Catherine de' Medici was born in Italy, but later married a French king. She was extremely well educated for a woman in that time. She had an extroverted personality and an appreciation for art. Florence at the time of her birth and childhood was a center for Renaissance art. She also developed an appreciation of architecture.
After her marriage to King Henry II of France, Catherine had many children. Three of her sons would later become king. Though she was Catholic, Catherine promoted peace and tolerance toward French Protestants for much of her life. These ideas were unusual amongst Catholic French royalty at this time. Her way of thinking was influenced by progressive Renaissance ideas, which she had learned while growing up in Florence.
Catherine promoted the arts in France when she was queen. She appreciated visual beauty. She also brought Italian culinary influence to France.