Fourteen-year-old Catherine de' Medici arrives in Marseilles to marry Henry, Duke of Orleans, second son of the King of France. The brokenhearted Catherine has left her true love in Italy, forced into trading her future happiness for marriage into the French royal family.
Amid the glittering fêtes and banquets of the most immoral court in sixteenth-century Europe, the reluctant bride becomes a passionate but unwanted wife. Humiliated and unloved, Catherine spies on Henry and his lover, the infamous Diane de Poitiers. Tortured by what she sees, Catherine becomes consumed by a ruthless ambition destined to make her the most despised woman in France: the dream that one day the French crown will be worn by a Medici heir. . . .