Diane de France - Encyclopedia




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DIANE DE FRANCE (1538-1619), duchess of Montmorency and Angouleme, was the natural daughter of Henry II. of France and a young Piedmontese, Filippe Duc. The constable de Montmorency went so far as to assert that of all the children of Henry II. Diane was the only one who resembled him. Catherine de' Medici was greatly incensed at this affront, and took her revenge by having the constable disgraced on the death of Henry II. Brantome is loud in praise of Diane. She was a perfect horsewoman and dancer, played several musical instruments, knew Spanish and Italian, and "estoit tres belle de visage et de taille." Legitimated in 1547, she was married in 1553 to Horace Farnese, second son of the duke of Parma, but her husband was killed soon afterwards at the siege of Hesdin. In order to assure his position, the constable de Montmorency wished to marry her to his eldest son, Francis. This was a romantic adventure, for Francis had clandestinely married Mademoiselle de Piennes. The constable dissolved this union, and after lengthy negotiations obtained the dispensation of the pope. On the 3rd of May 1559 Francis married Diane. A wise and moderate woman, Diane undoubtedly helped to make Francis de Montmorency one of the leaders of the party of the politiques. Again a widow in 1579, she had some influence at the court of Henry III., and negotiated his reconciliation with Henry of Navarre (1588). She retained her influence in the reign of Henry IV., conveyed the bodies of Catherine de' Medici and Henry III. to St Denis, and died in 1619 at her hotel of Angouleme.

See Brantome, ed. by Lalanne, in the Coll de la societe d'histoire de France, vol. viii. (1875); J. de Thou, Historia sui temporis. .. (1733); Matthieu de Morgues, Oraison funebre de Diane de France (Paris, 1619).

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