Henry IV., the first French king of the house of Bourbon, born at the castle of Pau, Dec. 14, 1553, assassinated in Paris, May 14, 1G10. The son of Antoine de Bourbon and Jeanne d'Albret, queen of Navarre, he was brought up by his mother in the Protestant religion, carefully educated, and inured to hardship. As early as 15G9 she took him to the Protestant army before La Rochelle, and placed him under the control of Admiral Coligni. He was present at the battles of Jarnac and Mon-contour, both disastrous to his party. He distinguished himself in the military operations in southern France, which were terminated by the peace or edict of St. Germain in 1570. The seeming reconciliation of the Protestant and Catholic parties was to be sealed by the marriage of young Henry with Margaret, the sister of King Charles IX.; it was agreed to in April, 1572, and notwithstanding the sudden and unexpected death of Jeanne of Navarre, which occurred in June under very suspicious circumstances, the ceremony was performed on Aug. 17, seven days before the massacre of St. Bartholomew. A number of eminent Huguenots had congregated in Paris to participate in the matrimonial festivities, and were slaughtered during the bloody 24th. Henry himself, a prisoner in the Louvre, saved his life by abjuring his faith.
For nearly four years he was detained at court, strictly watched, dissembling his real sentiments under the cover of levity. In February, 1570, he escaped, took refuge first in Alencon, then crossed the Loire at the head of a number of his adherents, revoked his abjuration, took command of the Protestant troops, and successfully carried on hostilities against the Catholics, which brought about the peace of Beaulieu in May, 1570. The states general at Blois having issued coercive decrees against the Huguenots, Henry took up arms again, but peace was concluded at Bergerac, Sept. 17, 1577. On the breaking out of the "lovers1 war" in 1580, of which he gave the signal, he inspired his adherents with confidence and ardor, and accomplished deeds of heroic valor at the siege of Cahors, which city he stormed after a tremendous fight of four days' duration. He thus gained a high position, not only among his own party, but in the eyes of his opponents. The death of his mother in 1572 had left him king of Navarre; and on the death of the duke of Alencon, or rather An-jou, youngest brother of Henry III., June 10, 1584, he became heir apparent to the French crown. He was then in his 31st year.
As he was deserted by Henry III., proscribed by the Catholic party and the league as a heretic, and shortly after excommunicated by Pope Sixtus V., his cause seemed desperate; but though his troops scarcely numbered one tenth as many as the Catholic army, he soon took the field with his wonted courage. The victory of Coutras, Oct. 20,1587, greatly bettered his fortunes, although it was followed by the defeat of several auxiliary troops sent to him by the German princes. The journee des barricades, when Henry III. was compelled to leave his metropolis in the hands of the rebellious duke of Guise, brought about a reconciliation between the kings of France and Navarre, who united their forces to oppose the league, and in concert laid siege to the capital. The assassination of Henry III. greatly increased the difficulties of Henry of Navarre. He was at once deserted by the Catholic nobles who supported the cause of his predecessor, but who, notwithstanding their devotion to royalty, would not accept a Protestant king; the league at the same time raised against him his uncle, the cardinal de Bourbon, whom they proclaimed king under the title of Charles X.; and the nation itself evinced no partiality for Henry. He was obliged to raise the siege of Paris, was pursued through Normandy by the duke of Mayenne, and seemed to be in imminent danger, when he thwarted the hopes of his enemies by his heroic stand near the castle of Arques; notwithstanding their large superiority in numbers, they were obliged (Oct. 6, 1589) to beat a retreat, leaving from 1,000 to 1,200 men on the field.
Henry, quickly returning to Paris, seized its suburbs, but could not take the city itself for want of artillery. Another and more decisive victory over Mayenne, that of Ivry, which he won March 14, 1590, once more opened before him the road to the capital, which he blockaded for several months, and had reduced to the last extremities, when it was relieved by the approach of a Spanish army under Alexander Farnese, duke of Parma. For two years longer the war was carried on with varied success, Henry being more than once worsted by his opponents, but, amid the most trying circumstances, showing such perseverance, ingenuity, and valor as to uphold the drooping spirits of his followers. A favorable change in his fortunes became apparent during the year 1593. Discord prevailed among his enemies; the ambitious designs of Philip II. of Spain, who openly manifested his desire of placing his daughter on the throne of France, inspired the French Catholics, and even the leaguers, with distrust and anger. A better feeling grew up among the people, who, being weary of so protracted a war, instinctively leaned toward the prince from whom alone peace could be expected.
Everything showed him that the time had come for a decisive step; and he therefore abjured Protestantism at St. Denis in July, 1593, and was crowned at Char-tres, Feb. 27, 1594. The majority of the nation at once sided with him. Paris surrendered March 22, and within a few months most of the Catholic governors of the provinces and cities also submitted. Mayenne still held Burgundy with the assistance of Spanish troops; but the high constable of Castile having been defeated at Fontaine-Francaise, June 5, 1595, negotiations were entered into, and the duke, swearing allegiance to Henry, kept the governorship of the province. Picardy was meanwhile in the hands of Spain, against which war had been formally declared; the king led his army against Amiens, and, notwithstanding the presence of the Spanish army under the archduke Albert, forced that city to capitulate (1597), and the next year brought to submission the duke de Mercoeur, who had heretofore acted as an independent sovereign in Brittany. France was now wholly under his control; he gave her peace at home by the celebrated edict' of Nantes, April 13, 1598, and abroad by the treaty of Vervins with Spain, May 2. Henry now perseveringly pursued the policy of restoring order and prosperity to his kingdom, strengthening the royal authority, and placing France in a respectable position abroad.
In this laborious task he was especially assisted by the duke de Sully. Agriculture, mining, commerce, and manufactures were encouraged; roads were opened and repaired; the army received a better organization, while strong fortresses were built along the N. and E. frontiers; the navy, which had been neglected, was improved, and attention was paid to the French colonies in America. In short, improvements were made in every branch of the public service. The ambitious aspirations of provincial governors were effectually checked; political conspiracies were severely punished; municipal franchises and immunities, that had been revived or extended during the civil wars, were curtailed; and obedience to the king became the order of the day. After the death of his celebrated mistress, Gabrielle d'Estrees, having procured the dissolution of his marriage with Margaret of Valois, December, 1599, Henry married Maria de' Medici, the niece of the grand duke of Tuscany, which secured his influence among the Italian princes. A short war with the duke of Savoy put him (1C01) in possession of several valuable districts on the E. frontier.
A formidable conspiracy having been plotted by the duke de Bouillon and the count d'Auvergne, in conjunction with Marshal Biron, who also maintained secret relations with Spain and Savoy, Henry had the latter, his old companion in arms, arrested, tried before the parliament, and beheaded, July 31, 1G02. A few years later the count d'Auvergne, having engaged in new intrigues, was incarcerated in the Bastile; and the duke de Bouillon, the constant promoter of rebellions among the Protestants, was dispossessed of his principality of Sedan, and would have lost his life but for Queen Elizabeth's entreaties. His power being thus firmly established, Henry resumed the political designs of Francis I. and Henry II., concerted extensive schemes with Barne-veldt, the grand pensionary of Holland, formed alliances with German Protestant princes, and made preparations for a fresh war against the house of Austria. It is even said that he aimed at nothing short of an entire reorganization of Europe. However this may have been, he was on the eve of leaving Paris to take command of the French army in the north, when, riding through the city, May 14, 1610, he was stabbed to the heart by the fanatic Francois Ravaillac. His death was regarded as a national calamity.
Henry's children, by his second wife, were his successor Louis XIII.; Gaston, duke of Orleans; Elizabeth, who married Philip IV. of Spain; Christine, who became duchess of Savoy; and Henrietta Maria, the wife of Charles I. of England. Cesar, his natural son by Gabrielle d'Estrees, was the founder of the house of Vendome, and grandfather of the celebrated duke who distinguished himself under Louis XIV. - The high capacities of Henry IV., as well as his shortcomings and " amiable faults," have always been well known; but it is only in recent years that his ready wit and charming style as a writer have come to be fully appreciated, through the publication of his letters (9 vols. 4to) by M. Berger de Xivrey in the Documents inedits sur l'histoire de France. Motley's "Life and Death of John of Barne-veld" (London, 1874) throws much light on Henry's last diplomatic transactions, and displays the occasional frivolity of his motives in his most important enterprises. See also Henri IV., by M. H. de Leseure (Paris, 1874).
Henry IV., emperor of Germany, son of the preceding, born in 1050, died in Liege, Aug. 7, 1100. - He was about six years old when his father died, and the regency was intrusted to his mother, Agnes of Aquitaine; but her authority was overthrown by the nobles, and she retired to Rome, while Henry was taken to Cologne by the archbishop Hanno. Shortly afterward he became the pupil and ward of Archbishop Adalbert of Bremen, from whom he imbibed a feeling of hostility against the temporal lords, especially those of Saxon descent, which embittered his whole reign. At 15 he was declared of age, and in the following year (1060) was removed by the nobles from the immediate control of Adalbert. The counsel and instructions of the archbishop, however, were never forgotten, and Henry soon manifested a hatred of the Saxons by acts of oppression and violence. He had espoused Bertha, the daughter of an Italian prince of Susa, and now sought to be divorced from her. The pope manifested opposition, and Henry, after vainly resorting to unworthy means for the accomplishment of his wishes, at length became reconciled to his young wife, whose noble conduct subsequently won and retained his affection.
Meanwhile the exasperated nobles of Saxony rose against the emperor, who was driven from several strongholds in succession, and finally wandered three days in the Hartz without food. Under the guidance of a mountaineer he escaped to the Rhine, assembled an army, defeated the Saxons, and desolated their country with fire and sword. Other princes of the empire now interfered, and the Saxon nobles, after public humiliation upon their knees, were admitted to mercy, though many of them were retained as prisoners, and their fiefs made over to other vassals. Henry rebuilt his Saxon fortresses, and by his arrogance and extortion planted anew the seeds of revolt. Meanwhile he was suddenly commanded by Pope Gregory VII. (Hildebrand) to appear at Rome to answer for crimes laid to his charge, on penalty of excommunication. Henry's indignation vented itself for the moment in a missive addressed to the "false monk Hildebrand," informing him of his deposition by the German prelates (Worms, 1076), and of his excommunication by judgment of the same assembly. The pope immediately issued sentence of excommunication. Henry soon learned the necessity of submission.
Deserted and threatened by the majority of the German princes, he hastened to Italy, accompanied by his wife and a single attendant, and humbled himself before the pope in the most penitential manner. Clad in a shirt of hair, and barefooted, he was compelled, it is said, to pass three whole days in an outer court of the castle of Canossa, in midwinter, awaiting Gregory's permission to appear before him. On the fourth day he was admitted and received absolution. With this, after finding adherents among the Lombards, his courage and resentment alike revived. He began a war with the sword and with the pen, which for 30 years he sustained with the greatest skill and determination, and in which for the most part he maintained the ascendancy. Such were the opening scenes of the long and violent contest concerning investitures - a conflict between state and church which was destined to rage for half a century, and which, subsequently resumed, was protracted till 1208. During Henry's absence the German princes had deposed him, and elected Rudolph of Swabia, in a diet at Forehheim (March, 1077); but there were yet cities and bishoprics in Germany which remained faithful, and Rudolph was forced to retire from Swabia, which duchy, together with the hand of his daughter Agnes, Henry bestowed upon a bold adherent, Count Frederick of Buren, who soon built his castle on the summit of Mt. Staufen, and founded the race of Hohenstaufen. The war raged fiercely meanwhile in the fairest regions of Germany. The pope, who was not sorry to find the rival emperors consuming their strength against each other, is supposed to have fostered the quarrel for his own purposes.
At length, influenced by the Saxons, he sent the crown to Rudolph, and again excommunicated Henry. The latter, in turn, again declared the pope deposed, and caused an antipope, Clement III., to be elected. At this period (1079) fortune appeared to favor Henry; but in the following year he lost a great battle near Gera. In the action, however, Rudolph was slain by Godfrey of Bouillon, the hero of the first crusade. The fall of Rudolph, although his army was victorious, was considered a judgment of God, and the effect was to enlist an immense increase of numbers in the service of Henry, who now marched upon Rome, and besieged it with short intervals during three years. Gregory retreated into the castle of Sant' Angelo, and Henry contented himself with a coronation by his own pope, Clement (1084). Robert Guiscard, the Norman duke of Calabria, at length approached from lower Italy, and Henry retired, leaving Rome to be plundered by the Normans, and Gregory to be rescued by them from his own people, who had laid siege to the castle.
Hermann of Luxemburg succeeded Rudolph in the rival emperorship, and Victor succeeded Gregory in the rival papacy (1085); but neither could withstand the power of Henry. Hermann soon abdicated, and his successor, Egbert of Thuringia, having been assassinated, the Saxons submitted. Henry's eldest son, Conrad, whom he had named king of the Romans, was now gained over by the papal party. He was deposed, and died in 1101. His defection was followed by that of his brother Henry, who, in view of the renewal of the papal ban against his father by the popes who had in turn succeeded Victor, resolved to support the church. He pretended a reconciliation, however, and the emperor, having been treacherously seized and carried prisoner to Ingelheim, was compelled by the prince to resign his throne. Henry escaped, and sought refuge at Liege, where he died.