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Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France$
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Kathleen Wellman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300178852

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300178852.001.0001

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Catherine De Medici

Catherine De Medici

King in All but Name

(p.225) 5 Catherine De Medici
Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France

Kathleen Wellman

Yale University Press

This chapter begins by presenting verses that capture the contradictions of Catherine de Medici's life and subsequent reputation. These verses also moderate the vehement charges circulated by Protestant critics, which took shape in the immediate aftermath of the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre of Huguenots assembled in Paris to celebrate Catherine's daughter Marguerite's marriage to the Protestant prince Henry of Navarre. Catherine was integrally connected to the French monarchy for nearly sixty years, but was blamed for this incident and, consequently, remained embedded in Anglo-Protestant historiography as evil incarnate. Her legend explicitly challenged her deliberate self-presentation as a devoted mother and protector of her children. Such charges discredited women rulers so effectively that similar criticisms were later deployed against Marie Antoinette.

Keywords:   Catherine de Medici, Protestant critics, Saint Bartholomew's Day, Huguenots, Marguerite, Protestant prince, Henry of Navarre, French monarchy, Anglo-Protestant historiography, Marie Antoinette

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