The Court of Henri II (1519-1559)

Catherine de Medici, Henri II, Diane de Poitiers Fleur de Lys

Mary in France

Marie R. symbol of the Alliance
French Courtiers

Henri's court inherited the brilliance and sophistication of his father, François I, who patronised as many artists, scholars and philosophers as he could, thus establishing the Renaissance in France.

Leonardo da Vinci had been invited to live near Amboise, and died there in 1519, Benvenuto Cellini (sculptor 1570 - 1571) was in Paris, and other scholars, such as Erasmus and especially the Cercle de Meaux at Fontainebleau, were encouraged and supported.

Above right;
Catherine de Medici, wife of Henri II, Henri II, and Diane de Poitiers, his mistress. Mary admired Diane, and enjoyed her company and the ambiance of cultured civility at her châteaux in Normandy and the Loire Valley.

More courtiers

Contemporaries said about the court...

"The King travels with more than 12,000 horses; his retinue in times of peace is 18,000." - Benevenuto Cellini.

"The King's table was a real school, for all subjects were discussed" - Brantôme, who accompanied Mary Queen of Scots to Scotland in 1561.

"France can pride itself on being of all Kingdoms under the sun, the best adorned with fine and splendid houses." - Le Maréchal de Vieilleville.

This period saw the first flowering of French cuisine. Music, Dancing, Painting, Neo-Platonic Philosophy, Architecture and Poetry flourished.

dauphin aged 14 Mary aged 16

When Mary, aged 16, tragically lost her husband, who died of an infection at the age of 16, she wrote this poem:

"In my sad and gentle song
Of profound lamentation
I look deeply
At incomparable loss,
And in burning sighs
Pass my best years."

"En mon triste et doux chant
D'un ton fort lamentable
Je jette un oeil tranchant
De perte incomparable,
Et en souplirs cuisants
Passe mes meilleurs ans."