Nostradamus, surely the world's most famous prophet, lived in the turbulent years of Catherine de' Medici's regency, and many of his prophecies concern her life and those of her family.

Regarding the death of her husband he had this to say: 'The golden lion will rise above the old, in the field of battle, a unique duel, in the cage of gold his eyes will be pierced, two classed as one, then to die, a cruel death.' Henri II was the old one in this instance, and Gabriel Montmorency the golden lion. They fought a joust, and a splinter of Montmorency's lance pierced the King's golden visor. The splinter separated into two and entered his eye. Ten days later the King died, in terrible agony from his wounds. Catherine's situation following this death was also foreseen by Nostradamus: 'Seven years she will be weeping with distress, then she will live long, for the welfare of the kingdom.'

The volatile political relationship of Catherine's children is referred to when Nostradamus says: 'The seven branches will be reduced to three, the oldest ones will have been surprised by death, the two will be seduced to fratricide...' In 1575 this was indeed the case: only Henri III, François d'Alençon and Margot were left, and the animosity of the latter two against Henri was well known.

'The first son with a widow, unfortunate marriage, without children, before eighteen, of incapable age' clearly relates to François II's marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots, and his death before his majority. 'When the fierce king will have tried his blood-drenched hand through fire, sword and bent bow, all the people will be afraid to see the great ones hanging by their neck and feet' seems to relate to Charles IX's part in the St Bartholomew's Massacre. The massacre is also referred to in this: 'at the festival of St Bartholomew, Nîmes, La Rochelle, Geneva and Montpellier, Castres, Lyons will be places of civil strife, all by the orders of a Lady.' The massacre of Huguenots in Paris was followed by massacres in just these cities.

One stanza suggests Henri III's reign: 'For the pleasure of an edict of voluptuousness, poison will be mingled with law.' Henri's pursuit of pleasure, his irresponsibility to his kingly duties, and his homosexuality were all legendary even in his own lifetime.

Nostradamus predicted that Catherine would see three of her sons become King, and that the royal Valois line would disappear, leaving no male descendants. François II, her first born son, died at the age of 16, Charles IX at the age of 24, and Henri III outlived her. None of these kings left any children, and after the death of Henri III, Henri de Bourbon, King of Navarre and husband to Catherine's daughter Margot, ascended the throne of France as Henri IV. The house of Valois had ended and the house of Bourbon had arrived.

see also on this site: Catherine de' Medici

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