Medici, Catherine de
Born into Europe's famous Medici family, Catherine became Queen of France in 1547, having married the future Henry II in 1533; however, Henry died in 1559 and Catherine ruled as regent until 1559. This was an era of intense religious strife and, despite trying to follow moderate policies, Catherine became associated with, even blamed for, the Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day in 1572.
This biography traces Catherine's rise from Italian princess to de facto ruler of France, with especial focus on her oft-debated role in the French Wars of Religion.
I can't vouch for the academic precision of this biography, but Kimberly Skopitz has certainly attempted to get inside Catherine's mind, highlighting her feelings and homesickness.
The internet contains numerous references to Catherine's role – alleged or otherwise - in the development of the high heel, but this nicely written and smartly presented article is probably the best. This first page introduces the subject before moving onto Catherine herself.
A colour portrait of Catherine de Medici.