Jacques Clément

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This article is about the friar and assassin. For the Renaissance composer, see Jacob Clemens non Papa.
Jacques Clément
Jacques Clément.jpg
Jacques Clément assassinating Henry III
Born 1567
Serbonnes, France
Died 1 August 1589 (aged c. 22)
Saint-Cloud, France
Nationality French
Known for Assassinating Henry III of France

Jacques Clément (1567 – 1 August 1589) was the assassin of the French king Henry III.

He was born at Serbonnes, in today's Yonne département, in Burgundy, and became a Dominican lay brother.

During the French Wars of Religion, Clément became fanatically religious and an ardent partisan of the Catholic League. Viewing Protestantism as heresy, he talked of exterminating the Huguenots and formed a plan to kill Henry III. His project was encouraged by some of the heads of the League, in particular Catherine de Guise, the Duchess Montpensier. He was assured of temporal rewards if he succeeded and of eternal bliss if he failed. Having obtained letters for the king, he left Paris on 31 July 1589 and reached Saint-Cloud, the headquarters of Henry, who was besieging Paris, on 1 August 1589.

Assassination[edit]

He was admitted to the royal presence as a disguised priest, and while presenting his letters he told the king he had an important and confidential message to deliver. The attendants then withdrew and, as Clément leaned in to whisper in Henry's ear, he mortally wounded him with a dagger concealed beneath his cloak. The assassin was immediately killed by the returning attendants, but Henry died early in the morning on the following day. Clement’s body was later quartered and burned.

This deed, although seen as a fanatical, brutal assassination by supporters of Henry III, was viewed with far different feelings in Paris and by the partisans of the League. Clément was seen as a martyr and was praised by Pope Sixtus V. His praise was such that canonization was even discussed, although Clément never did achieve sainthood.

References[edit]

  • See E Lavisse, Histoire de France, tome vi. (Paris, 1904).
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.