Catherine de Medici: Background information when reading The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

A Novel

by C.W. Gortner

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner X
The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2010, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2011, 432 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book

Catherine de Medici

This article relates to The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

Print Review

Catherine de Medici was born on April 13, 1519 in Florence, Italy. Her mother, Madeleine de La Tour d'Auvergne, died a few days later either of plague or of syphilis contracted from her husband, Lorenzo II de Medici, Duke of Urbino (a sovereign state in northern Italy), who died from the disease a few weeks later. Madeline and Lorenzo had been married just a year, and Catherine was their only child. Catherine's care fell to her aunt and maternal grandmother, who raised her in the Palazzo Medici.

The House of Medici was a political dynasty that came into prominence in the 14th century. Having acquired great wealth first in the textile trade and later as bankers, the Medici family became the unofficial rulers of the republic of Florence, and later the recognized sovereigns of Tuscany. When the family was overthrown in 1527, Catherine was taken hostage and placed in a series of convents. After Florence surrendered to Charles V in 1530, Pope Clement VII (Cardinal Giulio de' Medici) helped arrange Catherine's marriage to the future King Henry II of France in 1533.

She bore King Henry ten children, Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III among them. After the King's death in 1559 (from wounds sustained in a jousting match) and her son Francis's death the following year, the government fell entirely into Catherine's hands. She ruled as regent for Charles, and wielded considerable influence over him during his reign. In these years she faced political mayhem, bloody rebellions and religious massacres, and as a consequence her actions as ruler are shrouded in mystery and intrigue. She has been held partly responsible for starting the French Wars of Religion (primarily between Catholics and Protestants), and accused of poisoning her enemies and manipulating her children to extend her family's power. Henry IV is reported to have said of her:

"I ask you, what could a woman do, left by the death of her husband with five little children on her arms, and two families of France who were thinking of grasping the crown - our own [the Bourbons] and the Guises? Was she not compelled to play strange parts to deceive first one and then the other, in order to guard, as she did, her sons, who successively reigned through the wise conduct of that shrewd woman? I am surprised that she never did worse."

She died in January 1589, at the age of 69, probably of pleurisy.

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Confessions of Catherine de Medici. It originally ran in August 2010 and has been updated for the May 2011 paperback edition.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Rust & Stardust
    Rust & Stardust
    by T Greenwood
    Highly readable and tightly plotted, T. Greenwood's Rust and Stardust achieves the perfect ...
  • Book Jacket: American Prison
    American Prison
    by Shane Bauer
    After spending over two years in Iran's notorious Evin Prison for supposedly crossing the country's ...
  • Book Jacket: Small Fry
    Small Fry
    by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
    Small Fry is the debut memoir from Lisa Brennan-Jobs, long-time journalist and writer, and oldest ...
  • Book Jacket: The Winter Soldier
    The Winter Soldier
    by Daniel Mason
    Imagine the thousands of confounding cases doctors face routinely for which diagnoses are hard to ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Removes by Tatjana Soli

A powerful, transporting novel about the addictive intensity and freedom of the American frontier.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Sold on a Monday
    by Kristina McMorris

    An unforgettable novel inspired by a stunning piece of history.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Clockmaker's Daughter

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

A rich, spellbinding new novel from the author of The Lake House. On sale Oct 9.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T Turn T S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.