Henry III of France
|Henry III, 1570 by Jean de Court,
|Reign||16 May 1573 – 12 May 1575|
|Coronation||22 February 1574 (Wawel)|
|Predecessor||Sigismund II Augustus
|Successor||Anna the Jagiellonian and
|Regent||Jakub Uchański, Interrex|
|Reign||30 May 1574 – 2 August 1589|
|Coronation||13 February 1575 (Reims)|
|Spouse||Louise of Lorraine|
|House||House of Valois|
|Father||Henry II of France|
|Mother||Catherine de' Medici|
19 September 1551|
Château de Fontainebleau, France
|Died||2 August 1589
Château de Saint-Cloud, France
|Burial||Saint Denis Basilica, France|
Henry III (19 September 1551 – 2 August 1589; born Alexandre Édouard de France, Polish: Henryk Walezy, Lithuanian: Henrikas Valua) was a monarch of the House of Valois who was elected the monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1573 to 1575 and ruled as King of France from 1574 until his death. He was the last French monarch of the Valois dynasty.
As the fourth son of King Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici, Henry was not expected to assume the throne of France. He was thus a good candidate for the vacant Polish-Lithuanian throne, and he was elected with the dual titles King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania.
Henry's rule over Poland and Lithuania was brief, but notable. The Henrician Articles he signed into law accepting the Polish throne established Poland as an elective monarchy subject to free election by the Polish nobility. Of his three older brothers, two would live long enough to become king, but both died young and without a legitimate male heir. He abandoned Poland upon receiving word that he had inherited the throne of France at age 22.
The kingdom of France was at the time plagued by the Wars of Religion, and Henry's authority was undermined by violent political parties funded by foreign powers: the Catholic League (supported by Spain), the Protestant Huguenots (supported by England) and the Malcontents, led by Henry's own brother, the Duke of Alençon, which was a party of Catholic and Protestant aristocrats who jointly opposed the absolutist ambitions of the king. Henry III was himself a politique, arguing that a strong and religiously tolerant monarchy would save France from collapse.
After the death of Henry's younger brother Francis, Duke of Anjou, and when it became apparent that Henry would not produce an heir, the Wars of Religion grew into a succession crisis that resulted in a war known as the War of the Three Henrys. Henry III's legitimate heir was his distant cousin Henry, King of Navarre, a Protestant. The Catholic League, led by Henry I, Duke of Guise, sought to exclude Protestants from the succession and championed the Catholic Charles, Cardinal of Bourbon, as Henry III's heir.
In 1589, Jacques Clément, a Catholic fanatic, murdered Henry III, who was succeeded by the King of Navarre. As Henry IV, he would assume the throne of France after converting to Catholicism to become the first French king of the House of Bourbon.
Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau, Seine-et-Marne, the fourth son of King Henry II and Catherine de' Medici and grandson of Francis I of France and Claude of France. His older brothers were Francis II of France, Charles IX of France, and Louis of Valois. He was made Duke of Angoulême and Duke of Orléans in 1560, then Duke of Anjou in 1566.
He was his mother's favourite; she called him chers yeux ("Precious Eyes") and lavished fondness and affection upon him for most of his life. His elder brother, Charles, grew to detest him, partially because he resented his better health.
In his youth, Henry was considered the best of the sons of Catherine de' Medici and Henry II. Unlike his father and elder brothers, he had little interest in the traditional Valois pastimes of hunting and physical exercise. Although he was both fond of fencing and skilled in it, he preferred to indulge his tastes for the arts and reading. These predilections were attributed to his Italian mother.
At one point in his youth he showed a tendency towards Protestantism as a means of rebelling. At the age of nine, calling himself "a little Huguenot," he refused to attend Mass, sang Protestant psalms to his sister Margaret (exhorting her all the while to change her religion and cast her Book of Hours into the fire), and even bit the nose off a statue of Saint Paul. His mother firmly cautioned her children against such behaviour, and he would never again show any Protestant tendencies. Instead, he became nominally Roman Catholic.
Attributions of homosexuality
Beginning in his own lifetime, it has been claimed that Henry engaged in homosexual relations with his court favourites, known as the mignons. The scholar Louis Crompton provides substantial contemporary evidence of Henry III's homosexuality, and the associated problems at court and politics. Some modern historians dispute this. P. Erlanger, J. F. Solnon, Nicolas Le Roux, and J. Boucher have noted that Henry had many famous mistresses, that he was well known for his taste in beautiful women, and that no possible male sex partners have been identified. They have concluded that the idea he was homosexual was promoted by his political opponents (both Protestant and Catholic) who used his dislike of war and hunting to depict him as effeminate and undermine his reputation with the French people. Most recently, Gary Ferguson has offered a detailed assessment of Henry III and his court in the context of a discussion of the question of homosexuality in the French Renaissance, and found this interpretation unconvincing. "It is difficult," he writes, "to reconcile the king whose use of favourites is so logically strategic with the man who goes to pieces when one of them dies." Katherine Crawford, by contrast, emphasizes the problems Henry's reputation encountered because of his failure to produce an heir and the presence of his powerful mother at court, combined with his enemies' insistence on conflating patronage with favoritism and luxury with decadence.
In 1570, discussions commenced to arrange for Henry to court Queen Elizabeth I of England. Elizabeth, almost 37, was expected by many parties in her country to marry and produce an heir. However, nothing came of these discussions. In initiating them, Elizabeth is viewed by historians as having intended only to arouse the concern of Spain, rather than contemplate marriage seriously. The chance of marriage was further blighted by differing religious views (Henry was Catholic, Elizabeth Protestant) and his opinion of Elizabeth. Henry tactlessly referred to Elizabeth as a putain publique (Public Whore) and made stinging remarks about their difference in age. Upon hearing (inaccurately) that she limped because of a varicose vein, he called her an "old creature with a sore leg".
Wars of Religion
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2013)|
Prior to ascending the throne, Henry was a leader of the royal army in the French Wars of Religion against the Huguenots and took part in the victories over them at the Battle of Jarnac and the Battle of Moncontour. While still Duke of Anjou, he was also involved in the plot for the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. While he did not participate directly, historian Thierry Wanegffelen claims that Henry was the royal family member who was most responsible for the massacre in which thousands of Huguenots were killed. His reign as king, like the ones of his elder brothers Francis II and Charles IX, would see France in constant turmoil over religion.
Henry continued to take an active role in the French Wars of Religion, and in 1572–73 led the Siege of La Rochelle, a massive military assault on the Huguenot-held city of La Rochelle by Catholic troops during the fourth phase of the Wars of Religion. At the end of May 1573, Henry learned that he had been elected King of Poland, a country with a large Protestant minority, and political considerations forced him to negotiate an end to the assault. An agreement was reached on 24 June 1573, and Catholic troops ended the siege on 6 July 1573.
Polish reign (1573–1574)
In 1573, following the death of the Polish ruler Sigismund II Augustus, Jean de Monluc was sent as the French envoy to Poland to negotiate the election of Henry to Polish throne in exchange for military support against Russia, diplomatic assistance in dealing with the Ottoman Empire, and financial subsidies.
On 16 May 1573 Polish nobles chose Henry as the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Lithuanian nobles boycotted this election, however, and it was left to the Lithuanian ducal council to confirm his election. Thus the Commonwealth elected Henry, rather than Habsburg candidates, partly in order to be more agreeable to the Ottoman Empire (a traditional ally of France through the Franco-Ottoman alliance) and strengthen a Polish-Ottoman alliance that was also in effect.
A Polish delegation went to La Rochelle to meet with Henry, who was leading the Siege of La Rochelle. Henry left the siege following their visit. In Paris, on 10 September, the Polish delegation asked Henry to take an oath, at Notre Dame Cathedral, to "respect traditional Polish liberties and the law on religious freedom that had been passed during the interregnum". As a conditions to his election, he was compelled to sign the Pacta conventa and the Henrician Articles, pledging religious tolerance in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Henry chafed at the restrictions on monarchic power under the Polish-Lithuanian political system of "Golden Liberty". The Polish-Lithuanian parliament had been urged by Anna Jagiellon, the sister of the recently deceased king Sigismund II Augustus, to elect him based on the understanding that Henry would wed Anna afterward.
It was at a ceremony before the Paris parlement on 13 September that the Polish delegation handed over the "certificate of election to the throne of Poland-Lithuania". Henry also gave up any claims to succession and he "recognized the principle of free election" under the Henrician Articles and the Pacta conventa (Poland)|pacta conventa.
It was not until January 1574 that Henry was to reach the borders of Poland. On 21 February, Henry's coronation was held. It was in mid-June 1574 that Henry would take leave of Poland and head back to France upon hearing of the death of his brother Charles IX. Henry's absence "provoked a constitutional crisis" that the Parliament attempted to resolve by notifiying Henry that his throne would be lost if he did not return from France by 12 May 1575. His failure to return caused Parliament to declare his throne vacant.
The short reign of Henry at Wawel Castle in Poland was marked by a clash of cultures between the Polish and the French. The young king and his followers were astonished by several Polish practices and disappointed by the rural poverty and harsh climate of the country. The Polish, on the other hand, wondered if all Frenchmen were as concerned with their appearance as their new king appeared to be.
In many aspects, Polish culture had a positive influence on France. At Wawel, the French were introduced to new technologies of septic facilities, in which litter (excrement) was taken outside the castle walls. On returning to France, Henry ordered the construction of such facilities at the Louvre and other palaces. Other inventions introduced to the French by the Polish included a bath with regulated hot and cold water and the fork.
In 1578 Henry created the Order of the Holy Spirit to commemorate his becoming first King of Poland and later King of France on the Feast of Pentecost and gave it precedence over the earlier Order of St. Michael, which had lost much of its original prestige by being awarded too frequently and too readily. The Order would retain its prestige as the premier order of France until the end of the French monarchy.
French reign (1575–1589)
Henry was crowned king of France on 13 February 1575 at Reims Cathedral. Although he was expected to produce an heir after he married Louise of Lorraine on 14 February 1575, no issue resulted from their union.
In 1576, Henry signed the Edict of Beaulieu, which granted many concessions to the Huguenots. His action resulted in the Catholic activist Henry I, Duke of Guise, forming the Catholic League. After much posturing and negotiations, Henry was forced to rescind most of the concessions that had been made to the Protestants in the edict.
In 1584, the King's youngest brother and heir presumptive, Francis, Duke of Anjou, died. Under Salic Law, the next heir to the throne was Protestant Henry of Navarre, a descendant of St. Louis IX. Under pressure from the Duke of Guise, Henry III issued an edict suppressing Protestantism and annulling Henry of Navarre's right to the throne.
On 12 May 1588, when the Duke of Guise entered Paris, an apparently spontaneous Day of the Barricades erupted in favor of the Catholic champion. Henry III fled the city.
Following the defeat of the Spanish Armada that summer, the king's fear of Spanish support for the Catholic League apparently waned. Accordingly, on 23 December 1588, at the Château de Blois, he invited the Duke of Guise to the council chamber where his brother Louis II, Cardinal of Guise, already waited. The duke was told that the king wished to see him in the private room adjoining the royal bedroom. There, royal guardsmen murdered the duke, then the cardinal. To make certain that no contender for the French throne was free to act against him, the king had the duke's son imprisoned.
The Duke of Guise had been very popular in France, and the citizenry turned against Henry for the murders. The Parlement instituted criminal charges against the king, and he was compelled to join forces with his heir, the Protestant Henry of Navarre, by setting up the Parliament of Tours.
Under Henry, France named the first Consul of France in Morocco in the person of Guillaume Bérard. The request came from the Moroccan prince Abd al-Malik, who had been saved by Bérard during an epidemic in Constantinople and wished to retain Bérard in his service.
Henry III encouraged the exploration and development of New World territories. In 1588, he granted Jacques Noël, the nephew of Jacques Cartier, privileges over fishing, fur trading, and mining in New France.
On 1 August 1589, Henry III lodged with his army at Saint-Cloud, Hauts-de-Seine, and was preparing to attack Paris, when a young fanatical Dominican friar, Jacques Clément, carrying false papers, was granted access to deliver important documents to the king. The monk gave the king a bundle of papers and stated that he had a secret message to deliver. The king signalled for his attendants to step back for privacy, and Clément whispered in his ear while plunging a knife into his abdomen. Clément was then killed on the spot by the guards.
At first the king's wound did not appear fatal, but he enjoined all the officers around him, in the event that he did not survive, to be loyal to Henry of Navarre as their new king. The following morning—the day that he was to have launched his assault to retake Paris—Henry III died.
Chaos swept the attacking army, most of it quickly melting away; the proposed attack on Paris was postponed. Inside the city, joy at the news of Henry III's death was near delirium; some hailed the assassination as an act of God.
Henry III was interred at the Saint Denis Basilica. Childless, he was the last of the Valois kings. Henry of Navarre succeeded him as Henry IV, the first of the kings of the House of Bourbon. During the French Revolution he was disinterred from his tomb, his body being desecrated and thrown into a common grave.
|Royal styles of
King Henry III
Par la grâce de Dieu, Roi de France
|Reference style||His Most Christian Majesty|
|Spoken style||Your Most Christian Majesty|
|Alternative style||Monsieur Le Roi|
References in popular culture
- Alexandre Dumas, père's play, Henry III and His Court (1829)
- Alexandre Dumas, père's novels: La Reine Margot (1845), La Dame de Monsoreau (1846) and Les quarante-cinq (1847).
- The Stanley Weyman novel, A Gentleman of France (1893), involves the events of Henry's reconciliation with the Huguenots and struggle against the Catholic League, leading to his assassination.
- Last Days of Henry III, King of France at the Internet Movie Database
- The American silent film Intolerance (1916) depicts Henry as effeminate but not explicitly homosexual. He is portrayed by the British-born American actor Maxfield Stanley.
- The French movies La Reine Margot (1954) and La Reine Margot (1994), both based on Alexandre Dumas, père's novel of the same title, are fictional depictions of the lives of Henry III's family, his sister Margot, and her Protestant husband Henry around the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. In the 1994 film Henry is played by the actor Pascal Greggory. In Dumas' novel, Henri was not portrayed as homosexual, whereas, in the 1954 film, he was shown as an effeminate, comical queen. In the 1994 film, he was portrayed as a more sinister character, bisexual and showing sexual interest in his sister. His brother dies by being accidentally poisoned by his mother, who had intended to kill Henry of Navarre instead.
- As the Duke of Anjou, the future Henry III plays a significant role in the French film The Princess of Montpensier, based on the novel of the same title by Madame de La Fayette.
- The film Elizabeth, released in 1998, depicts a fictional courtship between Elizabeth I of England and Henry III whilst he was still Duke of Anjou. In reality, the two never met and the Queen of England was actually courted nearly ten years later by his younger brother François, Duke of Anjou, when Elizabeth was 46. The film borrows some of the aspects of Henry III's life and features Anjou as a comical foolish transvestite. The role is portrayed by the French actor Vincent Cassel.
- In the film Dangerous Beauty, he has a short affair with the main character, the Venetian courtesan Veronica Franco. He appears masculine, although he declared to Veronica that the "rumours" about him were true. He is played by the British actor Jake Weber.
- In an episode of Animaniacs entitled "The Three Muska-Warners", an Elmer Fudd-like Henri III is protected by Yakko, Wakko and Dot. In this version, Henri is portrayed by Jeff Bennett as nervous and jumpy, and for no apparent reason speaks with an English accent.
- Chabrier's opéra-comique Le roi malgré lui (1887) deals with the unhappy Polish episode, with Henri as the reluctant King of Poland. In Kraków, he conspires with Polish nobles to depose himself. His friend Nangis changes places with him, but in the end, the plot fails and the curtain falls on Henri being crowned.
- Pierre Matthieu, La Guisiade (1589)
- Christopher Marlowe, The Massacre at Paris (1593)
- George Chapman, The Tragedy of Bussy D'Ambois (1607)
- George Chapman, The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois (1613)
- John Dryden and Nathaniel Lee, The Duke of Guise (1683)
- Alexandre Dumas Les deux Diane (1846)
- Robert Merle Paris ma bonne ville (1980)
- Robert Merle Le prince que voilà (1982)
- Robert Merle La violente amour (1983)
|Ancestors of Henry III of France|
- Frieda, Leonie, Catherine de Medici, pp.179–180
- "Henri III était homosexuel". Tatoufaux.com. Retrieved 18 December 2010.
- Henri III-->
- Crompton, Louis (2003). "Henry III and the Mignons". Homosexuality and Civilization. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. pp. 328–330. ISBN 0-674-01197-X.
- Erlanger, Philippe (1935). Henri III. Paris: Gallimard.
- Le Roux, Nicolas (2006). Un régicide au nom de Dieu, l'assassinat d'Henri III. Paris: Gallimard. ISBN 2-07-073529-X.
- Boucher, Jacqueline (1986). La cour de Henri III. Rennes: Ouest-France. ISBN 2-7373-0019-3.
- Ferguson, Gary (2008). Queer (Re)Readings in the French Renaissance: Homosexuality, Gender, Culture. Aldershot/Burlington: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-6377-5.
- Katherine B. Crawford, "Love, Sodomy, and Scandal: Controlling the Sexual Reputation of Henry III," Journal of the History of Sexuality, vol. 12 (2003), 513–42
- (Polish) Stanisław Grzybowski (1985). Henryk Walezy. Warsaw. ISBN 83-04-00118-7.
- Manetsch, Scott M. ''Theodore Beza and the quest for peace in France, 1572–1598''. Books.google.com. p. 80. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- Stone, Daniel (2001). The Polish-Lithuanian state, 1386–1795 [A History of East Central Europe, Volume IV.] Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 118. ISBN 0-295-98093-1.
- Warfare, state and society on the Black Sea steppe, 1500–1700 by Brian L. Davies p.25-26 
- ''Governing passions: peace and reform in the French kingdom, 1576–1585'' Mark Greengrass. Books.google.com. p. 17. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- Stone, Daniel (2001). The Polish-Lithuanian state, 1386–1795 [A History of East Central Europe, Volume IV.] Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 119. ISBN 0-295-98093-1.
- (Polish) Paweł Jasienica (1982). Rzeczpospolita Obojga Narodów (The Commonwealth of the Both Nations). Warsaw. ISBN 83-06-00788-3. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
- (Polish) Zbigniew Satała (1990). Poczet polskich królowych, księżnych i metres. Warsaw. ISBN 83-7007-257-7.
- Stone, Daniel (2001). The Polish-Lithuanian state, 1386–1795 [A History of East Central Europe, Volume IV.] Seattle: University of Washington Press. pp. 120–121. ISBN 0-295-98093-1.
- (Polish) Krzysztof Prendecki (30 October 2006). "Kuracja wiedzą". placet.pl. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
- In 1535, the Cistercian abbot of Mogiła sent a luxurious table knife and a fork as a gift to Erasmus of Rotterdam, which was an allusion to his work De civilitate. In one chapter, in which he treat about the behavior at the table and use of a knife and spoon, there is no mention of a fork, obviously unknown to him.(Polish) Matylda Selwa (1 December 2002). "Łyżka łyżce nierówna". www.sztuka.pl. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
- Henri III (1551–1589) [...] he is widely credited for having introduced the fork into France. (English) Willy, Lawrence R. Schehr (2007). The third sex. University of Illinois Press. p. 110. ISBN 0-252-03216-0.
- ''Cervantes in Algiers: a captive's tale'' by María Antonia Garcés, p.277 note 39. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- Durant, Will, The Age of Reason Begins, vol. VII, (Simon and Schuster, 1961), p. 361.
- Crawford, Katherine B., "Love, Sodomy, and Scandal: Controlling the Sexual Reputation of Henry III," Journal of the History of Sexuality, vol. 12 (2003), 513–42
- Durant, Will (1961). The Age of Reason Begins VII. Simon and Schuster.
- Freer, Martha Walker (1888). Henry III, King of France and Poland: his court and times. New York: Dodd, Mead.
- Frieda, Leonie (2003). Catherine de Medici. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-074492-8.
- Grzybowski, Stanisław (1985). Henryk Walezy. Warsaw: Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich. ISBN 8304001187.
- Jasienica, Paweł (1982). Rzeczpospolita Obojga Narodów [The Commonwealth of the Both Nations]. Warsaw: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy. ISBN 83-06-00788-3.
- L'Estoile, Pierre De (1992). Lazard, M. & Schrenck, G., eds. Régistre-Journal du règne de Henri III. Genève: Droz. ISBN 2-600-00609-5.
- Stone, Daniel (2001). The Polish-Lithuanian state, 1386–1795; A History of East Central Europe IV. Seattle: University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-98093-1.
- Satała, Zbigniew (1990). Poczet polskich królowych, księżnych i metres. Warsaw: Glob. ISBN 83-7007-257-7.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Henry III of Poland and France|
Henry III of France
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynastyBorn: 19 September 1551 Died: 2 August 1589
Title last held bySigismund II
|King of Poland
Grand Duke of Lithuania
16 May 1573 – 12 May 1575
Title next held byAnna and Stephen
|King of France
30 May 1574 – 2 August 1589
|Duke of Angoulême
1551 – 30 May 1574
|Duke of Orléans
1560 – 30 May 1574
|Merged into the crown|
Title last held byLouise
|Duke of Anjou
1566 – 30 May 1574