Monday, August 09, 2010


In the Renaissance Period in France, Catherine de Medici ruled as Regent after the death of her eldest son Francis II in 1560, (he was the first husband of Mary Queen of Scots). 

The State treasury was depleted by the wars led by the previous monarch, Francis I, Catherine's husband. The matter had not been addressed during king Francis II short reign. The State was bankrupt and monies had to be found.

Does any of this sound should.

To continue:

As other sources of revenue-raising were unavailable at that point, it was suggested that taxes be levied, the burden of which, would fall on the peasantry. There were at best, unimaginative suggestions from the Estates Deputies. It was left to the Crown therefore, to lead by pruning its expenditure.  Catherine cut the number of servants and other elements of the administrative workforce, reduced salaries and pensions.   By so doing, she recouped 2.3 million livres. 

Remember, this is the 16th century.  That is an awful lot of money recouped, say, billions in today's financial terms.

Rather than being congratulatory, the Deputies observed that if such an amount could be so easily saved, "Could not more telling cuts be made?"

:**: History repeats, repeats, repeats......................... and continues to be repeated.

Source:Frieda.L. 2005 Catherine de Medici: p171.


keiko amano said...


I know very little about the history, but I'm fascinated about her life, how she communicated or not communicated with her husband, and all the pressures came after her and the decisions she had to make. I wish I could see a scene how she was talking in a meeting. I want to hear her language. Was it a mix of Italian, French, and English? Or mainly French? Probably, all the people around her were, in a way, all translators. I guess any ancient civilizations were similar. There were no standard language, and people spoke in their own way. If they weren't understood, they fight. Repeat, repeat, repeat. You're right about that. Not much progress there. LOL!

ZACL said...

Hi Keiko,

I'm about a third of the way through a very large academic book about Catherine de Medici. It is, in my view, well researched and very well written. It is written in an accessible style for interested non-historians like me.

My aim in reading this work is to either allay 'myths' about Catherine de Medici, or confirm them. In the process I am learning much about the development of the character, her personal life, her acumen and political prowess within the times she lived.

As is usual with European dynasties it can get complicated remembering who is who, who belongs where and so on. There are family trees at the front of the work, and various other bits of geographical information that are relevant, all of which is too much to take in, I think, while reading, but can be glanced at as required.

I can tell you that Catherine was an Italian, she spoke a Latin-based language of the time, of which there would have been regional differences. She was educated and probably learned French with her lessons and of course, when moving, as a young girl, to the French Court to marry. There are clues as to her private thoughts and her style of communication in the few elements of personal correspondence that survive to her daughter, who married Philip of Spain. There is also evidence of Catherine's stoicism throughout the reading I have completed thus far. She appears to have been a clever strategist.

Elizabeth I England, Catherine's contemporary, was another educated and intelligent woman. She understood Latin and French. Private communications would not have been problematic between the two women. Ambassadors would have been delivering political news about all the courts, much as they do today in their representative diplomatic roles.

Catherine, with her linguistic background would not have had too much difficulty following the Spanish language. In any case, there would have been a Court language of communication and in Europe and Russia it tended to be French.

Some of your queries would probably be well answered by the book (source reference given)if you can obtain it. ISBN code 0-75382-039-0.

keiko amano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
keiko amano said...

Thank you for all the info. and the ISBN code. I just received three books today, and I still have so many unread books. But I'm very interested in the book you're reading. I don't remember much, but it seemed her husband King didn't even try to learn her language. That really struck me and left a strong impression on me although I know many husbands don't even try to learn their wife's language. That fact made me think a lot. And the King seemed so wild, so I felt sorry for her. Today, she could get divorce, but then, it was unthinkable. Being so young and in a foreign country, and the husband not caring, yes, without stoiticism or whatever you call it, she could not carry on. She must have been very self-deciplined. Probably, she was educated that way to rule since she was small. She must had a strong sense of her mission.

I'm interested in how she dealt with all the problems especially staying married to the King. How she controlled the wild King and save her dignity, and not be controlled by him? I'm fascinated by her story.

ZACL said...

The men had the power to do as they chose, king's and princes in particular. Women were political pawns in the games of state power in all hierarchies of the time; you see it in lesser and different forms today.

I am not clear whether Francis I of France was any more 'wild' than other kings of his time. They were all in the game of increasing their power by wars for land, political alliance through marriages to women who had a pedigree and offered a useful dowry.

There would not have been any expectation that the Dauphin, the future king of France would speak his wife's language. She was being elevated to a future figurehead role where the supreme power of a kingdom lay. The behaviour of the Dauphin, later to be king, was not unusual at the period in which he lived. For that matter, more modern crowned and princely heads behaved similarly in their personal lives.

In the twentieth/twenty-first century, it is not acceptable for a prince to behave as if he was a feudal lord, marrying for the convenience of producing heirs, with little or no respect for the woman who was being used.

keiko amano said...


I better shut up until I read the book you're reading because I think I'm completely mixed up with the names. Thank you for your response and patience. I thought all your comments apply to the Japanese history, too, except the second paragraph.

ZACL said...

Thank you for your insightful comments Keiko.

There are a lot of names and names of places that do get confusing. I find it easier to follow through the important threads.

Simply, Caterina (Catherine) married the heir to the throne of France, who became Francis I. His and Caterina's eldest son was also named Francis, and so became the second one.

Caterina's daughter-in-law was Mary Queen of Scots, (quite important to our history) she married Caterina's eldest son (Francis II). Mary, was a cousin to Queen Elizabeth I, who was Queen of England at the same time that Caterina was Queen Mother Regent and was ruling France, on behalf of her very young second son.

For your interest, Mary returned to Scotland to take her Scottish Throne after her husband (Francis II)died. Having grown up in the French Court from the age of 5 years, French became Mary's first language and Mary always spoke with a French accent.

I won't say more, as I think that perhaps I may be confusing matters even more by trying to explain!

keiko amano said...


Yes, you did mentioned it before that the names and other things get complicated, and thank you for mentioning it again. I feel better!