Maria De' Medici, queen of France, daughter of Francis I., grand duke of Tuscany, and of the archduchess Johanna of Austria, born in Florence, April 26, 1573, died in Cologne, July 8, 1642. she was educated in utter seclusion, and knew nothing beyond the circle of the Florentine court, when, in 1599, her hand was asked for Henry IV. of France of her uncle, Ferdinand I., grand duke of Tuscany. Her marriage with Henry had been contemplated seven years before; though but for the interposition of Philip II. of Spain she would have married the duke of Parma. She was married in 1600, and in 1601 gave birth to the first dauphin who had been born since 1543, and who became Louis XIII. Maria had great cause to complain of the infidelities of her husband, and her domestic life was full of bickering-. Henry often threatened to send her back to Italy, with her favorites the Concinis, by whom she was ruled. Her coronation did not take place till May 13, 1610, the day before her husband was assassinated. By the aid of the duke of Epernon, colonel-general of the French guard, she became regent.
She got rid of the prime minister Sully, and soon her government became one of the worst ever known in France. The Concinis were put to death in 1617, and she was herself exiled to Blois, her son being the chief of her enemies. She was freed from prison by Epernon, and a reconciliation was effected between her and Louis, chiefly through the aid of Richelieu, and by the same assistance Maria maintained her ascendancy at court for some years. Becoming jealous of Richelieu, she sought to overthrow his power, but was defeated and imprisoned in 1631. Escaping to the Netherlands, she remained there till 1688, and was concerned in many intrigues against the government of Richelieu. She then went to England, where her daughter Henrietta Maria was queen. Charles I. unsuccessfully endeavored to prevail upon the French government to allow her to return to France; and she became so unpopular in England that the long parliament requested her to leave the kingdom. She departed in August, 1641, parliament giving her 13,000, and promising her £6,000 more. ' She went to Antwerp, and took up her residence m the house of Rubens, whose patron she had been.
Alter residing there for some weeks, she was ordered to leave Antwerp, and to ro-ceed to Cologne, where she arrived Oct 12 Here she finally died in comparative destitution, in a squalid chamber.
See Maria de' Medici.