Sunday, February 27, 2011

Henry IV crowned King of France February 27, 1595

It was on this day February 27th in 1598 that Henry IV was crowned and recognized as King of France.

Henry IV was born on December 13, 1553 in the southwest of France. He was the son of Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendome and Jeanne d’Albret, Queen of Navarre. His mother declared Calvinism the religion of Navarre and she brought Henry up as a Huguenot, which were French Protestants of the Protestant Reformed Church of France. Following her death in 1572, Henry became King Henry III of Navarre.

During this time (1562-98) the French Wars of Religion was going on. This was a period of civil infighting and military operations that was primarily being fought between both the French Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots). In order to help but an end to the French Wars of Religion, Henry married Marguerite de Valois, sister of the then King Charles IX. As a result of Henry IV’s plan, he was forced to convert to Roman Catholicism in 1576 and was kept in confinement. However, later that year he regained his freedom and converted back to Protestantism.

At this time, Henry III was King of France and due to Salic law, the king’s sisters and all others who could claim descent by distaff line where disinherited. As a result, the next in line to the throne of France was the Duke of Guise. In December 1588, King Henry III had the Duke along with his brother the Cardinal, murdered. Henry III had to flee Paris and join forces with Henry of Navarre. Since Henry of Navarre was a descendant of King Louis IX, King Henry III had no choice but to recognize him as the legitimate successor.

In 1589, King Henry III died and Henry of Navarre became King of France, however, he faced opposition from the Catholic League who were strengthened by support from the outside. Henry IV was pushed to the south and was forced to claim his rights to his kingdom by military conquest. By failing to take Paris, in 1593 permanently renounced the Protestant faith and converted back to Roman Catholicism, which secured him the crown of France and the allegiance of his subjects. On February 27, 1594 Henry IV was crowned King of France.

As king, he declared the Edict of Nantes, which gave toleration to the Huguenots. He also adopted and undertook projects in order to improve the lives of all his subjects that would make him one of the country’s most popular rulers ever. This is one of the reasons why I have come to love Henry IV, because he loved his kingdom and his people. Unfortunately, King Henry IV was assassinated by a fanatical Catholic, Fran├žois Ravaillac in 1610.

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