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Information about reign: Henri IV (King Henry IV)

CountryKingdom of France
From2 July 1589
To14 May 1610
Personal InformationKing Henry IV of France (1553 - 1610)
Description

Henry IV (French: Henri IV), also known by the epithet "Good King Henry", was King of Navarre (as Henry III) from 1572 to 1610 and King of France from 1589 to 1610. He was the first French monarch of the House of Bourbon, a branch of the Capetian dynasty.

Baptised as a Catholic but raised in the Protestant faith by his mother Jeanne d'Albret, Queen of Navarre, he inherited the throne of Navarre in 1572 on the death of his mother. As a Huguenot, Henry was involved in the French Wars of Religion, barely escaping assassination in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, and later led Protestant forces against the royal army.

Henry, as Head of the House of Bourbon, was a direct male-line descendant of Louis IX of France, and "first prince of the blood". Upon the death of his brother-in-law and distant cousin Henry III of France in 1589, Henry was called to the French succession by the Salic law. He initially kept the Protestant faith and had to fight against the Catholic League, which denied that he could wear France's crown as a Protestant. To obtain mastery over his kingdom, after four years of stalemate, he found it prudent to abjure the Calvinist faith. As a pragmatic politician (in the parlance of the time, a politique), he displayed an unusual religious tolerance for the era. Notably, he promulgated the Edict of Nantes (1598), which guaranteed religious liberties to Protestants, thereby effectively ending the Wars of Religion. He was assassinated in 1610 by François Ravaillac, a fanatical Catholic, and was succeeded by his son Louis XIII.

Considered a usurper by some Catholics and a traitor by some Protestants, Henry became target of at least 12 assassination attempts. An unpopular king immediately after his accession, Henry's popularity greatly improved after his death, in light of repeated victories over his enemies and his conversion to Catholicism. The "Good King Henry" (le bon roi Henri) was remembered for his geniality and his great concern about the welfare of his subjects. He was celebrated in the popular song Vive le roi Henri and in Voltaire's Henriade.

The English translation of the royal style of King Henry IV was "By the Grace of God, Most Christian King of France and Navarre, co-Prince of Andorra, Duke of Albret, Beaumont and Vendôme, Count of Foix, Armagnac, Comminges, Bigorre and Marle, Lord of Béarn, and Donezan; Count of Provence, Forcalquier and the lands adjacent; Dauphin of Viennois, Count of Valentinois and of Diois" (1589–1607), then "By the Grace of God, Most Christian King of France and Navarre, co-Prince of Andorra, Lord of Béarn, and Donezan; Count of Provence, Forcalquier and the lands adjacent; Dauphin of Viennois, Count of Valentinois and of Diois" (1607-1610).

Henri IV (King Henry IV): Some useful external links
Wikipedia: Henry IV of France