The Murder of le roi Henri

In May 1610 Henry IV of France was assassinated by a religious fanatic apparently acting alone. Though popular, Henry had nevertheless aroused animosity on his way to kingship, not least because of his Protestant beliefs, writes Robert J. Knecht.

Paris was in festive mood on the morning of May 14th, 1610. The queen of France, Marie de’ Medici, had been crowned the previous day at the basilica of Saint Denis and was due to make her formal entry into the capital. As usual on such occasions much effort had gone into cleaning the streets and decorating the processional route to Notre Dame with temporary monuments, such as triumphal arches made of timber and plaster statues of divinities, all painted in bright colours and adorned with adulatory inscriptions in letters of gold.

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