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HENRI IV FRANCE - AFTER HENRI

 

Henri was raised in a down to earth way in the remote south west corner of France. The early stages of his upbringing being far removed from that of the rarified atmosphere, at the courts of the last Valois Kings, whom he subsequently succeeded. Henri was the first King who championed the causes of the common people, that France had seen for many decades.

Much of Henri of Navarre's life up until his coronation as King Henri IV of France, were taken up with the wars of religion. Once crowned King of France, he set about healing his Kingdom. The edict of Nantes signed in 1598, brought religious tolerance and an effective end to the internal wars within France, while the treaty of Vervins signed in the same year, brought peace with Spain.

Able to now focus internally, the last decade of his life and reign saw Henri rebuilding the finances and infrastructure of his country. Henri recognised that it was the peasants who provided the means by which the ruling classes enjoyed their luxuries.

However on Henri's death in 1610, his son Louis was too young to rule, so his mother the Queen and Regent of France, Marie de Medici, ruled for him. She quickly started to reverse some of Henri's policies.

A picture of both sides of a double tournois copper coin dated 1615, bearing the head of a young King Louis XIII of France on one side ande 3 fleurs de lis on the other

Louis XIII Double Tournois coin from 1615

On 18th march 1612, it was announced in Paris that the eldest son of Henri IV and Marie de Medici, Louis would be married to Anne of Austria (daughter of Philip III of Spain) and also their daughter Elizabeth would be married to Philip IV of Spain (son of Philip III of Spain). This was a clear reversal Henri's anti Hapsburg policy. Another daughter Henriette Marie was married to Charles I of England.

 

A picture of Anne of Austria, wife of King Louis XIII of France - from a book by Martha Walker Freer

Anne of Austria

A picture of King Louis XIII of France

Louis XIII

Louis XIII eventually wrestled his power back from his mother and expelled her from France. Under Louis, Navarre was absorbed into France and Cardinal Richelieu re-instated Herni IV's anti Hapsburg policies. This involved France in the so called 30 years war (1618-1648).

When Louis XIII died in 1643, his son Louis XIV became King and reigned until 1715. In 1685 he revoked the edict of Nantes, causing many protestants to emigrate. Louis XIV was truly a King who believed in his divine right to rule.

A picture of King Louis XIV of France

Louis XIV

Louis XIV's arrogance and extravagance was continued by his great grandson Louis XV (1715-1774) and sowed the seeds of the French revolution. The price of ignoring the needs of the common people, finally cost Louis XVI and his Queen, Marie Antoinette, their heads on the 21st of January 1793 and the 16th of October 1793 respectively.

A picture of a red shield with a linked chain motif, representing the kingdom of Navarre

A picture of a red shield with a linked chain motif, representing the kingdom of Navarre

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A picture of a blue shield with 3 yellow Fluer de lis, representing the Kingdom of France