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Marie De Médicis (1573–1642)

MARIE DE MÉDICIS (15731642)

MARIE DE MÉDICIS (15731642), queen of France (16001610) and regent (16101617) for her son, Louis XIII. Marie de Médicis, the daughter of the Grand Duke of Tuscany and the Archduchess of Austria, was born in Florence. Though her upbringing was marred by the early death of her mother and her father's neglect, she received an excellent education, which, in keeping with family tradition, gave her a sound foundation in the fine arts. In 1600 she was married to Henry IV of France (ruled 15891610) and took up residence in the Louvre the following year. She bore five children; a daughter, Henrietta-Maria, married Charles I of England; a son succeeded his father to the throne as Louis XIII. She is remembered in part as one of the most troublesome queen mothers in historya lightning rod for discontent with her son's reign and especially with his chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu. But she also should be noted for her considerable patronage of the arts and her extensive building projects that still grace Paris.

After the assassination of her husband in 1610, Marie was made regent by the Parlement of Paris. Though politically inexperienced, she was not lacking in ambition: she was after all a Medici and confidently seized control of royal authority. Seeking peace to ensure tranquillity at home, she reversed Henry's anti-Habsburg policy, withdrew France's armies from Europe, and struck up an alliance with Spain that was sealed with the marriage of the fifteen-year-old Louis XIII to the Spanish Infanta, Anne of Austria. Her regency, however, was marked by instability. The weakness of royal authority invited a resurgence of aristocratic expectations of power sharing, and ultimately led to the calling of the Estates-General in 1614. The distribution of pensions and other spoils to great noblemen drained the treasury but did not prevent their mounting discontent. Several princes of the realm abandoned the court and threatened open revolt, the Huguenots grew restive at the prospect of royal wavering from the guarantees of the Edict of Nantes, and the prince of Condé was eventually arrested for challenging the queen's authority. Some of this discontent was really disguised opportunism in the face of a weakened royal authority under the regency. But some can be blamed on Marie's own poor judgment, in particular the promotion of her favorite, Concino Concini, to the point where this Italian outsider dominated both the court and the royal council. Indignation against Concini was compounded by the dubious reputation of his wife, Leonora Galigai, Marie's childhood friend.

The reign of the favorite and Marie's regency came dramatically to an end with the intervention of her son. In 1617 the fifteen-year-old Louis XIII instigated a veritable coup d'état against the favorite, which ended with the arrest of Marie and the deaths of the Concinis. Thus began nearly fifteen years of contretemps between Marie and her son, adding to the instability of Louis XIII's early reign. With the aid of her younger son, Gaston d'Orléans, Marie managed to escape from her captivity in 1619 and raised her standard against the king. Beaten in battle, she was reconciled with Louis through the good graces of Bishop Richelieu of Luçon, who soon entered the royal council. Though initially allied to Marie, Richelieu became the king's loyal servant and was instrumental in once again setting France on a course of opposition to Habsburg domination of Europe. Aided by Gaston, Marie actively conspired against Richelieu, hoping to depose him as chief minister. On the night of 1011 November 1630, the so-called Day of Dupes, she nearly got her way. The king led her to believe that he was acceding to her demand to have Richelieu dismissed, but then in a dramatic turnaround backed his chief minister, arrested Marie, and subsequently put on trial those ministers most closely associated with her. Once again Marie managed to escape from her imprisonment in Compiègne and sought refuge in the Low Countries.

Marie's exile lasted until her death in Cologne in 1642. Though her political power was certainly diminished, she continued to exert influence as a rallying point for Richelieu's opponents. Mathieu de Morgues, a writer formerly in service to Richelieu, joined her entourage in Brussels and launched a barrage of pamphlets that attacked both the cardinal-minister's "tyranny" and France's anti-Habsburg policies and defended Marie de Médicis.

Beyond her political legacy, Marie played a role as a major patron of the arts. Shortly after Henry IV's assassination, she engaged Salomon de Brosse to begin work on a new palace, one that would prove more suitable than the dour, somewhat medieval Louvre as the residence of a queen. Completed in 1623, the Luxembourg Palace combined French tastes with Italian splendor. Its interior, the "Medici Gallery," was graced with a series of enormous paintings (now in the Louvre in Paris) executed by Peter Paul Rubens depicting "The Life of Marie de' Medici" from her birth to her reconciliation with the king in 1619.

See also Henry IV (France) ; Louis XIII (France) ; Medici Family ; Richelieu, Armand-Jean Du Plessis, cardinal ; Rubens, Peter Paul .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Carmona, Michel. Marie de Médicis. Paris, 1981.

Castelot, André. Marie de Médicis. Les désordres de la passion. Paris, 1995.

Millen, Ronald Forsyth, and Robert Erich Wolf. Heroic Deeds and Mystic Figures: A New Reading of Rubens' Life of Maria De' Medici. Princeton, 1999.

Robert A. Schneider

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Médicis, Marie de (1573–1642)

Médicis, Marie de (15731642)

The queen consort of King Henry IV of France. The daughter of Francesco de' Medici, the Duke of Tuscany, and the Archduchess Joanna of Austria, she married Henry in 1600. When Henry was assassinated in 1610, she served as regent for their son and successor, Louis XIII. She made a truce with the Habsburg dynasty, the traditional enemies of France, and allied with Spain through the marriage of her son Louis to Anne, a princess of the Habsburg clan. In control of the royal treasury, she squandered vast sums on court festivities and on bribes to nobles hostile to the crown. She also ordered important building projects in the capital of Paris, gracing the city with imposing monuments and palaces, including the Luxembourg Palace on the city's formerly neglected Left Bank. This palace was decorated with an important series of paintings describing her life, by the Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens.

Marie's regency saw trouble brewing among the French nobility, which was asserting ancient rights to balance the authority of the king. A general assembly known as the Estates General was convened in 1614; at the same time Marie promoted an Italian friend, Concino Concini, to a powerful position within the government over the capable Duc de Sully. Resentment at the meddling of this outsider hardened opposition to the monarchy. Louis came to the throne in 1617, three years after his age of majority. Concini was assassinated on Louis' orders in the same year and the young king soon exiled his mother to the castle of Blois, fearing conspiracies on her part against him. In 1619 Marie escaped her virtual captivity and raised an open revolt against her son, but her forces were defeated. The son and his mother were reconciled in 1622, with Marie advancing her ally Cardinal Richelieu to the position of the king's chief minister. Within a few years Richelieu and Marie de' Médicis were adversaries, with the king eventually siding with Richelieu and again banishing Marie. After she mounted a foiled coup against the king, she was exiled by the king, this time to the city of Compiegne and then out of the kingdom permanently. Marie fled to the Netherlands, where she continued to rally opponents of Richelieu in hopes of returning to Paris in control of the royal court. She failed, however, and lived a shadowy life as an exile until her death in 1642.

See Also: Bourbon dynasty

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Marie de' Medici

Marie de' Medici (mĕd´Ĭchē), 1573–1642, queen of France, second wife of King Henry IV and daughter of Francesco de' Medici, grand duke of Tuscany. She was married to Henry in 1600. After his assassination (1610) she became regent for her son Louis XIII. She reversed the policies set by her husband; the duc de Sully was replaced by her favorite, Concini, and the carefully hoarded treasury surplus was dissipated in court extravagance and in pensions to the discontented nobles. In foreign affairs she abandoned the traditional anti-Hapsburg policy. A new Franco-Spanish alliance was formed by the marriage of Louis to Anne of Austria, daughter of King Philip III of Spain, and was further cemented by the marriage of the French princess Elizabeth to the future Philip IV of Spain. Having remained in power for three years beyond the king's majority, Marie was forced into exile after the murder of Concini (1617). In 1619 her partisans rose in revolt, but she was reconciled to her son in 1622. After the rise to power of her former favorite, Cardinal Richelieu, she attempted (1630) to regain influence by urging the king to dismiss his minister of state; instead Louis forced his mother into a new exile at Compiègne, whence she fled to the Netherlands (1631), never to return to France. She was the mother of Henrietta Maria, queen of Charles I of England. The marriage of Marie and Henry IV was the subject of a celebrated series of paintings by Peter Paul Rubens.

See biographies by J. Pardoe (3 vol., 1852), A. P. Lord (1903), and L. Batiffol (1906; tr. 1908, repr. 1970).

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Marie de Médicis

Marie de Médicis (1573–1642) Queen of France. A member of the Medici family, daughter of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, she married Henry IV of France in 1600. He was assassinated the day after she was crowned queen in 1610, possibly with her connivance. As regent for her son, Louis XIII, she relied on Italian advisers and reversed Henry's anti-Habsburg policy. She was constantly at odds with Louis after 1614, and antagonized Cardinal Richelieu. Failing to have Richelieu dismissed in 1630, she was forced into exile in Brussels (1631).

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Medici, Marie de'

Marie de' Medici: see Marie de' Medici.

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