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Henry IV of France

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Introduction

Henry IV of France Henry IV of France was born on December 13th 1553, in Pau, Bearn, in the province of Navarre. He was the son of Antoine de Bourbon, the duc de Vendome and Jeanne d'Albret, queen of Navarre from 1555. It was extremely unlikely that Henry would ever ascend to the throne due to the fact that Catherine de Medici had already had three male children by the time Henry was born and would son have a fourth. Henry spent much of his early childhood growing up in Bearn, however from 1561 to 1567 he lived with his second cousins, the children of Henry II, the King of France, one of which was his future wife Marguerite. It was at about this time that the religious problems between Protestants and Catholics came to ahead; Henry's father joined the side of the Protestants, but later changed sides during the long period of civil war, and was killed during this time. Despite this Henry's mother held firm and announced that she was a Calvinist in 1560. Henry was therefore brought up to be a strict Protestant. Aged about 13 Henry began his military education, and in the autumn of 1567 he led a campaign against the rebellious heads of the Catholic gentry of southern Navarre, resulting in an easy victory. During the third religious war in France Henry was proclaimed the head of the Protestant army, although in reality this post was truly held by Gaspard de Coligny. In June of 1670, Henry aged only 16, led the first charge of the Huguenots cavalry, this experience helped to forge Henry into a soldier, which he would remain with him throughout his lifetime, and caused him to reflect on the problems within the province. Peace was concluded in 1570, and a very liberal edict was granted the Protestants, many hoped that the civil war had finally come to an end, including Catherine de Medici. ...read more.

Middle

The people bestowed upon him the title Henry the Great. Louis XIII There is very little to say about Louis XIII reign because it was dominated mainly by outside, namely his mother, and Cardinal Richelieu. Louis XIII was born on 27th September 1601 in Fontainebleau; he was the eldest son of Henry IV and Marie de Medici. He succeeded the throne in 1610 after his fathers assassination, aged just nine. Because he was a minor his mother became regent and effectively ruled the country for him. She remained regent until Louis came of aged in 1614, but continued to govern for another three years. As part of her policy of allying France and Spain she arranged for Louis to marry Anne of Austria, the daughter of Phillip III of Spain, this took place in November 1615. By 1617, Louis was resentful of his lack of power and took as his favourite, Charles d'Albert de Luynes, who soon became dominant in the government. Louis also exiled his mother to Blois, resulting in two separate attempts at rebellion organised by her in 1619-20. Richelieu, although not yet a cardinal was Marie de Medici's main advisor, helped to reconcile the two in August 1620. Their relationship thereon consisted of thinly disguised hostility and little else. Luynes died in December 1621, and Louis faced a Huguenot rebellion in southern France. Louis captured several Huguenot strongholds before concluding with a truce in the October of 1622. Meanwhile Richelieu had become a cardinal in September, and despite Louis distrust and suspicion of him because of his connection with Marie de Medici, Louis began to rely on Richelieu more and more for his political advice. This culminated with Richelieu becoming Louis' principal minister in 1624. Although Louis had displayed courage on the battlefield, he was not exactly intelligent and was extremely inattentive, with a very small attention span. This meant that Richelieu became the dominant force behind the King. ...read more.

Conclusion

These events were followed by intricate political negotiations which culminated in Richelieu refusing to endorse the peace Treaty of Regensburg in 1630 and the Habsburgs appeal to the Pope to have Louis XIII excommunicated for this 'breach of faith'. It was at this time that Richelieu's position was at its most insecure, his relationship with the King was distant and on his return from Italy Marie de Medici demanded that Louis should get rid of him. Louis XIII saw this decision as whether to he would have independence or would be subject to his mother's domination. He put his full support behind Richelieu and never looked back. In 1631 he subsidized the invasion of Germany by the champion of the Lutheran cause, Gustav II Adolph, king of Sweden. Richelieu's German foreign policy was thrown into crisis when Sweden became embroiled in the armies of the Catholic league, consolidating the imperial and Catholic cause. The war spilled over the Rhine and France's outer provinces became drawn into the Habsburgs line of 'fire'. The seizure by France of Archbishop of Trier in 1635 resulted in France's involvement in the Thirty Years War, because France had promised the Archbishop their protection. His last months were disturbed by the most serious conspiracies of his lifetime, especially that of the royal favourite Cinq-Mars who was exposed by Richelieu's secret service and was executed. Richelieu's health had been deteriorating for some years, and it was virtually on his deathbed that he dictated to the King what he felt were the five propositions respecting royal behaviour towards ministers should be. Richelieu died on December 4th 1642, and was buried at the chapel of the Sorbonne, which he himself had financed. Throughout his time as first minister Richelieu had succeeded in breaking the political power of the great families of France making the King into an absolute ruler, and establishing France as the first military power in Europe. He united France, and encouraged exploration and the expansion of colonies in Canada and in the Indies. Richelieu made possible the grandeur of France that his successors later achieved. ...read more.

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