• Dates

    January: A month full of deaths for French Queens

    As my friends and I were planning out our posts for January, we wanted to hit the highlights of the eras that we each wrote about. That included deaths, marriages, births and coronations for various members of the French royal family. It wasn’t long before I noticed a disturbing pattern: At least four French queens died in the month of January. At this point, I’ve identified four of them from my own era, and according to one of my author friends, that trend started about a century earlier. January 5th: Catherine de Medici dies at Chateau de Blois January 20th: Anne of Austia dies of complications from breast cancer at…

  • Places,  Renaissance

    I need to buy this chateau! It’s for research purposes….

    I’m sure I can scrape the money together to buy this beauty. The location is perfect, north of Paris. I could fly into the city and just hit the road and I’ll be home. I’ll invite all of my writer friends and we can have writer’s retreats. The Renaissance part was built from 1504, and changed hands over the generations. Some of the powerful Montmercy family owned the chateau for a time. The chateau remained in active use through the centuries, undergoing modernization during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries. I can totally work with that. It’s listed in the Base Mérimée, a database of architecturally and historically significant buildings in…

  • Guise

    On this day, Henri, Duc de Guise is assassinated at Blois by Henri III of France

    In late 1588, Henri III called the Estates General for a meeting at Blois. The session stretched throughout Christmas and New Year that year, ending with an ill thought assassination and the death of the venerable Catherine de Medici. Henry and the Guise faction had been openly feuding, splitting Catholic support within France. Sick of compromises and half measures with the Guise who were within reach of snatching his crown form his head, Henri called the nobles to Blois in the hopes of settling the dispute with a public dressing down. It went terribly for Henri, as the Guise support grew stronger during the weeks from September through December. Eventually,…

  • Anna d' Este
    Character interview

    Character Interview: Anna, Duchesse de Guise and Nemours

    Today we’re speaking with the matriarch of the Guise clan and a woman with an illustrious genealogy, Anna d’ Este. Q: You’ve been in France through momentous change, since 1548. Few people saw so many changes to the country firsthand as you did. Guise: Sometimes it feels as if I can’t believe how long I’ve lived or what I’ve seen. When I was a girl, my mother would talk about France, and I think she always wanted me to find a marriage in her home country. I know that those of us to whom God has given much are expected to endure much, but in my case, I think I’ve…

  • Duc de Sully
    Character interview,  Huguenot

    Character interview: Max, the Duc de Sully

    Editor’s note: This interview was conducted at the Minister’s sumptuous new Chateau de Sully. Q: I understand you’re writing a book? Yes, I want to compile my letters to write a memoir. I have walked behind the king for decades now, and I want to leave a testament to the country of what I have been able to accomplish during my time here on Earth. God willing, I will have many years to spend on this. Q: You’ve never shied away from displaying your dislike of the King’s love affairs, publicly feuding with both Gabrielle d’ Estrees and Catherine d’Entranges. No, and I don’t see any point in glossing over…

  • Henri III's favorite acting troup
    1500s,  Renaissance

    Henri III and the case of the missing acting troupe

    Few people loved a party as much as Henri II of France. Of course, there wasn’t as much money to pay for lavish celebrations as there was during Francis I’s time. Still, Henri de Valois inherited his larger-than-life grandfather’s love for art and pageantry. After taking the throne in 1574, Henri took charge of the entertainment aspect of court functions, sometimes taking the role away from his mother, Catherine de Medici. Like his mother, the new king preferred comedy, finding the tragedies by leading playwrights of the day a dull experience. Historians have pointed out that Henri III likely suffered from chronic digestive issues and clinical depression, so it’s no…

  • Claude Catherine de Clermont
    1500s,  Renaissance

    Italian scapegoating at the French court

    It’s never easy being an immigrant, and the Sixteenth- Century was no exception. In France, the bulk of the immigrant hatred was directed towards the Italians who settled at court after the Italian campaigns started by Charles VIII. Francis added Italians to his court, importing them for their artistic skills. Any time there’s an influx of new favorites, the existing courtiers will start to feel their fortunes will be threatened, and when the invaders are foreigners, the resentment mounts. Many critics of the time, especially during Henri III’s reign (when criticism spread like a virus) blamed the Italians for the changes Henri instituted at his court. His mother was an…

  • Renaissance

    Boleyn series coming to the US via PBS

    I’m taking a short break from France to say that I just heard on Twitter that the three- part series The Boleyns: A Scandalous History is coming to the US in August 2022. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that it’s going to air on PBS. I mean, it’s the best place in the US to hear a British accent. It’s not like BBCAmerica is going to pick up anything cultural from the UK,

  • Books,  Medici

    Examining the strange marriage of Marie de Medici

    Marie de Medici might not receive the same amount of attention as her cousin Catherine from historians, but she deserves her own turn in the spotlight. I wish that modern historians would spend more time on her, but she’s fallen out of favor in academic circles since the Nineteenth Century. Speaking of the Nineteenth Century, few female writers have written more about the French Renaissance court than Martha Walker Freer. I’m not going to lie, in graduate school, they taught us to take Nineteenth-Century histories with a grain of salt because many of them were written without bothering to use any primary documents whatsoever. Still, I have a lot of…

  • 1500s,  Mistress,  Renaissance

    Further reading about Henry IV of France and his numerous mistresses

    I’ve had an incredible time researching and writing the French Mistresses series.  Henry IV had so many of them that it was almost hard to narrow down which ones to write about and which ones to relegate to supporting roles.  There’s so much more to learn about them that I could hardly put it all into three novels, so I’ve compiled a list of resources for you to check out for yourself. Free books on Henry IV and his mistresses: You can’t really escape from Margot’s side of the story.  There’s still debate over whether Margot Valois actually wrote her memoirs or if her supporters did, since it was published…