Henry IV (1553-1610)
Henry IV, son of Antoine de Bourbon and Jeanne d'Albret, was born at the castle of Pau in 1553. He was first the King of Navarre with the title, Henry III (1562-1610), and later became the King of France in 1589. In 1572, he married Marguerite de Valois, more commonly known as Queen Margot (la Reine Margot), the daughter of Henry II, but shared his life with Gabrielle d'Estrées. The Queen led a dissolute life and Henry IV was able to have the marriage annulled in order to marry Marie de Medici in 1600.
The death of the Duke of Alençon in 1584, made him the heir to the throne of France, but the Catholic League, a confederation of anti-Calvinist Catholics, supported by Spain, put forward his uncle, the Cardinal of Bourbon. However, Henry III of France recognized Henry of Navarre as his legitimate heir before his death. Against a backdrop of religious wars, he had to conquer the kingdom by force, and even recant his protestant faith. After forcing the Catholic League into submission and defeating the Spanish in Brittany, Henry IV imposed religious peace and declared the Edict of Nantes which introduced a system granted substantial rights to the Protestants. Under the leadership of his minister, the Duke of Sully, France experienced a period of prosperity. In February 1610, the King of France entered into an alliance with the German Protestants of the League of Evangelical Union in anticipation of a new war against Spain and the Hapsburgs. However, he was assassinated on 14 May 1610 by François Ravaillac, a fanatical catholic.