Henry III of France

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Henry III
Quesnel Henry III of France in Polish hat.jpg
Portrait by Étienne Dumonstier, 1578
King of France
Reign30 May 1574 – 2 August 1589
Coronation 13 February 1575, Reims
Predecessor Charles IX
Successor Henry IV
King of Poland
Grand Duke of Lithuania
Reign16 May 1573 – 12 May 1575
Coronation 22 February 1574, Wawel
Predecessor Sigismund II Augustus
Successor Anna and Stephen
Interrex Jakub Uchański
Born19 September 1551
Château de Fontainebleau, France
Died2 August 1589(1589-08-02) (aged 37)
Château de Saint-Cloud, France
Burial
Spouse Louise of Lorraine
House Valois-Angoulême
Father Henry II of France
Mother Catherine de' Medici
Religion Catholicism
Signature Signature of Henry III Valois as King of Poland.PNG

Henry III (French : Henri III, Alexandre Édouard; Polish : Henryk Walezy ; Lithuanian : Henrikas Valua; 19 September 1551 – 2 August 1589) was King of France from 1574 until his assassination in 1589, as well as King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.

Contents

As the fourth son of King Henry II of France, he was not expected to inherit the French throne and thus was a good candidate for the vacant throne of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, where he was elected monarch in 1573. During his brief rule, he signed the Henrician Articles into law, recognizing the Polish nobility's right to freely elect their monarch. Aged 22, Henry abandoned Poland upon inheriting the French throne when his brother, Charles IX, died without issue.

France was at the time plagued by the Wars of Religion, and Henry's authority was undermined by violent political factions funded by foreign powers: the Catholic League (supported by Spain and the Pope), the Protestant Huguenots (supported by England and the Dutch) and the Malcontents (led by Henry's own brother the Duke of Anjou and Alençon, a party of Catholic and Protestant aristocrats who jointly opposed the absolutist ambitions of the king). Henry III was himself a politique , arguing that a strong and religiously tolerant monarchy would save France from collapse.

After the death of Henry's younger brother Francis, Duke of Anjou, and when it became apparent that Henry would not produce an heir, the Wars of Religion developed into a succession crisis, the War of the Three Henrys. Henry III's legitimate heir was his distant cousin, King Henry III of Navarre, a Protestant. The Catholic League, led by Henry I, Duke of Guise, sought to exclude Protestants from the succession and championed the Catholic Charles, Cardinal of Bourbon, as Henry III's heir.

In 1589, Jacques Clément, a Catholic fanatic, murdered Henry III. He was succeeded by the King of Navarre who, as Henry IV, assumed the throne of France after converting to Catholicism, as the first French king of the House of Bourbon.

Early life

Childhood

Henry was born at the royal Château de Fontainebleau, the fourth son of King Henry II and Catherine de' Medici. He was a grandson of Francis I of France and Claude of France. His older brothers were Francis II of France, Charles IX of France, and Louis of Valois. He was made Duke of Angoulême and Duke of Orléans in 1560, then Duke of Anjou in 1566.

He was his mother's favourite; she called him chers yeux ("precious eyes") and lavished fondness and affection upon him for most of his life. [1] His elder brother, Charles, grew to detest him, partially because he resented his better health.[ citation needed ]

The royal children were raised under the supervision of Diane de Poitiers, his father's mistress. [2]

Youth

Portrait of Henry when he was Duke of Anjou by Jean de Court (1570) Anjou 1570louvre.jpg
Portrait of Henry when he was Duke of Anjou by Jean de Court (1570)

Although he was skilled and fond of fencing, he preferred to indulge his tastes for the arts and reading. These predilections were attributed to his Italian mother. Henry's favourite interests were hunting and riding. [3]

At one point in his youth Henry showed a tendency towards Protestantism as a means of rebelling. At the age of nine, he called himself "a little Huguenot", [4] attended Mass only to please his mother, [5] sang Protestant psalms to his sister Margaret (exhorting her all the while to change her religion and cast her Book of Hours into the fire), [6] and even bit the nose off a statue of Saint Paul. His mother firmly cautioned him against such behaviour, and he would never again show any Protestant tendencies. Instead, he became staunchly Roman Catholic. [6]

In the factional dispute that engulfed France in the wake of Henry II's death in 1559, Henry was solicited by Henry, son of Francis Duke of Guise, at the behest of Jacques, Duke of Nemours, to run away from court to be a figurehead for the ultra-Catholics. [7] However, the plot was uncovered before any action could be taken. [7]

Henry was known as a flaneur, who relished leisurely strolls through Paris and partook in the sociability in the busiest of neighbourhoods. He revelled in fairs, music, bilboquet and court masques. His extravagance in court entertainments cut him off from the common people. He was also a devout Catholic who introduced pious reforms into the city and he encouraged the French church to follow the edicts of the Council of Trent. [8]

Sexuality

Henry III (c. 1575) Henri III Versailles.jpg
Henry III (c. 1575)

Reports that Henry engaged in same-sex relations with his court favourites, known as the mignons, date back to his own time. He was known to have enjoyed intense relationships with them. [9] The scholar Louis Crompton maintains that all of the contemporary rumours were true. [10] Some modern historians dispute this. Jean-Francois Solnon, [11] Nicolas Le Roux [12] and Jacqueline Boucher [13] have noted that Henry had many famous mistresses, that he was well known for his taste in beautiful women, and that no male sex partners have been identified. They have concluded that the idea he was homosexual was promoted by his political opponents (both Protestant and Catholic) who used his dislike of war and hunting to depict him as effeminate and undermine his reputation with the French people. [14] The portrait of a self-indulgent sodomite, incapable of fathering an heir to the throne, proved useful in efforts by the Catholic League to secure the succession for Cardinal Charles de Bourbon after 1585. [9]

Gary Ferguson found their interpretations unconvincing: "It is difficult to reconcile the king whose use of favourites is so logically strategic with the man who goes to pieces when one of them dies." [15] Katherine Crawford, by contrast, emphasizes the problems Henry's reputation encountered because of his failure to produce an heir and the presence of his powerful mother at court, combined with his enemies' insistence on conflating patronage with favouritism and luxury with decadence. [16]

Elizabeth

In 1570, discussions commenced arranging for Henry to court Queen Elizabeth I of England. [17] Elizabeth, almost 37, was expected by many parties in her country to marry and produce an heir. However, nothing came of these discussions. In initiating them, Elizabeth is viewed by historians as having intended only to arouse the concern of Spain, rather than contemplate marriage seriously. Henry's mother felt the chance of marriage despite differing religious views (Henry was Catholic, Elizabeth Protestant) simply required personal sacrifice. [18] Henry tactlessly referred to Elizabeth as a putain publique ('public whore') and made stinging remarks about their difference in age (he was 18 years younger). [18]

Wars of Religion

The Siege of La Rochelle by the Duke of Anjou in 1573 ("History of Henry III" tapestry, completed in 1623) Le Siege de La Rochelle par le Duc d Anjou en 1573.jpg
The Siege of La Rochelle by the Duke of Anjou in 1573 ("History of Henry III" tapestry, completed in 1623)

In November 1567, upon the death of Anne de Montmorency, Henry assumed the role of Lieutenant-General of France, placing him in nominal control of France's military. [19] [20] Henry served as a leader of the royal army, taking part in the victories over the Huguenots at the Battle of Jarnac (March 1569) [21] and at the Battle of Moncontour (October 1569). [22] At this time he was a rallying point for the ultra-Catholics at court, who saw him as an opposition figure to the tolerant line being taken by the King, with Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine guiding his council. [19] Lorraine offered him 200,000 Francs of Church revenue to become a protector of Catholicism, and tried to arrange his marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots; however neither project took off. [23]

While still Duke of Anjou, he helped plot the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of 1572. Though Henry did not participate directly, historian Thierry Wanegffelen sees him as the royal most responsible for the massacre, which involved the targeted killing of many Huguenot leaders. Henry III's reign as King of France, like those of his elder brothers Francis and Charles, would see France in constant turmoil over religion.

Henry continued to take an active role in the Wars of Religion, and in 1572/1573 led the siege of La Rochelle, a massive military assault on the Huguenot-held city. [24] At the end of May 1573, Henry learned that the Polish szlachta had elected him King of Poland (a country with a large Protestant minority at the time) and political considerations forced him to negotiate an end to the siege. Negotiators reached an agreement on 24 June 1573, and Catholic troops ended the siege on 6 July 1573.

King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania (1573–1575)

Following the death of the Polish ruler Sigismund II Augustus on 7 July 1572, Jean de Monluc was sent as the French envoy to Poland to negotiate the election of Henry to the Polish throne in exchange for military support against Russia, diplomatic assistance in dealing with the Ottoman Empire, and financial subsidies. [25]

Henry III on the Polish throne, in front of the Sejm of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and aristocracy surrounded by halberdiers, 1574 Henri on the throne in front of the Polish Diet.jpg
Henry III on the Polish throne, in front of the Sejm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and aristocracy surrounded by halberdiers, 1574

On 16 May 1573, Polish nobles chose Henry as the first elected monarch of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Lithuanian nobles boycotted this election, however, and it was left to the Lithuanian ducal council to confirm his election. [26] The commonwealth elected Henry, rather than Habsburg candidates, partly in order to be more agreeable to the Ottoman Empire (a traditional ally of France through the Franco-Ottoman alliance) and strengthen a Polish-Ottoman alliance that was in effect. [27]

A Polish delegation went to La Rochelle to meet with Henry, who was leading the Siege of La Rochelle. Henry left the siege following their visit. [28] In Paris, on 10 September, the Polish delegation asked Henry to take an oath, at Notre Dame Cathedral, to "respect traditional Polish liberties and the law on religious freedom that had been passed during the interregnum". [29] As a condition of his election, he was compelled to sign the Pacta conventa and the Henrician Articles, pledging religious tolerance in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. [30] Henry chafed at the restrictions on monarchic power under the Polish-Lithuanian political system of "Golden Liberty". [30] The Polish-Lithuanian parliament had been urged by Anna Jagiellon, the sister of the recently deceased king Sigismund II Augustus, to elect him based on the understanding that Henry would wed Anna afterward. [31]

At a ceremony before the Parlement of Paris on 13 September, the Polish delegation handed over the "certificate of election to the throne of Poland-Lithuania". [29] Henry also gave up any claims to succession and he "recognized the principle of free election" under the Henrician Articles and the pacta conventa . [29]

Escape of Henry III from Poland, by Artur Grottger, 1860 Grottger Escape of Henry of Valois.jpg
Escape of Henry III from Poland, by Artur Grottger, 1860
Engraving of Henry III Emanuel van Meteren Historie ppn 051504510 MG 8760 henrick de III.tif
Engraving of Henry III

It was not until January 1574 that Henry was to reach the borders of Poland. On 21 February, Henry's coronation was held in Kraków. [32] In mid-June 1574, upon learning of the death of his brother Charles IX, Henry left Poland and headed back to France. [32] Henry's absence provoked a constitutional crisis that the Parliament attempted to resolve by notifying Henry that his throne would be lost if he did not return from France by 12 May 1575. [32] His failure to return caused Parliament to declare his throne vacant. [32]

The short reign of Henry at Wawel Castle in Poland was marked by a clash of cultures between the Polish and the French. The young king and his followers were astonished by several Polish practices and disappointed by the rural poverty and harsh climate of the country. [30] The Poles, on the other hand, wondered if all Frenchmen were as concerned with their appearance as their new king appeared to be. [30]

In many aspects, Polish culture had a positive influence on France. At Wawel, the French were introduced to new technologies of septic facilities, in which litter (excrement) was taken outside the castle walls. [33] On returning to France, Henry wanted to order the construction of such facilities at the Louvre and other palaces. [33] Other inventions introduced to the French by the Polish included a bath with regulated hot and cold water,[ citation needed ] as well as dining forks.[ citation needed ]

In 1578, Henry created the Order of the Holy Spirit to commemorate his becoming first King of Poland and later King of France on the Feast of Pentecost and gave it precedence over the earlier Order of St. Michael, which had lost much of its original prestige by being awarded too frequently and too readily. The Order would retain its prestige as the premier chivalric order of France until the end of the French monarchy.

French reign (1575–1589)

Henry was crowned king of France on 13 February 1575 at Reims Cathedral. Although he was expected to produce an heir after he married the 21-year-old Louise of Lorraine [34] on 14 February 1575, no issue resulted from their union.

In 1576, Henry signed the Edict of Beaulieu, which granted many concessions to the Huguenots. His action resulted in the Duke of Guise forming the Catholic League. After much posturing and negotiations, Henry was forced to rescind most of the concessions that had been made to the Protestants in the edict.

Coin of Henry III, 1577 Henri III 1577.jpg
Coin of Henry III, 1577

In 1584, the King's youngest brother and heir presumptive, Francis, Duke of Anjou, died. Under Salic Law, the next heir to the throne was Protestant Henry of Navarre, a descendant of Louis IX (Saint Louis). Under pressure from the duke of Guise, Henry III issued an edict suppressing Protestantism and annulling Henry of Navarre's right to the throne.

Henry, stung by the open disobedience of Guise, attempted a coup in May 1588 and sent royal Swiss troops into several neighbourhoods. This had the unintended effect of rallying the people against him and in favor of the more popular Guise during the Day of the Barricades. Henry III fled the city, he would later seek support from the Parlement of Paris and propped up an anti-League establishment throughout France. [35]

Following the defeat of the Spanish Armada that summer, the king's fear of Spanish support for the Catholic League apparently waned. Accordingly, on 23 December 1588, at the Château de Blois, he invited Guise to the council chamber where the duke's brother Louis II, Cardinal of Guise, already waited. The duke was told that the king wished to see him in the private room adjoining the royal bedroom. There, royal guardsmen murdered the duke, then the cardinal. [35] To make certain that no contender for the French throne was free to act against him, the king had the duke's son imprisoned. The Duke of Guise had been very popular in France, and the citizenry turned against Henry for the murders. [35] The Parlement instituted criminal charges against the king, and he was compelled to join forces with his heir, the Protestant Henry of Navarre, by setting up the Parliament of Tours.

By 1589 Henry's popularity hit a new low, preachers were calling for his assassination and labelling him a tyrant. The people of Paris disdained him for his court extravagances, allowing corruption to grow rife, high taxes and having relied extensively on Italian financiers. But what most Parisians hated most about him was his sexuality, as sodomy was seen as heresy and a social deviance at the time. [8]

The arrival of Henry III of France in Venice, 1574 The arrival of Henry III of France at the Lido in Venice in 1574 MET DP848943.jpg
The arrival of Henry III of France in Venice, 1574

Overseas relations

Under Henry, France named the first Consul of France in Morocco in the person of Guillaume Bérard. The request came from the Moroccan prince Abd al-Malik, who had been saved by Bérard, a doctor by profession, during an epidemic in Constantinople and wished to retain Bérard in his service. [36]

Henry III encouraged the exploration and development of New World territories. In 1588, he granted Jacques Noël, the nephew of Jacques Cartier, privileges over fishing, fur trading, and mining in New France. [37]

Henry III in preparation to besiege Paris in 1589 Henri III a Saint-Cloud, commencement du siege de Paris (1589) Arnold Cheffer (1839-1873).jpg
Henry III in preparation to besiege Paris in 1589

Assassination and burial

Jacques Clement assassinating Henry III Jacques Clement.jpg
Jacques Clément assassinating Henry III

On 1 August 1589, Henry III lodged with his army at Saint-Cloud, and was preparing to attack Paris, when a young fanatical Dominican friar, Jacques Clément, carrying false papers, was granted access to deliver important documents to the king. The friar gave the king a bundle of papers and stated that he had a secret message to deliver. The king signaled for his attendants to step back for privacy, and Clément whispered in his ear while plunging a knife into his abdomen. Clément was then killed on the spot by the guards.

At first, the king's wound did not appear fatal, but he enjoined all the officers around him, in case he did not survive, to be loyal to Henry of Navarre as their new king. The following morning, on the day that he was to have launched his assault to retake Paris, Henry III died.

Chaos swept the attacking army, most of it quickly melting away; the proposed attack on Paris was postponed. Inside the city, joy at the news of Henry III's death was near delirium; some hailed the assassination as an act of God. [38]

Henry III was interred at the Saint Denis Basilica. Childless, he was the longest-living of Henry II's sons to have become king and also the last of the Valois kings. Henry III of Navarre succeeded him as Henry IV, the first of the kings of the House of Bourbon.

Arms

Ancestors

Wax miniature by Antonio Abondio, c. 1590 Wax miniature of Henry of Valois.jpg
Wax miniature by Antonio Abondio, c. 1590

Poetry

Theatre

Novel

Film

Television

Opera

See also

Notes

  1. Mariéjol 1920, p. 204.
  2. Wellman 2013, p. 209.
  3. Knecht 2016, p. 2.
  4. Knecht 2016, p. 11.
  5. Knecht 2016, p. 11-12.
  6. 1 2 Knecht 2016, p. 12.
  7. 1 2 Carroll 2009, p. 186.
  8. 1 2 Jones, Colin (2006). Paris: A Briography of a City. Penguin. pp. 143–145.
  9. 1 2 MacCulloch 2004, p. ?.
  10. Crompton, Louis (2003). "Henry III and the Mignons" . Homosexuality and Civilization. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. pp.  328–330. ISBN   0-674-01197-X.
  11. Solnon, Jean-Francois (1987). La Cour de France. Paris: Fayard.
  12. Le Roux, Nicolas (2006). Un régicide au nom de Dieu, l'assassinat d'Henri III (in French). Paris: Gallimard. ISBN   2-07-073529-X.
  13. Boucher, Jacqueline (1986). La cour de Henri III (in French). Rennes: Ouest-France. ISBN   2-7373-0019-3.
  14. Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau. Erotika Biblion. 1783. https://archive.org/stream/erotikabiblion00mirauoft#page/n5/mode/1up
  15. Ferguson, Gary (2008). Queer (Re)Readings in the French Renaissance: Homosexuality, Gender, Culture. Aldershot/Burlington: Ashgate. ISBN   978-0-7546-6377-5.
  16. Katherine B. Crawford, "Love, Sodomy, and Scandal: Controlling the Sexual Reputation of Henry III", Journal of the History of Sexuality, vol. 12 (2003), 513–42
  17. Knecht 2016, p. 41-42.
  18. 1 2 Knecht 2016, p. 42.
  19. 1 2 Holt, Mack (1995). The French Wars of Religion 1562-1628. Cambridge University Press. p. 66. ISBN   9780521358736.
  20. Sutherland, Nicola (1973). The Massacre of St Bartholomew and the European Conflict 1559-1572. Macmillan. p. 54. ISBN   0064966208.
  21. Knecht 1989, p. 41.
  22. Knecht 1998, p. 130.
  23. Sutherland, Nicola (1973). The Massacre of St Bartholomew and the European Conflict 1559-1572. Macmillan. p. 69. ISBN   0064966208.
  24. Knecht 1989, p. 54.
  25. Manetsch, Scott M. (2000). Theodore Beza and the quest for peace in France, 1572–1598. p. 80. ISBN   9004111018.
  26. Stone, Daniel (2001). The Polish-Lithuanian state, 1386–1795 [A History of East Central Europe, Volume IV.] Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 118. ISBN   0-295-98093-1.
  27. Davies 2007, p. 10.
  28. Greengrass, Mark (13 September 2007). Governing passions: peace and reform in the French kingdom, 1576–1585 Mark Greengrass. p. 17. ISBN   9780199214907.
  29. 1 2 3 Stone, Daniel (2001). The Polish-Lithuanian state, 1386–1795 [A History of East Central Europe, Volume IV.] Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 119. ISBN   0-295-98093-1.
  30. 1 2 3 4 Paweł Jasienica (1982). Rzeczpospolita Obojga Narodów (The Commonwealth of the Both Nations) (in Polish). Warsaw. ISBN   83-06-00788-3.
  31. Zbigniew Satała (1990). Poczet polskich królowych, księżnych i metres (in Polish). Warsaw. ISBN   83-7007-257-7.
  32. 1 2 3 4 Stone, Daniel (2001). The Polish-Lithuanian state, 1386–1795 [A History of East Central Europe, Volume IV.] Seattle: University of Washington Press. pp. 120–121. ISBN   0-295-98093-1.
  33. 1 2 Krzysztof Prendecki (30 October 2006). "Kuracja wiedzą". placet.pl (in Polish). Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
  34. George 1875, p. table XXX.
  35. 1 2 3 Jones, Colin (2011). Paris: A Biography of a City. Penguin. pp. 147–148.
  36. Garcés, María Antonia (2005). Cervantes in Algiers: a captive's tale'&#39. p. 277 note 39. ISBN   9780826514707.
  37. "King of France from 1574 to 1589". Parliament of Canada. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  38. Knecht 2016, p. 306-307.
  39. 1 2 Anselme, p. 209
  40. 1 2 3 4 Anselme, pp. 210–211
  41. 1 2 Anselme, pp. 131–132
  42. 1 2 Anselme, pp. 207–208
  43. 1 2 Anselme, pp. 126–128
  44. 1 2 Anselme, pp. 463–465
  45. 1 2 3 4 Tomas, p. 7
  46. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Whale, p. 43
  47. 1 2 Tomas, p. 20
  48. 1 2 Anselme, p. 324

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Charles de Bourbon was a French cardinal. The Catholic League considered him the rightful King of France as Charles X after the death of Henry III in 1589. His claim was recognized as part of the secret Treaty of Joinville concluded between Philip II of Spain and the League.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Siege of La Rochelle (1572–1573)</span> 1572-73 military offensive during the French wars of religion

The siege of La Rochelle of 1572–1573 was a massive military assault on the Huguenot city of La Rochelle by Catholic troops during the fourth phase of the French Wars of Religion, following the August 1572 St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. The conflict began in November 1572 when inhabitants of the city refused to receive Armand de Gontaut, baron de Biron, as royal governor. Beginning on 11 February 1573, the siege was led by the Duke of Anjou. Political considerations following the duke's election to the throne of Poland in May 1573 resulted in negotiations, culminating on 24 June 1573, that lifted the siege on 6 July 1573. The Edict of Boulogne signed shortly thereafter brought an end to this phase of the civil war.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Succession of Henry IV of France</span>

Henry IV of France's succession to the throne in 1589 was followed by a four-year war of succession to establish his legitimacy, which was part of the French Wars of Religion (1562–1598). Henry IV inherited the throne after the assassination of Henry III, the last Valois king, who died without children. Henry was already King of Navarre, as the successor of his mother, Jeanne d'Albret, but he owed his succession to the throne of France to the line of his father, Antoine of Bourbon, an agnatic descendant of Louis IX. He was the first French king from the House of Bourbon.

References

Henry III of France
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Born: 19 September 1551 Died: 2 August 1589
Regnal titles
Vacant
Title last held by
Sigismund II
King of Poland
Grand Duke of Lithuania

16 May 1573 – 12 May 1575
Vacant
Title next held by
Anna and Stephen
Preceded by King of France
30 May 1574 – 2 August 1589
Succeeded by
French royalty
Preceded by Duke of Angoulême
1551 – 30 May 1574
Succeeded by
Preceded by Duke of Orléans
1560 – 30 May 1574
Merged into the crown
Vacant
Title last held by
Louise
Duke of Anjou
1566 – 30 May 1574
Succeeded by