Marie de' Medici

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Marie de Médici (26 April 1575 – 3 July 1642) was queen consort of France, as the second wife of King Henry IV of France, of the Bourbon branch of the kings of France. Following his assassination in 1610, which occurred the day after her coronation, she acted as regent for her son King Louis XIII of France, until he came of age. Marie was a member of the wealthy and powerful Florentine de Medici dynasty, being the daughter of Francesco de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. She was largely responsible for the construction and design of the Palais du Luxembourg.

Contents

Early life

Born in Florence, Italy, she was the daughter of Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and of Johanna, Archduchess of Austria. Her maternal grandparents were Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, and Anna of Bohemia and Hungary. Anne was a daughter of Vladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary and his wife Anne de Foix. She was one of seven children, but only she and her sister Eleonora de' Medici survived to adulthood.

Queen

Uncommonly beautiful in her youth, in October 1600 she married Henry IV of France following the annulment of his marriage to Marguerite de Valois. She brought as part of her dowry 600,000 crowns. Her eldest son, the future King Louis XIII, was born at Fontainebleau the following year.

The marriage was not a successful one. The queen verbally feuded with Henry's mistresses, in language that shocked French courtiers. She quarrelled mostly with her husband's leading mistress, Catherine Henriette de Balzac d'Entragues, whom he had promised he would marry following the death of his former official mistress, Gabrielle d'Estrées. When he failed to do so, and instead married Marie, the result was constant bickering and political intrigues behind the scenes. Although the king could have easily banished his mistress, supporting his queen, he never did so. She, in turn, showed great sympathy and support to her husband's banished ex-wife Margaret of Valois, prompting Henry to allow her back into the realm.

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