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Copyright, ©, 1961 by Marguerite Vance All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A.


No fart of this hook may he reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, except hy a reviewer who wishes to quote hrief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper or hroadcast.

Published simultaneously in Canada hy Clarke, Irwin & Co., Ltd. of Toronto

C 3 L ~c r

For Betsy and Ellen Davey

_ ^ Adalt



Acknowledgment is made as follows for help in preparing the manuscript: Burton, Elizabeth, THE PAGEANT OF ELIZABETHAN ENGLAND.

New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1959. DuPrat, A. T.HISTOIRE D'ELIZABETH DE VALOIS, REINE

DESPAGNE. Techner, 1859. Freer, Martha Walker. ELIZABETH DE VALOIS, QUEEN OF SPAIN.

2 vols. London: Hurst & Blackett, 1857. Hume, Martin A. S. LIFE OF PHILIP n OF SPAIN. New York:

Burt, 1928. Norris, Herbert. COSTUME AND FASHION. Vol. 3. New York:

E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1939.

Roeder, Ralph. CATHERINE DE' MEDICI AND THE LOST REVOLUTION. Garden City, N. Y.: Garden City Publishing Co., Inc., 1939.

Van Dyke, Paul. CATHERINE DE' MEDICIS. 2 vols. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1922.

Young, George F. THE MEDICI. New York: The Modern Library, Inc., 1930.

Waldman, Milton. BIOGRAPHY OF A FAMILY; CATHERINE DE MEDICI AND HER CHILDREN. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1936.

Watson, Francis. THE LIFE AND TIMES OF CATHERINE DE' MEDICI. New York: D. Appleton-Century Co., Inc., 1935.


House of Medici


(1492-1519) Duke of Urbino



(1519-89) Queen of France



(1 543-60)

King of France


Queen of


House of




Duchess of



Duke of


House of



(1545-68) Queen of Spain


King of Spain

House of

House of Valois


(1494-1547) King of France


(1519-59) King of France


CLAUDE daughter of Louis XII

House of Bourbon



Queen of



I HAVE not the temerity to undertake a comprehensive "life" of Catherine de Medici, but I have tried in this light sketch of her life and the lives of her children to round out at least a full-length portrait of each.

Again, I have tried to keep the narrative as much as possible within the boundaries of their family life. The era in which they lived was one of unrestrained debauchery and extravagance on one side and fanatical austerity on the other, the whole meshed in a welter of complex political and religious entanglements far beyond the interest of the average young reader.

Some of the Valois children were not especially attractive young people, yet they were assigned important—though small—roles in the drama of the Renaissance. So it is my hope that in this book they may emerge as individuals who were consistent in their work in those roles.


December 18, 1960


Catkerine de Medici and Her Children


AT AN upper window in the royal cMteau at Blois a young girl sat looking out across the moat to the shimmering woods beyond. It was mid-August in 1536. Heat in damp waves rose above the moat, drifting in at the open casements, white sunlight beat down upon the battlements as though in a kind of astringent fury at the sharp black shadows they cast. Off to the east, rising above the treetops, storm clouds the color of ripe figs moved in unhurried certitude. At long intervals, a white sliver of lightning punctuated the slowly tumbling mass and thunder muttered halfheartedly.

Inside, the air was heavy with the scent of patchouli and lemon and with the all-pervading odor of sweat-drenched velvet and brocade, for royalty refused to yield fashion to the whims of the weather.

The girl beside the window wore a French hood of black

velvet and white satin drawn down behind her ears, leaving her abundant wavy light-brown hair to frame her face on either side. Her eyes were dark and enormous; some historians have called them green, but they probably were that odd cloudy hazel so characteristic of the Medicis. Otherwise, her face rising above the jeweled bodice of her rose velvet and brocade gown was the round, rather formless face of a healthy child. Only the eyes and the full sensuous lips betrayed her as the daughter of Lorenzo de Medici, usurping Duke of Urbino.

She was just seventeen years old, and within the hour she had learned she was no longer merely the Duchess of Orleans. Her husband's brother, the Dauphin, had died in the night and Henry, her solemn, humorless yet greatly loved husband was now Dauphin and would one day, God willing, be King. She, Catherine de Medici, would be Queen of France.

For a moment she closed her eyes, with her large cambric handkerchief dabbed at the perspiration beading her upper lip. Some things one must learn to accept, the thought tumbled through her consciousness, but how did one ever learn to reconcile false testimony and the terrible death of an innocent man with royal prerogative? That her brother-in-law had died of pleurisy brought on by drinking ice-cold water after playing tennis she knew; yet one Count Sebasti-ano di Montecuculli under torture had been made to swear he had been hired by Emperor Charles V of Germany to poison the King and the Dauphin, but had succeeded only in killing the Dauphin. Something, some ingredient in the

amalgam of royal behavior was in itself

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