File:King Henry IV of France.jpg

Photo Source: Wikimedia

Top 10 Famous Facts about Henry IV of France


King Henry IV was the king of France from 1589 to 1610, he lived through major historical events in Navarre and French history. He is famed for ending the religious war in France. 

Henry de Bourbon was born in Pau, the capital of the joint Kingdom of Navarre with the sovereign principality of Béarn on 13 December 1553. His parents were Queen Joan III of Navarre and Antoine de Bourbon, the Duke of Vendôme. 

King Henry is an important figure in the medieval history of France, also known as Henry the Great and the Good King Henry.  

Here are the top 10 famous facts about him

1. Henry IV of France was Born a Prince

Henry was the son of Antoine de Bourbon, Duke de Vendôme, and Jeanne d’Albret, queen of Navarre from 1555. Through his father, he was in the sole legitimate line of descent from the Capetian kings of France.

Antoine was born at La Fère, Picardy, France, the second son of Charles de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme, and his wife, Françoise d’Alençon He was the older brother of Louis, Prince of Condé. 

Henry’s mother Jeanne d’Albret was born in the palace of the royal court at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. She was the daughter of Henry II, King of Navarre, and his wife Marguerite of Angoulême.

2. Henry Became the King of Navarre at the age of 19

File:Arms of Henry IV of France as King of Navarre (1572-1589).svg

Image by Heralder from Wikimedia

Henry was born in Pau in the Kingdom of Navarre, which is in modern-day France. His mother was Queen Joan III and Antoine de Bourbon the Duke of Vendome, who was also the king of Navarre. 

His father had become the king of Navarre by marriage and died on 17th November 1562. When his mother, Queen Joan III, who was 43 at the time, died on June 9th, 1572, Henry de Bourbon became King of Navarre at age 19.

Henry was the king of Navarre from 1572 until his death in1610; he was the first monarch of France from the House of Bourbon. 

3. Henry IV of France was a Protestant

Henry was baptized as a Catholic but was raised in the Protestant faith by his mother, queen Joan III of Navarre.

Queen Joan III of Navarre was the acknowledged spiritual and political leader of the French Huguenot movement and a key figure in the French Wars of Religion. 

King Henry kept the Protestant faith after the death of his mother and joined protestant military forces in the religious wars that ravaged France in the mid and late 16th century. 

On 25 July 1593, after many years of stalemate, Henry permanently renounced Protestantism and converted to back Catholicism to secure his hold on the French crown.

4. Henry IV of France was married to a French Princess

File:Mariage d'Henri IV dans la salle des Caryatides.jpg

Image by Tangopaso from Wikimedia

On 18 August 1572, Henry married Princess Margaret of Valois, daughter of Henry of France and Catherine de Medici. The wedding took place in Paris on the parvis of Notre Dame Cathedral.

However, the wedding turned tragic after several thousand Protestants who had come to Paris for Henry’s wedding was killed, as well as thousands more throughout the country in the days that followed.

Their marriage lasted for 20 years and was finally annulled after Margaret’s infertility was proven. Henry needed to marry again for him to sire an heir. She died on 27 March 1615 at Hostel de la Reyne Margueritte; Paris, she was 61 years old.

5. Henry became the King of France after a Long Struggle

File:King Henry IV in his coronation robes, by Frans Pourbus the Younger.jpg

Image by Frans Pourbus the Younger from Wikimedia

Henry became king of France after a long war between Catholics and Protestants, due to his protestant faith background, there was big opposition from the catholic league group which blocked his coronation as the King of France. 

Henry won victories and was able to capture several cities from the League, but the war dragged on. It took him nine years of struggle against the Holy League to secure his kingdom.

6. King Henry IV Ended Religious War in France 

In 1598, after decades of religious war between Catholics and Protestants, King Henry signed the Edict of Nantes. 

It made Roman Catholicism the official religion of the state but allowed the Protestants a fair amount of religious freedom.

The edict helped reunite the kingdom after decades of bloodshed. This peace lasted 40 years until King Louis XIV revoked it with the Edict of Fontainebleau in 1685.

7. King Henry IV was Married Twice 

In 1593, Henry proposed to his wife Margaret for an annulment of their marriage. Margaret had re-established contact with him after abandoning him for several years.

Henry needed permission from the Pope to marry again after his first marriage failed to produce an heir.

In December 1599 Pope Clement VIII pronounced the annulment of Henry’s marriage to Margaret of Valois. He married the princess of Tuscany, Marie de Medicis in 0ctober 1600.

8. King Henry IV had a Royal Mistress

File:Another School of Gabrielle d'Estrées (1573-1599) was the mistress of King Henry IV of France. (13040970685).jpg

Image by Ken and Nyetta from Wikimedia

In November 1590, King Henry IV of France fell in love with Gabrielle d’Estrées. She became his royal mistress during the bitter struggle with the Catholic League.

 Although legally married to Margaret of Valois, Henry and Gabrielle were openly affectionate in public.

Fiercely loyal, Gabrielle accompanied Henry during his campaigns. She insisted on living inside his tent near the battlefield and taking care of all his needs.

While waiting for an annulment of his marriage and authority to remarry, Henry gave his mistress his coronation ring, as an engagement gesture. Unfortunately, Gabrielle died a few days later, before she could legally marry Henry.

9. King Henry IV Fathered Eight Illegitimate Children

Henry was married twice; his first marriage to Margaret of Valois was childless. His second marriage to Marie de Medicis produced six children including Louis XIII, later the king of France.

Outside marriage King Henry sired eight illegitimate children. He fathered four children (one stillborn) with his royal mistress Gabrielle d’Estrées.

He also had two children with Henriette d’Entragues, one kid with Jacqueline de Buell, Countess of Moret, and one kid with Charlotte des Essarts, Countess of Romorantin.

10. King Henry IV was Assassinated

File:The assassination of Henry IV, King of France, 1610; a tumul Wellcome V0041777.jpg

Photo Source: Wikimedia

Despite his conversion to Catholicism shortly before his coronation as the King of France, hard-core catholic fanatics were not convinced of his sincerity. There was eight documented case of an attempted assassination of King Henry.

On May 14, 1610, while his carriage stopped on the street of Paris, King Henry IV of France was stabbed three times by a catholic fanatic Francois Lavaillac. Henry was rushed back to the Louvre Palace where he died soon later at the age of 56 years.


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