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HENRY III

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 292 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HENRY III. (1551-1589), king of France, third son of Henry II. and Catherine de' Medici, was born at Fontainebleau on the 19th of September 1551, arid succeeded to the throne of France on the death of his brother Charles IX. in 1574. In his youth, as duke of Anjou, he was warmly attached to the Huguenot opinions, as we learn from his sister Marguerite de Valois; but his unstable character soon gave way before his mother's will, and both Henry arid Marguerite remained choice ornaments of the Catholic Church. Henry won, under the direction of Marshal de Tavannes, two brilliant victories at Jarnac and Moncontour (r569). He was the favourite son of his mother, and took part with her in organizing the massacre of St Bartholomew. In 1573 Catherine procured his election to the throne of Poland. Passionately enamoured of the princess of Conde, he set. out reluctantly to Warsaw, but, on the death of his brother Charles IX. in 1J741 he escaped from his Polish subjects, who endeavoured to retain him by force, came back to France and assumed the crown. He returned to a wretched kingdom, torn with civil war. In spite of his good intentions, he was incapable of governing, and abandoned the power to his mother and his favourites. Yet he was no dullard. He was a man of keen intelligence and cultivated mind, and deserves as much as Francis I. the title of patron of letters and art. But his incurable indolence and love of pleasure prevented him from taking any active part in affairs. Surrounded by his mignons, he scandalized the people by his effeminate manners. He dressed himself in women's clothes, made a collection of little dogs and hid in the cellars when it thundered. The disgust aroused by the vices and effeminacy of the king increased the popularity of Henry of Guise. After the " day of the barricades" (the 12th of May 1588), the king, perceiving that his influence was lost, resolved to rid himself of Guise by assassination; and on the 23rd of December 1 588 his faithful bodyguard, the " forty-five," carried out his design at the chateau of Blois. But the fanatical preachers of the League clamoured furiously for vengeance, and on the 1st of August 1589, while' Henry III. was investing Paris with Henry of Navarre, Jacques Clement, a Dominican friar, was introduced into his presence on false letters of recommendation, and plunged a knife into the lower part of his body. He died a few hours afterward's with great fortitude. By his wife Louise of Lorraine, daughter of the count of Vaudemont, he had no children, and en his deathbed he recognized Henry of Navarre as his successor. See the memoirs and chronicles of I'Estoile, Villeroy, Ph. Hurault de Cheverny, BrantSme, Marguerite de Valois, la Huguerye, du , Plessis-Mornay, &c.; Archives curieuses of Cimber and Danjou, vols. x. and xi. ; 'Memoires de la Ligue (new ed., Amsterdam, 1758) ; the histories of T. A. d'Aubigne and J. A. de Thou ; Correspondence of Catherine de' Medici and of Henry IV. (in the Collection de documents inedits),, and of the Venetian ambassadors, &c.; P. Matthieu, Histoire de France, val. i. (1631); Scipion Dupleix, Histoire de Henri III (1633);Robiquet, Paris et la Ligue (1886); and J. H. Mariejol, " I.a Reforme et la Ligue," in the Histoire de France, by E. Lavisse (Paris, 1904), which contains a more complete bibliography.
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