Catherine de Bourbon
|Catherine de Bourbon|
|Hereditary Princess of Lorraine|
|Spouse||Henri de Lorraine|
|House||House of Bourbon|
|Father||Anthony of Navarre|
|Mother||Joan III of Navarre|
|Born||7 February 1559
|Died||13 February 1604
Ducal Palace of Nancy, Lorraine
After the accession of her brother, Henry of Navarre, to the French throne, she was created Duchess of Albret and Countess of Armagnac. Because her brother, who became ruler of the principality of Béarn in 1572, Henry IV of France and Navarre was generally absent in other parts of France. After his escape from captivity in 1576, he entrusted Catherine with the government of Béarn. She served almost continuously as regent until 1596, where among her other responsibilities, this firm Protestant hosted Antonio Perez, a famous Spanish Catholic refugee from King Philip II. Appointed by her brother to sit on his Council as a representative of French Protestant interests in 1598, she set about persuading the Huguenots to agree to the Edict of Nantes.
As part of the treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye between Henry IV and Charles III, Duke of Lorraine, it was agreed that Catherine should marry Charles' elder son, Henry (1563 – 1624). The marriage agreement was signed on 13 July 1598. However, Catherine was a confirmed Calvinist, who refused to convert to Roman Catholicism, whilst her husband was a devout Catholic, and a former member of the Holy League.
Thus, the Pope was required to make a dispensation to allow the two to marry. On 29 December 1598 Pope Clement VIII declared himself opposed to the marriage. Dissatisfied, Henry IV intimidated the Archbishop of Reims into granting an authorisation of marriage. This was made at Saint-Germain-en-Laye on 31 January 1599. Henry eventually secured Papal agreement. However, Catherine was not married long before she died, childless. Her husband remarried to Margerita Gonzaga, a niece of Marie de Medici (Henry IV's second wife).