At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Maria de’ Medici

Medici daughter who ended up ruling France


Maria de' Medici became Queen of France with the death of her husband
Maria de' Medici became Queen of France
with the death of her husband
Maria de’ Medici, who became Queen of France after her marriage to King Henri IV, was born on this day in 1575 at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence.

After her husband was assassinated the day after his coronation, she ruled France as regent for her son, Louis, until he came of age.

Maria was the daughter of the grand duke of Tuscany, Francesco de’ Medici, and his wife, Joanna of Austria.

Henri had divorced his wife, Margaret, and married Maria in 1600 to obtain a large dowry that would help him pay his debts.

In 1601 Maria gave birth to a son, the future King Louis XIII, and then went on to bear a further five children for her husband.

However she resented her husband’s infidelities and he despised her friends from Florence, Concino Concini and his wife, Leonora.

After Henri was assassinated in 1610, the French parliament proclaimed Maria regent for her young son.

Guided by her favourite, Concini, who had become Marquis of Ancre, Maria reversed Henri’s anti-Spanish policy. She is also alleged to have squandered the country’s revenue and made humiliating concessions to its rebellious nobles.

Maria de' Medici was advised by the Florentine Concino Concini
Maria de' Medici was advised by the
Florentine Concino Concini
Even after Louis XIII came of age, Maria and Ancre were said to have ignored him and continued to rule in his name.

In 1617 Ancre was assassinated by someone working on behalf of Louis and Maria was sent to live in Blois.

After two years she managed to escape and her principal adviser, who was to become Cardinal de Richelieu, negotiated for her to set up a court at Angers.

After she was readmitted to the King’s council, Maria obtained a Cardinal’s hat for Richelieu and persuaded Louis to make him chief minister.

But Richelieu then enraged her by allying France with Protestant countries.

She demanded Richelieu’s dismissal but Louis stood by him and banished his mother to live in Compiegne. She fled to Brussels in 1631 and died destitute 11 years later.

Maria’s legacy was the Luxembourg Palace, which she had built in Paris. It was decorated with paintings by the Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens portraying the events of Maria’s life, which are considered among his finest work.

The Palazzo Pitti was originally the home of the banker Luca Pitti in an effort to outshine the Medici
The Palazzo Pitti was originally the home of the banker
Luca Pitti in an effort to outshine the Medici
Travel tip:

Palazzo Pitti in Florence, where Maria was born, was originally built for the banker Luca Pitti in 1457 in the centre of Florence, to try to outshine the Medici family. They later bought it from his bankrupt heirs and made it their main residence in 1550. Today visitors can look round the richly decorated rooms and see treasures from the Medici collections.

The Ponte Vecchio linked the Uffizi with the Palazzo Pitti
The Ponte Vecchio linked the Uffizi with the Palazzo Pitti
Travel tip:

The Ponte Vecchio, which connects Palazzo Pitti with the city on the other side of the River Arno, was built in 1345 and is the oldest bridge remaining in Florence. The medieval workshops inhabited by butchers and blacksmiths were eventually given to goldsmiths and are still inhabited by jewellers today. The private corridor over the shops was designed by the architect, Vasari, to link the Palazzo Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti, via the Uffizi, allowing the Medici to move about between their residences without having to walk through the streets.



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