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Maria de' Medici

Maria de' Medici (French Marie de Médicis) (1573 - 1642) was Queen and later Regent of France.

Born in Florence, Italy, she was the daughter of Francis of Tuscany. In 1600 she married Henri IV of France, and her eldest son, the future king Louis XIII, was born the following year.

Portrait of Marie de' Medici. c.1622. Oil on canvas.
Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain by Peter Paul Rubens

After Henri's assassination in 1610 she became Regent. Not very bright, stubborn and growing obese, she was soon entirely under the influence of her unscrupulous Italian favourite, Concino Concini, who was created Marquis d'Ancre and Marshal of France. Through him, Italian representatives of the Roman Catholic Church hoped to force the suppression of Protestantism in France. Throwing her support with Spain, she arranged the marriage of both the future king Louis and his sister Elizabeth to members of the Spanish royal family.

However, in 1617 her son Louis XIII asserted his authority, ordering the assassination of the Concini, and exiled the Queen to the Chateau Blois. In 1619 she escaped and headed a revolt, but was reconciled to her son through the mediation of Cardinal Richelieu, who then gained royal favour. Marie de Medici's attempts to displace Richelieu ultimately led to her exile to Compiègne in 1630, from where she escaped to Brussels in 1631, and later to Cologne, where she died in 1642.

Preceded by:
Henry IV
List of French monarchs Succeeded by:
Louis XIII