Ancient history

Henry IV

For the future Henri IV begins the third part of the triptych:claim, confirmation, consecration. The task is all the more difficult to carry out since, like Charles VII, "King of Bourges", facing the English, Henri is in fact only the "King of the Huguenots of the South-West", even 'he came to lay siege to Paris alongside the deceased sovereign.
The all-powerful Philip II of Spain provided men, arms and subsidies to the League, led by the Duke of Mayenne, because he cherishes the hope of one day having his daughter Isabelle, granddaughter of Henri II by her mother, ascend to the throne of France. This is both a disadvantage and an advantage for the Béarnais. Disadvantage, because the Iberian power is at its zenith; advantage, because many French Catholics (and the Duc de Mayenne is one of them) fear seeing a Spanish takeover of France. A patriotic reaction can indeed be guessed, and Henri had the skill to make, on August 4, 1589 in Saint-Cloud, a declaration under the terms of which he made the commitment to maintain the Roman religion in the kingdom, to be educated in this faith, while maintaining the edicts of his predecessors regarding the guarantees formerly granted to the reformed.
This is a judicious initiative which reveals, if need be, the political qualities of the new king of France. But he still has to become king of the French. The Cardinal de Bourbon, his uncle, has in fact become “Charles X” for the League, while the Duke of Mayenne calls himself lieutenant general of the kingdom. A bitter defeat suffered at Arques*, near Dieppe, on September 21, 1589, revealed to him his limits as much as the tactical skill of his adversary. A new defeat, suffered at Ivry* this time, on the banks of the Eure, on March 14, confirmed the influence of Henri IV, the leader "with
white panache", over the western provinces. But Henri fails in front of Paris, supplied by the Spaniards of the Duke of Parma after four months of siege. besiegers posing as millers. The war drags on. The influence of the Ligtie on Paris and Rouen counterbalances royal successes in the country of Caux, in Champagne, in Dauphiné and in Provence. If the Estates General, convened by the Duke of Mayenne in 1593, finally reject the candidacy of Isabella of Spain and at the same time reveal the division of the Catholic camp, if Henri de Navarre records rallying to his cause, his legitimacy does not not enough, nor the strength of his army. He must perform a political act. The Béarnais ended up convincing himself of this, an act which could only be a solemn abjuration. The country is waiting for him, tired of a ruinous war and a disunity that has been tearing the kingdom apart for more than thirty years now. Gabrielle d'Estrées, a wise favourite, pushes him there with all her influence. By ridiculing the relentlessness of the League, the authors of the Satire Ménippée, in progress, are only expressing popular common sense. The king himself was determined to do so, and on July 25, 1593, after a final interview with the Archbishop of Bourges at the Saint-Denis basilica, he declared himself convinced. Kneeling, he swears "before the face of Almighty God to live and die in the Catholic religion, to protect and defend it again and against all, at the risk of his blood and his life, renouncing all contrary heresies. ».
If the expression "Paris is worth a mass!" seems apocryphal, if Henri has to convince some of his ex-co-religionists, if the Holy See appears cautious at first glance, the effect of this abjuration is undeniable. The coronation was celebrated in Chartres on February 25, 1594. Paris opened its doors on the following March 22. The tenacious Duke of Mayenne suffered a final setback at Fontaine-Française, in Burgundy, on June 5, 1595, which led shortly after to his submission. The irreducible Duke of Mercœur, a fierce Leaguer withdrawn to Brittany, composed in his turn in March 1598. On May 2, the Treaty of Vervins brought peace between France and Spain. Finally, Henri IV kept the promises of his declaration of Saint-Cloud, made nine years earlier
vant, by promulgating the Edict of Nantes*. On April 13 of that same year, 1598, this act affirmed Catholicism as the state religion while giving the Reformed elementary guarantees for the exercise of worship.
The policy of reunification, advocated by Henry III , is complete. The unifier from Bearn then proves to be a builder. We always recognize a great leader or a great monarch by the quality of his state clerks. In this case, Henri IV is a great king, because Sully, Olivier de Serres, Adam de Craponne, Barthélemy Laffemas, among others, are all wise servants. Under their leadership, France healed its wounds, ploughed, cultivated, planted, worked, preparing for the success of the Grand Siècle.

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