The reign of King Henry IV


General information

Born: 1553

Died: 1610 (he was assassinated by François Ravaillac, a Catholic fanatic who entered his coach whilst it was waiting in traffic, and stabbed Henry multiple times. Ravaillac wanted Henry to convert the Huguenots to Catholicism and was also interpreted Henry's decisionto invade the Spanish Netherlands as the start of a war against the Pope. He was angered by this, and so, determined to stop him, he decided to kill the king)

Reign: 1589-1610. His reign is often split into pre-coronation (1589-94) and post-coronation (1594-1610) as he was technically was made king after Henry III died, as henry had named him heir to the throne on his death bed, but he wasn’t officially coronated as he refused to become Catholic. Therefore, he was only really king in name only in this earlier period

Predecessor: Henry III (who was assassinated by Jacques Clément, a Catholic fanatic)

Successor: Louis XIII (his son)

House: He was the first French king from the House of Bourbon

Other titles: Henry of Navarre (King of Navarre from 1572 until 1610)

Nicknames: Good King Henry or Henry the Great or the Green Gallant

Key descriptors:popular, pragmatic 

Style of governance:highly personal and very strong

Spouses:He was initially married to Margaret of Valois(the daughter of Catherine de Medici) in a wedding which helped spark the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of August 1572. However, they both married young and their union was consequently very unhappy, with both parties having multiple affairs. He later had his marriage to her annulled in 1599 and married Marie de Mediciin 1600, as it was imperative that he produced a male heir (which he did)

Popular? He was very popular amongst the people, who were grateful for the peace he brought, as shown by the names they gave him. His limited toleration of the Huguenots however, meant he was not necessarily as well-liked amongst extremists. During his reign he survived 14 assassination attempts, suggesting not all wanted him on the throne

He was also highly unpopular with the Catholic League, who opposed his rule until he renounced his Protestantism in 1594. They were supported by Spain, and their existence undermined the king. However, after the King converted back to Catholicism, they lost their raison d’êtreand their power and influence waned

In more modern-day France Henry is often cited as France’s most popular King

(Remember the fact about Napoleon keeping his statue)

CHAPTER 8: The triumph of Henry IV, 1589-98

Henry’s rise to power

Catholic appeasement:Although the Catholic League argued Henry could not be recognised as king under Salic Law, due to his religion and refusal to convert to Catholicism, Henry III named him his heir whilst on his deathbed. He pleaded however, that this was on the condition that Henry IV became a Catholic. He initially refused to do this, however, and therefore became the first everProtestant king to ascend to the French throne

Despite being


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