|King of France|
|Reign||31 March 1547 – 10 July 1559|
|Coronation||25 July 1547|
|Born||31 March 1519|
Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
|Died||10 July 1559 (aged 40)|
Hôtel des Tournelles
|Burial||13 August 1559|
|Father||Francis I of France|
|Mother||Claude, Duchess of Brittany|
Henry II (French : Henri II; 31 March 1519 – 10 July 1559) was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559. The second son of Francis I and Duchess Claude of Brittany, he became Dauphin of France upon the death of his elder brother Francis in 1536.
As a child, Henry and his elder brother spent over four years in captivity in Spain as hostages in exchange for their father. Henry pursued his father's policies in matters of art, war, and religion. He persevered in the Italian Wars against the Habsburgs and tried to suppress the Reformation, even as the Huguenot numbers were increasing drastically in France during his reign.
Under the April 1559 Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis which ended the Italian Wars, France renounced its claims in Italy, but gained certain other territories, including the Pale of Calais and the Three Bishoprics. These acquisitions strengthened French borders while the abdication of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in January 1556 and division of his empire between Spain and Austria provided them with greater flexibility in foreign policy. Nostradamus also served King Henry as physician and astrologer.
In July 1559, Henry was injured in a jousting tournament held to celebrate the treaty and died ten days later after his surgeon, Ambroise Paré, was unable to cure the wound inflicted by Gabriel de Montgomery, the captain of his Scottish Guard. Though he died early, the succession appeared secure as he left four young sons, as well as a wife in Catherine de' Medici, to lead a capable regency during their minority. Three of those sons would all live long enough to be king themselves, but their ineffectual reigns, and the unpopularity of Catherine's regency, helped to spark the French Wars of Religion between Catholics and Protestants, and an eventual end to the House of Valois as France's ruling dynasty.
Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of King Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany, daughter of Louis XII of France and Anne, Duchess of Brittany. Francis and Claude were second cousins, both had Louis I, Duke of Orléans, as a patrilineal great-grandfather, and their marriage strengthened the family's claim to the throne.
Henry's father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by the forces of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and held prisoner in Spain.To obtain his release, it was agreed that Henry and his older brother Francis be sent to Spain in his place. They remained in captivity for over four years.
Henry married Catherine de' Medici, a member of the ruling family of Florence, on 28 October 1533, when they were both fourteen years old.The wedding was officiated by Pope Clement VII. At this time, Henry's brother Francis was alive and there was little prospect of Henry coming to the throne. The following year, he became romantically involved with a thirty-five-year-old widow, Diane de Poitiers. Henry and Diane had always been very close: the young lady had fondly embraced Henry on the day he, as a 7-year-old child, set off to captivity in Spain, and the bond had been renewed after his return to France. At the tournament to honor his father's new bride, Eleanor, in 1531, Henry and Francis dressed as chevaliers, and Henry wore Diane's colors.
Extremely confident, mature and intelligent, Diane left Catherine powerless to intervene.She did, however, insist that Henry sleep with Catherine in order to produce heirs to the throne.
When his elder brother Francis died in 1536 after a game of tennis, Henry became heir apparent to the throne.
His attachment to Diane caused a breach with his father in 1544; the royal mistress Anne de Pisseleu d'Heilly persuaded Francis that Henry and Diane were intriguing on behalf of the Constable Montmorency, who had been banished from court in 1540. Francis banished Diane from court.Henry also withdrew to the chateau of Anet; father and son were reconciled in 1545.
He succeeded his father on his 28th birthday and was crowned King of France on 25 July 1547 at Reims Cathedral.
Henry's reign was marked by the persecution of Protestants, mainly Calvinists known as Huguenots. Henry II severely punished them, particularly the ministers, for example by burning at the stake or cutting off their tongues for uttering heresies.
Henry II was made a Knight of the Garter by Edward VI, King of England, in April 1551.
The Edict of Châteaubriant (27 June 1551) called upon the civil and ecclesiastical courts to detect and punish all heretics and placed severe restrictions on Huguenots, including the loss of one-third of their property to informers, and confiscations. The Edict also strictly regulated publications by prohibiting the sale, importation or printing of any unapproved book. It was during the reign of Henry II that Huguenot attempts at establishing a colony in Brazil were made, with the short-lived formation of France Antarctique . In June 1559, with war against the Habsburgs concluded, Henri established in letters patent his desire to task much of the Gendarmerie that had been involved in the foreign wars with the extirpation of domestic heresy.
The Italian War of 1551–1559 began when Henry declared war on Holy Roman Emperor Charles V with the intent of recapturing Italy and ensuring French, rather than Habsburg, domination of European affairs. Persecution of Protestants at home did not prevent him from becoming allied with German Protestant princes at the Treaty of Chambord in 1552. Simultaneously, the continuation of his father's Franco-Ottoman alliance allowed him to invade the Rhineland while a Franco-Ottoman fleet defended southern France.Although an attempted 1553 invasion of Tuscany ended with defeat at Marciano, in return for his support in the Second Schmalkaldic War, Henry occupied the Three Bishoprics of Toul, Verdun and Metz, acquisitions secured with victory at Renty in 1554.
After the abdication of Charles V in 1556, the Habsburg empire was split between his son Philip II of Spain and brother Emperor Ferdinand I. The focus of Henry's conflict with the Habsburgs shifted to Flanders, where Phillip, in conjunction with Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, defeated the French at the St Quentin. England's entry into the war later that year led to the French capture of Calais, and French armies plundered Spanish possessions in the Low Countries. However, in April 1559 lack of money and increasing domestic religious tensions led Henry to agree the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis.
The Peace was signed between Henry and Elizabeth I of England on 2 Apriland between Henry and Philip of Spain on 3 April 1559 at Le Cateau-Cambrésis. Under its terms, France restored Piedmont and Savoy to Emmanuel Philibert, but retained Saluzzo, Calais and the Three Bishoprics. The agreement was reinforced by a marriage between Henry's sister Margaret and Emmanuel Philibert, while his daughter Elizabeth of Valois became Philip's third wife.
Henry raised the young Mary, Queen of Scots, at his court, hoping to establish a dynastic claim to the Kingdom of Scotland by marrying her to Dauphin Francis on 24 April 1558. Their son would have been King of France and King of Scotland, and also a claimant to the throne of England. Henry had Mary sign secret documents, illegal in Scottish law, that would ensure Valois rule in Scotland even if Mary died without leaving a child by Francis.As it happened, Francis died without issue a year and half after his father, ending the French claim to Scotland.
Henry II introduced the concept of publishing the description of an invention in the form of a patent. The idea was to require an inventor to disclose his invention in exchange for monopoly rights to the patent. The description is called a patent "specification". The first patent specification was submitted by the inventor Abel Foullon for "Usaige & Description de l'holmetre" (a type of rangefinder). Publication was delayed until after the patent expired in 1561.
Henry II was an avid hunter and a participant in jousts and tournaments. On 30 June 1559, a tournament was held near Place des Vosges to celebrate the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis with his longtime enemies, the Habsburgs of Austria, and to celebrate the marriage of his daughter Elisabeth of Valois to King Philip II of Spain. During a jousting match, King Henry, wearing the colors of his mistress Diane de Poitiers,was wounded in the eye by a fragment of the splintered lance of Gabriel Montgomery, captain of the King's Scottish Guard. Despite the efforts of royal surgeons Ambroise Paré and Andreas Vesalius, the court doctors ultimately "advocated a wait-and-see strategy"; as a result, the king's untreated eye and brain damage led to his death by sepsis on 10 July 1559. He was buried in a cadaver tomb in Saint Denis Basilica. Henry's death played a significant role in the decline of jousting as a sport, particularly in France.
As Henry lay dying, Queen Catherine limited access to his bedside and denied his mistress Diane de Poitiers permission to see him, even though he repeatedly asked for her. Following his death, Catherine sent Diane into exile, where she lived in comfort on her own properties until her death.
It was the practice to enclose the heart of the king in an urn. The Monument to the Heart of Henry II is in the collection of the Louvre, but was originally in the Chapel of Orleans beneath a pyramid. The original bronze urn holding the king's heart was destroyed during the French Revolution and a replica was made in the 19th century. The marble sculpture of the Three Graces holding the urn, executed from a single piece of marble by Germain Pilon, the sculptor to Catherine de' Medici, survives.
Henry was succeeded by his sickly fifteen-year-old son, Francis II.Francis was married to sixteen-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, who had been his childhood friend and fiancée since her arrival at the French court when she was five. Francis II died in December 1560, and Mary returned to Scotland in August 1561. Francis II was succeeded by his ten-year-old brother Charles IX. His mother, Catherine de Medici, acted as regent.
Catherine de' Medici bore ten of Henry's children:
Henry II also had three illegitimate children:
Henri or Henry has had four notable portrayals onscreen:
He was played by a young Roger Moore in the 1956 film Diane , opposite Lana Turner in the title role and Marisa Pavan as Catherine de Medici.
In the 1998 film Ever After , the Prince Charming figure, portrayed by Dougray Scott, shares his name with the historical monarch.
In the 2013 CW series Reign , he is played by Alan van Sprang.
In the premiere of The Serpent Queen (2022), a young Henri (Alex Heath) is shown meeting and marrying Catherine De Medici, performing consummation of the marriage, jousting, and snuggling in the older Diane's arms. Beginning with the fourth episode, older Henri is portrayed by Lee Ingleby.
|Ancestors of Henry II of France|
Catherine de' Medici was a Florentine noblewoman born into the Medici family. She was Queen of France from 1547 to 1559 by marriage to King Henry II and the mother of French Kings Francis II, Charles IX, and Henry III. The years during which her sons reigned have been called "the age of Catherine de' Medici" since she had extensive, if at times varying, influence in the political life of France.
Francis II was King of France from 1559 to 1560. He was also King consort of Scotland as a result of his marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots, from 1558 until his death in 1560.
Charles IX was King of France from 1560 until his death in 1574. He ascended the French throne upon the death of his brother Francis II in 1560, and as such was the penultimate monarch of the House of Valois.
Henry III 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.
Diane de Poitiers was a French noblewoman and prominent courtier. She wielded much power and influence as King Henry II's royal mistress and adviser until his death. Her position increased her wealth and family's status. She was a major patron of French Renaissance architecture.
The Italian Wars, also known as the Habsburg–Valois Wars, were a series of conflicts covering the period 1494 to 1559, fought mostly in the Italian peninsula, but later expanding into Flanders, the Rhineland and the Mediterranean Sea. The primary belligerents were the Valois kings of France, and their Habsburg opponents in the Holy Roman Empire and Spain. They were supported by various Italian states at different stages of the war, with limited involvement from England and the Ottoman Empire.
Anne, Duke of Montmorency, Honorary Knight of the Garter was a French soldier, statesman and diplomat. He became Marshal of France and Constable of France and served five kings.
Francis de Lorraine II, the first Prince of Joinville, also Duke of Guise and Duke of Aumale, was a French general and statesman. A prominent leader during the Italian War of 1551–1559 and French Wars of Religion, he was assassinated during the siege of Orleans in 1563.
Elisabeth of France or Elisabeth of Valois was Queen of Spain as the third spouse of Philip II of Spain. She was the eldest daughter of Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici.
Claude of France was a French princess as the second daughter of King Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici, and Duchess of Lorraine by marriage to Charles III, Duke of Lorraine.
Jacques de Savoie, duc de Nemours was a French military commander, governor and Prince Étranger. Having inherited his titles at a young age, Nemours fought for king Henri II during the latter Italian Wars, seeing action at the siege of Metz and the stunning victories of Renty and Calais in 1554 and 1558. Already a commander of French infantry, he received promotion to commander of the light cavalry after the capture of Calais in 1558. A year prior he had accompanied François, Duke of Guise on his entry into Italy, as much for the purpose of campaigning as to escape the king's cousin Antoine of Navarre who was threatening to kill him for his extra-marital pursuit of Navarre's cousin.
Margaret of Valois, Duchess of Berry was Duchess of Savoy by marriage to Duke Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy. She was the daughter of King Francis I of France and Claude, Duchess of Brittany.
Jacques d'Albon, Seigneur de Saint-André was a French governor, Marshal, and favourite of Henri II. He began his career as a confident of the dauphin during the reign of François I, reared with the prince under the governorship of his father at court. In 1547 at the advent of Henri's reign he was appointed as his father's deputy, serving as lieutenant general for the Lyonnais. Concurrently he entered the king's conseil privé and was made a Marshal and Grand Chamberlain.
The Italian War of 1551–1559, sometimes known as the Habsburg–Valois War and the Last Italian War, began in 1551 when Henry II of France declared war against Holy Roman Emperor Charles V with the intent of recapturing parts of Italy and ensuring French, rather than Habsburg, domination of European affairs. The war ended following the signing of the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis between the monarchs of Spain, England and France in 1559. Historians have emphasized the importance of gunpowder technology, new styles of fortification to resist cannon fire, and the increased professionalization of the soldiers.
Gaspard de Saulx, sieur de Tavannes was a French Roman Catholic military leader during the Italian Wars and the French Wars of Religion. He served under four kings during his career, participating in the Siege of Calais (1558) and leading the royal army to victory in the third civil war at the Jarnac and Moncontour. A strong Catholic, he founded the confraternity of the holy ghost in 1567 which would be a template for other militant Catholic organisations across France. He died in 1573, shortly after the opening assassinations of the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew, which he had helped plan.
François I de Clèves, was a French Prince étranger and military commander during the Italian Wars. He was the first duke of Nevers, his county being elevated to a duchy in 1539. In deference to the large amount of land he held in Champagne, and further lands he was set to inherit there from his mother on her death he was made governor of Champagne in 1545.
The trial and execution of Anne du Bourg was a critical event in the history of religious conflict in Paris, prior to the outbreak of the French Wars of Religion three years later. Anne du Bourg a judge in the Paris Parlement, would be executed, after calling the King Henry II an adulterer and blasphemer, and refusing to affirm the Real presence. He would be garrotted and burned on 23 December 1559. Several of his colleagues who had been arrested along with him, would be forced to recant their beliefs before returning to re-join the court. His trial would inflame religious tensions in Paris, leading directly to the assassination of President Minard, and contributing to the powder keg that exploded in the riot of Saint Medard a few months later.
The Edict of Romorantin, was a decree designed to alter the prosecution of heretics promulgated by the king of France Francis II in May 1560. The decree came in the wake of the Amboise conspiracy in which many Protestant Huguenots had participated. Conscious due to this that the previous policy of persecution embodied in the edicts of Châteaubriant and Compiègne had failed, the crown and chancellor altered their strategy, delineating for the first time between heretics and rebels. The edict would transfer the prosecution of heretics who had committed no other offence, to the ecclesiastical courts, which lacked the power to give death sentences. The edict would be confirmed in January 1561 then superseded, first by the edict of July which maintained its provision concerning ecclesiastical courts, and then the more radical Edict of Saint-Germain.
The Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis or Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis in April 1559 ended the Italian War of 1551–1559, the last of the Italian Wars (1494–1559). It consisted of several separate treaties, the main two signed on 2 April by Elizabeth I of England and Henry II of France, and on 3 April between Henry and Philip II of Spain. Although he was not a signatory, the agreements were approved by Emperor Ferdinand I, since many of the territorial exchanges concerned states that were part of the Holy Roman Empire.
François Olivier, Sieur de Leuvillé was Chancellor of France from 1545 to his death in 1560. After having spent his early career serving in the Parlement and chancelleries of the royal family he was elevated to the prestigious role of Chancellor of France upon the disgrace of Guillaume Poyet.