Catherine de Medici: Five Portraits

Catherine de Medici: Five Portraits

Catherine de Medici: Five Portraits

Catherine de Medici: Five Portraits

Synopsis

Michael G. Paulson is currently Adjunct Professor of ESL and Foreign Languages at Nova University and Miami Dade Community College's Wolfson Campus in Florida.

Excerpt

The life and career of Catherine de Medici have been the object of serious scrutiny since the sixteenth century. This woman had been at the center of historical and religious controversy during her own lifetime and even today, experts are not in complete agreement regarding her role in the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre, the supposed poisoning of Jeanne de Navarre, and mysterious deaths at court, as well as her capabilities as queen-mother of France. in addition to historical interest in her life and career, Catherine has also been the subject of several literary essays, novels and plays in a variety of national literatures. in some works, she is the principal character, while in others she is merely a secondary player. the present study intends to examine her portrayal in a single literature, French, and within a limited number of literary works. Our scope includes four novels: Madame de La Fayette's La Princesse de Clèves (1678), Honoré de Balzac's Sur Catherine de Médicis (1842), Alexandre Dumas père's La Reine Margot (1845), and Prosper Mérimée's Chronique du règne de Charles ix (1829). in addition, we have chosen Dumas' play, Henri iii et sa cour (1829) for its portrayal of the famous queen- mother in the latter part of her life.

Was Catherine de Medici a cold-blooded killer or the savior of the French monarchy? the present study will attempt a brief biography of this interesting figure and will present the different perspectives that writers have held of her actions and deeds. We follow Ivan Cloulas' excellent biography for those details on which most historians concur; there is little need, for example, to document the date of her birth or death, the name of her husband, or the names of her ancestors, since these events and details are generally . . .

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