Henri IV

Eric Nelson

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online June 2011 | | DOI:
Henri IV

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy


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Since his death in 1610, interpreters of Henri IV have reinvented him on numerous occasions. Early chroniclers of his reign cast him as the good and pious king; in the 18th century, Enlightenment thinkers focused on his brokering of religious coexistence through the Edict of Nantes to define him as a tolerant and enlightened king; during the 19th century, Third Republic biographers focused on tales of Henri’s bon mots, encounters with common people, and amorous adventures to portray him as the peasant king who shared the values and sensibilities of his subjects. These reinventions have in many ways overshadowed the historical Henri that modern scholars are only now coming to terms with. While interpretations of Henri and his rule have changed dramatically over the years, interest in him has never waned, in part because Henri was an active participant in one of the most complex periods of French history. Henri was born into the high aristocracy of France, became king of Navarre, and then a leader of the Huguenots during the Wars of Religion, before finally reigning as king of France for twenty-one years. Political stability, external peace, and economic recovery during the last decade of his reign contrasted sharply with the previous forty years in France, allowing for relative prosperity to return to his realm (see also the article "France"). After his death, Henri’s reign was widely viewed as a golden age, and his legacy continued to influence ideas of French kingship into the 19th century.

Article.  12443 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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