Catherine de Medici (1519-1589)

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Catherine de Medici was born to the powerful Medici family of Italy in 1519. However, her parents died when she was still a baby. She was raised in various covenants and received the best education a female could in that period.

When Catherine was 14-years-old, Pope Clement arranged her marriage to King Francis I of France’s younger son, Henry of Orleans. However, after the death of both Francis and Henry’s older brother, Catherine and Henry II became King and Queen of France.

Catherine was very unpopular with the French people despite her intelligence and political awareness. After her husband died in a jousting tournament, Catherine gained a more involved role in ruling with her sons.

Catherine was very involved in the conflict between the French Huguenots and Catholics. This political disparity would continue to highlight the reigns of her sons, and would be a constant cause of concern until her death.

Catherine’s intelligence allowed her to become a vital player in the religious conflicts. She was a valuable advisor and peacemaker for her time.

 

Source: http://www.notablebiographies.com/Ma-Mo/Medici-Catherine-de.html

Photo source: http://www.s9.com/Biography/Catherine-De-Medicis

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Eleanor of Aquitaine: Duchess and Queen of Two Countries (1124-1204)

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Eleanor of Aquitaine became the most powerful woman in all of France very quickly and at a very young age. Her wealth, association with powerful figureheads and adventurous spirit all contributed to her powerful influence.

At the death of her father and uncle, Eleanor married King Louis VII of France. For a while, it was a very happy and advantageous marriage. Eleanor brought the wealth, culture and arts from Aquitaine, her home, to Paris, France. She contributed much advancement to the city.

Eleanor also travelled to the Crusades with her husband, Louis. However, this adventure would prove to be the defining end of her marriage. She and Louis disagreed on a plan of action in the Crusades. Once they were home, the marriage was annulled.

Soon after, Eleanor wed King Henry II of England and became his Queen. She had a much more political role in England and was able to assert her intelligence and ideas.

However, her marriage to Henry soon began to decline after she gave birth to five sons and three daughters. She moved to a personal residence where she planned a revolt against her estranged husband. Eleanor was imprisoned for a very long time until her sons pleaded for her release.

Richard the Lionheart, one of Eleanor’s sons, eventually became King of England and secured her complete freedom.

Eleanor was a duchess and a queen of two countries. Even in her old age, she continued to battle for what she believed was right and would never back down from a confrontation. She was fiercely loyal to her children and dedicated to bringing culture and prosperity to her kingdoms.

Source: http://ehistory.osu.edu/world/PeopleView.cfm?PID=394

Photo Source: http://www.nndb.com/people/423/000093144/

Anne of Austria, Queen of France (1601-1666)

1622-1625 Anne of Austria (1601–1666)  by Peter Paul Rubens

Anne of Austria was a very influential Queen of France. She was the daughter of King Phillip III of Austria and grew up in Spain. Christina married King Louis XIII when she was just 14-years-old.

Her marriage to Louis was an unhappy one because of her inability to produce an heir until later in life, and her split loyalties. France declared war on Spain, of which her brother, King Phillip IV ruled. Her correspondence brought into question her loyalties to France, which was later pardoned.

When Louis died, Anne was named Queen Regent of France until her son was old enough to rule. During this time, she made peace with Spain and was able to reunite with her brother and an alliance was created between the marriage of her son and Phillip’s daughter.

Anne was a very able politician and learned how to maneuver through court intrigue through her husband’s court. Her inclination toward peace improved France’s foreign relations, and her loyalty to her family was a very important aspect of her life.

Source: http://www.biography.com/people/anne-of-austria-9185816?page=2

Photo source: http://bjws.blogspot.com/2013/01/1600s-gossip-queen-anne-of-austria.html