressive measures agairbi the 4 French Protestants—even though he supported the Protestant princes of Germany with money and weapons—in their rebellion against the Habsburgs.


4 The Protestant church "Le Paradis" Lyon,
painting, 17th century


Henry only accepted Habsburg dominance in Italy after a costly war that ended with the signing of the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis in 1559.

In the same year, the king was accidentally wounded in a joust and died from his injuries. His eldest son Francis II died one year after acceding to the throne.
Charles IX and Henry III proved to be weak kings. The latter struggled to cope with the intrigues of his mother, Catherine, and the Duke of Guise, and with the religious turbulence that soon engulfed France.

 

 

Francis I


Portrait of Francis I by Francois Clouet

king of France
also called (until 1515) Francis of Angoulême, French François d’Angoulême

born Sept. 12, 1494, Cognac, France
died March 31, 1547, Rambouillet

Main
king of France (1515–47), the first of five monarchs of the Angoulême branch of the House of Valois. A Renaissance patron of the arts and scholarship, a humanist, and a knightly king, he waged campaigns in Italy (1515–16) and fought a series of wars with the Holy Roman Empire (1521–44).

Early years
Francis was the son of Charles de Valois-Orleáns, comte d’Angoulême, and Louise of Savoy. On the accession of his cousin Louis XII in 1498, Francis became heir presumptive and was given the Duchy of Valois. With his sister Marguerite, he was raised by his mother, who had been widowed at the age of 20 and whom he deeply revered; he knelt whenever he spoke to her. No one had as much power over him as these two women. Idolized, he grew up following his own whims, without discipline and more infatuated with chivalrous romances, songs, and violent exercise than with classical studies. He was greatly admired by the gay, young circle of his mother’s cultured court for his athletic build and the elegance of his demeanour and manners. His need for female companions stemmed from this upbringing, as did his lack of realism and his chivalrous imagination.

Louis XII, distrustful of Francis, did not allow him to dabble in affairs of state but sent him off at the age of 18 to the frontiers, which had been attacked in force. There, Francis learned more about warfare and, being of a sensual nature, about the licentiousness of camp life than about how to govern the state or, even more, to govern himself. Shortly before his death, Louis XII married him to Claude, his 15-year-old daughter. On Jan. 1, 1515, at the age of 20, Francis became king of France.

His quick and shrewd mind, his amazing memory, and his universal curiosity compensated for his inexperience. But, because he was outgoing and trusting and incapable of dissembling, he was always a bad politician. The pomp of the Reims coronation, the sumptuous cortege of the solemn entry into Paris, and the lavish feasts revealed his love of ceremony and also pleased the people of Paris, who had been disheartened by a long succession of morose and sickly sovereigns.


Promise of a great reign
Louis XII had left an army prepared to reconquer the Duchy of Milan. This ill-fated dream of recovering his great-grandmother Valentina Visconti’s heritage—which had been lost, retaken, then lost again—fascinated Francis in his turn. Ambitious for glory and urged on by turbulent young nobles, he made sure of peace with his neighbours, entrusted the regency to his mother, and galloped off to Italy.

At the bloody Battle of Marignano, charging at the head of his cavalry, he defeated the reportedly invincible Swiss mercenaries of Duke Massimiliano Sforza and his ally Pope Leo X. After the victory, by his own wish, he was knighted by the captain who had fought most bravely: Bayard, the most famous chevalier of his time.

The Pope received his conqueror in Bologna. Surrounded by his glittering pontifical court and by his famous artists, he dazzled Francis with concerts, banquets, and theatrical performances. The Pope offered him a Madonna by Raphael and negotiated a concordat that returned to the Pope the benefices of the rich church of France, while the nomination of prelates was assigned to the King, who was desirous of strengthening his authority over a clergy grown too acquisitive and independent.

Buoyed up by a victor’s prestige, the King spoke as a sovereign, using for the first time the formula of absolute power: “For such is our pleasure.” Prosperity permitted him to grant a princely pension to Sforza, as well as to Leonardo da Vinci and other artists who brought masterpieces to his court. He also signed a perpetual peace treaty with the Swiss and bought back Tournai from Henry VIII of England. And, as a pledge of unalterable friendship, the first-born royal child, Princess Louise, was affianced to the Habsburg prince Charles, heir to the Netherlands and, at 16, the new king of Spain.

Everything forecast a great reign. Francis I formed a brilliant and scholarly court at which poets, musicians, and learned men mingled with rough noblemen from the provinces whom idleness was making dangerous. He welcomed lovely ladies at court, saying, “A court without women is a year without spring and a spring without roses.” The arts, elegance, and chivalrous gallantry served to refine the licentious manners of the court.

The frail queen Claude, gentle and pious, bore a child each year. Francis respected her and sought her advice. In the meantime, he loved the dark-haired comtesse de Châteaubriant, without, however, foregoing nocturnal escapades with his childhood companions, who had now become his ministers and his favourites.

Francis toured France tirelessly, showing himself to people who had never seen a king. He was constantly travelling on horseback, winter and summer, whether well or ill. He became familiar with everything: men, roads, rivers, resources, and needs. During his travels, he emptied prisons, curtailed the abuses of judicial powers by the nobles, lavished largesse on the people, and provided games and processions for them, speaking to them in his grand manner, warmly and openly: “My friends, my beloved ones . . . .”

Popular, happy, the father of two sons, he was the most powerful sovereign in all Christendom when, in 1519, the German emperor Maximilian died. The election as emperor of Maximilian’s grandson Charles spelled ruin for Francis I, for Charles, who was already king of Spain, now encircled France with his possessions.


Rivalry with Charles V
Nineteen years old, secretive, cool-headed, and a clever politician, the Emperor had his mind set on a universal monarchy. His chief obstacle was the King of France. A mortal hatred emerged from this rivalry, leading to 27 years of savage warfare, interrupted by truces that were invariably violated. In 1520, on the Field of Cloth of Gold near Calais, where both displayed unprecedented magnificence, Francis vainly sought an alliance with Henry VIII.

Hostilities between Charles V and France began in 1521 in the north and in the Pyrenees, while the two brothers of the King’s mistress were losing Milan. The soldiers remained unpaid, and the army was disintegrating. The King, unconcerned, arose late, paid little attention to his council, and gave orders without seeing that they were carried out. Money disappeared into thin air. A few paymasters were hanged, though in vain.

In 1523 the King demanded the return to the French state, according to law, of the vast provinces that the great feudal duke Charles de Bourbon thought he had inherited from his wife. Incensed, Bourbon turned traitor and joined the Emperor’s service, claiming that the French, weary of the prodigality of their sovereign, would rise up on an appeal from him. Commanding the imperial army, he invaded Provence, was driven back near Marseille, and withdrew toward Italy. Francis I was pursuing him when he learned of the death of his wife Claude, at the age of 24, exhausted from seven pregnancies. The death of his second daughter followed soon after. Meanwhile, the English and the Germans were advancing in the north. In vain, his mother begged him to return: “Our good angel has abandoned us. Your horoscope forecasts disaster!” At the Battle of Pavia in 1525, defeated and wounded, he was taken prisoner. “Madame, to inform you of the rest of my misfortune, I have nothing left to me save my honour and my life.”

As the price for the King’s freedom, the Emperor demanded one-third of France, the renunciation of France’s claim to Italy, and restitution to Bourbon of his fiefs, with the addition of Provence. “I am resolved to endure prison for as long as God wills rather than accept terms injurious to my kingdom!” replied the King.

Imprisoned in a dismal tower in Madrid, the recluse composed melancholy poems, songs, and letters to his subjects, heartrending in their humility and their tender nobility. The mortifying defeat, the dangerous situation of his country, and the confinement aggravated his habitual migraines, the consequence of old wounds and of newly contracted syphilis. When he was struck down by an abscess in his head, his people, loyal in bad fortune as in good, prayed for him. The Archbishop of Tournon said a mass at his bedside, in the presence of his sister Marguerite, who had hastened to Madrid.


Decline and death
Although Francis finally recovered, he did not cease to suffer. His personality changed. Sudden reversals of mood, excesses of severity and clemency, inconsistencies in his statesmanship and in his personal behaviour marked him; his mind sometimes wandered.

The Emperor persisted in his exorbitant claims. Resigned to die in prison, the King abdicated in favour of his eldest son. France judged this abdication to be the worst possible move. The Dauphin was too young; the country was lost without its leader. No matter what the cost, he would have to return home. The French ambassadors, with nominal cooperation by the King, concluded the harsh Treaty of Madrid. He signed it in January 1526, declaring that the word and signature of an imprisoned knight were valueless and that it was beyond his power to dismember his kingdom. Still bedridden, he was betrothed by proxy to Eleonora, widow of the King of Portugal and sister of his jailer. The wedding was to seal the reconciliation of the two rulers and was to follow execution of the treaty. As a last condition, Francis had to deliver his two eldest sons, seven and eight years old, as hostages.

The surrendered provinces refused to divorce themselves from France. The Emperor, furious with the perjured King, held the children prisoner for four years. His army plundered Italy and captured Pope Clement VII. Francis could not openly engage in the war that was again flaring up everywhere against Charles V. Doomed to disavow his promises to his secret allies, he fled from their envoys, either going on hunting trips from forest to forest or travelling around the country, building fairylike castles that he occupied only fleetingly and founding the free and secular Collège de France. Anne, duchesse d’Étampes, “the most beautiful of learned ladies, and the most learned of beautiful ladies,” replaced Madame de Châteaubriant, more as a companion than mistress.

Their raging hatred impelled Charles and Francis to challenge each other to a duel, which was, however, prevented. During one of the King’s relapses, his mother reached an agreement with Margaret of Austria, the Emperor’s aunt, to stop this deadly struggle. The ensuing Treaty of Cambrai softened that of Madrid. In order to get his children back, Francis had to abandon his allies, give up Italy, and pay 2,000,000 gold crowns. His foolish expenditures had emptied the treasury, and the ransom was collected only with difficulty. Finally, however, the little princes were able to attend their father’s political marriage to Eleonora in 1530.

In 1531 the King’s mother succumbed to the plague. Marguerite, having married the King of Navarre, lived at some distance. The King, grown tragically old, in 1533 presided over the marriage of his second son, Henry, to Catherine de Médicis, the niece of Clement VII.

When religious strife broke out in France, the King—tolerant, an epicurean, an admirer of the Dutch Humanist Erasmus, and patron of the great satirist Rabelais, as well as a reader of Philipp Melanchthon, the Reformer—tried to moderate the growing fanaticism. Both his sister and his mistress supported the Reformation, whereas his ministers were zealous Catholics. But the Reformers were considered republicans, and the burnings at the stake began. For five years he delayed the extermination of the Waldensian sect, only signing the order without reading it when on his deathbed.

The war with Charles V was resumed in 1536. Bereavements within the family came in quick succession. The Dauphin died at the age of 18—poisoned by Charles V, it was believed. The third son, the most dearly loved, died of the plague. One of Francis’ last diplomatic achievements was an alliance with the Turks against the Emperor.

Henry VIII, by turns friend or enemy, died in January 1547. Francis, younger by two years, still had time to found the port of Le Hâvre, to send Jacques Cartier to Canada, to reform the judicial system, and to decree the use of French in all legal documents.

Wasting away with fever, dying, he wandered from castle to castle, carried on a litter. Finally, on March 31, 1547, the knight-king died. Notwithstanding the personal afflictions of the last 20 years of his life, Francis was to his countrymen and to the succeeding generation le grand roi François.

Marcelle Vioux

 

 

Henry II


Portrait of Henry II by Francois Clouet

king of France
also called (until 1547) Duke (duc) d’Orléans

born March 31, 1519, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, France
died July 10, 1559, Paris

Main
king of France from 1547 to 1559, a competent administrator who was also a vigorous suppressor of Protestants within his kingdom.

The second son of Francis I and Claude of France, Henry was sent with his brother Francis, the dauphin, as a hostage to Spain in 1526 and did not return to France until 1530, after the conclusion of the Peace of Cambrai. When the dauphin died in 1536, Henry became heir to the throne. Strong differences between Henry and his father were accentuated by the rivalry between Henry’s mistress, Diane de Poitiers, and the king’s, Anne, Duchess d’Étampes, as well as by Henry’s continuing support of the constable Anne de Montmorency, who had lost favour with the crown. Henry’s reputation has suffered by contrast with his father’s brilliance, and his melancholy made his character unsympathetic. Although he continued many of his father’s policies, he dismissed many of his father’s ministers and raised Montmorency and the house of Guise to favour.

Upon his accession, Henry undertook administrative reforms. The functions of the different sections of the king’s council became more specialized; the commissaries sent into the provinces “to exercise the king’s orders” were the forerunners of the intendants; and intermediary tribunals were established between the local justices and the parlements (high courts). In foreign affairs Henry continued his father’s warfare against the Holy Roman emperor Charles V. He signed the Treaty of Chambord in 1552 with the German Protestant princes, promising them troops and subsidies; in return, they agreed to France’s taking the bishoprics of Metz, Toul, and Verdun. Though Henry made a truce with Charles in 1556, war was soon resumed when a French expedition was sent into Italy under François, Duke de Guise (1557). The Spanish in the Netherlands, however, besieged the town of Saint-Quentin in Picardy, and Montmorency was defeated in an attempt to relieve it. After Guise had somewhat improved the situation by taking Calais, Guînes, and Thionville, the financial difficulties of both France and Spain and Henry’s desire to fight Protestantism in France led to the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559).

A bigoted Roman Catholic, Henry was rigorous in the repression of Protestantism, which was approaching the zenith of its power in France. In 1547 he created the Chambre Ardente in the Parlement of Paris for trying heretics. His Edict of Écouen (1559) laid the ground for systematic persecution of the Protestants.

The Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis was to be cemented by the marriages of Henry’s daughter Elizabeth and his sister Margaret to Philip II of Spain and to Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy, respectively. In a tournament during the festivities, Henry was hit in the head by a lance of Gabriel, Count de Montgomery, captain of the Scottish guard, and died 10 days later. He left four sons by his marriage to Catherine de Médicis: the future kings Francis II, Charles IX, and Henry III and François, Duke d’Alençon and later Duke d’Anjou. In addition to Elizabeth, he had other daughters by Catherine—Margaret, who married Henry of Navarre (the future Henry IV), and Claude, who married Charles III the Great, Duke of Lorraine. One of his natural children was Diane de France, who was legitimatized.

 

 

 

Catherine de Médicis


Catherine de' Medici, by Francois Clouet, c. 1555

queen of France
Italian Caterina de’ Medici

born April 13, 1519, Florence
died January 5, 1589, Blois, Fr.

Main
queen consort of Henry II of France (reigned 1547–59) and subsequently regent of France (1560–74), who was one of the most influential personalities of the Catholic–Huguenot wars. Three of her sons were kings of France: Francis II, Charles IX, and Henry III.

Early life.
Catherine was the daughter of Lorenzo de’ Medici, duke of Urbino, and Madeleine de La Tour d’Auvergne, a Bourbon princess related to many of the French nobility. Orphaned within days, Catherine was highly educated, trained, and disciplined by nuns in Florence and Rome and married in 1533 by her uncle, Pope Clement VII, to Henry, duc d’Orléans, who inherited the French crown from his father, Francis I, in April 1547. Artistic, energetic, and extraverted, as well as discreet, courageous, and gay, Catherine was greatly esteemed at the dazzling court of Francis I, from which she derived both her political attitudes and her passion for building. Of the chateaus she designed herself—including the Tuileries—Chenonceaux was her unfinished masterpiece.

In spite of Henry’s abiding attachment to his mistress Diane de Poitiers, Catherine’s marriage was not unsuccessful and, after 10 anxious years, she bore him 10 children, of whom 4 boys and 3 girls survived. She herself supervised their education. Thus occupied, Catherine lived privately though she was appointed regent in 1552 during Henry’s absence at the siege of Metz. Her ability and eloquence were acclaimed after the Spanish victory of Saint-Quentin in Picardy in 1557, possibly the origin of her perpetual fear of Spain, which remained, through changing circumstances, the touchstone of her judgments. It is essential to understand this in order to discern the coherence of her career.


Political crises.
Catherine’s first great political crisis came in July 1559 upon the accidental death of Henry II, a traumatic bereavement from which it is doubtful that she ever recovered. Under her son, Francis II, power was retained by the Guise brothers. Thus began her lifelong struggle—explicit in her correspondence—with these extremists who, supported by Spain and the papacy, sought to dominate the crown and extinguish its independence in the commingled interests of European Catholicism and personal aggrandizement. It is also necessary to understand this political struggle of the Catholic crown with its own ultramontane extremists and to perceive its fluctuations in changing circumstances, in order to realize the fundamental consistency of Catherine’s career. Her essentially moderate influence was first perceptible during the Conspiracy of Amboise (March 1560), an instance of tumultuous petitioning by the Huguenot gentry, primarily against Guisard persecution in the name of the King. Her merciful Edict of Amboise (March 1560) was followed in May by that of Romorantin, which distinguished heresy from sedition, thereby detaching faith from allegiance.

Catherine’s second great political crisis came with the premature death on Dec. 5, 1560, of Francis II, whose royal authority the Guises had monopolized. Catherine succeeded in obtaining the regency for Charles IX, with Antoine de Bourbon, king of Navarre and first prince of the blood, as lieutenant general, to whom the Protestants vainly looked for leadership.


Civil wars.
The 10 years from 1560 to 1570 were, politically, the most important of Catherine’s life. They witnessed the first three civil wars and her desperate struggle against the Catholic extremists for the independence of the crown, the maintenance of peace, and the enforcement of limited toleration. In 1561, with the support of the distinguished chancellor Michel de L’Hospital, she began by trying to propitiate the leaders of both religious factions, to effect reforms and economies by unassailably traditional methods, and to settle the religious conflict. Religious reconciliation was the conveners’ purpose of the Colloquy of Poissy (September–November 1561). Catherine appointed a mixed commission of moderates that devised two formulas of consummate ambiguity, by which they hoped to resolve the basic, Eucharist controversy. Possibly Catherine’s most concrete achievement was the Edict of January 1562, which followed the failure of reconciliation. This afforded the Calvinists licensed coexistence with specific safeguards. Unlike the proposals of Poissy, the edict was law, which the Protestants accepted and the Catholics rejected. This rejection was one basic element in the outbreak of civil war in 1562, in which—as she had predicted—Catherine fell, politically, into the clutches of the extremists, because the Catholic crown might protect its Protestant subjects in law but could not defend them in arms. Thenceforth the problem of religion was one of power, public order, and administration.

Catherine ended the first civil war in March 1563 by the Edict of Amboise, an attenuated version of the Edict of January. In August 1563 she declared the King of age in the Parlement of Rouen and, from April 1564 to January 1566, conducted him on a marathon itinerary round France. Its principal purpose was to execute the edict and, through a meeting at Bayonne in June 1565, to seek to strengthen peaceful relations between the crown and Spain and to negotiate for Charles’s marriage to Elizabeth of Austria. During the period 1564–68, Catherine was unable, for complex reasons, to withstand the cardinal Lorraine, statesman of the Guises, who largely provoked the second and third civil wars. She quickly terminated the second (September 1567–March 1568) with the Peace of Longjumeau, a renewal of Amboise. But she was unable to avert its revocation (August 1568), which heralded the third civil war. She was not primarily responsible for the more far-reaching Treaty of Saint-Germain (August 1570), but she succeeded in disgracing the Guises.

For the next two years Catherine’s policy was one of peace and general reconciliation. This she envisaged in terms of the marriage of her daughter Marguerite to the young Protestant leader, Henry of Navarre (later Henry IV of France), and alliance with England through the marriage of her son Henry, duc d’Anjou, or, failing him, his younger brother François, duc d’Alençon, to Queen Elizabeth. The complexity of Catherine’s position during these years cannot be briefly explained. To some extent she was eclipsed by Louis of Nassau and a group of Flemish exiles and youthful Protestants who surrounded the King and urged him to make war upon Spain in the Netherlands, which Catherine inevitably resisted.


The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day
The issue of war or peace in the Netherlands was closely linked with the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day in Paris on Aug. 23–24, 1572. Upon this occasion, following an abortive attempt against the life of the admiral Gaspard de Coligny, he and a number of his principal lieutenants, together with several thousand Huguenots, were killed. Catherine traditionally has been blamed for these events, which have therefore fashioned the interpretation not only of her subsequent, but frequently also of her previous, career, resulting in the familiar myth of the wicked Italian queen. There are two principal reasons for this. First, after some hesitation and inconsistency, the King assumed the responsibility by a declaration of August 26 in the Parlement of Paris, and “the crown” has been taken to mean Catherine. The second reason for the traditional inculpation of Catherine is the work of the pamphleteers and the polemical nature of the historiography of the event. It is impossible to establish the origin of the assault upon Coligny, but, as a member of the court—the royal family and the council—Catherine was among those who appear to have authorized not the massacre itself but the death of the admiral and his principal followers. This and the subsequent royal declaration of August 26 are both explained by the danger of the situation—after the unsuccessful assault upon Coligny—in which the infuriated Huguenots allegedly threatened the court with extinction and the kingdom with war.


Last years.
After the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day, Catherine was more concerned with the election of Anjou to the throne of Poland (May 1573) than the prosecution of the fourth civil war. Upon the death of Charles IX a year later, she assumed the regency with the support of the Parlement until the return from Poland of Henry III in August. Catherine placed high hopes in her favourite, Henry, for the regeneration of France, for which she longed, but not without simultaneous misgivings, knowing his weakness of character and his previous subjection to the Catholics. For these reasons Catherine neither sought to dominate Henry nor to rule in his place but rather suffered him to exploit her and strove with unremitting pains to supply his deficiencies. Until the death of Alençon in 1584, much of her attention was devoted to restraining his dangerous ambitions, which again threatened to involve France in hostilities with Spain. After the Treaty of Joinville (December 1584) between the Guises and Spain, at Henry’s bidding, Catherine, though gravely ill, returned to this dual threat. But after three months of continuous effort, in order to avert a public breach between the crown and the Guises, she was obliged, by the Treaty of Nemours (July 1585), to commit the King to making war against the Huguenots. Having failed with the Guises, the crown turned to Navarre, the Protestant leader who, as heir presumptive, had an interest in the preservation of the throne. In July 1586 Catherine undertook the arduous journey to see him at Saint-Brice near Cognac. But there was nothing to which Navarre could safely commit himself. Thus, despite the heroic efforts of Catherine’s old age, France was sinking into chaos when she died at Blois eight months before the murder of Henry III. Nevertheless, her ultimate achievement was to have saved the kingdom just long enough to ensure the succession of the Bourbon Henry IV, by whom the royal authority was restored.

N.M. Sutherland

 

 

 

 

Diane De Poitiers
French noble

born Sept. 3, 1499
died April 22, 1566, Anet, France

Main
mistress of Henry II of France. Throughout his reign she held court as queen of France in all but name, while the real queen, Catherine de Médicis, was forced to live in comparative obscurity. Diane seems to have concerned herself with augmenting her income and with making provisions for her family and protégés rather than with public affairs. A beautiful woman with a lively, cultivated mind, she was a friend and patron of poets, including Pierre de Ronsard, and of many artists. The great Renaissance architect Philibert Delorme built her château at Anet, and the Mannerist sculptor Jean Goujon adorned it with his works.

Diane came to court as a lady-in-waiting first to the mother of Francis I, Louise of Savoy, then to Queen Claude. Shortly after the death of her husband, Louis de Brézé, comte de Maulevrier, in 1531, the prince Henry, then duc d’Orléans and 20 years her junior, fell violently in love with her, and she became his mistress. Even in their own time legends grew up around them. On Henry’s death (1559), his wife, Catherine, forced Diane to restore those of the crown jewels Henry had given her and to accept the fortress-like château of Chaumont in exchange for Chenonceaux. Diane retired to Anet. The Lettres inédites de Diane de Poitiers were published by G. Guiffrey (1866).

 

 


Diane de Poitiers

 


Diane de Poitiers in the nude by Francois Clouet

 


Diane chasseresse, tableau d'un artiste de la première école de Fontainebleau,
dont le modèle est réputé être Diane de Poitiers,
entre 1550 et 1560, 192 x 133 cm, Paris, Musée du Louvre.

 


Diane de Poitiers as huntress in the Salon de François Ier,
Chateau de Chenonceau in France

 


Diane de Poitiers

 


Master of the Fontainebleau School, Diane de Poitiers, c. 1590

 


Diane de Poitiers

 


Diane de Poitiers

 


Diane de Poitiers

 


The Bath of Diana
Francois Clouet

 


Diane de Poitiers

 

 

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