Memoirs of Henri IV

Memoirs of Henri IV King of France and Navarre:

by the Court Historian of Louis XIV [Hardouin de Beaumont de Péréfixe]

Henri-Quatre — Henry the Great, or "good king Henry" — was born in 1553, the son of Antoine de Bourbon and Jeanne d'Albret (later Queen of Navarre) niece of François I and cousin of Henri II of France.

Henri IV succeeded to the throne of France at the death of Henri III, the last of Henri II's sons to reign and die without issue. It was not an easy succession, as Henri had been brought up a Protestant, and had been leader of the Huguenot forces in the French Wars of Religion. He struggled to be widely accepted as King until he renounced Protestantism and returned to the Catholic faith of his baptism.

Henri pacified France and established a degree of religious toleration. Though he was never totally free of plotters, and was eventually assassinated by a Catholic, he devoted his considerable energies and skills to increasing the prosperity and unity of the nation.

In time he was to become the grandfather of Louis XIV of France (the Sun King) and Charles II of Britain. These memoirs of the much loved Henri were written by Louis XIV's court historian (Hardouin de Beaumont de Péréfixe) at his request, and subsequently translated for Charles II by "J. D." who declared that "never did the life of any prince since Creation bear so equal a parallel with your Majesty's as that of this renowned king". Both were opposed by "Leaguers armed with rebellion, obstinacy, and ambition, under a cloak of zeal to religion" and both long struggled for their rights. J. D. tactfully omitted to add that both kings were also great philanderers.

Because the purpose of the book was to encourage in Henri's grandson all the virtues and strengths of the great king and soldier, some parts of Henri's life are glossed over. You can read about the struggles and perils of his youth in the biography of Jeanne d'Albret, Queen of Navarre, and about the problems of his first marriage, to Henri II's daughter Marguerite, in Queen Margot, wife of Henry of Navarre. This last also shows the dangers Henri faced from his brothers-in-law, especially during the French Wars of Religion.

Memoirs of Henri IV: Amazon US / Amazon UK