Thurs 18 Nov 04
Drinks Reception 6.30 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm
Lecture: "Catherine de Medici"
by Leonie Frieda
at The Ball Room, Ladies' Recreation Club, 10 Old Peak Road, Mid-Levels
We are delighted to welcome to Hong Kong Leonie Frieda for a lecture on Catherine de Medici, the subject of her best-selling biography. 'To be a great prince', wrote Machiavelli, 'one must sometimes violate the laws of humanity.' Catherine de Medici (1519-1589) has been described as 'the Black Queen' but, argues Ms Frieda, the truth was very different.
Orphaned in infancy, heiress to an ancient name and vast fortune, Catherine was brought up in the Florentine court and married off, by her uncle the Pope, to Henry, Duke of Orléans, son of King François I of France. Catherine, aged only 14, suffered cruelly as Henry loved only his beautiful mistress, Diane de Poitiers.
When Henry, by then King of France, died in a jousting accident, Catherine was thrust into the lethal maelstrom of French power politics. The 40-year-old widow and Queen Mother was the most formidable personality in France for the next 30 years, as the country was riven by communal strife. Having tried to foster religious tolerance, she was forced to adopt extreme methods as she struggled for the survival of her husband's legacy and her children's royal birthright. This led to the infamous St Bartholomew's Day Massacre of 24 August 1572, when thousands of French Protestants were slaughtered.
Leonie Frieda was born in Sweden, and educated in Britain, Germany and France. Her first career was building up and co-owning the Matrix recording studio, used by the Rolling Stones and Oasis. Ms Frieda then began researching her first book, Catherine de Medici, which took her to Paris, Florence, Rome and the châteaux of the Loire. She lives in London and is working on her second historical biography, of the Great War soldier and letter-writer Edward Horner.
Members and their guests are most welcome to attend this lecture at HK$100 for Members, HK$150 for Members' guests and HK$200 for others. This includes a complimentary drinks reception prior to the lecture.