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Historical Figure
Henry III of France
History's Henry III of France
Biographical Information
Title: Duke of Anjou

King of Poland
Grand Duke of Lithuania

Reign: 30 May 1574 –
2 August 1589
Coronation: 13 February 1575
Predecessor: Charles IX (Brother)
Successor: Henry IV
Born: 19 September 1551
Burial: Saint Denis Basilica, France
Religion: Roman Catholic
House: House of Valois
Relationship Information
TV Character Information
Signature: Prince Henry Jr.'s Signature
Portrays: Prince Henri
Portrayed by: Jackson Hodge-Carter

Spencer MacPherson

Henry III was the king of France after his older brother, King Charles IX died. Henry ruled for 15 years.

Early Life[]

Henry was made Duke of Angoulême and Duke of Orléans in 1560, then Duke of Anjou in 1566. He was his mother's favourite; she called him precious eyes and lavished fondness and affection upon him for most of his life. His elder brother, Prince Charles, grew to detest him, partially because he resented his better health.

In his youth, Henry was considered the best of the sons of Catherine de' Medici and King Henry II. Unlike his father and elder brothers, he had little interest in the traditional Valois pastimes of hunting and physical exercise. Although he was enjoyed fencing, he preferred to indulge his tastes for the arts and reading. These predilections were attributed to his Italian mother.

At one point in his youth he showed a tendency towards Protestantism as a means of rebelling. At the age of nine he refused to attend Mass. His mother firmly cautioned her children against such behaviour, and he would never again show any Protestant tendencies.

Reports that Henry engaged in same sex relations with his court favourites, date back to his own time. Certainly he enjoyed intense relationships with them. While other modern historians note her had many famous mistresses, that he was well known for his taste in beautiful women, and that no male sex partners have been identified. They have concluded that the idea he was homosexual was promoted by his political opponents who used his dislike of war and hunting to depict him weak.

Queen Elizabeth[]

In 1570, discussions commenced to arrange for Henry to court Queen Elizabeth of England. Elizabeth, almost 37, was expected by many parties in her country to marry and produce an heir. However, nothing came of these discussions. In initiating them, Elizabeth is viewed by historians as having intended only to arouse the concern of Spain, rather than contemplate marriage seriously. The chance of marriage was further blighted by differing religious views (Henry was Catholic, Elizabeth Protestant). However later, this did have a brief relationship.

The French Wars of Religion[]

Prior to ascending the French throne in 1574, Henry served as a leader of the royal army in the The French Wars of Religion of 1562-1598 against the Huguenots. While still Duke of Anjou, he also became involved in the plot for the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of 1572. Henry III's reign as King of France, like those of his elder brothers King Francis II and King Charles IX, would see France in constant turmoil over religion.

King of Poland[]

At the end of May 1573 Henry learned that the Polish had elected him as King of Poland, a country with a large Protestant minority. Following the death of the Polish ruler, Jean de Monluc was sent as the French envoy to Poland to negotiate the election of Henry to Polish throne in exchange for military support against Russia, diplomatic assistance in dealing with the Ottoman Empire, and financial subsidies. On 16 May 1573, Polish nobles chose Henry as the first elected monarch of the Polish- Commonwealth over Habsburg.

In Paris, on 10 September, the Polish delegation asked Henry to take an oath, at Notre Dame Cathedral, to "respect traditional Polish liberties and the law on religious freedom that had been passed during the interregnum". As a conditions to his election, he was compelled agree, pledging religious tolerance in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

January 1574 Henry was to reach the borders of Poland. On 21 February, Henry's coronation was held in Kraków. In mid-June 1574, upon learning of the death of his brother King Charles IX, Henry left Poland and headed back to France, never to return.

The short reign of Henry in Poland was marked by a clash of cultures between the Polish and the French. The young king and his followers were astonished by several Polish practices and disappointed by the rural poverty and harsh climate of the country. The Polish, on the other hand, wondered if all Frenchmen were as concerned with their appearance as their new king appeared to be.

In many aspects, Polish culture had a positive influence on France. The French were introduced to new technologies of septic facilities, in which litter (excrement) was taken outside the castle walls. On returning to France, Henry ordered the construction of such facilities at the Louvre and other palaces. Other inventions introduced to the French by the Polish included a bath with regulated hot and cold water, as well as forks.

King of France[]

Henry was crowned king of France on 13 February 1575. Although he was expected to produce an heir after he married Louise of Lorraine no children resulted from their union.

In 1584, the King's youngest brother, Francis, Duke of Anjou, died. Under Salic Law, the next heir to the throne was Protestant Henry of Bourbon son of King Antoine and Queen Jeanne now The Dauphin of France.

On 23 December 1588, he invited the Duke of Guise his private room adjoining the royal bedroom. There, royal guardsmen murdered the duke. To make certain that no contender for the French throne was free to act against him, the king had the duke's son imprisoned.

The Duke of Guise had been very popular in France, and the people turned against Henry for the murders. The Parlement instituted criminal charges against the king, and he ended up joining forces with Henry of Bourbon.


On 1 August 1589, Henry III lodged with his army at Saint-Cloud, and was preparing to attack Paris, when a young Jacques Clément, carrying false papers, was granted access to deliver important documents to the king. The monk gave the king a bundle of papers and stated that he had a secret message to deliver. The king signalled for his attendants to step back for privacy, and Clément whispered in his ear while plunging a knife into his abdomen. Clément was then killed on the spot by the guards.

At first the king's wound did not appear fatal, but told all the officers around him, in the event that he did not survive, to be loyal to Henry of Bourbon as their new king. The following morning, the day he was to have launched his assault to retake Paris, Henry died. Some in Paris hailed the assassination as an act of God.

Henry III was interred at the Saint Denis Basilica. Childless, he was the longest-living of Henry II's sons to have become king and also the last of the Valois kings. Henry of Bourbon of Navarre succeeded him as King Henry IV, the first of the kings of the House of Bourbon. During the French Revolution he was disinterred from his tomb, his body being desecrated and thrown into a common grave, as was his mother, Catherine de' Medici and Duke of Guise


  • King Henry III was born Edward Alexander of France.
  • He was not the youngest; Hercules Francis, Duke of Anjou was the youngest, but he died young.
  • He was his mother's, Catherine de' Medici's favourite son.
  • In 1570, he and Queen Elizabeth were in talks to possibly marry and produce an heir. Elizabeth is viewed by historians as having intended only to arouse the concern of Spain. Nothing ever happened, as Elizabeth was 37, to Prince Henry's 19.
  • Was the fourth son of King Henry II and would become King Charles IX's successor in 1573.
  • After King Charles IX's death, personally made sure his widow, mistress and bastard son were all cared for.
  • Was King of Poland, and Grand Duke of Lithuania for two years, before becoming king of France.
  • Became King of France when he was 22 years old, and ruled for 15 years.
  • There was speculation that he was a homosexual. He never had any children, accompanied by rumors as his alleged affairs with his Les Mignons. However, no male sex partners have ever been identified. The rumors were believed to have been political assassination since he failed to produce an heir.
  • Assassination when he was 37 years old.
  • King Henry III was the last King of France from the Valois Dynasty.

Family Tree[]

Francis I
Claude of France
Louise of France
Charlotte of France
Francis III
Henry II
Catherine de' Medici
Madeleine of Valois
Charles II
Margaret of Valois
Francis II
Elisabeth of Valois
Claude of Valois
Louis of Valois
Charles IX
Henry III
Margaret of Valois