17 days of Catherine de Medici: Day Two
The marriage of Catherine de Medici and the future Henry II of France was called ‘the greatest match in the world' by the bride's uncle Pope Clement VII, who greatly desired this marriage and told the French envoy to Rome that, “his niece was not worthy of so lofty an alliance ( as she lacked royal blood) but ready nevertheless, for every sacrifice and any concession to secure it.” Those words would prove prophetic as Catherine was eclipsed by Henry’s mistress Diane de Poitiers during the duration of the marriage.
Leonie Frieda describes Catherine’s official entry into Marseilles in Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France:
On 23 October 1533 Catherine officially entered Marseilles, riding a roan horse decked out in gold brocade. She was preceded by six horses, five caparisoned in scarlet and gold, and one grey charger in silver cloth led by her cousin Ippolito’s pages. Wearing an outfit of gold and silver silk, Catherine’s appearance did not disappoint the crowd. A fine horsewoman and brilliantly dressed, she made a striking impression.Among her train rode twelve ‘demoiselles’ with a royal and papal guard…..In the audience chamber at the Pontiff’s temporary palace, Francis I stood nearby with Henry and his younger brother Charles as Catherine made a deep curtsy to Clement and knelt to kiss the Pontiff’s feet. This humble gesture pleased the French King who lifted the young girl to her feet, kissed her and bade both his sons do likewise.
Frieda describes the religious ceremony that took place the morning after the signing of the marriage contract:
Catherine wore ducal robes of golden brocade with a violet corsage of velvet encrusted with gems and edged with ermine. Her hair had been neatly dressed with precious stones and upon her head sat a ducal crown of gold given her by Francis. The nuptial Mass took place in the chapel of the Pope’s palace; the bride and groom exchanged rings and vows. Catherine was now a royal duchess of France.