Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Calvinists

Most potent Queen: 16th century Catherine of Medicis

The 16th century was one of the most violent of centuries: massacres, religious genocide events, perpetual wars, famine, plagues (moria)…

And yet, the 16th century was ripe with illustrious and famous personalities and characters: Da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Machiavelli, Ariosto, England Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, Phillip II of Spain, Charles Quint, Savonarola, Luther, Calvin

You can say Europe in the 16th century was the Christian flip coin of current ISIS (Daesh) in extremism, cruelty and fixation in their belief systems.

Every nascent religious sect, and they were numerous (Protestants, Calvinists, Lutherans, Baptists, Anabaptists…), and they all adopted the Old Testament stories for guidance and the Ancient prophets proclamations as their guiding rod to commit massacres and try to wipe out the other sect members.

This is a typical case of counter reaction since the Catholics focused on the message of Jesus (The New Testament) and the stories of the saints while they had the Old testament on the back burner.

This trend in focus is still adopted today with both sects.

The Catholics were called the papists, the Protestant sects in France were called parpaillot, reformists, biblical and they wore the white scarf

Almost any Prince with wealth hired from the large pool of mercenaries to attack towns and villages and get the title of the vanquished prince and the razzia loot.

Katarina of Medicis lost both her parents as a child.

Her father was Laurent II of Florence and her mother was the French Madeleine de Bourbon of Auvergne.

By the age of 18, she had lost all her cousins and relatives. Italy was the scene of constant wars among the princes and town and cities changed hands very frequently.  For example her aunt, half-brother Alexander and cousin Hippolyte died by poisoning and in battles.

Catherine spent most of her childhood in prisons, monasteries, nunneries… until her great uncle Pope Clement managed to arrange her wedding to the second son of France King Francois I.

The French King and his son Henry were made prisoners by the monarch Charles Quint at the Pavia battle in Italy, and they remained incarcerated for 5 years.

Henri II and Catherine were 14 years old when they married.

At their wedding night, King Francois entered their bedroom and watched the actual intercourse and made sure to see the bloody bed sheet.

And Catherine could not get pregnant until she was 18 and she lived in perpetual fear of being divorced, but King Francois liked his Duchessina.

Her first son Francois died in childhood. And she remained pregnant every year for 15 years.

Diane de Poitier, the eternal sweet heart of King Henry until he died, wanted Catherine to be pregnant all the time so that she keep the king all to herself.

There was no competition: Diane was beautiful and tall, while Catherine was short, chubby and plain.

Henry II wore the black and white preferred colors of his beloved Diane and all the emblems had the H and D initials.

After Henry died in a Knight Fighting joust during a ceremony by the captain of his Scottish troop Montgomery, Diane met with Catherine and Diane retreated to her chateau, never to hear from her again.

Catherine gave birth a couple of times to twins who died in childbirth and many other of her progenitor.

Only 3 of her male kids survived to live to be over 3o and no more than 35 Two became kings Charles 9 and Henry 3.

The daughters who survived to get married off were 3: Elizabeth, Claude and Marguerite (Margo )

The eldest Elizabeth was betrothed to Phillip II of Spain, Claude to the Prince of Lorraine, and Marguerite (Margo ) to Henry of Navarre, who became king Henry 4, and thus the dynasty turned over from the Valois to the Bourbon.

Margo and Henry had no liking to one another and they mostly led separate life. Margo fucked every attractive person she liked and had love affairs with her brothers, particularly the future Henry III.

When Henry 4 was assassinated, Margo continued her life-style of total debauchery and refused to be detached from her Regency status even after her son Louis 13 was enthroned.

Catherine had two critical jobs to battle for:

1. Secure and maintain the French dynasty of Les Valois through her sons

2. Avoid any excuses for Spain King Phillip 2 to invade France. Phillip 2 was the most powerful and wealthiest monarch in western Europe.

Actually, Catherine denied the Spanish troops permission to cross France in order to enter and occupy Belgium and the Netherlands

Some how, her immature sons took advantage of their mother’s worries and priorities by allying with French factions against King Phillip’s Catholic policies and constituted coalitions of princes opposing Catherine policies of neutrality.

The eldest son Charles 9 was cruel, brutal and a nitwit. He was tightly linked to admiral Gaspard de Coligny (a Huguenot Protestant sect) and they were scheming to form an army and harass the Spanish troops in Belgium.

That was a red line that Coligny should have not crossed for Catherine, and she decided to assassinate de Coligny

The attempt failed and the admiral was just wounded. Catherine knew that the fingers will point to her and she hurriedly met with her son King Charles 9 for the entire night, figuring a way out of that mess to avoid a civil war.

Finally Charles gave up and screamed “Kill him, kill them all”

Her son Henry gave the job to his great friend, the catholic prince Henry de Guise who insisted on waging wars on the Huguenots. De Guise didn’t wait for the green light and attacked the Huguenot early morning.

What was supposed to decapitate the leaders of this sect, turned out a massive massacre. The genocide in Paris lasted 3 days and 4 nights and then it spread to the provinces for months. After the massacre, on the 4th day, the shopkeepers, butchers and common people returned to their jobs as if nothing happened.

The insane and cruel Charles 9 lost it completely after this tragedy and stayed in his castle blowing his horns as if going hunting and screaming from the top of his head. He died at the age of 34.

Her second son Henry was her favourite. There were negotiation of marrying Henry to Elizabeth I of England that faltered because henry believed the rumors in France circles that Elizabeth was the “whore of London”

For a brief winter, Henry was pressured to travel to Poland in order to rule this country as its monarch, but he fled with his French companions and travelled across Europe, Venice and other Italian cities.

Henry’s passion as a young man was designing clothes and appointed himself the cloth designer in all ceremonies. He even designed what his brother-in law Henry of Navarre wore during his wedding. 

When Charles 9 died, Henry became King Henry III who was unstable and frequently whipped himself all night longs for forgiveness and chastisement. He brought wild animals and imprisoned them in a deep hole. One day he decided to kill a lion in the hole and then let the wild beasts devour one another.

His old friend Henry de Guise was receiving regular amount of money from Phillip II of Spain to destabilize France and keep it in constant civil war. And he set his mind to grab the throne since he was the most popular figure in Paris. De Guise was tall, svelte, handsome, blonde and rich.

In the nick of time, Henry III decided to flee to the Castle of Chartres in order not to be kept prisoner in Paris. It is there that Henry III receive intelligence that the Spanish Armada was destroyed and the attempt to invade England failed.

Eventually, Henry drew de Guise to his Palace and assassinated him by his Pretorian guards, along with de Guise’s brother the young Cardinal of Lorraine.  Pretorian guards or spadassins of 45 in number were from Gascoigne and headed by Du Guast. Catherine was dying during this assassination in another room.

And what of Catherine’s youngest son Francois?

Francois was fragile in health and eventually died of tuberculosis at the age of 30.

The king of Scotland sent his kid daughter Marie Stuart to Paris to live and be educated in the French court. Marie is the future  Queen of Scotland whom her cousin Elizabeth I would incarcerate in a London dungeon and decapitate her 8 years later.

Marie and Francois were inseparable, played together and were in love.

When Catherine husband Henry II was seriously injured, the surgeons were experimenting with “”live subjects” in order to discover the best way to perform the surgery on the dying Henry. Catherine forced Marie to watch the bloody surgery on one of the live person so that Marie learn “what it takes to be a queen

Until Marie had to leave France at the age of 18 after her father died. Marie never returned to France.

Francois gave his mother plenty of worries and troubles. He frequently disappeared from the screen of Catherine in order to form coalitions opposing either his brother Henry III or to fight the Spanish troops in Belgium.

Francois even paid a visit to London to rally Elizabeth I to his cause. He was a frequent visitor to Elizabeth’s bedroom until she got fed up and kicked him out of her bed, room and England.

Francois spent his last year leading an army in Belgium, occupying a town one day and losing another the next day.

Catherine had to criss-cross France several times and for a couple of years each time and way into her 60’s. Many of those long trips were meant to find her sons lost from her screen of control and who were complotting and joining coalitions (Ligues).

In her old age, she had to travel across France at the demands of  her immature sons of kings who were reluctant and unable to perform much of anything of value or to negotiate any peace treaty.

And Catherine was feared, respected, and admired for her abilities, steadfastness and clear visions by all the factious princes.

Catherine relied on her “Girls” the “Flying Spies” to gather critical pieces of intelligence of the creation of inside coalitions among the princes and managed to disperse or decapitate in the bud many alliances that constituted a threat to the throne of the Valois dynasty or which could invite foreign powers to attack France..

Catherine managed to maintain the integrity of France and avoided to intervene militarily outside France.

She was the Regent, in-power or effectively for 40 years and was the doyen (Dean) of the Western European monarchies  for several decades.

If it were not for her deceiving and deceitful sons of kings and her useless daughters, France would have witnessed the best powerful Queen they ever had.

She died before she could save Henry 3 who had accumulated enemies through his reckless decisions.

Catherine was a real genius in politics and statesmanship.

Mostly, real geniuses come from the pool of early orphaned persons

Note 1: Read the French book of Michel Peyramaure 

Note 2: In these centuries, absolute monarchies agreed to sign “peace treaties” when these 3 conditions were satisfied:

1. One of the monarch is feeling the weight of age and is terribly reluctant to go out on a long adventure

2. The treasury is bankrupt

3. Civil wars about to break out if one of the sons is vying for the throne

At this junction, the monarch gets busy “selling off” to the highest bidder his daughters and sons to kings and princes.

If the negotiations do not replenish the treasury, at least temporary truces are to be expected.

Soon enough, one of the sons snatches the throne, and being too anxious for adventure, more wars are ignited and the cycle is closed.

Sure, a historian can amass plenty of other causes to explain and validate the ridiculous frequent wars and skirmishes, but the simplest overwhelming reason is related of” totally bored young monarchs” with plenty of energy to spend outside of hunting parties.

The all-time freest spirit: Humanist Montaigne

The French essayist Michel Eyquem, known as Montaigne (1533-1592), died a century after the Americas were “discovered”:  He read and heard eye-witness accounts of what pains, suffering, and crimes against humanity the America Indians have been submitted to.

He wrote in his Essays (Book 3):

“Everyone labels barbarian behaviors, customs not of his own usage or habit observed in other tribes or new people.”  This is pretty relevant in all generations, in all ethnic people, and in all religions.  This is valid for the European, the Americans, the Spanish, the Portuguese, the French, the German, the Japanese, the Chinese, the Russians, the Catholics, the Moslems… in every decade and century, all the way to our “modern time”.

Every colonial power imposed their own customs and system of beliefs on “barbarians” they invaded and then exploited to replenish empty crown treasuries.

Montaigne was the eldest of five boys and three girls and inherited the estate of Montaigne. In this 16th century, smack in Europe Renaissance and religious wars between the Protestants (Calvinists, Anabaptists, and Huguenots of France) and the Catholics of papal Rome, the French humanist Montaigne wrote:

”I try to get moving.  Life is movement of matters and bodies; it is an imperfect action of its essence and deregulated.  I work at serving life.  I brag to meticulously embracing the commodities of life and I find but wind.  But are we not partners of the wind?  The wind howls, is agitated, does not desire stability or solidity.  Vanity is the wisdom of the wind and mankind.”

In 1571, Montaigne decided to retreat from politics, the court, and social responsibilities but the isolation was short-lived:  In 1572, the regent of France, Catherine of Medici, fomented the religious massacre of St. Barthelemy against the Huguenots all over France.

Bordeaux in the Perigor province was the bastion of the Huguenots Protestants.  Catholic Paris clamped down on the Huguenots several times.  Montaigne wrote:

I am Christian in the same title as I am from Perigor.”

Montaigne didn’t give religious belief any weight surpassing the reality of existence and communication among people and daily trade.  King Henry IV, the contemporary and friend of Montaigne converted to Catholicism in order to be crowned King of France. Historians coined this phrase to Henry IV: “Paris is worth convertin.”, but it is not true that he said it

Montaigne tours Europe for a year in 1580.  He travelled in Germany, Switzerland, and Italy and had to cut his trip short as he was elected mayor of Bordeaux for two years.  Montaigne said in the introduction of his Essays:

I do not teach; I tell stories.”

What follows are a few quotations from Montaigne that demostrate his humanistic tendencies:

Mankind has no communication whatsoever with his entity

“Human eyes perceive things only through the forms of their knowledge

“I like my friend La Boetie (Montaigne’s colleague in the Bordeaux city parliament) because he is what he is; because I am what I am…”

“He may be as wise as he wishes to be; but finally, he is a man:  That he is more archaic, more miserable, and more of the void.”

Wise principles cannot impress upon our natural conditions

Note:  Leonor was the only daughter of nine who survived to beget Montaigne’s grandchild named Francoise de la Tour Montaigne in 1591, a year before he died.

Is this a challenging time?  Any news?

In the 16th century, smack in Europe Renaissance and religious wars between the Protestants (Calvinists, Anabaptists, and Huguenots of France) and the Catholics of papal Rome, the French humanist Montaigne wrote:

“I try to get moving.  Life is movement of matters and bodies; it is an imperfect action of its essence and deregulation.  I work at serving life.  I brag to meticulously embrace the commodities of life and find but wind.  But are we not partners of the wind?  The wind howls, is agitated, does not desire stability or solidity.  Vanity is the wisdom of the wind and mankind.”

Amid the growing calamities and instabilities of our current world, people are learning to improvise, to adapt to ever-increasing change.

People are rediscovering the potency of weaker links in society, friendship, acquaintances, and in couples.  The stronger links of religion, marriage, and workplace are no longer available or convincing in our isolation.

People are discovering that life is a series of accidents. Taking risks is the name of the game:  The higher our fragility the more powerfully we act and improvise; the greater the magnitude for change the freer we become to evolve and resume life.

We are recognizing that our ultimate purpose is living and learning to steal longer and more frequent moments of joy, happiness, and pleasure.

We are readier to admit that active desires in what we already own and have is the essence of living instead of desiring what we are lacking or are missing from the past.

We are living in a most challenging period and we are adapting to be resilient and are resisting the moods of giving up the fight and struggle to surviving.

The 12th century Japanese poet Nokiosuki wrote: “I may have to live to the time as I long for this moment of utmost sadness and recall it tenderly.”

Note:  The subject of this article was inspired by the French book “The gusto for living and one hundred other essays” by Andre Compte-Sponville (2010)


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

May 2021
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