Medici, Marie de'

   Marie de' Medici was the daughter of Grand Duke Francesco I de' Medici of Florence and Johanna of Austria, daughter of the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I. In 1600, she was betrothed to Henry IV of France whose poor finances necessitated a lucrative marriage alliance, which the Medici were willing to provide. In the following year, she gave birth to her son, the future Louis XIII. Her mother's untimely death, her father's remarriage, and his almost complete abandonment of his children had caused great misery in Marie's early life. Her marriage did not fare any better. Henry had a number of mistresses who resented her presence at court. When he was assassinated by a religious fanatic in 1610, Marie was immediately appointed regent to her son because Salic laws prevented her from assuming the role of queen. No sooner had she obtained this charge than she banished Henry's mistresses. As regent, she fell under the influence of Concino Concini, Marquis of Ancre, who dismissed Henry's minister duc de Sully and created such resentment that the nobility rebelled against the regency. In 1617, Concini was assassinated. Having attained his majority, Louis XIII assumed his position as king of France and exiled his mother to Blois. In 1619, she escaped and allied herself with her younger son, Gaston d'Orleans, against the king, only to be defeated. In 1622, Cardinal Armand Richelieu, Louis' first minister, reconciled Marie with the king. The reconciliation, however, did not last. A conspiracy to overthrow Richelieu for his anti-Hapsburg policies caused Marie's permanent banishment from the French court. She escaped to the Low Countries and then Germany, where she spent the last years of her life. Peter Paul Rubens created for Marie in 1622-1625 the Medici Cycle for the Luxembourg Palace, built for her by Salomon de Brosse (beg. 1615), to record the most important events of her life and to glorify her position as the wife of Henry and mother of Louis. Another artist patronized by Marie was Orazio Gentileschi, who was present at her court in 1624.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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