Catherine de' Medici and the French Reformation

Catherine de' Medici and the French Reformation

by Edith Sichel

One remarkable fact distinguishes the Reformation in France from the Reformation in other countries: that, always excepting for the Admiral [Coligny], its most effectual and distinguished chiefs were great ladies.

Would the progress of the Reformation in France have differed if Catherine de' Medici had numbered herself among these "great ladies"? Scheming and manipulative, perhaps more so because of the humiliation of her unhappy marriage, she took up with one faction after another, abandoning them just as quickly if they, or their allies, began to threaten her own power. The major part of this work looks at her life and those of the leading players in the Reformation — male and female.

The final four chapters look at Catherine's relations to the Arts, in particular, the poets of the Pleïade — especially Ronsard and du Bellay — comparing them with their contemporaries in England; the architect and writer Philibert de l'Orme and the craftsman Bernard Palissy.

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The Dunnett connection:

Catherine de Medici, wife of Henri II of France, is a significant character in volumes 2 and 6 of the Francis Crawford series, Disorderly Knights and Checkmate.