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King Henri IV of France
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Monarch
    (December 13, 1553-May 14, 1610)
    Born in Pau, France
    King of France (1589-1610)
    Was also King Henri III of Navarre (1572-1610)
    Fought the War of the Three Henries against King Henri III of France and Henri I, Duke of Guise (1587-89)
    Founder of the Bourbon Dynasty
    He was baptized a Catholic, but raised as a Calvinist, and officially abjured Catholicism in 1576.
    In order to win over the last holdouts against his rule, he converted back to Catholicism, commenting 'Paris is well worth a mass.' (1593)
    He was a compulsive womanizer.
    He caught the clap from at least one mistress and had children with at least four.
    After his first marriage was annulled, he planned to marry his favorite mistress, Gabrielle d'Estress, and name their out of wedlock son Cesar his heir, despite warnings from advisers that the arrangement would produce a disputed succession. (The plans fell through when Gabrielle died from eclampsia while giving birth to a stillborn son.)
    He told his second wife, Marie de Medici, that the son he fathered with Henrietta d'Entragues was better looking than their son, Louis XIII.
    He survived the St. Bartholomew Day's Massacre of Protestants only because he was married to Catherine de' Medici's daughter.
    His first wife, Margaret of Valois, tried to poison him.
    He issued the Edict of Nantes, guaranteeing religious liberties to French Protestants (1598).
    He financed the expeditions to the New World that resulted in France claiming Canada.
    He brought peace and relative prosperity to France after decades of religious wars.
    He survived a dozen assassination attempts before being fatally stabbed by Francois Ravaillac.
    Voltaire praised him in the epic poem 'Henriade.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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