Front Matter France Long Ago The Gauls In France The Priests of the Gauls Sailor Stories Conquests of the Gauls Two Great Battles Caesar in Gaul Gaul under the Romans First Christian Martyrs Patron Saint of France Franks Come to Gaul The First Kings Conquests of Clovis Clotaire and His Relatives Two Rival Queens Good King Dagobert The Saracens Checked End of the Merovingians Charlemagne's Wars Charlemagne's Manners Charlemagne, Emperor Feudalism Troublesome Sons The Strassburg Oath Normans Besiege Paris Last of the Carolingians The Year One Thousand Robert's Two Wives Wealth of the Clergy The First Crusade A Love Story The Second Crusade More Crusades The Battle of Bouvines Blanche of Castile The Sixth Crusade The Reign of Louis IX Effect of the Crusades The Battle of the Spurs End of Knights Templar The Hundred Years' War The Siege of Calais The Battle of Poitiers Seven Years of Misery The Brave du Guesclin Achievements of Charles V Charles VI Misrule in France The Disgraceful Treaty Joan to the Rescue Orleans and Rheims Joan's Martyrdom Charles's Successes The Crafty King Louis XI Louis XI's Reign Achievements of Louis XI Charles VIII The Second Italian War Death of Louis XII Francis I Rivalry of Kings Achievements of Francis I End of Francis's Reign Reign of Henry II A Young King and Queen Catherine's Regency The Forced Wedding Massacre of the Huguenots Death of Charles IX An Effeminate King he Battle of Coutras The Murder of the Guises Winning a Crown Conversion of Henry IV Henry IV's Second Marriage Death of Henry IV The Minority of Louis XIII Rule of the Favorites Richelieu and Louis XIII End of Louis XIII's Reign Beginning of a Great Reign Wars of the Fronde Death of Mazarin Versailles The Iron Mask Louis XIV's Campaigns Madame de Maintenon Later Wars of Louis XIV The Spanish Succession The Age of Louis XIV

Story of Old France - Helene Guerber

Henry IV's Second Marriage

Having finished warfare at last, and become sole master of his kingdom, Henry IV immediately proceeded to reorganize it, so that it might become prosperous once more. Although this king had no moral grandeur of character, he was so shrewd and far-sighted a man, and had so able a prime minister in Sully, that the finances at the end of his reign were in prosperous condition, and there were even forty-two million francs in reserve in the royal treasury.

Henry himself took a lively interest not only in agriculture but also in commerce and manufacture. He encouraged the culture of silkworms, the making of glass and pottery, and the weaving of silks and velvets. The first weavers were even allowed to ply their trade in the galleries of the Louvre, where are now exhibited some of the finest paintings, statues, etc, that the world can show; and he founded the Gobelin tapestry establishment. He had many good roads built, for he realized that good means of communication would greatly enrich the country. Besides, he has the honor of planning the canals of France, and of constructing the one which unites the Seine and the Loire.

Henry IV embellished Paris in many ways. We are told that when a Spanish ambassador once commented upon the difference between the city under his rule, and while it was in the hands of the Leaguers, he quietly remarked: "Oh, you see, then the father of the family was not at home. Now that he is here to care for his children, all goes well again with them!" The French were pleased with this paternal attitude, which was further shown by one of his sayings often quoted—namely, that his main ambition was to see France so prosperous that every peasant could afford to have a chicken in the pot on Sunday!

Henry is also known as a great colonizer. It was during his reign that Quebec was founded by the French in Canada.

It is a matter of history that Henry never lived on good terms with the wife who was forced to marry him just before the massacre of St. Bartholomew. They separated soon after their wedding, and Henry more than once courted some other lady, whom he promised to marry as soon as he could secure an annulment of this marriage.

On the strength of such a promise, one fair lady (Gabrielle d'Estrees) long expected to become Queen of France, and therefore assumed great airs. On one occasion she ventured to find serious fault with the prime minister, Sully, even demanding that he be discharged; whereupon the king, ever loyal to this faithful friend, turned indignantly upon her, saying, "Know, Madam, that one friend like Sully must be dearer to me than even such a sweetheart as you!" This lady died before the king could obtain a divorce, and Henry, who had always shown great affection for her, wore black in token of mourning, although until then kings had never donned anything but violet under such circumstances.

It was very important that Henry should have an heir to succeed him on the throne of France; and as his wife, Margaret, was willing that he should be divorced from her, Henry continued to press his suit for an annulment of his first marriage, until the Pope granted it, because lack of free consent on the part of the bride had made the marriage invalid from the beginning.

Very soon after the divorce was obtained, Henry married Marie de' Medici, a niece of the famous Catherine. The new queen brought an immense dowry, and came into France with a brilliant suite, thus introducing into Henry's court more luxury, gayety, and elegance than had been seen there for many a day.

The following year Henry concluded the treaty of Lyons with Savoy (1601), whose duke had sided with the Leaguers and had given him an immense amount of trouble during the religious wars. By this treaty, Henry won some territories in the west where the people spoke French.. This delighted him, for he often said that he had no objection to the Emperor keeping all German lands, and the Spanish king all Spanish lands, but he wished all French soil to belong to the kingdom of France.

Henry proved a very wise and powerful ruler. Looking beyond his own borders, he suggested that each of the nations of Europe should send a certain number of delegates to a supreme council, which was to regulate all matters of warfare by arbitration. But before this Utopian scheme could be carried out, it was necessary to humble the powerful House of Austria, to which belonged both the ruler of Austria and the monarch of Spain; so near the end of Henry's reign he planned a war for that purpose.