Henry IV of France's succession

Henry IV of France's succession

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Henry IV of France's succession to the throne in 1589 was followed by a four-year war to establish his legitimacy. Henry IV
Henry IV of France
Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

 inherited the throne after the assassination of Henry III
Henry III of France
Henry III was King of France from 1574 to 1589. As Henry of Valois, he was the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the dual titles of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.-Childhood:Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau,...

, the last Valois king, who died without children. Henry was already King of Navarre, as the successor of his mother, Jeanne d'Albret
Jeanne III of Navarre
Jeanne d'Albret , also known as Jeanne III or Joan III, was the queen regnant of Navarre from 1555 to 1572. She married Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme, and was the mother of Henry of Bourbon, who became King of Navarre and of France as Henry IV, the first Bourbon king...

, but he owed his succession to the throne of France to the line of his father, Antoine of Bourbon, an agnatic descendant of Louis IX
Louis IX of France
Louis IX , commonly Saint Louis, was King of France from 1226 until his death. He was also styled Louis II, Count of Artois from 1226 to 1237. Born at Poissy, near Paris, he was an eighth-generation descendant of Hugh Capet, and thus a member of the House of Capet, and the son of Louis VIII and...

. He was the first French king from the House of Bourbon
House of Bourbon
The House of Bourbon is a European royal house, a branch of the Capetian dynasty . Bourbon kings first ruled Navarre and France in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Bourbon dynasty also held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma...

.

Henry's succession in 1589 proved far from straightforward. He and King Henry III were besieging Paris at the time of the latter's death. The city and large parts of France, mostly in the north, were in the hands of the Catholic League
Catholic League (French)
The Catholic League of France, sometimes referred to by contemporary Roman Catholics as the Holy League, a major player in the French Wars of Religion, was formed by Duke Henry of Guise in 1576...

, an alliance of leading Catholic nobles and prelates who opposed the Protestant Henry of Navarre as heir to the throne. Instead, they recognized Henry's uncle, Charles of Bourbon, as the heir, and on Henry III's assassination declared Charles king. As a result, Henry IV was forced to fight a civil war in order to assert his position as king, followed by a war against Spain, who continued to question his legitimacy. After the death of Charles of Bourbon, the Catholic League's failure to choose a replacement claimant to the throne, in combination with Henry IV's conversion to Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

, led to a general recognition of the king in France. Henry IV's successors ruled France until the French Revolution and the subsequent Bourbon restorations
Bourbon Restoration
The Bourbon Restoration is the name given to the period following the successive events of the French Revolution , the end of the First Republic , and then the forcible end of the First French Empire under Napoleon  – when a coalition of European powers restored by arms the monarchy to the...

, and they founded dynasties in Spain and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, commonly known as the Two Sicilies even before formally coming into being, was the largest and wealthiest of the Italian states before Italian unification...

.

Descent from Louis IX


Henry of Navarre was descended through his father from King Louis IX of France. Robert, Count of Clermont
Robert, Count of Clermont
Robert of France was made Count of Clermont in 1268. He was son of King Louis IX of France and Margaret of Provence...

 (d. 1317), the sixth son of Louis IX had married Beatrix of Bourbon and assumed the title of sire de Bourbon. When the senior line of descent had ended in 1527 with the death of Charles III, Duke of Bourbon
Charles III, Duke of Bourbon
Charles III, Duke of Bourbon was a French military leader, the Count of Montpensier and Dauphin of Auvergne. He commanded the Imperial troops of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in what became known as the Sack of Rome in 1527, where he was killed.-Biography:Charles was born at Montpensier...

, the line defaulted to the Bourbon-Vendôme
Bourbon-Vendôme
The Bourbon-Vendôme family was an illegitimate branch of the senior line of the House of Bourbon, being thus part of the Capetian dynasty. It was founded by César de Bourbon, duc de Vendôme...

 branch. At that time, Antoine de Bourbon
Antoine of Navarre
Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme was head of the House of Bourbon from 1537 to 1562, and jure uxoris King of Navarre from 1555 to 1562.-Family:...

 was the Duke of Vendôme and his son, Prince Henry of Navarre, inherited this title on his death from an arquebus
Arquebus
The arquebus , or "hook tube", is an early muzzle-loaded firearm used in the 15th to 17th centuries. The word was originally modeled on the German hakenbüchse; this produced haquebute...

 wound at the siege of Rouen in 1562.

The legitimacy of Henry of Navarre's claim to the throne was not unquestioned, however. In similar cases in the past, the throne had passed to successors with a much closer blood link to the throne. Louis XII
Louis XII of France
Louis proved to be a popular king. At the end of his reign the crown deficit was no greater than it had been when he succeeded Charles VIII in 1498, despite several expensive military campaigns in Italy. His fiscal reforms of 1504 and 1508 tightened and improved procedures for the collection of taxes...

 had succeeded Charles VIII
Charles VIII of France
Charles VIII, called the Affable, , was King of France from 1483 to his death in 1498. Charles was a member of the House of Valois...

 as his cousin seven times removed in the male line. Francis I
Francis I of France
Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death. During his reign, huge cultural changes took place in France and he has been called France's original Renaissance monarch...

 had succeeded Louis XII as his cousin five times removed in the male line. These successions were legally unproblematic because consanguinity
Consanguinity
Consanguinity refers to the property of being from the same kinship as another person. In that respect, consanguinity is the quality of being descended from the same ancestor as another person...

 was acknowledged in law to the tenth degree. Henry of Navarre, on the other hand, could only claim a relationship to Henry III in the twenty-second degree. When Henry had become the heir presumptive to the throne in 1584, on the death of Francis, Duke of Anjou, polemicist Jean Boucher had been among those who protested that such a distance in blood meant Henry's claim to the throne had effectively lapsed and that therefore the Estates General
French States-General
In France under the Old Regime, the States-General or Estates-General , was a legislative assembly of the different classes of French subjects. It had a separate assembly for each of the three estates, which were called and dismissed by the king...

 had the right to elect a new king.

When Henry was a boy, it seemed highly unlikely that he would ever inherit the throne of France, since Henry II
Henry II of France
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559.-Early years:Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany .His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy,...

 had produced four surviving sons. However, the prince of Navarre's pedigree gave him a special place of honour in the French nobility
French nobility
The French nobility was the privileged order of France in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern periods.In the political system of the Estates General, the nobility made up the Second Estate...

, since all sons of the Bourbon line were acknowledged as the princes of the blood
Prince du Sang
A prince of the blood was a person who was legitimately descended in the male line from the monarch of a country. In France, the rank of prince du sang was the highest held at court after the immediate family of the king during the ancien régime and the Bourbon Restoration...

. As the senior male representative of that line, Henry was officially the First Prince of the Blood, and his cousin, Henry, Prince of Condé
Henri I de Bourbon, prince de Condé
Henri de Bourbon-Condé was a French Prince du Sang and Huguenot general like his more prominent father, Louis I, Prince of Condé....

, was also a prince of the blood
Prince du Sang
A prince of the blood was a person who was legitimately descended in the male line from the monarch of a country. In France, the rank of prince du sang was the highest held at court after the immediate family of the king during the ancien régime and the Bourbon Restoration...

.

The importance of the princes of the blood had been demonstrated when Antoine of Navarre's uncle Francis, Count of Enghien (d. 1546), had commanded the victorious royal armies at the battle of Ceresole
Battle of Ceresole
The Battle of Ceresole was an encounter between a French army and the combined forces of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire during the Italian War of 1542–46...

 in 1544. It was to be further demonstrated when Antoine of Bourbon's last surviving brother, Cardinal Charles
Charles, Cardinal de Bourbon
Charles de Bourbon was a French cardinal. The Catholic League considered him the rightful King of France after the death of Henry III of France in 1589.-Biography:...

 (d. 1590), was chosen by the Catholic nobles as King of France in the face of Henry IV's Protestantism. Catherine de’ Medici had only ensured her regency
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

 of the nine-year-old King Charles IX
Charles IX of France
Charles IX was King of France, ruling from 1560 until his death. His reign was dominated by the Wars of Religion. He is best known as king at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Childhood:...

 in 1560 by making a deal with Antoine of Bourbon, who many considered had the right, as First Prince of the Blood, to be the regent.

In a kingdom where the Salic Law
Salic law
Salic law was a body of traditional law codified for governing the Salian Franks in the early Middle Ages during the reign of King Clovis I in the 6th century...

 excluded women from succession to the throne, Catherine had overcome prejudice against government by a woman and been elected governor (gouvernante) of France with sweeping powers. However, she accepted that none of her three daughters would ever inherit the French throne. In 1572, by which time only two of her sons remained alive, she brokered a marriage between her daughter Margaret and Henry, who that year became King Henry III of Navarre after the death of his mother, Jeanne d'Albret, while buying clothes for the wedding in Paris. The marriage was intended to unite the interests of the house of Valois with the house of Bourbon.

Henry of Navarre always emphasised the significance of his blood, rather than religion, when challenging the Guise-led Catholic League. After the League forced Henry III to sign the Treaty of Nemours
Treaty of Nemours
Articles of the Treaty of Nemours were agreed upon in writing and signed in Nemours on July 7, 1585 between the Queen Mother, Catherine de' Medici, acting for the King, and representatives of the House of Guise, including the Duke of Lorraine...

, which excluded Navarre from the succession, in July 1585, the latter issued a manifesto condemning the pact as:

A peace made with foreigners at the expense of the princes of the blood; with the House of Lorraine at the expense of the House of France; with rebels at the expense of obedient subjects; with agitators at the expense of those who have brought peace by every means within their power ... I intend to oppose it with all my heart, and to this end to rally around me ... all true Frenchmen without regard to religion, since this time it is a question of the defence of the state against the usurpation of foreigners.


The pull of such propaganda remained potent even after twenty-five years of civil war. An English agent reported that after this and similar declarations by Henry, "many good Catholics flooded to his standard".

Kingdom of Navarre


Though a part of the old Kingdom of Navarre was incorporated into Spain, the claim to the remaining part was retained by Queen Catherine
Infanta Catherine of Navarre
Catherine de Foix was a French noblewoman.She was a daughter of Gaston IV, Count of Foix and Eleanor of Navarre...

 (daughter of Magdalene of France
Magdalena of Valois
Magdalena of Valois, also called Madeleine de France , was a daughter of Charles VII of France and Marie of Anjou, and acted as regent for her children, Francis I and Catherine I, who were successively monarchs of Navarre.Magdalena was betrothed to Ladislaus the Posthumous however he died suddenly...

), who married John, Count of Périgord
John III of Navarre
John III , also known as Jean d'Albret, was jure uxoris, King consort of the Queen regnant Catherine of Navarre.He was a son of Alain I of Albret, Lord of Albret, and his wife, Frances of Châtillon-Limoges.-King of Navarre:...

, brother-in-law of Cesare Borgia
Cesare Borgia
Cesare Borgia , Duke of Valentinois, was an Italian condottiero, nobleman, politician, and cardinal. He was the son of Pope Alexander VI and his long-term mistress Vannozza dei Cattanei. He was the brother of Lucrezia Borgia; Giovanni Borgia , Duke of Gandia; and Gioffre Borgia , Prince of Squillace...

 and lord of vast lands in the southwest of France. John was chased out of Spanish Navarre by Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand the Catholic was King of Aragon , Sicily , Naples , Valencia, Sardinia, and Navarre, Count of Barcelona, jure uxoris King of Castile and then regent of that country also from 1508 to his death, in the name of...

 in 1512 and retreated to Navarre north of the Pyrenees; and the Navarrese Cortes (parliament) accepted annexation to Castile
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

. The part that survived as an independent kingdom north of the Pyrenees, Lower Navarre, was united with the Viscountcy of Béarn
Viscountcy of Béarn
The viscountcy of Béarn is a former province of France, located in the Pyrenees mountains and in the plain at their feet, in southwest France...

 in an independent kingdom. It was given a representative assembly by Catherine and John's son, Henry II of Navarre
Henry II of Navarre
Henry II was the eldest son of John III of Navarre and Catherine I of Navarre, sister and heiress of Francis Phoebus, King of Navarre; he was born at Sangüesa.-King of Navarre:...

. By the time of Henry III of Navarre (the future Henry IV of France), the monarch of Navarre could call to arms 300 gentlemen and 6,000-foot soldiers from the kingdom.

Rival claimants


The Catholic League
Catholic League (French)
The Catholic League of France, sometimes referred to by contemporary Roman Catholics as the Holy League, a major player in the French Wars of Religion, was formed by Duke Henry of Guise in 1576...

's candidate for the crown of France in 1589 was Charles, Cardinal de Bourbon
Charles, Cardinal de Bourbon
Charles de Bourbon was a French cardinal. The Catholic League considered him the rightful King of France after the death of Henry III of France in 1589.-Biography:...

. The brother of Antoine of Bourbon (and Henry of Navarre's uncle), he was the last surviving Catholic prince of the blood. However, two factors made him an unconvincing choice: he was sixty-six years old, and he was firmly in the custody of first Henry III and then Henry IV. The cardinal found himself imprisoned in 1588, when Henry III ordered the murder of Henry, Duke of Guise
Henry I, Duke of Guise
Henry I, Prince of Joinville, Duke of Guise, Count of Eu , sometimes called Le Balafré, "the scarred", was the eldest son of Francis, Duke of Guise, and Anna d'Este...

, at the Château of Blois
Château de Blois
The Royal Château de Blois is located in the Loir-et-Cher département in the Loire Valley, in France, in the center of the city of Blois. The residence of several French kings, it is also the place where Joan of Arc went in 1429 to be blessed by the Archbishop of Reims before departing with her...

 and rounded up those he regarded as a threat to his crown, including the Cardinal of Bourbon. On Henry III's death, Henry IV assumed responsibility for his captive rival. The League proved unable to free the cardinal; and when he died on 8 May 1591 they were left without a plausible successor as claimant to the throne. This proved fatal to their opposition to Henry's rule.

During the period between the succession of Henry IV and the death of the Cardinal of Bourbon, the city of Paris had achieved a degree of independence. While acknowledging the Catholic League and accepting a Spanish garrison, the authorities there had championed their liberties against those of the crown, to the point where some citizens openly opposed the institution of monarchy altogether. In October 1589, a Parisian lawyer complained publicly: "Our civil disorder and factions have opened the door to a crowd of corrupt little men who, with effrontery, have attacked authority with such licence and audacity that those who have not seen it would not believe it. In so doing, they have wanted to jump from a monarchy to a democracy".

The death of the Cardinal of Bourbon prompted measures to elect a new antiking
Antiking
An Antiking is a would-be king who, due to succession disputes or simple political opposition, declares himself king in opposition to a reigning monarch. Antikings are more often found in elected monarchies than in hereditary monarchies like those of England and France; such figures in hereditary...

. Although the French monarchy was hereditary
Hereditary monarchy
A hereditary monarchy is the most common type of monarchy and is the form that is used by almost all of the world's existing monarchies.Under a hereditary monarchy, all the monarchs come from the same family, and the crown is passed down from one member to another member of the family...

, the League's lawyers searched the early history of France for precedents to legitimise the election of a king. The Protestant scholar and ideologue François Hotman
François Hotman
François Hotman was a French Protestant lawyer and writer, associated with the legal humanists and with the monarchomaques, who struggled against absolute monarchy. His first name is often written 'Francis' in English. His surname is Latinized by himself as Hotomanus, by others as Hotomannus and...

 had argued in his Francogallia that France was once a free country, whose liberties had been eroded over time, including the right to elect kings. Hotman had asserted the right of the Estates-General to perform this function. Though Hotman was a Protestant, his argument also influenced Catholic jurists searching for a means to replace the Cardinal of Bourbon at the beginning of the 1590s and the decision to summon the Estates-General to elect a new "king".

The meeting of the Estates General that opened on 26 January 1593 proved far from representative. Many royalist delegates refused to attend, and other delegates were blocked by royalist troops from reaching Paris. By this time, deep divisions in the League had become apparent. The League's leader, Charles of Lorraine, Duke of Mayenne
Charles of Lorraine, Duke of Mayenne
Charles of Lorraine, Duke of Mayenne , or Charles de Guise, was a French nobleman of the house of Guise and a military leader of the Catholic League, which he headed during the French Wars of Religion, following the assassination of his brothers at Blois in 1588...

, had repeatedly disputed the strategy of the Duke of Parma
Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma
Alexander Farnese was Duke of Parma and Piacenza from 1586 to 1592, and Governor of the Spanish Netherlands from 1578 to 1592.-Biography:...

, the Governor of the Spanish Netherlands, whom Philip II sent into northern France to reinforce the League. Mayenne had also quarrelled with his nephew, Charles, Duke of Guise
Charles, Duke of Guise
Charles de Lorraine, 4th Duke of Guise was the son of Henry I, Duke of Guise and Catherine of Cleves.-Biography:...

, whom some wanted to elect king. Finally, Mayenne was at odds with many Parisian leaders, particularly with the Sixteen, a group of city representatives who pursued their own libertarian agenda and often worked with the Spanish behind Mayenne's back. In November 1591, when the Sixteen executed a group of moderates from the Paris parlement, Mayenne hanged or imprisoned the ringleaders. Mayenne, who nursed ambitions to be king himself, saw his grand alliance of Catholic nobles, French towns, and Spain crumbling from a growing disunity of purpose and the absence of an obvious claimant to the throne.

It was widely believed among Catholics that the pope's blessing was essential to the legitimacy of a King of France, because of the Protestant faith of Henry. At the time of his succession, Henry IV was under a papal excommunication
Excommunication
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

, imposed by Pope Sixtus V
Pope Sixtus V
Pope Sixtus V , born Felice Peretti di Montalto, was Pope from 1585 to 1590.-Early life:The chronicler Andrija Zmajević states that Felice's family originated from modern-day Montenegro...

 on 21 September 1585. This meant that the papacy considered it legitimate for Henry's subjects to oppose his rule, both as King of Navarre and, after 1589, as King of France. The persistence of rebellion and civil war in the early years of Henry's reign owed much to the papacy's refusal to accept anyone but a Catholic on the French throne.

Mayenne was opposed to the idea of summoning the Estates-General to elect a king, but during 1592, he finally caved in to Spanish pressure to do so. Mayenne opened the assembly with a symbolically empty chair beside him. The influence of Spain on the assembly soon proved problematic. Spain sought the election of the nfanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain], the daughter of Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 and the granddaughter of Catherine de’ Medici. The Spanish urged the Estates-General to repeal the Salic Law, which prevented the rule of a queen regnant
Queen regnant
A queen regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right, in contrast to a queen consort, who is the wife of a reigning king. An empress regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right over an empire....

; but in this, they failed to grasp a fundamental principle of the French royal succession. The Spanish ambassador in Paris had instructions to "insinuate cleverly" the rights of the Infanta to the French throne. His brief also stated that the Salic Law "was a pure invention ... as the most learned and discerning of their lawyers recognise". The Estates-General of the Catholic League insisted that if Clara Isabella Eugenia were to be chosen, she should marry a French prince; Philip II, however, wanted her to marry Archduke Ernest of Austria
Archduke Ernest of Austria
Archduke Ernest of Austria was an Austrian nobleman, the son of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor and Maria of Spain....

. The Estates replied that "our laws and customs prevent us from calling forward as king any prince not of our nation". On 28 June 1593, the Paris parlement followed up by resolving "to preserve the realm which depends on God alone and recognizes no other ruler of its temporal affairs, no matter what his status, and to prevent it from being overrun by foreigners in the fair name of religion".

While the delegates of the Estates-General dithered in Paris, Henry IV dealt a well-timed blow to their deliberations by announcing his wish to be converted from Protestantism to Catholicism. This move effectively cut the ground from under the Catholic League's feet. The Estates-General sent delegates to treat with Henry's representatives; and on 8 August, most members of the assembly returned home.

Legitimization


Henry's abjuration
Abjuration
Abjuration is the solemn repudiation, abandonment, or renunciation by or upon oath, often the renunciation of citizenship or some other right or privilege. .-Abjuration of the realm:...

 of the Protestant faith on 25 July 1593 at the abbey of Saint-Denis proved decisive in winning over many of his opponents. His legitimization proceeded in stages. The archbishop of Bourges raised his excommunication, though without papal authority, during the abjuration ceremony. The following year, Henry had himself anointed
Anointing
To anoint is to pour or smear with perfumed oil, milk, water, melted butter or other substances, a process employed ritually by many religions. People and things are anointed to symbolize the introduction of a sacramental or divine influence, a holy emanation, spirit, power or God...

 and crowned at Chartres cathedral. After the ceremony, he demonstrated his sacred powers by touching people for scrofula
Scrofula
Tuberculous cervical lymphadenitis refers to a lymphadenitis of the cervical lymph nodes associated with tuberculosis. It was previously known as "scrofula".-The disease:...

, the king's evil. Finally, on 12 July 1595, Pope Clement VIII
Pope Clement VIII
Pope Clement VIII , born Ippolito Aldobrandini, was Pope from 30 January 1592 to 3 March 1605.-Cardinal:...

 agreed to lift Henry's excommunication; and he pronounced the absolution
Absolution
Absolution is a traditional theological term for the forgiveness experienced in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This concept is found in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Anglican churches, and most Lutheran churches....

 on 17 September. For the first time, he gave Henry the title of "most Christian King of France and Navarre".

When Pope Clement VIII
Pope Clement VIII
Pope Clement VIII , born Ippolito Aldobrandini, was Pope from 30 January 1592 to 3 March 1605.-Cardinal:...

 absolved Henry he, like Henry, was motivated by political pragmatism
Pragmatism
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice...

. The papacy lived in fear of further national churches breaking away from Rome to be governed instead by princes. The Gallican church
Gallican Church
The Gallican Church was the Catholic Church in France from the time of the Declaration of the Clergy of France to that of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy during the French Revolution....

 already showed independent tendencies, and some of Henry's advisers advocated that he declare himself the spiritual head of the French church. At the same time, Clement feared that, in the words of historian J. H. Elliott, "a Spanish victory in France could mean the end of papal independence". Clement VIII's grant of absolution therefore contains an element of damage limitation. For two years, Henry had been recognised by many in the French church, and French theologians at the Sorbonne
Sorbonne
The Sorbonne is an edifice of the Latin Quarter, in Paris, France, which has been the historical house of the former University of Paris...

 had confirmed the Archbishop of Bourges's lifting of Henry's excommunication. In order to reassert papal jurisdiction, Clement made a point of declaring the absolution granted at St Denis in 1593 to be void: but in substituting his own absolution, he ruled all Henry's acts since that date as legitimate in retrospect. By this means, the pope papered over the technical anomaly of the archbishop's abrogation of papal powers. Clement's absolution was contingent on a set of demanding conditions. Among other promises, Henry swore to establish a single religion in France, to recompense all Catholic clergy who had lost land or property to the Huguenots, and to apply the decrees of the Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

 in France.

After 1594, Henry's new-found recognition doomed further armed opposition to his rule within France. One by one the leaders of the Catholic League made peace with him. Mayenne surrendered in 1596 after the Peace of Follembray, and in 1598 the surrender of the last League commander, Philippe Emmanuel, Duke of Mercœur, who had hoped to restore Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

 to independence under his own rule, was followed by the Edict of Nantes
Edict of Nantes
The Edict of Nantes, issued on 13 April 1598, by Henry IV of France, granted the Calvinist Protestants of France substantial rights in a nation still considered essentially Catholic. In the Edict, Henry aimed primarily to promote civil unity...

 in the same year. Even so, many of Henry's Catholic subjects were sceptical about his recantation
Recantation
The verb recant , and its derivative noun recantation, can mean:* To formally abandon a belief or a particular statement of belief, generally under order from an ecclesiastical authority to...

. It was argued that until Henry fulfilled the daunting terms of his absolution, his conversion could not be considered sincere. Those who continued to believe that Henry was a heretic
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 regarded him as a tyrant
Tyrant
A tyrant was originally one who illegally seized and controlled a governmental power in a polis. Tyrants were a group of individuals who took over many Greek poleis during the uprising of the middle classes in the sixth and seventh centuries BC, ousting the aristocratic governments.Plato and...

 who had usurped the throne of France under false pretenses. One of the reasons François Ravaillac
François Ravaillac
François Ravaillac was a French factotum in the courts of Angoulême and a regicide. A sometime tutor and Catholic zealot, he murdered King Henry IV of France in 1610.-Early life and education:...

 gave for assassinating
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

 Henry IV in 1610 was the king's "refusal to exercise his power to compel the so-called reformed Church [Calvinist Protestants] to the apostolic Catholic and Roman Church".

Assassination


Henry IV's assassination
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

 in 1610 was the last of a series of attempts on his life throughout his reign. The constant threat of assassination was related to questions of his legitimacy as King of France. Even after his abjuration
Abjuration
Abjuration is the solemn repudiation, abandonment, or renunciation by or upon oath, often the renunciation of citizenship or some other right or privilege. .-Abjuration of the realm:...

 of the Protestant faith in 1594, doubts remained about the sincerity of Henry's conversion. In particular, there were those who believed that in failing to fulfill the terms of his absolution
Absolution
Absolution is a traditional theological term for the forgiveness experienced in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This concept is found in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Anglican churches, and most Lutheran churches....

, he remained technically excommunicate
Excommunication
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

 and therefore a legitimate target of assassination. As a Catholic king, it was argued, Henry should have closed Huguenot churches and banned Protestant worship; instead, he made concessions to his former co-religionists in the Edict of Nantes
Edict of Nantes
The Edict of Nantes, issued on 13 April 1598, by Henry IV of France, granted the Calvinist Protestants of France substantial rights in a nation still considered essentially Catholic. In the Edict, Henry aimed primarily to promote civil unity...

 and tolerated the existence of what was seen as a "state within a state"—whole towns and regions of France where the Huguenots' right to worship, bear arms, and govern their own affairs was protected by the crown.

According to Henry's murderer, François Ravaillac
François Ravaillac
François Ravaillac was a French factotum in the courts of Angoulême and a regicide. A sometime tutor and Catholic zealot, he murdered King Henry IV of France in 1610.-Early life and education:...

, "he made no attempt to convert these Protestants and was said to be on the point of waging war against the Pope so as to transfer the Holy See to Paris". Ravaillac stated that "he had felt obliged to take this step because, from rumours he had heard, he felt the King had seemed reluctant to punish the Huguenots for trying to murder all the Catholics last Christmas Day. Some Catholics still languished in the Paris gaols while their persecutors went scot free".

Those who questioned the sincerity of Henry's conversion pointed to his contravention of the terms of his absolution. Henry continued to promote Huguenots to office in France and to form alliances with Protestant princes abroad. In his home territory of Béarn, he did nothing to re-establish free Catholic worship as the pope demanded. It seemed clear to Henry's Catholic opponents that he had recanted
Recantation
The verb recant , and its derivative noun recantation, can mean:* To formally abandon a belief or a particular statement of belief, generally under order from an ecclesiastical authority to...

 his Protestantism merely for political reasons, in order to secure the French throne. Rebels and would-be assassins felt justified by what they saw as Henry's manifest failure to comply with the terms of his absolution. In their view, Henry remained a heretic
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 and, therefore, an usurper
Usurper
Usurper is a derogatory term used to describe either an illegitimate or controversial claimant to the power; often, but not always in a monarchy, or a person who succeeds in establishing himself as a monarch without inheriting the throne, or any other person exercising authority unconstitutionally...

 on the throne of France.

Genealogy


On the death of King Henry III of France
Henry III of France
Henry III was King of France from 1574 to 1589. As Henry of Valois, he was the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the dual titles of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.-Childhood:Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau,...

, who had no son, the crown passed to Henry IV, in application of Salic law
Salic law
Salic law was a body of traditional law codified for governing the Salian Franks in the early Middle Ages during the reign of King Clovis I in the 6th century...

, because Henry was the descendant of the eldest surviving male line of the Capetian dynasty
Capetian dynasty
The Capetian dynasty , also known as the House of France, is the largest and oldest European royal house, consisting of the descendants of King Hugh Capet of France in the male line. Hugh Capet himself was a cognatic descendant of the Carolingians and the Merovingians, earlier rulers of France...

.

House of Bourbon


Henry IV's descent in the male line from Louis IX of France
Louis IX of France
Louis IX , commonly Saint Louis, was King of France from 1226 until his death. He was also styled Louis II, Count of Artois from 1226 to 1237. Born at Poissy, near Paris, he was an eighth-generation descendant of Hugh Capet, and thus a member of the House of Capet, and the son of Louis VIII and...

.
  • Henry IV was the 9th cousin of King Henry II
    Henry II of France
    Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559.-Early years:Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany .His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy,...

    , and the 9th cousin once removed
    Cousin
    In kinship terminology, a cousin is a relative with whom one shares one or more common ancestors. The term is rarely used when referring to a relative in one's immediate family where there is a more specific term . The term "blood relative" can be used synonymously and establishes the existence of...

     of kings Francis II
    Francis II of France
    Francis II was aged 15 when he succeeded to the throne of France after the accidental death of his father, King Henry II, in 1559. He reigned for 18 months before he died in December 1560...

    , Charles IX
    Charles IX of France
    Charles IX was King of France, ruling from 1560 until his death. His reign was dominated by the Wars of Religion. He is best known as king at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Childhood:...

    , and Henry III
    Henry III of France
    Henry III was King of France from 1574 to 1589. As Henry of Valois, he was the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the dual titles of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.-Childhood:Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau,...

    . He was the son of:
  • Antoine of Navarre
    Antoine of Navarre
    Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme was head of the House of Bourbon from 1537 to 1562, and jure uxoris King of Navarre from 1555 to 1562.-Family:...

     (1518–1562), 8th cousin of kings Charles VIII
    Charles VIII of France
    Charles VIII, called the Affable, , was King of France from 1483 to his death in 1498. Charles was a member of the House of Valois...

     and Francis I
    Francis I of France
    Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death. During his reign, huge cultural changes took place in France and he has been called France's original Renaissance monarch...

    , who was the son of:
  • Charles IV, Duke of Bourbon (1489–1537), 7th cousin of kings Louis XI
    Louis XI of France
    Louis XI , called the Prudent , was the King of France from 1461 to 1483. He was the son of Charles VII of France and Mary of Anjou, a member of the House of Valois....

     and Louis XII
    Louis XII of France
    Louis proved to be a popular king. At the end of his reign the crown deficit was no greater than it had been when he succeeded Charles VIII in 1498, despite several expensive military campaigns in Italy. His fiscal reforms of 1504 and 1508 tightened and improved procedures for the collection of taxes...

    , who was the son of:
  • François de Bourbon-Vendôme
    François, Count of Vendôme
    François de Bourbon was a French nobleman. He was the Count of Vendôme.He was the son of Jean VIII, Count of Vendôme, and Isabelle de Beauveau. At his father's death when he was 7, he became Count of Vendôme...

     (1470–1495), 6th cousin of King Charles VII
    Charles VII of France
    Charles VII , called the Victorious or the Well-Served , was King of France from 1422 to his death, though he was initially opposed by Henry VI of England, whose Regent, the Duke of Bedford, ruled much of France including the capital, Paris...

    , who was the son of:
  • Jean de Bourbon-Vendôme (1428–1477), 5th cousin of King Charles VI
    Charles VI of France
    Charles VI , called the Beloved and the Mad , was the King of France from 1380 to 1422, as a member of the House of Valois. His bouts with madness, which seem to have begun in 1392, led to quarrels among the French royal family, which were exploited by the neighbouring powers of England and Burgundy...

    , who was the son of:
  • Louis de Bourbon-Vendôme
    Louis, Count of Vendôme
    Louis of Bourbon-La Marche , younger son of John I, Count of La Marche and Catherine de Vendôme, was Count of Vendôme from 1393 and Count of Castres from 1425 until his death....

     (1376–1446), 4th cousin of King Charles V
    Charles V of France
    Charles V , called the Wise, was King of France from 1364 to his death in 1380 and a member of the House of Valois...

    , who was the son of:
  • Jean de Bourbon-La Marche
    John I, Count of La Marche
    John of Bourbon-La Marche , was the second son of James I, Count of La Marche and Jeanne of Châtillon.-Life:...

     (1344–1393), 3rd cousin of kings John I Posthumus
    John I of France
    John I , called the Posthumous, was King of France and Navarre, and Count of Champagne, as the son and successor of Louis the Headstrong, for the five days he lived...

     and John II
    John II of France
    John II , called John the Good , was the King of France from 1350 until his death. He was the second sovereign of the House of Valois and is perhaps best remembered as the king who was vanquished at the Battle of Poitiers and taken as a captive to England.The son of Philip VI and Joan the Lame,...

    , who was the son of:
  • Jacques de Bourbon-La Marche
    James I, Count of La Marche
    James of Bourbon-La Marche was the son of Louis I, Duke of Bourbon and Mary of Avesnes. He was Count of Ponthieu from 1351 to 1360, and Count of La Marche from 1356 to his death.-Hundred Years War:...

     (1315–1362), 2nd cousin of kings Louis X
    Louis X of France
    Louis X of France, , called the Quarreler, the Headstrong, or the Stubborn was the King of Navarre from 1305 and King of France from 1314 until his death...

    , Philip V
    Philip V of France
    Philip the Tall was King of France as Philip V and, as Philip II, King of Navarre and Count of Champagne. He reigned from 1316 to his death and was the penultimate monarch of the House of Capet. Considered a wise and politically astute ruler, Philip took the throne under questionable...

    , Charles IV
    Charles IV of France
    Charles IV, known as the Fair , was the King of France and of Navarre and Count of Champagne from 1322 to his death: he was the last French king of the senior Capetian lineage....

    , and Philip VI
    Philip VI of France
    Philip VI , known as the Fortunate and of Valois, was the King of France from 1328 to his death. He was also Count of Anjou, Maine, and Valois from 1325 to 1328...

    , who was the son of:
  • Louis I, Duke of Bourbon
    Louis I, Duke of Bourbon
    Louis I de Bourbon, le Boiteux, the Lame was Count of Clermont-en-Beauvaisis and La Marche, and the first Duke of Bourbon.-Life:...

     (1279–1342), 1st cousin of King Philip IV
    Philip IV of France
    Philip the Fair was, as Philip IV, King of France from 1285 until his death. He was the husband of Joan I of Navarre, by virtue of which he was, as Philip I, King of Navarre and Count of Champagne from 1284 to 1305.-Youth:A member of the House of Capet, Philip was born at the Palace of...

    , who was the son of:
  • Robert, Count of Clermont
    Robert, Count of Clermont
    Robert of France was made Count of Clermont in 1268. He was son of King Louis IX of France and Margaret of Provence...

     (1256–1317), brother of King Philip III
    Philip III of France
    Philip III , called the Bold , was the King of France, succeeding his father, Louis IX, and reigning from 1270 to 1285. He was a member of the House of Capet.-Biography:...

     and son of:
  • King Louis IX
    Louis IX of France
    Louis IX , commonly Saint Louis, was King of France from 1226 until his death. He was also styled Louis II, Count of Artois from 1226 to 1237. Born at Poissy, near Paris, he was an eighth-generation descendant of Hugh Capet, and thus a member of the House of Capet, and the son of Louis VIII and...

    (Saint Louis) (1214/1215 - 1270)