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Henry IV. Of France

      Henry IV., the most celebrated, the most beloved, and perhaps, in spite of his many faults, the best of the French monarchs, was born at Pau, the capital of Bearn, in 1553. His parents were Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendome, and in right of his wife, titular king of Navarre, and Jeanne d'Albert, the heiress of that kingdom. On the paternal side he traced his descent to Robert of Clermont, fifth son of Louis IX., and thus, on the failure of the elder branches, became heir to the crown of France. Educated by a Protestant mother in the Protestant faith, he was for many years the rallying point and leader of the Huguenots. In boyhood the prince of Bearn displayed sense and spirit above his years. Early inured to war, he was present and exhibited strong proofs of military talent at the battle of Jarnac, and that of Moncontour, both fought in 1569. In the same year he was declared chief of the Protestant League.

      The treaty of St. Germain, concluded in 1570, guaranteed to the Huguenots the civil rights for which they had been striving; and, in appearance, to cement the union of the two parties, a marriage was proposed between Henry, who, by the death of his mother, had just succeeded to the throne of Navarre, and Margaret of Valois, sister of Charles IX. This match brought Conde, Coligni, and all the leaders of their party, to Paris. The ceremony took place August 17, 1572, and a week later came the massacre of St. Bartholomew. For three years afterward Henry, who to save his ...

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