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Catherine de' Medici was born in Florence, Italy, as Caterina Maria Romula di Lorenzo de' Medici. Both of her parents, Lorenzo II de' Medici, Duke of Urbino, and Madeleine de La Tour d'Auvergne, Countess of Boulogne, died within weeks of her birth. In 1533, at the age of fourteen, Caterina married Henry, second son of King Francis I of France and Queen Claude. Under the gallicised version of her name, Catherine de Médicis, she was queen consort of King Henry II of France from 1547 to 1559. Throughout his reign, Henry excluded Catherine from influence and instead showered favours on his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. Henry's death in 1559 thrust Catherine into the political arena as mother of the frail fifteen-year-old King Francis II. When he died in 1560, she became regent on behalf of her ten-year-old son King Charles IX and was granted sweeping powers. After Charles died in 1574, Catherine played a key role in the reign of her third son, Henry III. He dispensed with her advice only in the last months of her life.

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Catherine de' Medici was born in Florence, Italy, as Caterina Maria Romula di Lorenzo de' Medici. Both of her parents, Lorenzo II de' Medici, Duke of Urbino, and Madeleine de La Tour d'Auvergne, Countess of Boulogne, died within weeks of her birth. In 1533, at the age of fourteen, Caterina married Henry, second son of King Francis I of France and Queen Claude. Under the gallicised version of her name, Catherine de Médicis, she was queen consort of King Henry II of France from 1547 to 1559. Throughout his reign, Henry excluded Catherine from influence and instead showered favours on his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. Henry's death in 1559 thrust Catherine into the political arena as mother of the frail fifteen-year-old King Francis II. When he died in 1560, she became regent on behalf of her ten-year-old son King Charles IX and was granted sweeping powers. After Charles died in 1574, Catherine played a key role in the reign of her third son, Henry III. He dispensed with her advice only in the last months of her life. More...

 
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