Henri, Duke of Verneuil
Gaston Henri de Bourbon, Duke of Verneuil (3 November 1601 – 28 May 1682), was the illegitimate son of King Henry IV of France and his mistress, Catherine Henriette de Balzac d'Entragues. He was the bishop of Metz from 1612 to 1652, despite not being ordained. In his early 50s he was displaced and had a career as a diplomat.
Henri was born in the Château de Vincennes on 3 November 1601. His sister was Gabrielle Angelique, called Mlle de Verneuil (1603–1627), who married Bernard de Nogaret de La Valette. He was declared legitimate in 1603, at the age of two.
The bishopric of Metz was intended for him from infancy, but when Bishop Charles de Lorraine died in 1607, the Pope refused to appoint a young child of seven. The House of Lorraine had controlled the see since 1484, usually with a family member as bishop, which Paris was keen to bring to an end. The elderly Anne de Pérusse des Cars, bishop of Lisieux, was appointed as placeholder bishop, and Henri was given an expectative appointment, in effect a reservation, plus a pension from the revenues, until he reached adult age. Pope Paul V agreed to appoint him in 1612, after the death of Pérusse des Cars, at the request of Louis XIII, despite Henri being only 11 and not ordained. He was never ordained and never resided at Metz, appointing deputies to run diocesan affairs.
He resigned as bishop in favour of Cardinal Mazarin in 1652, which the Pope did not recognize, finally declaring him dismissed in 1659. He was knighted on 31 December 1661 and created duke of Verneuil in 1663. In 1665 he became ambassador to England and in 1666 was made governor of Languedoc. He married Charlotte (1622-1704), daughter of the chancellor Pierre Séguier and widow of Maximilien François de Bethune, 2nd Duke of Sully (1614–1661), on 29 October 1668, when he was 67 and she 46. He died without issue on 28 May 1682 at Château de Verneuil.
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- Vizetelly, Ernest Alfred, The favourites of Henry of Navarre, (The Gorham Press, 1910), 297.
- Les évêques dans l’histoire de la France, p264, Jean Julg, 2004, ISBN 2740311354