Page 9, 12th March 1976

12th March 1976
Page 9
Page 9, 12th March 1976 — Profile of a Medici

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Profile of a Medici

Madame Catherine by Irene Mahoney (Victor Gollancz £(i.50) This very gifted author — a nun who is also a noted

historian has done what many of her fans most hoped she would do: she has followed up her life of Henry IV of France with a hook about the dominating figure of the im

mediately preceding period a period of intrigue and bloody rivalries with which the Isucceeding era was as a golden

The result is a scholarly and copiously doeumented.biography of the sinister but somehow not repellent Catherine de Medici. She is not repellent because she was a heroine for %shorn the glory of Drones. as she saw it. made no sacrifice too great.

Her very hick of scruple or religious sentiment in any other direction could alone have made possible so horrendous an event as the Massacre of St Bartholomew.

This incident apart. however. her reign, or rather her regency as a power behind the throne, was enlightened by the standards of the day. and shows that women could rule the roost long before "Women's I.ih" put them at the disadvantage of having to compete on supposedly "equal" terms. Women like "Madame Catherine" proved, once again. lhal no mere man was equal to her.

1 he pillaaelly and morally weak

kips. proved to he a good smokescreen behind which Caihcrine worked. And Irene Mahone‘ has examined contemporan, sonrCcs with a new and orwiiial cyc She shows that the famous Queen Mother relied more on solid diplomatic and political skill than on intrigues and female wiles to inject ;I divided France with tatongh statesmanship for her to survive until the healing period of peace under I lenry of Navarre.

Repellent she was not. I have said: but to the Huguenots, then and for ever. she was more than just sinister. She was a veritable personification of all that is basest in human nature. The quiet murder she had planned for Coligny would have been infinitely more merciful than the massacre that she sect.Nin. train.

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