Why Henry IV is the only king whom the people of France loved

Why Henry IV is the only king whom the people of France loved

Categories: Europe | History

It just so happened that the kings of France were not in good standing with the people. The monarchs had a reputation as spendthrifts, despots, libertines and inadequacies. Among them were people with obvious mental disorders, for example, the “glass” Charles IV. A pleasant exception in this motley company was King Henry IV. He went down in history as the best French monarch and is revered even today.

Why Henry IV is the only king whom the people of France loved

Henry IV of Bourbon left a pleasant impression in the memory of the French. The king was a true son of his time. He loved women, drinking, fighting, but at the same time he never forgot about the needs of his subjects. He was also distinguished by religious tolerance, which was generally rare among rulers in the Middle Ages.

The future king was born on December 13, 1553 at the castle of Pau, in the tiny kingdom of Navarre. Henry of Bourbon was the grandson of the King of Navarre and heir to a state located in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain. The happy grandfather took the newborn in his arms, smeared his lips with garlic and poured a couple of drops of red wine into his mouth to give the baby strength.

Why Henry IV is the only king whom the people of France loved

Henry loved wine all his life, as did garlic, which was considered the food of common people. But his ancestors, the kings of Navarre, were never distinguished by refined manners. But they could always find a common language with their people. Alexandre Dumas described the future monarch as follows:

Although it was stupid for Heinrich Bourbon to be particularly arrogant. He was destined to rule a tiny kingdom all his life or become one of the military men at the court of the French king, like his father Antoine de Bourbon.

When Henry of Bourbon was born, his namesake Henry II sat on the French throne. The monarch had two sons with the Florentine princess Catherine de' Medici. Nothing predicted that a prince from a tiny mountain kingdom would become the ruler of a powerful country.

Why Henry IV is the only king whom the people of France loved

Already being king, the Navarrese heir loved to say that in his childhood he met with Nostradamus and he predicted to him that he would become a monarch. The prediction came true and Henry of Bourbon became king, founded a new French dynasty and finally put an end to religious strife.

Heinrich was dark-skinned, dark-haired and short, 170 cm. In communication, he was relaxed and pleasant: he laughed at other people’s jokes, charmed and even flattered. During St. Bartholomew's Night, he miraculously survived and was forced to remain at the French court as a prisoner for 4 years.

Why Henry IV is the only king whom the people of France loved

The courtiers made fun of him and called him “the king whose nose is larger than his kingdom.” Henry was not offended, rightly believing that the one who was being made fun of was unlikely to be killed. And the atmosphere at the French court was specific. Heinrich wrote to one of his friends:

But he himself behaved with others in an emphatically friendly manner. Even after becoming king, Henry did not change his attitude towards people and was kind and generous. Many courtiers even believed that their patron lacked royal grandeur. But the Navarrese only looked like a simpleton. Excellent in the art of flattery, he himself did not believe flatterers. The king appointed people to high positions for their qualities and merits. Therefore, his henchmen were distinguished by their loyalty and promptly exposed all conspiracies against the king.

The humiliations that befell Henry in his youth did not anger him. He never sought to infringe on the dignity of others, including his enemies. When the king entered Paris in 1594, he allowed the Spanish garrison to leave the city with unfurled banners. He said to the enemy commanders: “Give my regards to your master, but do not return to us again.”

Why Henry IV is the only king whom the people of France loved

The king was kind, simple and generous. But there was one quality that infuriated those around him. Henry IV was incredibly stingy. The king lived very simply and there were no expensive clothes in his wardrobe. He also ate like a commoner, not recognizing culinary delights.

In one of his letters to his favorite Corisande, Henry wrote with delight that in the town where he was staying with his retinue, fish was incredibly cheap. Only three sous for a huge carp. At that time, in terms of purchasing power, one sou was equal to approximately two modern euros.

Why Henry IV is the only king whom the people of France loved

But Henry saved only on himself and his entourage. As for public affairs, the king financed them very generously. Under him, roads were built and canals were dug, and new crops were introduced, such as corn imported from the New World. The monarch showed concern for the well-being of his subjects. The following phrase is attributed to him:

Most likely, the king never said that, but he acted in such a way that people still readily believe in this legend. He showed real concern for the well-being of the people, and people repaid him with love.

But the most amazing quality of Henry IV was his tolerance. This was probably due to the fact that he himself was forced to change his faith 6 times in his life. Since childhood, the king was well acquainted with the provisions of Catholicism and Protestantism. For himself, he concluded that it is possible to be a worthy person regardless of religion.

Why Henry IV is the only king whom the people of France loved

Henry committed his only tactlessness in relation to faith at the age of seven. He rode on a loudly screaming donkey into the hall where Catherine de Medici was conferring with the papal ambassador. The rider was accompanied by the 10-year-old French king Charles IX, his younger brothers, Henry of Anjou and Francis of Alençon, as well as 10-year-old Henry of Guise. The children were dressed in costumes of bishops and cardinals.

When converting from Protestantism to Catholicism to enter Paris, Henry allegedly said the famous phrase: “Paris is worth a mass.” But it is in vain that cynicism is attributed to the king. His re-acceptance of Catholicism was preceded by lengthy consultations with the clergy and many days of reflection.

On April 13, 1598, Henry signed one of his most important laws, the Edict of Nantes. This document gave Protestants complete freedom of religion. From now on, representatives of this faith could also hold government positions. True, there were some restrictions. The Huguenots could hold their services only in the places of their compact residence. In Paris and in major cities of France this was prohibited.

Why Henry IV is the only king whom the people of France loved

For its time it was a revolutionary law. For the first time in a long time, it was not religion that was put in charge, but loyalty to the king and the state. Henry IV set himself a very important goal - to get rid of the split in French society without resorting to violence. He urged his supporters to change their faith to Catholicism, insisting that there was nothing wrong with this. The monarch gathered around him brilliant theologians who knew how to convince the most categorical Protestants.

Henry was a very educated man. His mother Jeanne d'Albret sent her son to a Catholic college in Paris when he was only six. At the same time, Protestant priests selected by his mother worked with the boy. The king spoke fluently in Latin, Greek and Spanish. The monarch's letters in French were distinguished by their sophistication. Only Heinrich could not make friends with spelling.

Why Henry IV is the only king whom the people of France loved

Having become king, Henry IV invited the Jesuits to the country. It was the most educated Catholic order, with extensive experience in teaching. Its representatives founded an education system in France, some provisions of which still exist today.

The king was distinguished by his courage and his slogan was Aut vincere, aut mori! - "Win or die!". Henry fought his first battle at the age of 14. And already at 15, he formally led the Protestant army, although in reality the experienced Admiral Coligny was in charge.

In one of the battles, Henry's army wavered and ran. Then the king exclaimed: “If you don’t want to fight, then at least watch me die!” The runners stopped, gathered their strength and were able to win. The monarch was always in the hottest places of battle and wore a helmet with a large white plume, visible from afar. At the same time, Henry tried to resolve issues peacefully, if possible.

Why Henry IV is the only king whom the people of France loved

Henry IV became king in 1589. During his reign, France prospered. The monarch organized trade with the Middle East and sent ships to Canada and Brazil. Although there were dissatisfied people who believed that the king was spending too much money on his mistresses. Yes, the thrifty monarch spared nothing for his favorites.

In 1609, there was a threat of war with Catholic Spain. The best allies for France could be Protestant countries. But French Catholics decided that the king had again abandoned the faith and was planning to bring the Huguenots to power in order to avenge St. Bartholomew's Night. The king began to be called a heretic and discontent began to brew in the country.

A schoolteacher from Angoulême, François Ravaillac, decided to stop the apostate king. At first he planned to meet with Henry and convince him to abandon his alliance with the Protestants. But when this failed, Ravaillac decided to kill the king. On May 14, 1610, he hung around the gates of the Louvre and managed to find out the route of the royal motorcade.

Why Henry IV is the only king whom the people of France loved

On the crowded Rue de La Ferronerie, the carriage stopped and the killer jumped onto its steps. He stabbed the king in the chest twice with a dagger. Heinrich did not see the attacker until the last moment. He talked with his companions - the Duke d'Epernon and the Duke de Montbazon. The king only had time to exclaim, “I am wounded,” and then died.

The killer was caught at the crime scene. He was tortured to find out the names of the organizers of the conspiracy. But Ravaillac endured the most monstrous tortures and did not name a single name. Two weeks after the murder of King Ravaillac, he was brought to the Place de Greve to be quartered. But the enraged people did not allow the execution to take place and tore the condemned man to shreds. The name of the murderer was cursed, and Henry IV of Bourbon forever remained in the memory of the people as the “good king.”

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