King Henry IV

[King Henry of Navarre] King of France and Navarre, born Pau, France, 1553; died Paris, France, 1610. He was educated a Calvinist, and from 1569 he led the Protestants in French wars on account of religion. In 1512 he married Margaret of Valois, sister of Henry III whom he supported. The Catholic princes, alarmed when he became heir-presumptive to the French crown through the death of Henry's brother, appealed to the pope, who, relying on the public right acknowledged in those days, released his subjects in Navarre from their allegiance. Supported by the Parliamentarians and appealing to the people, Henry took up arms and, despite the Catholic League headed by the Guises, succeeded Henry III, 1589. His religion remained a barrier between him and the main body of his subjects; however, after lengthy discussions between rival theologians, he became a Catholic, 1593, and two years later was fully reconciled with the Holy See. Shortly after, his arms were successful in Burgundy, Picardy, and Brittany. In 1599 his marriage was annulled by Clement VIII. The reasons approved were lack of necessary dispensations (the ceremony had been performed by the Cardinal of Bourbon, before the dispensations necessary because of difference in religion were granted) and want of consent of one of the parties (Margaret claimed that she had never consented to the contract and had been forced by her brother, Charles IX). A few months later, he took Marie de' Medici as his consort. With the aid of his minister, Sully, he centralized public authority, and developed industry, commerce, and agriculture. He secured liberty for Protestants by the Edict of Nantes, and refused to allow the publication of the decrees of Trent. Henry, who for his frivolity was surnamed the Vert Galant (ladies' man), was notoriously immoral and perished by the dagger of the maniac Ravaillac.

New Catholic Dictionary

NCD Index SQPN Contact Author