Madeleine de Valois was born at Saint Germain en Laye on the 10th of August 1520, the fifth child of François I of France and his long suffering wife Claude, who was Duchess of Brittany in her own right, being the daughter of her husband’s predecessor Louis XII and his wife, Anne of Brittany. Glorious though their ancestry might be, genetics were not on the side of the Valois family, whose dynasty would eventually come to an end with the assassination of Henri III just two generations later to be succeeded by the far more robust Bourbons.
Élisabeth de Valois, de la Cruz, 1605. Photo: Prado, Madrid.
Élisabeth de Valois was born at Fontainebleau on the 2nd of April 1545, the eldest daughter and second child of Henri II (who was Dauphin at the time and remain so until he succeeded his father François I in 1547) and the formidable Catherine de’ Medici, whose marriage had been childless for over ten years before their eldest child, the future François II was born in January 1544.
The Rockingham Mantua was worn by Mary, Marchioness of Rockingham to a court function in around 1765 and is a superb example of the sort of sumptuous finery that court ladies wore at this period with its gorgeous silver lace and embroidery, which must have glowed and shimmered in the light of the thousands of candles that filled the court rooms.