charles ix of france

13 April 1519 - birth of Catherine de' Medici

On this day, 497 years ago, Catherine de’ Medici was born.

Catherine was the daughter of Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici, Duke of Urbino, and Madeleine de La Tour d’Auvergne, a Bourbon princess related to many of the French nobility. Orphaned within days, Catherine was highly educated, trained, and disciplined by nuns in Florence and Rome and married in 1533 by her uncle, Pope Clement VII, to Henry, Duke of Orléans, who inherited the French crown from his father, Francis I, in April 1547. Artistic, energetic, and extraverted, as well as discreet, courageous, and gay, Catherine was greatly esteemed at the dazzling court of Francis I, from which she derived both her political attitudes and her passion for building. Of the chateaus she designed herself - including the Tuileries - Chenonceaux was her unfinished masterpiece.

In spite of Henry’s abiding attachment to his mistress Diane de Poitiers, Catherine’s marriage was not unsuccessful and, after 10 anxious years, she bore him 10 children, of whom 4 boys and 3 girls survived. She herself supervised their education. Thus occupied, Catherine lived privately though she was appointed regent in 1552 during Henry’s absence at the siege of Metz. Her ability and eloquence were acclaimed after the Spanish victory of Saint-Quentin in Picardy in 1557, possibly the origin of her perpetual fear of Spain, which remained, through changing circumstances, the touchstone of her judgments. It is essential to understand this in order to discern the coherence of her career.

Catherine’s first great political crisis came in July 1559 upon the accidental death of Henry II, a traumatic bereavement from which it is doubtful that she ever recovered. Under her son, Francis II, power was retained by the Guise brothers. Thus began her lifelong struggle - explicit in her correspondence - with these extremists who, supported by Spain and the papacy, sought to dominate the crown and extinguish its independence in the commingled interests of European Catholicism and personal aggrandizement. It is also necessary to understand this political struggle of the Catholic crown with its own ultramontane extremists and to perceive its fluctuations in changing circumstances, in order to realize the fundamental consistency of Catherine’s career. Her essentially moderate influence was first perceptible during the Conspiracy of Amboise (March 1560), an instance of tumultuous petitioning by the Huguenot gentry, primarily against Guisard persecution in the name of the King. Her merciful Edict of Amboise (March 1560) was followed in May by that of Romorantin, which distinguished heresy from sedition, thereby detaching faith from allegiance.

Catherine’s second great political crisis came with the premature death on December 5, 1560, of Francis II, whose royal authority the Guises had monopolized. Catherine succeeded in obtaining the regency for Charles IX, with Antoine de Bourbon, king of Navarre and first prince of the blood, as lieutenant general, to whom the Protestants vainly looked for leadership.

The 10 years from 1560 to 1570 were, politically, the most important of Catherine’s life. They witnessed the first three civil wars and her desperate struggle against the Catholic extremists for the independence of the crown, the maintenance of peace, and the enforcement of limited toleration. In 1561, with the support of the distinguished chancellor Michel de L’Hospital, she began by trying to propitiate the leaders of both religious factions, to effect reforms and economies by unassailably traditional methods, and to settle the religious conflict. Religious reconciliation was the conveners’ purpose of the Colloquy of Poissy (September–November 1561). Catherine appointed a mixed commission of moderates that devised two formulas of consummate ambiguity, by which they hoped to resolve the basic, Eucharist controversy. Possibly Catherine’s most concrete achievement was the Edict of January 1562, which followed the failure of reconciliation. This afforded the Calvinists licensed coexistence with specific safeguards. Unlike the proposals of Poissy, the edict was law, which the Protestants accepted and the Catholics rejected. This rejection was one basic element in the outbreak of civil war in 1562, in which - as she had predicted - Catherine fell, politically, into the clutches of the extremists, because the Catholic crown might protect its Protestant subjects in law but could not defend them in arms. Thenceforth the problem of religion was one of power, public order, and administration.

Catherine ended the first civil war in March 1563 by the Edict of Amboise, an attenuated version of the Edict of January. In August 1563 she declared the King of age in the Parlement of Rouen and, from April 1564 to January 1566, conducted him on a marathon itinerary round France. Its principal purpose was to execute the edict and, through a meeting at Bayonne in June 1565, to seek to strengthen peaceful relations between the crown and Spain and to negotiate for Charles’s marriage to Elizabeth of Austria. During the period 1564–68, Catherine was unable, for complex reasons, to withstand the cardinal Lorraine, statesman of the Guises, who largely provoked the second and third civil wars. She quickly terminated the second (September 1567–March 1568) with the Peace of Longjumeau, a renewal of Amboise. But she was unable to avert its revocation (August 1568), which heralded the third civil war. She was not primarily responsible for the more far-reaching Treaty of Saint-Germain (August 1570), but she succeeded in disgracing the Guises.

For the next two years Catherine’s policy was one of peace and general reconciliation. This she envisaged in terms of the marriage of her daughter Marguerite to the young Protestant leader, Henry of Navarre (later Henry IV of France), and alliance with England through the marriage of her son Henry, duc d’Anjou, or, failing him, his younger brother François, duc d’Alençon, to Queen Elizabeth. The complexity of Catherine’s position during these years cannot be briefly explained. To some extent she was eclipsed by Louis of Nassau and a group of Flemish exiles and youthful Protestants who surrounded the King and urged him to make war upon Spain in the Netherlands, which Catherine inevitably resisted.

The issue of war or peace in the Netherlands was closely linked with the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day in Paris on August 23–24, 1572. Upon this occasion, following an abortive attempt against the life of the admiral Gaspard de Coligny, he and a number of his principal lieutenants, together with several thousand Huguenots, were killed. Catherine traditionally has been blamed for these events, which have therefore fashioned the interpretation not only of her subsequent, but frequently also of her previous, career, resulting in the familiar myth of the wicked Italian queen. There are two principal reasons for this. First, after some hesitation and inconsistency, the King assumed the responsibility by a declaration of August 26 in the Parlement of Paris, and “the crown” has been taken to mean Catherine. The second reason for the traditional inculpation of Catherine is the work of the pamphleteers and the polemical nature of the historiography of the event. It is impossible to establish the origin of the assault upon Coligny, but, as a member of the court - the royal family and the council - Catherine was among those who appear to have authorized not the massacre itself but the death of the admiral and his principal followers. This and the subsequent royal declaration of August 26 are both explained by the danger of the situation - after the unsuccessful assault upon Coligny - in which the infuriated Huguenots allegedly threatened the court with extinction and the kingdom with war.

After the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day, Catherine was more concerned with the election of Anjou to the throne of Poland (May 1573) than the prosecution of the fourth civil war. Upon the death of Charles IX a year later, she assumed the regency with the support of the Parlement until the return from Poland of Henry III in August. Catherine placed high hopes in her favourite, Henry, for the regeneration of France, for which she longed, but not without simultaneous misgivings, knowing his weakness of character and his previous subjection to the Catholics. For these reasons Catherine neither sought to dominate Henry nor to rule in his place but rather suffered him to exploit her and strove with unremitting pains to supply his deficiencies. Until the death of Alençon in 1584, much of her attention was devoted to restraining his dangerous ambitions, which again threatened to involve France in hostilities with Spain. After the Treaty of Joinville (December 1584) between the Guises and Spain, at Henry’s bidding, Catherine, though gravely ill, returned to this dual threat. But after three months of continuous effort, in order to avert a public breach between the crown and the Guises, she was obliged, by the Treaty of Nemours (July 1585), to commit the King to making war against the Huguenots. Having failed with the Guises, the crown turned to Navarre, the Protestant leader who, as heir presumptive, had an interest in the preservation of the throne. In July 1586 Catherine undertook the arduous journey to see him at Saint-Brice near Cognac. But there was nothing to which Navarre could safely commit himself. Thus, despite the heroic efforts of Catherine’s old age, France was sinking into chaos when she died at Blois eight months before the murder of Henry III. Nevertheless, her ultimate achievement was to have saved the kingdom just long enough to ensure the succession of the Bourbon Henry IV, by whom the royal authority was restored.


History meme - Catherine De Medici

Italian-born French queen, regent and mother of three kings of France. She was a powerful influence in 16th century France, particularly during the Wars of Religion.
Caterina Maria Romola di Lorenzo de Medici was born in Florence on 13 April 1519. Her father was Lorenzo de Medici, Duke of Urbino and ruler of Florence and her mother was Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne, cousin of Francis I, King of France.
Catherine’s mother died when she was two-weeks-old and her father soon afterwards. In 1533, at the age of 14, Catherine’s uncle Pope Clement VII arranged her marriage to the duke of Orléans, second son of the king of France.
A year after their marriage, the duke began a long affair with Diane de Poitiers. Diane remained a dominant force in his life for the next 25 years, leaving Catherine sidelined. It was not until ten years after their marriage that Catherine gave birth to their first child. This greatly improved the queen’s position and the couple eventually had seven surviving children.
In 1536, the duke of Orléans became heir to the throne. Eleven years later he was crowned Henry II of France. Unfortunately it was to be a short reign as Henry died in a jousting accident in 1559, thrusting Catherine onto the political stage. Their eldest son Francis was proclaimed king, but died after less than a year. Then in 1560, their second son Charles was crowned, aged just ten years old. Catherine acted as regent for the young king and as a result dominated Charles throughout his reign.
She at first adopted a conciliatory policy towards the Huguenots (French Protestants), but in 1562 civil war broke out in France, marking the beginning of the series of conflicts which became known as the French Wars of Religion.
In 1572, in an effort to bring reconciliation, Catherine arranged the marriage of her daughter Marguerite to the Protestant Henry, King of Navarre. During the wedding celebrations in Paris, the Huguenot leader, Coligny, was murdered, as were hundreds of other Protestants who had gathered for the wedding. This became known as the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, in which Catherine was probably involved.
Charles IX died in 1574 and Catherine’s favourite son Henry succeeded as Henry III of France. She continued to play a central role in government and made further fruitless attempts to reconcile the opposing sides in the ongoing civil war.
Catherine died on 5 January 1589 and was buried next to her husband in the church of St Denis in Paris.


Elisabeth of Austria (5 July 1554 – 22 January 1592) born an Archduchess of Austria, was Queen of France from 1570 to 1574 as the consort of Charles IX of France. A member of the House of Habsburg, she was the daughter of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor and Maria of Spain.

Elisabeth was the fifth child and second daughter of her parents’ sixteen children, of whom eight survived infancy. During her childhood, she lived with her older sister Anna and younger brother Matthias in a pavilion in the gardens of the newly built Schloss Stallburg near Vienna. They enjoyed a privileged and secluded childhood and were raised as devout Catholics. Her father Maximilian visited her often and Elisabeth seems to have been his particular favorite child. She resembled him, not only in appearance but also in character: Elisabeth was just as intelligent and charming as her father.

With her flawless white skin, long blond hair and perfect physique, she was considered one of the great beauties of the era. She was also regarded as demure, pious, and warm-hearted but naive and intensely innocent because of her sheltered upbringing. Still, she was intellectually talented. Elisabeth’s brothers were educated by the Flemish writer and diplomat Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq. The curious princess soon joined and even overshadowed them in their studies. Her mother Maria personally supervised the religious education of her daughters, and from her early childhood she was impressed by her namesake Saint Elisabeth of Hungary and reportedly took her as a model.

In 1569, after the failure of marriage plans with Kings Frederick II of Denmark and Sebastian I of Portugal, the French offer was seriously considered. Queen Catherine de’ Medici, mother of Charles IX and the power behind the throne, initially preferred Elisabeth’s elder sister Anna over her; but the oldest Archduchess was already chosen as the new wife of her uncle King Philip II of Spain. Queen Catherine finally agreed to marriage with the second daughter Elisabeth, as France absolutely needed a Catholic marriage in order to combat the Protestant parties as well as to cement an alliance between the Habsburg emperors and the French Crown.

Elisabeth was first married by proxy on 22 October 1570 in the Cathedral of Speyer (Elisabeth’s uncle, Archduke Ferdinand of Further Austria-Tyrol, served as proxy for the French King). After long celebrations, on 4 November she left Austria accompanied by high-ranking German nobles, including the Archbishop-Elector of Trier. Once in French territory, the roads were impassable thanks to the constant rain; this caused the decision that the official wedding was to be celebrated in the small border town of Mézières-en-Champagne (now Charleville-Mézières). Before reaching her destiny, Elisabeth stayed in Sedan, where her husband’s younger brother Henry, Duke of Anjou, received her. The King, curious about his future wife, dressed himself as a soldier and went to Sedan to observe her incognito while she was walking in the palace of Sedan’s garden with Henry: he was reportedly happy about what he saw.

King Charles IX of France and Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria were formally married on 26 November 1570 in Mézières; Charles, Cardinal de Bourbon, performed the ceremony. The occasion was celebrated with immense pomp and extravagance, despite the dire state of French finances. The new Queen’s wedding gown was of silver and her tiara was studded with pearls, emeralds, diamonds and rubies.

Because of the difficult journey and the cold weather, at the beginning of 1571 Elisabeth was very sick. Since the wedding took place far away from Paris, it was only in the spring that the German-French alliance was celebrated once again with magnificent feasts in the capital. On 25 March 1571 Elisabeth was consecrated as Queen of France by the Archbishop of Reims at the Basilica of St Denis. The new Queen officially entered Paris four days later, on 29 March. Then, she disappeared from public life.

Elisabeth was so delighted about her husband that she, to general amusement, did not hesitate to kiss him in front of others. However, King Charles IX already had a long-term mistress, Marie Touchet, who famously quoted: “The German girl doesn’t scare me” (L'allemande ne me fait pas peur); after a brief infatuation with his teenage bride, the King soon returned to his mistress, encouraged by his own mother, Queen Catherine, who made sure that her new daughter-in-law was kept out of any affairs of state.

Although they never fell in love, the royal couple had a warm and supportive relationship. Charles realised that the liberal ways of the French Court might shock Elisabeth and, along with his mother, he made an effort to shield her from its excesses. Queen Elisabeth spoke German, Spanish, Latin and Italian with fluency, but she learned French with difficulty; also, she felt lonely in the lively and dissolute French court; one of her few friends was, surprisingly, her controversial sister-in-law, Margaret of Valois. Busbecq, her former tutor who accompanied her in her trip to France, was made her Lord Chamberlain.

The Queen, shocked with the licentious ways of the French court, dedicated her time to embroidery work, reading and especially the practice of charitable and pious works. She continued to hear Mass twice a day, despite being horrified at how little respect was shown for religion by the supposedly Catholic courtiers. Her one controversial act was to make a point of rejecting the attentions of Protestant courtiers and politicians by refusing the Huguenot leader, Gaspard II de Coligny the permission to kiss her hand when they paid homage to the royal family.

Despite her strong opposition to the Protestantism in France, she was horrified when she received news of the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre on 24 August 1572, when thousands of French Protestants were slaughtered on the streets of Paris. During the massacre, the Queen was given petitions to speak for the innocent, and she managed to assure a promise to spare the lives of the foreign (especially numerous German) Protestants. Elisabeth, then heavily pregnant, never publicly rejoiced at so many deaths - like other prominent Catholics did. According to Brantôme, the next morning after the massacre, the shocked Queen asked her husband if he knew about that: when the King told her that he was the initiator, she said she would pray for him and the salvation of his soul.

 A few months later, on 27 October 1572, the Queen gave birth her first child, a daughter, in the Louvre Palace. She was named Marie Elisabeth after her grandmother, Empress Maria, and Queen Elizabeth I of England, who were her godmothers.

By the time of Marie Elisabeth’s birth the already poor health of the King deteriorated rapidly, and after long suffering, in which Elizabeth rendered him silent support and prayed for his recovery, he died on 30 May 1574; the Queen, who was at his bedside (weeping “tears so tender, and so secret,” according to one eyewitness), was at the end expelled from the King’s chamber by her mother-in-law, Queen Catherine.

After having completed the 40 days mourning period, Elisabeth, now called la reine blanche (the White Queen), was compelled by her father to return to Vienna. Shortly before, Emperor Maximilian II made the proposition of a new marriage for her, this time with her dead husband’s brother - now King Henry III of France; however, she firmly refused. By Letters Patent dated on 21 November 1575, King Henry III gave up the County of Upper and Lower March (Haute et Basse-Marche) to his sister-in-law Elisabeth as her dower; in addition, she received the title of Duchess of Berry and in 1577 she obtained the Duchies of Auvergne and Bourbon in exchange. On 28 August 1575 Elisabeth visited her almost three-year-old daughter in Amboise for the last time and on 5 December she finally left Paris after leaving little Marie Elisabeth under the care of her grandmother Queen Catherine. Elisabeth would never see her daughter again.

Elisabeth died on 22 January 1592 victim of pleurisy, and was buried in a simple marble slab in the church of her convent.

French rulers' signs:
  • Aries: Henry II
  • Taurus: Saint Louis IX
  • Gemini: Charles IV
  • Cancer: Charles IX
  • Leo: Napoleon I
  • Virgo: Louis XIV
  • Libra: Louis XIII
  • Scorpio: Louis XVIII
  • Sagittarius: Henry IV
  • Capricorn: François II
  • Aquarius: Louis XV
  • Pisces: Charles VII

There are histories and there are lies. The two are not mutually exclusive. The best lies are the ones which root themselves in history, no matter how apocryphal, and then proceed to repeat themselves over and over again until they become convincing truths. History is full of these lies, now taught as incontrovertible fact, when once upon a time some clever minds devised some lies to hide their own sordid parts in the telling of history.

There is a fact and that fact is the certain nature of human beings.

The history of the Statute of Secrecy is a history of lies and half-lies and apocryphal truths and a history of the certain nature of human beings. The story is always the same across Europe. Europe burned. The blood of witches and wizards turned their streams and rivers red. Old and young, weak and strong – the inquisitors and the confessors came for them all and with them, they brought the fires of hell and the wrath of a cruel and unfeeling god. Thou shalt not suffer the witch to live. To be tried for magic was to be condemned to death. Muggle villagers and muggle lords, they both looked on in cold disregard. This was the truth. This was history. This was a lie.

There is a better saying which governs the truths and half lies and apocrypha concerning the witch burnings. For the love of mammon is the root of all evil. The priests came and the priests went and in the middle, they changed their ragged cloths for trunks full of gold and silver. An alchemical miracle. The law, even the divine law, was a matter of business and Rome had had several centuries to perfect the art of peddling salvation and divine mercy. No other burgher  knew its intricacies half as well as the Pope. No other merchant knew better how to turn a profit from a war which threatened to unthrone him. No other banker knew better how to mint gold from the bodies of the dead.

If the person of the Pope had not been so inviolate, so high above suspicion, they might have even called them sorcerers. Magicians. Alchemists who had surpassed their god in their miraculous deeds by turning the blood of peasants into gold.

In Italy they stamped their sealing wax with their signet rings and helped the Pope on the way to fixing his name to a Bull which gave them free reign. Della Rovere, Medici, Sforza, d’Este, Zabini. They had their muggles and they had their wizards – but the magical and the mundane did not matter where gold was concerned. They were not the ones going to the stake. And once the flames settled, Rome got its cut and they, as representative of Rome, got their own cut. Blood-gold and blood-silver for the coffers of Italy’s oldest magic families, reaped from the blood soaking the fields of France, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire.

In Germany, they fell over themselves to fan the flames of their hysteria. Better, after all, that they burn muggles and their poor brothers and sisters than them, when famine and war wracked the land. In Trier and Bamberg and Würzburg it was always the same case: non-conformists went to the flames and pious Catholics, even if they had wands, prospered. The priests took their pay, a cut for themselves and a cut for Rome, and they – Welfs and Ammendorfs, Ludekas and Hexenheims – took their lands, homes and whatever was left behind.

In France, Louis Philippe de Malfoi and Artaud de L'Étrangé carelessly provided Charles IX with a list of ‘witches’ – some of them magical, some of them muggle; the only common denominator was the fact that their lands happened to fall just outside the borders of their own land. Not content to stop just there, they accused them of lycanthropy and all of France fell on these people with relish. There were one hundred thousand witches and wizards, the rumours ran, and Louis Philippe de Malfoi and Artaud de L'Étrangé had delivered one hundred of them - oh, some were magic, some were mundane, it made no difference to a hysterical France - to Charles IX. In return for their service to their country, they were both made Comtes and given a tidy slice of land each, in Languedoc in the South of France.

In Russia, they followed the Tsar. Anna Glinskaya became a witch – and so too did the boyars, when the Oprichniki came for them. So too did the Romanovs, though the magic had not entered their blood yet. Godunov found his throne slipping away from him – and the Shuiskiis, though they carried wands, were only too happy to send the Romanovs on their way. Magic, after all, was only as good as the people accused of it. The truth was only as important as the effects it produced and the power it handed to its accusers.

In England and Scotland, the story was no different. Apollonius Malfoy I whispered in the ear of James II of England and Scotland and received free reign to conduct the trials of North Berwick as he pleased. For that, he received the sum of forty thousand galleons and an Earldom. The Scottish clans deny it now, but they were there when Apollonius Malfoy accused the Earl of Bothwell of high treason and conspiracy with witches. Which witches? Eighty poor muggles, a doctor and nineteen poor witches who insisted on interfering with the natural running of things. They had it coming, Dougal Macmillan would say much later, they had it coming to them. No wonder, that when the magical world chose to secede it was Dougal Macmillan who urged them to wait for the new king and Apollonius Malfoy who reminded Edmund Rosier of all he stood to lose if they chose to secede.

The numbers, at the end of that dark time, ran into the tens of thousands. In 1693, the Statute of Secrecy came into place and the magical world disappeared. Malfoys and Macmillans, Ammendorfs and von Hexes, Rostovs and Shuiskiis, Malfois and L'Étrangés, Miletianii and Zabini – they retreated with their wealth and their power and began the lie.

Apollonius Malfoy had never spoken to a muggle in his entire life.

Cosimo de Miletianii had never been a cardinal.

Alexei Popovich Rostov retreated into legend and became a hero, as though he had never lived at all and had never sent boyars to Ivan the Terrible for execution when they proved stiff necked. As though he did not live on long after the Statute was put in place.

Lothar von Ammendorf – well the Ammendorfs were extinct, weren’t they, even if their coffers rattled with muggle silver and gold?

Charles de Malfoi had never succeeded to a county.

Just like that, overnight, the muggles and the Jews and the gypsies who had been burnt at stake became ill-used witches. The witches who had been burnt remained only in name and the histories of their ‘crimes’ were hidden. Their crimes, after all, were very simple: they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and angered the wrong kind of wizard. They all disappeared, devoured by the power of martyrdom and were canonized as victims of ‘those bloodthirsty muggles’. These were real wizards, after all, and with a casual sleight of hand, the certainty of human nature was vanished by apocryphal half-truths and fanciful lies which captured the imagination of a vulnerable and terrified public who saw blood and flames when they saw muggles. In the end, it was not the perfumes of Araby, but lies and more lies which turned their hands lily white.

And their tables and their coffers, when the dust settled, overflowed with the spoils of the hunt.


It’s FRIDAY FASHION FACT! Today we’re going back to basics- pants! Or trousers, depending on where you live. I’m wearing them right now! Good chance that you are, too! (or, you know, not. No judgement.) But when did pants become commonplace in western fashion? Trousers becoming popular for women is a post in itself, so today I’m just going to focus on menswear.

Everyone has seen ancient Greek sculptures, biblical imagery, and medieval art, and in all of these the men are wearing some type of robe. Yet trousers did exist in these times. In fact, as far as historians know, pants date back almost as far as written history. There is evidence of pants being worn by horse riders in several Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures as far back as approximately 4000 BCE. They were made of heavy wool or patchwork leather, pieced together to conform to the body. The Greco-Romans (who had the strongest influence on the development of western cultures) saw these riders, and their clothing, as savage and uncultured.

As western civilization expanded beyond the Mediterranean region, though, colder climates made legwear necessary. They adopted braccae, a typically woolen, loose trouser, worn by the Celts. Now, this is where things get a bit tough to condense, as there were vast variations by region and class. So keep in mind, this is a very general overview.

These woolen trousers were worn for several centuries throughout the early Middle Ages by Germanic cultures, and often had a sock-like piece attached to cover the feet. Frankish cultures followed the Roman and Byzantine style of long tunics, and therefore wore tighter woolen pants as a sort of undergarment, with hose (tights, essentially) covering their feet and tied to the bottom of the trousers. Slowly, throughout the Middle Ages, hemlines began to rise, and trousers shortened along with them so they remained hidden. Approaching the 15th Century, short tunics with fitted hose were the fashion (though the working class continued to wear long, loose trousers.)

By the 16th Century, these hose evolved into two pieces- tight hose on the lower leg, and padded hose on the upper leg, from about the waist to the upper thigh. These padded upper hose continued to develop into more structured garments known as breeches- think the stereotypical Elizabethan look. By the Baroque Era, breaches became less full, and extended down to just below the knee. They continued to become more fitted into the 18th Century Rococo age.

During the French Revolution, the full-length trousers of the working class were adopted, as all things aristocratic were rejected. Post-revolution, trousers temporarily shortened again in some circles, as there was a slight revival of the Rococo style in menswear amongst dandies. For the most part, however, menswear remained simplistic and somber, and long trousers gained a permanent spot men’s wardrobes.

Want to learn more about the history of pants? Check out these books:

20,000 Years of Fashion, by Francois Boucher

The Three-Piece Suit and Modern Masculinity, by David Kuchta

Have a question about fashion history that you want answered in the next FRIDAY FASHION FACT? Just click the ASK button at the top of the page!

Attributed to Paul Delaroche (1797-1856). Catherine de Medici and Charles IX in an interior. Oil on canvas, 72.3 x 90.1 cm. Bonham’s, San Francisco; 15-11-2006, lot 4126 (sold $4,000 hammer).

The minority of Charles IX., during which Catherine de’ Medici was regent, gave rise to five civil wars; and during it the storm of the St. Bartolomew was gathering.

- Richard Chevenix. An essay upon national character. Vol II. 1832.


The Drunken Battle of Beverhoutsvelt,

During the mid 14th century Flanders (parts of Belgium and the Netherlands) was ruled by Louis II, Count of Flanders, who was basically a puppet of the French.  The Flemish nobles, however, wanted local rule rather than French control.  In 1379 the Flemish revolted against Louis II and ousted him from power.  Louis II took shelter in the fortified city of Bruges.  In May 1382 the Flemish soldiers laid siege to Bruges in order to oust Louis II.

The Louis’ Army outnumbered the rebels by 5 to 1.  Although outnumbered, the rebels set up heavy fortifications and laid siege to the city.  Meanwhile in France King Charles IX was organizing a large army the crush the rebellion. Louis had every advantage. All the Louis had to do was hold Bruges until the French Army arrive.

On May 3rd the city celebrated the Procession of the Blood, an annual holiday in Bruges.  Despite the state of siege, the people celebrated the holiday regardless. Wine, mead, and ale flowed freely, and during the festivities Louis’ soldiers got rip roaring drunk.  While drinking and driving may be dangerous, drinking and warmaking is especially disastrous.  After consuming several rounds of liquid courage the soldiers of Bruges began to make very big talk; talk of how despite being outnumbered and outgunned the courageous men of Bruges could easily whip those dastardly rebels.  After a round of motivational shouting and drinking, the soldiers of Bruges began to feel invincible, and decided the go on the offensive to show those rebels what they were made of.  Against Louis’ orders, the outnumbered men of Bruges decided they were going to attack.

After a disorganized and hasty cannon volley, the Bruges city gate opened and Louis’ army charged the rebels en masse.  At the front were the handgonners who wildly fired bullets in all directions.  Then came the men at arms and knights.  The knights, too inebriated for combat, either fell off their horses or accidentally rode down their own men.  The men at arms also tripped over each other as they made a drunken charge.  As they reached the lines of the rebel army, they were immediately mowed down by gunfire from volley guns, cannon, and archers.  Most of the Bruges army immediately turned tail and ran.  Those who didn’t were easily cut down when they reached the rebel lines.  As the drunken soldiers retreated back toward the Bruges city gates, Bruges cannoneers, handgonners, and archers mistook the retreat as a rebel attack and fired on their own men.  The battle finally ended when the Flemish rebels attacked the retreating army’s flanks, causing the drunk, panicked mob to scatter in all directions.  Moments later the rebels simply walked into the open gates of Bruges, easily dispatching what enemy soldiers remained who could put up a fight.

Louis II, Count of Flanders was able to escape from Bruges without being captured.  A short time later Louis II returned to Flanders with an army of over 10,000 French soldiers.  He was restored to power and ruled until his death in 1384.