Henry III King of France and Poland

Henry III King of France and Poland, His Court and Times

by Martha Walker Freer

Catherine de Medici plotted and schemed all her life for the benefit of her favourite child, Henry — the third of her four surviving sons, and the third to wear the crown of France.

The first of the volumes contained in this biography covers Henry's childhood and youth, necessarily giving a fairly detailed biography of Charles IX — Catherine's second son, who became king at the age of 10. Charles and Henry grew to hate and distrust each other, so much so that Henry was persuaded that his only safety was to leave France and accept election as King of Poland. When his brother died, soon after, Henry had to make a hazardous secret escape so that he could get back to France and claim his birthright.

The second volume, too, majors on brotherly hatred and distrust — between Henry III and his younger brother. This time the foreign crown sought by the heir apparent was England's, and the duc d'Anjou applied for the hand of Queen Elizabeth. Alongside this are increasing conflicts with the powerful Guise family and with the Huguenots, not to mention the problems caused by Henry's unwise generosity to his favourites, and by their arrogant and belligerent behaviour.

In the final volume the assassination of the duc de Guise and his brother, ordered by Henry, and his own erratic behaviour, lead ultimately to his complete loss of authority and he is, in his turn, assassinated.

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