Born Caterina de’ Medici in Florence, to an Italian father and a French mother, both of whom died within weeks of her birth, Catherine of Medici grew to be arguably the most powerful woman in 16th Century Europe. The Medici family were fantastically wealthy, essentially Florence bankers, but commoners. Catherine’s French mother, however, was from an exceptionally powerful French noble family. This combination of wealth and status made for a turbulent and often dangerous life for the young Caterina.
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