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Henri IV, King of France (1589-1610) 
son of Antoine de Bourbon, Duc de Vendome, King of Navarre 
and Jeanne III d'Albret, Queen of Navarre 1555-1572 
Born 14 December 1553 Pau 
Died 14 May 1610 Paris (murdered) 
Buried St.Denis 
Married to Marie d' Medici
Married to Marguerite, Princess de France+Dss de Valois

Henri de Bourbon was not expected to become King of France as King Henri II and Catherine' de Medici had several sons. However, when Henri II died in 1559, he was followed in government by his widow as regent for their sons: Francois II, who died a teenager, to be followed as king by Charles IX, who in turn was to be followed by Henri III.
As Queen-Regent Catherine pretended she wanted to bring together the warring religious factions by arranging the marriage of Henri de Bourbon, King of Navarre, with her daughter, Marguerite de Valois. This brought many of the Protestants to Paris only to be murdered in the "St. Bartholomew's massacres" which lasted three days. Though the action was mourned in Protestant Europe, it was declared to be one of the greatest days of his life by King Philip II of Spain.The only prominent Protestants spared on order of the king were members of the French royal family, the King of Navarre, and the Prince de Conde. However, they were taken to the king's apartments from where they heard the cries of their pages and valets being slaughtered. A few months later, Henri escaped from Paris to return to his kingdom of Navarre and head the Protestant cause. Soon Charles IX was replaced by Henri III and, when the Duke of Anjou died, Henri de Bourbon was heir to the French throne. Henri III tried a policy of moderation but this only alienated him from many people: the Catholic nobles and The Holy League consisting of the Catholics of Paris and other cities who then brought English forces to France. This forced Henri III to make peace with the League and outlaw the Protestants. Civil war then broke out and so Henri III had the Duke de Guise murdered. Paris now rose against the king who then besieged the city; but on 1 August 1589, a Dominican monk stabbed the king to death. Now Henri of Navarre became King Henri IV of France.
In the year of his coronation, Henri IV published the Edict of Nantes allowing freedom to the Protestants in certain parts of France. To prevent alienation fromn the Protestants, King Henri IV waited four years before he himself became a Catholic. After several victories
against the League, peace returned to France. Henri IV concerned himself with the small people as illustrated by his saying, "I want every man to have a chicken in his pot." Henri IV had to restore the damage which the religious wars had inflicted upon France, which then recovered quickly with his common sense and persuasion. He did believe in the Divine Right of Kings, but differently from King James I of England. His Protestant Minister Sully, who reformed the administration, was so great a support that Henri IV warned him, "When you cease to contradict me, I know you will have ceased to love me."
His wife, Marguerite de Valois, had lived away from him and given birth to illegitimate children. At the same time Henri IV had fathered children elsewhere. They were moving for divorce with Henri IV hoping to marry Gabrielle d'Estrees, mother of three of his illegitimate children. However, after giving birth in horrendous fashion to a fourth but still-born child, she died. When at last the marriage to Marguerite de Valois was dissolved, he married the Italian Marie de' Medici, who was fat and not very intelligent. Even though she gave birth regularly, he still pursued other women, sometimes to the amusement of the nation but also sometimes infuriating it when he conducted his pursuits with too much vigour; for instance, when he fell in love with the 15-year-old wife of the Prince de Conde who had to take refuge in Brussels. Still a healthy man with many years ahead of him, he was murdered on 14 May 1610 by Francois Ravaillac, a deranged young Catholic. Catholics and Protestants alike mourned Henri IV who, without doubt, had been one of the most beloved of French monarchs.
 

Source: Leo van de Pas
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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