Date of Thesis

Spring 2020


In the 16th century, France established itself as a global cultural leader. Catherine de Medici (1519-1589), queen and regent of France during the reign of Henri II, Francis II, Charles IX, and Henri III of France played an instrumental role in this development. This thesis argues that Catherine was not just a queen but effectively ruled as a king as she continued the legacy of Francis I and established a strong foundation for the cultural legend, Louis XIV. Catherine de Medici’s dominant role in the development of French culture is revealed through the lens of soft power theorized over the centuries by Niccolò Machiavelli, Benôit Bréville, William Monter, and Joseph Nye. Following the three cultural branches at the center of the French Renaissance –gastronomic entertainment, visual arts, and architecture— this work explores Catherine de Medici’s integral role as the female king who advanced French culture through these channels and reveals the essential part played by female kings in the fabrication of European cultural history.


Catherine de Medici, female king, France, soft power, Renaissance

Access Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts


Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

Minor, Emphasis, or Concentration

French & Francophone Studies

First Advisor

Hélène Martin