Erzebet Blog and Catherine de Medici
Somewhat contemporary to Erzebet was the French queen and alleged sorceress, Catherine de Medici. She “has been called one of the most monstrous European female leaders” (Montefiore 134). She was responsible largely for the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of August 24, 1572. The massacre has been memorialized in a famous painting by Francois Dubois. 3000 Huguenots ultimately died with Catherine’s approval just in Paris. 1000s more died later in other areas of France.
A key player was Huguenot Henry of Navarre, husband of Catherine’s daughter Margaret. He became Henry IV of France, and later converted, at least on the surface, to Catholicism, allegedly saying that “Paris is worth a mass” (134).
Two quick pieces of doll collecting trivia here; first, Bartholomew babies were dolls made and sold, along with cook books, at the annual St. Bartholomew Fair, also written up as a play by Ben Jonson. Second, Henry IV of France was supposed to have been the model for the Jumeau Trieste or “Cody”/Long Face Jumeau (See books by F. Theimier and others on the Jumeau doll).
Besides Catherine in notoriety are Isabella of Spain, great supporter of the Spanish Inquisition, and Columbus’ benefactor, and Mary I of England, also Queen of Spain, aka, Bloody Mary. Mary was the granddaughter of Isabella and Ferdinand, and the child of their daughter Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII. Perhaps 300 people were executed under Mary’s reign, including her cousin, 17 year old Lady Jane Grey. Many were burned at the stake.
Any alleged crimes by Erzebet pale at these numbers, and she has as much royal and aristocratic blood as Catherine, Isabella and Mary. The next post will talk about Montefiore’s treatment of Erzebet in his book History’s Monsters.