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Marie de' Medici

Marie de' Medici (mĕdˈĭchē) [key], 1573–1642, queen of France, second wife of King Henry IV and daughter of Francesco de' Medici, grand duke of Tuscany. She was married to Henry in 1600. After his assassination (1610) she became regent for her son Louis XIII. She reversed the policies set by her husband; the duc de Sully was replaced by her favorite, Concini, and the carefully hoarded treasury surplus was dissipated in court extravagance and in pensions to the discontented nobles. In foreign affairs she abandoned the traditional anti-Hapsburg policy. A new Franco-Spanish alliance was formed by the marriage of Louis to Anne of Austria, daughter of King Philip III of Spain, and was further cemented by the marriage of the French princess Elizabeth to the future Philip IV of Spain. Having remained in power for three years beyond the king's majority, Marie was forced into exile after the murder of Concini (1617). In 1619 her partisans rose in revolt, but she was reconciled to her son in 1622. After the rise to power of her former favorite, Cardinal Richelieu, she attempted (1630) to regain influence by urging the king to dismiss his minister of state; instead Louis forced his mother into a new exile at Compiègne, whence she fled to the Netherlands (1631), never to return to France. She was the mother of Henrietta Maria, queen of Charles I of England. The marriage of Marie and Henry IV was the subject of a celebrated series of paintings by Peter Paul Rubens.

See biographies by J. Pardoe (3 vol., 1852), A. P. Lord (1903), and L. Batiffol (1906; tr. 1908, repr. 1970).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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