Biography of Cristina of Lorraine
Cristina of Lorraine was born around 1571 and died in 1637 (some sources site 1636.
Although she was born and raised in France, Cristina's life is closely linked to the story of the Medici. One of the most wealthy and powerful patrician families in Italy, her mother Claude of France was a princess of the royal house of France; her father, Duke Charles II, ruled the small province of Lorraine in what is now eastern France. Cristina was part of the Medici lineage on her mother's side, since Clause was the daughter of Catherine de Medici. After Cristine's mother died, Cristina was raised by her grandmother, forging a strong bond of affection between Cristina and Catherine. When she was about 16, Cristina's Medici links were reinforced when Catherine de Medici agreed to a marriage between Cristina and the head of the Medici family, 40-year-old Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Christina's husband had been a cardinal in Rome before the 15876 death of his brother, Francesco, forced him to resign as cardinal and succeed Francesco as grand duke. Despite the sudden turn in fortune, which led him from ecclesiastical to secular office, Ferdinando showed himself to be a talented politician during his two decades as duke. One of his principal moves was to try to strengthen Tuscany's diplomatic relati0nship with France. His negotiations with France's de facto ruler and his own relative, Queen Catherine, led to his marriage with Cristina as a guarantee of new friendship between the tow states. Although they were married by proxy in 1587, Cristina did not leave France until 1589; her journey was delayed first by the death of her father, then by the death of Queen Catherine, whom Cristina refused to leave during her final illness.
Cristina and Ferdinando had eight children in their 31-year marriage, including five sons and three daughters. The couple were well-suited for one another. They both supported the political aims of the Medici family, of which they were the most prominent members, and they shared the traditional Medici interest in promoting the arts and keeping a magnificent court. Cristina's role at court was very public; as the wife of the grand duke and the mother of the heir, she had a great political responsibility to uphold the honor of the family, provide for a secure succession by bearing several sons, and to preside over a sumptuous court of aristocrats, scholars, scientists, and ladies-in-waiting whose collective purpose , like hers, was to glorify the grand duke.
After Ferdinando's death in February 1609, their eldest son Cosimo succeeded his father as Cosimo II. Although the new grand duke had a wife, Maria Maddalena of Austria, Cristina did not lose her important place at court. Instead, she and Maria Maddalena shred the role of being the most prominent woman in Florence and a leader of its social and cultural life. Cosimo apparently respected his mother's ability more than he did that of his wife. Before his death in 1620, he wrote a will in which Cristina and Maria Maddalena were named joint regents of Tuscany for the young Ferdinando II. Yet it was understood by the courtiers the Cristina was the senior regent and that Maria's nomination was more of a formality than the recognition of her governing ability. Cristina and Maria Maddalena served well together, but the results of their reign are mixed. For example, the years of Ferdinando II's long minority were relatively peaceful, but the regents nearly emptied the Medici treasury , and Cristina allowed the clerics of Tuscany to interfere in its administration much more than previous rulers had.