Catherine de’ Medici: birth, loss of parents, and Italian politics

Caterina Maria Romula de’ Medici, who was destined to become Queen of France as wife of King Henri II of France, was born at around 11 o’clock on 13th of April 1519 in Florence. Her father was the Italian noblewoman and scion of the ruling Medici House of Florence –...

The Tragedy of Gaston de Foix, a stellar military commander

Gaston de Foix, Duke de Nemours, was born on the 10th of December 1489 to Jean de Foix, Viscount de Narbonne, and his wife, Marie d’Orléans, in the town of Mazères, County of Foix. Gaston was also Count d’Étampes and Viscount de Narbonne, for his father died in 1500. From...

King Jean II of France: family background, personality, and actions

King Jean II of France known as the Good (le Bon) was born on the 16th of April 1319 at Château du Gué-de-Maulny near Le Mans, in France. Given the horrendous troubles his reign brought to France, I think that he should be known not as the Good, but as...

Isabelle de Hainaut: ancestress of the Capetian, Valois, and Bourbon dynasties

Isabelle de Hainaut, Queen of France, was the first wife of King Philippe II of France known as Augustus. She was born in Valenciennes on the 5th of April 1170 to Baldwin V, Count of Hainaut, and his wife, Countess Marguerite I of Flanders. Isabelle was their oldest daughter and...

In defense of Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wilshire, and Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk

Fiction and popular culture try to make us believe that two iron-hearted villains – their relatives –used Mary and Anne Boleyn to elevate themselves at the court of King Henry VIII. Nonetheless, it is a product of fiction without credible historical evidence. First of all, there is no proof that...

An illustrious sister of Richard the Lionheart and Philippe Augustus

Princess Marie de France, Countess de Champagne, passed away on the 11th of March, 1198. She was the first and oldest daughter of King Louis VII of France known as the Young (‘le Jeune’) and his first and legendary consort – Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine, or Aliénor d’Aquitaine. According to...

The Pléiade: the late Renaissance poet Jean-Antoine de Baïf

The late Renaissance poet Jean Antoine de Baïf was born on the 19th of February 1532 (died on the 19th of September 1589). A member of the Pléiade, he headed this literary group together its chief members such as Pierre de Ronsard and Joachim du Bellay. These men met at...

A forgotten Valois prince: Charles, Count d’Angoulême and father of King François I (part 3)

Let’s speak about genealogy. Count Charles d’Angoulême was not as highly inbred as many of his Valois cousins were. However, how was the count related to his wife, Louis de Savoy? Louise de Savoy was the eldest daughter of Philippe II, Duke of Savoy and his first wife, Marguerite de...

Agnès Sorel: her famous romance with King Charles VII of France (part 2)

Today, on St Valentine’s Day, it is high time to speak about one of the most famous royal love stories – the romance of King Charles VII of France and Agnès Sorel. When and how did the monarch meet the woman who seems to have been the love of his...

Who was Catherine Howard, King Henry VIII’s fifth wife?

The 13th of February 1541 was another anniversary of the execution of Catherine Howard, the 5th wife of King Henry VIII of England. Catherine had been stripped of her title as queen in November 1541 and confined to the Syon Abbey in Middlesex. She remained there throughout the winter of...

Agnès Sorel: life before her meeting with King Charles VII of France (part 1)

Born into a provincial noble family, Agnès Sorel first took by storm the French court of King Charles VII of France in 1444 when she was aged about 20 (she was presumably born in 1422). Agnès died young under rather mysterious circumstances at the age of only 28. Her life...

A forgotten Valois prince: Charles, Count d’Angoulême and father of King François I (part 2)

Charles d’Orléans, Count d’Angoulême, spent a lot of money on books. He had a network of agents in Italy, France, and other countries, who purchased rare and old manuscripts for him. The count collected in his library at Château de Cognac. His large library included more than 1000 manuscripts. Charles...

A forgotten Valois prince: Charles, Count d’Angoulême and father of King François I (part 1)

Charles d’Orléans, Count d’Angoulême (born in 1459 and died on the 1st of January 1496) was a member of the French Valois-Orléans-Angoulême branch of the royal House of Valois.  He was descended from Louis I, Duke d’Orléans, who was the youngest surviving son of King Charles V of France known...