King Henry IV

King Henri IV was born at Pau in Bearn on December 13, 1553. Raised by his mother, Jeane d'Albret (Queen of Navarre), Henri was brought up in a remote castle in the Pyrenees. He grew up amongst the peasant children of that area and raised on a diet of bread, cheese, and garlic. As a youngster Henri was brought up in the Protestant faith, which was the opposite of his father's wishes. As result, Henri was taken to Paris on his father's orders and given a Catholic tutor. However, he stubbornly refused to attend Mass. Consequently, after the death of his father, Henri was once again instructed by a Protestant tutor. By the age of ten, Henri had already changed religions twice. Remaining in Paris, Henri attended classes at the College de Navarre. Gradually he learned to speak and write fluent Latin and Greek, and he had managed to attain some Spanish and Italian. In 1567 Henri reestablished himself in Pau, reuniting with his mother and sister Catherine. His education was continued, this time including fencing and military arts. Five years later, after an outbreak of several religious wars, the marriage between Henri and the reining king's sister, Marguerite de Valois (a Catholic), was arranged so as to bring temporary peace to France. After Henri's mother's death, the wedding took place. The two were wed on August 18, 1572 at Notre-Dame. Little did the new king know, that day would mark the prelude of a great tragedy. During the wedding, Catherine de Medici consented to the assassination of Admiral de Coligny. On August 22 he was shot at from a window but was merely injured. The Huguenots (French Protestants) were enraged. Queen Medici finally agreed that a general massacre was the only solution to terminate Admiral de Coligny. Before dawn on Sunday, August 24, 1572, the Duc de Guise's swordsmen broke into the Admirals bedroom. He was brutally skewered with a pike, then his corpse was thrown out of a wind…


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