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Henri IV's first mother in law Catherine and his second wife Marie, were both from the Florentine Medici family.

Families tend to pass first names down through the generations and the Medici of Florence, Italy, were no different in that respect. They produced copious Lorenzos, Cosimos, Giulianos, Giovannis, Pieros and others.

The man referred to by many historians as Lorenzo I “Il Magnifico” de’ Medici (1449-1492), was in fact not the first Medici to bear the name Lorenzo, neither was he unique in being addressed as “your magnificence”.

However on his demise, when his son Piero became head of the family, it didn’t take long for things to go badly wrong. In 1494 the French took Florence and the Medici were expelled from the city. Piero became know in history as “Piero the unfortunate”, he died in 1503.

It was during the Medici’s unfortunate period, that one Niccolò Machiavelli (born 1469) began to make a name for himself in Florentine administration circles. He was sent on several missions, including four to the court of Louis XII of France.

In 1512 everything changed when the Spanish invaded Florence, and Giovanni de Medici was shortly after elected as Pope Leo X. With the Medici now back in control of Florence, Machiavelli’s own unfortunate period started. He spent a year in prison, accused of conspiracy, and then retired to his farm outside Florence.

Country life must have deprived him of the intellectual cut and thrust of mixing with the advisors of Kings and Emperors. Within months he had completed the first draft of his now most famous written work ‘The Prince’.

This document could be thought of as a methodology for acquiring and retaining power. It’s basic principles involved the use of means fair and foul, to ensure that no other person became powerful enough to challenge the authority of ‘The Prince’. Generally this involved subtly encouraging a second contender to undermine the efforts of the prime contender. Of course once successful the second contender then became the new prime contender, who themselves now needed to be undermined. While all these contenders were being encouraged to do each other in, the Prince appeared aloof and above all the intrigue, which was happening amongst the ranks of the most ambitious of his subjects.

Hoping to re-establish his influence, Machiavelli presented ‘The Prince’ to Piero’s son, Lorenzo II de Medici (born 1492) along with a groveling letter.

In 1518, Lorenzo II de Medici married Madeleine the daughter of Jean I de La Tour, Count of the Auvergne and of Lauraguais and Jeanne de Bourbon, at Amboise in the Loire valley in France. Within a year a daughter Catherine was born, but less than a month after that both Lorenzo and Madeline had died. Machiavelli went on to write more books and eventually died in 1527.

Picture of King Henri II of France

King Henri II of France

Picture of Catherine de Medici

Catherine de Medici

Catherine went on to marry Henri Duke of Orleans, who on his father's death became Henri II of France. Three of her sons went on to become Kings of France and a daughter Marguerite married Henri III of Navarre, who subsequently became Henri IV of France.


A picture of a red shield with a linked chain motif, representing the kingdom of Navarre


















A picture of a red shield with a linked chain motif, representing the kingdom of Navarre



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A picture of a blue shield with 3 yellow Fluer de lis, representing the Kingdom of France