Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Passion for the Arts: The Secret Side of Catherine de Medici - Guest Post by C W Gortner



History has painted Catherine de Medici as a perennial black widow who wreaked havoc on France, a reptilian being without glamour. We forget that in fact she was once a pretty girl— thin, with the Medici’s slightly protuberant eyes and thick auburn hair. Though never described as a beauty, she had spirit. More importantly, she was a product of the Italian Renaissance, a well-educated princess who brought with her to France the seeds of a cultural heritage that continues to flourish today.

An avid patron of the arts, Catherine re-modeled the Louvre to house her collection and protect the paintings acquired by her father-in-law, Francois I, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Catherine also had a keen eye for portraiture—a direct reflection of her Renaissance upbringing, in which the individual assumed center stage. During her time as regent, artists created astonishing images of the most important people of the court, including Catherine’s own children, allowing us centuries later to bask in their near-photographic likenesses.

7 of Catherine & Henri's 10 children
Source: wikipedia.org


Architecture was another lifelong passion of Catherine’s; her chateau at Chenonceau is one of the most beautiful palaces in France. Another of her projects is the impressive tomb she had built for herself and her husband in the Abbey of St Denis, though sadly it sits empty since the plunder of the Revolution.

Perhaps most fascinating are the smaller contributions she made: Catherine is believed to have imported the first artichokes to France, as well as the first example of the modernized side-saddle. She was also the first documented user of female undergarments in France — which, if true, indicates that before she arrived, the ladies went commando under their gowns. It makes one wonder just how Catherine went about introducing the benefits of underpants to her companions!

Thank you so much for spending this time with me. To find out more about The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, as well as special features about me and my work, please visit: http://www.cwgortner.com/

*****************
Thanks so much for the informative guest post Christopher, as always it is an absolute pleasure to have you visit my blog. Your new novel and your blog post inspired me to do some extra reading about Catherine & her pivotal role in this period in history & the introduction of undergarments for women :-)

Tomorrow, don't miss my review of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici and an awesome international giveaway thanks to C W Gortner!!


23 comments:

  1. New cover? it does look nice.
    Well they sure did a bunch of kids

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll be looking forward to your review! I enjoyed the book and the opportunity to learn a little more about Catherine in this guest post.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post! Now I have something to impress my hubby with when he gets home tonight!

    ReplyDelete
  4. sounds awesome very intruging and informative i loved the post!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I like USA cover more but this is nice too. Her chateau at Chenonceau is really beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hugely informative and certainly something I've never heard of before. Thank you for this post, I've certainly learnt something from it =)

    ReplyDelete
  7. What an interesting post about a very interesting woman. I love learning bits of trivia, such as Catherine introducing women's underpants. Priceless!

    ReplyDelete
  8. It makes one wonder just how Catherine went about introducing the benefits of underpants to her companions!

    Practicality, I guess ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. This time-period is absolutely fascinating and Catherine seems very intriguing. I am ever so curious about this book, and what it contains.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I can't wait to read this book, you've got me very excited about it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. She really did a lot that had lasting effects that gets overlooked by mainstream history...the arts being one major thing. Thanks for the info.

    ReplyDelete
  12. It does seem something of a shame that Catherine's place in history is based solely on a few not so great rumours about her, when she clearly was a educated and fascinating woman.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "extra reading about Catherine & her pivotal role in this period in history & the introduction of undergarments for women"

    I DID too!Awesome ;p

    ReplyDelete
  14. I did not realize she was so influential.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Great post and good to read that Catherine De Medici is becoming more appreciated. Chenonceau is indeed very beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh my goodness...how funny that Catherine introduced undergarments! Women going commando just made me laugh!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Very nice post and it makes me want to read this book!

    ReplyDelete
  18. That was interesting learning about all the things that Catherine had been involved in - I have always found her to be fascinating and hope to read the book soon!

    ReplyDelete
  19. i can't wait to read this book - it sounds great!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Wow, that's embarrassing - I don't think I've ever heard of Catherine de Medici before! Well, probably heard of her, but not retained any memory of any knowledge of her. :) The wives of kings are so easily forgotten, of course, when all you hear about in history is what the kings do. A woman has to be pretty spectacular (in either a good or a bad way) to really be remembered!

    ...and like everyone else I'm interested in the underwear story. :D It does make me wonder how she spread the revolutionary underpant news, though! :D

    ReplyDelete
  21. I've read several books about the Medici's & am fascinated by their story. This new book looks like an interesting one about Catherine.
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Catherine was, according to Gortner's amusing post, a sort of trend setter.

    wolfcarol451(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to leave some comment love, I'm a 'comment back' kinda girl. Don't forget to check the 'Notify me' box