The Death of Henri

The marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Dauphin Francois was the first of several royal marriages. Princess Claude married the Duke of Lorraine, to be followed by the wedding of Henri II’s sister to the Duke of Savoy. On the same day, Henri II’s younger daughter, the fourteen-year-old Elisabeth, would by proxy marry King Philip II of Spain. 

Part of these celebrations was a jousting tournament. On the first day Catherine de Medici approached her husband, begging him not to take part as her astrologer had warned that the king would be killed. In panic, Catherine had called for Nostradamus who had described the king’s death in even greater detail. He described Henri’s death as follows: 


CI, Q 35 The young lion will overcome the older one, on the field of combat in single battle, He will pierce his eyes through a golden cage, Two wounds made one, then he dies a cruel death.

Every day Catherine would repeat her pleas, but Henri II would take no notice. On the third day disaster struck. Henri had successfully taken part in a joust against Gabriel Montgomery and had decided to go just one more time. The tip of Montgomery’s lance enter his visor and lodge itself in his eye. It was just as Nostradamus predicted, the golden cage being the golden visor of Henri’s helmet. Henri II was fatally wounded. Twelve agonizing days later, Henri II died, with Catherine ignoring his requests to see Diane de Poitiers.

At last Catherine de Medici was now in charge. She became Regent for the boy-king Francois II, and one of her first actions was to demand back the Crown Jewels from Diane de Poitiers. This Diane did complete with inventory.

With a new king on the throne, Diane suddenly found herself persona non grata at court. Since Catherine de Medici was now in a better position to exact her revenge, being the mother of the King instead of simply an out-of-favor wife, she began to pressure Diane to hand over one of the most important presents she had been given by Henri II— — Chenonceau.

Since Catherine’s power was clearly on the ascent, Diane did the wise thing and decided to yield, however painful that may have been for her. In return she received Chaumont-sur-Loire, which had been Catherine’s property.