- (1553-1610) (Henri IV)king of France and NavarreThe first of the Bourbon kings, Henry IV was born in Pau, in Navarre, the son of Antoine de Bourbon (see bourbon, house of) and jeanne d'albret, queen of Navarre. He was raised as a Protestant by his mother but seems to have inherited the religious indifference of his father. In 1572, he married marguerite de valois, sister of charles ix. A few days later, the saint Bartholomew's day massacre occurred (August 24). Henry saved his own life by converting to Catholicism, but he remained a prisoner at the court until 1576. After his escape, he repudiated the conversion and assumed the leadership of the huguenots. He was excommunicated when he became the heir to the French throne in 1584. Henry had a successful military career, marked by a brilliant victory at Coutras in 1587 during the War of the Three Henrys (see henry III). He formed an alliance with Henry III against the holy league dominated by the house of guise. When Henry III was assassinated in 1589, he became king. The league, however, backed by spain and the pope, refused to acknowledge a Protestant as king of France. Henry won victories over the league at Arques and ivry, and besieged Paris. He also exploited divisions among members of the league and, in 1593, surprised his opponents by announcing his conversion to Catholicism. (To him is attributed the statement "Paris is worth a Mass.") He then defeated or won over the leaders of the Guise faction and, in 1595, convinced the pope to lift the ban of excommunication. Henry, in turn, agreed to respect church properties and to raise his heirs as Roman Catholics. in 1598, he made peace with spain and, in the same year, proclaimed the Edict of Nantes, which granted partial religious freedom to the Huguenots. In 1599, he secured papal annulment of his first marriage and, in 1600, married marie de' medici. From their marriage they had four children (louis хш; gaston d'orléans; Elisabeth, who married Philip IV of Spain; and Henrietta marie, who became the wife of Charles I of England). Henry iv, through his minister, the duke of sully, reorganized state finances and promoted the nation's economic recovery after decades of civil war. He encouraged agriculture, commerce, and manufacturing, and reduced taxes on the peasantry. A debt moratorium was issued for the nobility. in 1604, the system of purchasing judicial offices, the "paulette," was instituted. Royal officials also replaced local representative bodies throughout France. in 1609, he began plans to intervene in Germany against the Catholic Habsburg, a move opposed by some French Catholics. In May 1610, as Henry IV was about to join his army, he was assassinated by a Catholic extremist. Henry IV who is known as "the Good king Henry," is credited with restoring order to the kingdom after the ruinous religious civil wars and with ensuring that the French monarchy would be Catholic and absolutist.
France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present . 1884.
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