Lot 255: Catherine de Medici signed letter
12th September 2018
LS in French, signed “Your good aunt, Catherine,” one page, 9 x 14, July 13, 1574. Letter to the Duke of Maine, relaying that she will be strengthening the military escort around her son, the new King Henry III, and is dispatching an ordnance officer to Chalons–sur–Saone “to see which cannons in the citadel are ready for use,” noting that “up to four cannons, not including the one that was recently sent to my Cousin the Dauphin, will be transported by boat to Lyon, along with five hundred cannonballs and five hundred culverinballs, plus some beams.” Catherine insists that all must be prepared with the utmost care, as it “is part of a plan that is of greatest importance to the King.” In good to very good condition, with tears and small areas of paper loss, primarily constrained to the edges. In the aftermath of the St. Bartholemew’s Day Massacre, a mentally and physically ailing King Charles IV blamed himself, and later his mother, for the deaths of over 10,000 Huguenots. The king’s health diminished rapidly, and by the age of twenty-three he succumbed to tuberculosis, paving the way for his younger brother, Henry III—the newly elected king of Poland—to inherit the throne on May 30, 1574. As Henry made his way from Krakow, in turn vacating the Polish throne, Catherine assumed regency in his stead, preparing for her son’s arrival by assuring his path to France lined with both man– and fire–power. A terrific letter bearing excellent content about the often cunning workings of one of Europe’s most influential leaders.
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