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History is written by the survivors, and I am surely that.
Catherine in Left Behind

Catherine de' Medici (Italian: Caterina de' Medici), Dowager Queen of France, is one of the main characters of the series. She is the widow of Henry II and the mother of ten children: FrancisLouis, Charles, Henry III, Elisabeth, Claude, twins: Emone and Henrietta,Louis, Margaret, and Clarissa. She is also the mother-in-law of Philip II, Luc Narcisse and Mary Stuart.

Earlier in the series, Catherine learned from Nostradamus that Mary will cause Francis' death and has plotted to get rid of her in order to protect her son. When both Mary and Francis found out that it was Catherine trying to ruin Mary's reputation or trying to have her killed, Mary refused to go down without a fight as Francis threatened his mother that she would lose him if he continued to go after his fiancé. Finally when Henry decided to push up the wedding date, Catherine told Mary the truth of why she had been trying to get rid of her causing Mary to leave the French Court, seeing how Nostradamus prediction of Aylee never going home came true. However, Mary was soon found by the guards and was returned to the castle. Mary refused to marry Francis and decided to have Bash legitimized, for him to become the next King of France which led to Catherine's new nest of plotting. As Catherine planned to have Bash killed, Henry found out about her past affair with former lover, Viscount Richard Delacroix, and learned she had a illegitimate child with him. Catherine was soon to be beheaded for the act. Catherine was soon reunited with her long lost daughter whom she thought was dead. Clarissa kidnapped Charles and Henry Jr. and planned to kill them due to her mother's rejection. However, Mary saved the children only by killing Clarissa. Later on, Nostradamus told Catherine of new visions of Mary and Francis' future. Seeing how Clarissa was actually Catherine's firstborn not Francis, she helped Mary see what is truly in her heart as she had to choose between Francis and Sebastian. Mary eventually chose Francis and Catherine was spared from death. She had been giving Mary advice on trying to get pregnant.

After the death of Henry, Catherine turned her attention to helping Francis keep his throne secure and dealing with the nobles. Catherine was also began to be haunted by her twin daughters, Emone and Henrietta as well as her husband, Henry. This eventually led to finding her daughters true murderer, Diane and the truth about what caused Henry's madness, he was poisoned. When Catherine found out of Mary's affair with Louis Condé, she did whatever it took to destroy her for her betrayal against Francis. She also had a sexual relationship with Narcisse which ended as he betrayed her and led to her being exiled from France and teaming up with Mary's greatest enemy, Elizabeth.

Time after teaming up with Elizabeth, Catherine was captured and brought back to France being held prisoner and branded a traitor. Eventually, she was able to reconcile with her children and promising Francis that she would become Queen Regent after his death in order to help Charles who would become the next king. Later on, she was reunited with Nostradamus and learned that the prophecy was coming back into play. She was later informed by Bash that Francis has died. Catherine comforted Mary while putting aside her own grief and the two became closer than ever. Catherine was eventually put into a heated battle against Narcisse for the Regency which she eventually won.

Catherine is a member of the House of Medici by birth and the House of Valois by marriage.

She is portrayed by Canadian actress Megan Follows.

Early Life

Catherine was born into the extremely wealthy Italian House of Medici in Florence. Her parents died of illness when she was young and she was a ward of Pope Clement VII, her first cousin, once removed.

When she was eight, the citizens of Florence rebelled against the Medici, storming the palace where Catherine lived. She was taken hostage and held in a convent for several years, eventually being threatened with rape as a way of spoiling her marriage value for her family. Together with the nuns, she prayed for salvation by the Pope's armies. Eventually she was rescued and embraced by Clement before being taken to Rome. At first, it is unclear if she was actually raped or not, but Mary later figures out that she was raped.[1]

At age fourteen, Catherine was married to Henry, the second son of the previous King of France. Apparently, Henry chose her over her cousin, Hortenza.[2] Catherine and Henry were initially in love, but Catherine was unaware that Henry was already, also in love with Diane de Poitiers. Over time, Catherine feared being repudiated because she had not produced an heir, so she consulted doctors and coerced Henry into taking different, unpleasant remedies.[3]

During this time, Catherine had an affair with Richard, and had a baby girl with him, who became the castle 'ghost', Clarissa. To avoid questions about the baby's distinguishing birthmark, she gave the baby to Nostradamus' father.[4] Some time later, she gave birth to Francis.

Throughout Reign


History is written by survivors and I am surely that. - Catherine to Mary in Left Behind


Queen Catherine could give one the impression at times that she is a horrible woman, given her manipulative nature, and how she would resort to any measures to achieve her goals. She also has extensive knowledge of poison and is a mistress of it.

However, she is fiercely loyal to those she loves, and she would do anything for her children. Though she tried everything she could to ruin the relationship between Francis and Mary, her motivation was pure in the sense that she was trying to save her son from death. Later on, when she has the chance to escape France and flee to Italy, she stayed instead to find and rescue her younger sons when they were kidnapped. 

Queen Catherine is an unpredictable, complex, and fascinating woman: no one would know for sure what to expect from her, and though her actions could be interpreted as cold and cruel, no one could question or doubt her love and devotion to her children. Her tumultuous and ultimately bittersweet relationship with Mary was also a testament to the fact that she does have a sense of compassion and decency but was forced to restrain them when she needed to in order to pursue what she deemed best for her children and her country.

Physical Appearance

Main Article: Catherine de' Medici/Appearance
Catherine has long strawberry blonde hair which she usually wears tied up in a variety of different buns. She has hazel eyes, fair skin and she is rather short. In Season One as Queen of France, Catherine wore beautiful gowns of various colors and patterns along with matching crowns and jewelry which befitted her station as Queen. In Seasons Two, Three, and presently in Season Four as Queen Mother, and Queen Dowager Catherine still wears beautiful clothes and jewelry which while a bit more low key color wise fit her current status at French Court. Queen Catherine's favorite color apparently is red.


Henry and Catherine

Henry II: Henry was Catherine's husband, they were the King and Queen of France. They had nine children together: Francis, Louis, Elisabeth, Claude, Margaret, Henrietta, Emone, Charles, and Henry III. Although they were frequently plotting against each other, they did at times genuinely seem to care about one another. They declared their love to each other honestly while Henry was on his death bed. In Mercy, Henry and his wife were reunited. (See Henry and Catherine.)

Richard and Catherine

Richard Delacroix: Richard was Catherine's lover while she was married to Henry, Clarissa was born from this affair before Francis was born. Richard eventually left court by Catherine "exiling" him so no one would suspect their relationship. When in reality they still loved each other. Richard then returned to court seemingly to help Henry prove Catherine guilty, when he in fact wanted to help her. She said she would always love him best and he her. (See Catherine and Richard.)

Liam: Catherine met Liam in Liege Lord. He was a Scotsman that she had a brief one night stand with and he did not realize that he was flirting with the true Queen of France. In the Queen's bedroom, he realizes who she truly is when he notices that she knows where everything is and that the robe she puts on fits her perfectly. Liam was also involved in the slaughter of the 12 Scottish men at the brothel.

Francis: Catherine and Francis had a loving mother and son relationship, and deeply cared about and loved each other. Catherine had always protected and loved her son even when the two came to disagree. Their relationship came to a head in the season two finale; however they reconciled before Francis died. (See Catherine and Francis.)

Elisabeth: Elisabeth of Valois (Queen of Spain) is Catherine's eldest daughter whose wedding was celebrated in the Pilot. A personal relationship between mother and daughter has yet to be seen. Catherine mentions her in The Lamb and the Slaughter as a possible godmother to her grandson Jean Philippe. Elisabeth has returned in the present Season Four and a relationship between mother and daughter will be seen.

Claude: Princess Claude is Catherine's daughter. She was the 4th child born to her marriage. Princess Claude appeared for the first time in The Prince of the Blood and the reckless, rambunctious princess thinks she was sent away because she incurred her mother's ire when in fact Catherine sent her away because she feared for her daughter's life. The Princess was believed to be responsible for the deaths of her twin sisters Emone and Henrietta; however she has recently been cleared of all blame. (See "Catherine and Claude".)

Charles: Prince Charles is Catherine's son. She is seen arranging his upcoming marriage in Snakes in the Garden and in Royal Blood when Charles and his little brother Henry III are kidnapped the Queen stops at nothing to find them though she is condemned to death. In season three a relationship between mother and son will be seen. (See Catherine and Charles)

Henry III: Henry Jr. is Catherine's youngest son. Not too much has been seen between mother and son except in Royal Blood when him and his brother Charles are kidnapped by their illegitimate sister, and Catherine resolves that she will not rest until she finds her boys. Henry returned in the Season Three Finale, and was reunited with his mother.

Emone and Henrietta: Emone and Henrietta are Catherine's twin daughters who died as babies. Their ghosts first appeared to Catherine in "The Lamb and the Slaughter", their identity was revealed in The Prince of the Blood, the story behind their deaths was revealed in Terror of the Faithful, and the truth behind their deaths was revealed in Banished. The twins felt that their mother didn't protect them hence why they were haunting her. It was revealed in Mercy that not only did Catherine know that Claude suffocated the twins in their sleep, but she also lied about it; which has earned her the twins' ire. Recently Catherine reconciled with her twins and bid them goodbye. (See "Catherine, Emone and Henrietta")

Clarissa: Clarissa is Queen Catherine's illegitimate daughter and firstborn child from her affair with Richard. In Inquisition, she goes through Catherine's things and discovers that she is Catherine's daughter. As Clarissa saves her mother from the poison, Catherine sees her face and immediately rejects her. In Royal Blood, Clarissa hurt by her mother's rejection, kidnaps Charles and Henry III and holds them hostage in the woods. She threatens to kill them both until Mary saves them by killing Clarissa. In Drawn and Quartered Catherine discovered that Clarissa may be alive.

Catherine and Mary

Mary Stuart: Mary is Queen Catherine's daughter in law as the wife of her son Francis. As a child Mary came to live at French Court and was raised with Catherine's children, however when the English began to threaten her Catherine sent her to the convent to be safe until it was time for her to marry Francis. When Mary returns to court the Queen finds out from Nostradamus that Mary's presence will cost her Francis. Catherine and Mary actually come together in Fated when the castle is taken hostage and both admit that they would go to hell for Francis, because of their love for him. After the wedding Queen Catherine and Mary seem to find common ground at times. Though they have respect for each other they also tend to be at odds. (See Mary and Catherine.)

Francesca de' Medici: Catherine's cousin who showed up in Inquisition, to assist her with her defense after they learn that Catherine has been accused of adultery. It's Francesca who gives her the poison pellet after she is convicted and imprisoned. 

Pietro de' Medici: Another one of Catherine's cousins who showed up to help dispute the adultery charges against the Queen in Inquisition.

Hortenza de' Medici: Catherine's cousin who was apparently a suitable bride for Henry however he chose Catherine over her. In Higher Ground, Catherine is kidnapped and Hortenza refuses to pay the ransom for her safe return. She also threatens Mary as well as Catherine's lady, Beatrice. When a furious Catherine demands the head of the person who is responsible for her kidnapping, Mary has Hortenza executed and her head is delivered to the Queen right as her abductor sets her free.  

Catherine and Nostradamus

Nostradamus: is Catherine's close friend and the Court Seer upon whom she relies heavily for his counsel. Their relationship is based on the visions that he has concerning Francis which fuel a lot of the Queen's decisions to protect him; however this comes to a head in "The Consummation" when Nostradamus reveals that his visions have changed. (See Catherine and Nostradamus.)

The Flying Squad: Are a group of Noble Ladies who serve Queen Catherine. These young women are seen as Ladies in Waiting; however they mostly spy for the Queen and report back to her. Catherine made it clear that technically her Flying Squad are friends of hers and she doesn't trust any of them.

Sebastian: Is Catherine's stepson as well as the illegitimate son of her husband. The Queen really doesn't have an issue with Bash until he is named heir to the French throne over her son, Francis, which occurs when Mary decides to wed Bash instead in order to save Francis from death. Catherine tries many times to get rid of Bash by revealing his pagan background and by ordering attempts on his life, as Bash being named heir also robs her younger sons, Charles and Henry III, of their right to the French Crown. After Henry's death; however with Francis as King, Bash is named the King's Deputy so Catherine no longer sees him as a threat. Bash developed sort of a friendship with Catherine after he saved her life. In Safe Passage Bash tried to kill Catherine, after he questioned her about his mother's disappearance and gets a confession from Catherine that she killed Diane for killing her children. Bash left France because of this.

Diane de Poitiers: Diane was the favorite mistress of Catherine's husband, King Henry, as well as Sebastian's mother. Catherine never liked Diane too much as this affair had been going on since she and Henry had been married. Catherine tried to get rid of Diane by telling Henry about her secret plot to have Bash legitimized, by revealing that she is a pagan, and by blackmailing her into leaving or else risk Henry knowing her secret. In Banished, it was discovered that Diane was responsible for the deaths of Catherine's twins, and she was later murdered by the Queen because of this. (See Diane and Catherine



  • Catherine is a feminine given name. It derives from the Greek name Αικατερινη (Aikaterine). The etymology is debated: it could derive from the earlier Greek name ‘Εκατερινη (Hekaterine), which came from ‘εκατερος (hekateros) "each of the two"; it could derive from the name of the goddess Hecate; it could be related to Greek αικια (aikia) "torture"; or it could be from a Coptic name meaning "my consecration of your name". In the early Christian era it became associated with Greek καθαρος (katharos) "pure", and the Latin spelling was changed from Katerina to Katharina to reflect this.


  • Her full name was Caterina Maria Romula di Lorenzo de' Medici.
  • One of the biggest benefits to Catherine's marriage negotiations with Henry was her maternal heritage: her mother Madeleine, was from the House of La Tour d'Auvergne which was one of the most prominent and ancient French Noble families.
  • Pope Clement VII was responsible for the match between Catherine and the then Prince Henry, Duke of Orleans; which he called "The greatest match in the world"
  • Catherine was quite wealthy as a child; not only from the Medici, but also from the inheritance she received from the maternal side of her family. When Catherine and Henry married her inheritance passed to the French Crown.
  • The story of Catherine's imprisonment by Florence is historically true. She spent several years held in a convent when Florence rebelled against the Medici. The leaders of Florence even discussed having her raped so she would lose political value as a marriage pawn, or having her killed by lowering her over the walls in a basket where she would be fired upon. Neither thing happened as she was ultimately deemed too valuable.
  • The House of Medici was a powerful Italian family in the 15th century.
  • Historically, Catherine was crowned Queen less than 2 years after her husband had been crowned King, owing to the extreme cost of funding a coronation and the subsequent festivities required to celebrate.
    • Historically, Catherine's maternal grandmother was a member of the House of Bourbon
    • Historically, thus Catherine was a direct descendant, of King Louis IX of France and of The House of Capet
    • Historically, Catherine was originally considered to be a bride for King James V of Scotland (father of Mary, Queen of Scotland)
    • Historically, Catherine was Queen Consort of France for just over 12 years.
    • Historically, Catherine was so crushed by Henry's death, that she wore black mourning for the rest of her life and as her emblem kept a piece of the broken lance inscribed in Latin with the words "From this come my tears and my pain". She never remarried.
  • Historically, Catherine is often seen as having been a distant, if indulgent, mother when her children were young, because their care was actually overseen by Diane de Poitiers who employed the governess. There is debate as to why, but it may be to do with the way royal children were raised at the time and also due to Henry's reliance on, and love for, Diane.
  • Catherine was never able to rule France as a Monarch due to the Salic Law which restricted succession to men.
  • Historically, Diane de Poitiers (Her husband's mistress) and Catherine were actually cousins.
  • In the show, Catherine has a bastard daughter Clarissa but historically there is no evidence of her.
  • Historically, Catherine began falling in love with Henry when she met him, and fell more in love after they married and it is highly unlikely she ever had an affair due to the fact that for Queens adultery was high treason punishable by death.
  • As cruel as she seems she would do anything for her children, and she is fiercely loyal to those she loves.
  • Catherine served as official regent for her son Charles IX whilst he was a child, and later Henry III whilst he was coming back from Poland where he'd been elected King.
  • She died at the age of 69 years.
    • Historically it's believed that knowing of her son's involvement in the death of Louis III, Cardinal of Guise contributed to her illness and eventual death.
  • Catherine was a huge patron of the arts, and created many projects while Queen and after Henry's death, especially ballet.
    • She designed the gardens at the Chateau Chenonceau
  • In Banished, she murdered Diane in revenge for killing her twins, Henrietta and Emone, framing her daughter Claude, and ruining her marriage to Henry.
    • No one at French Court knows that Diane is dead or that that Catherine is responsible.
  • In Royal Blood, it is shown she and Henry have another daughter called Claude.
  • As of The Consummation, she no longer relies so heavily on Nostradamus or his prophecies.
  • As of the season two finale, Queen Catherine has been stripped of her: title, home, income etc. by her son Francis because she was behind the kidnapping of her grandson and Lola; which she planned so that Francis would think Conde had murdered his son and kill him as a result.
    • Catherine has now gone to England to meet with Queen Elizabeth I in order to get revenge on their mutual enemy: Mary, Queen of Scotland.
  • Catherine has now returned to French Court, and was recently released from prison. She reconciled with her son Francis before he died.
    • She is now fighting with Mary's help to become Regent, and secure the throne for her son Charles
  • Catherine banished Don Carlos from the French court for trying to entrap Mary into marriage, then kill her.
  • Historically, Marie Antoinette was a direct descendant of Catherine through her daughter Claude.



Catherine de' Medici has a photo gallery.

See Also