Papa and his Brood: Henry IV of France

S.J. Ingram & G.A. Rothrock investigate the King’s delight in his many children, legitimate or otherwise.

Henry IV of France was an engagingly flamboyant monarch, famous for his vitality and wit, his forcefulness and determination, and his many romantic liaisons. Rarely, however, has attention been drawn to one of his finer human qualities, an uncalculating charm and tenderness in his relations with his children.

Accepting the heavy responsibilities of his crown, he used or planned to use his offspring to strengthen the Bourbon monarchy, but in their presence the commanding monarch became a loving father who adored and indulged them, worried and bragged about them.

As Henry’s marriage with Marguerite de Valois (the occasion of the massacre of St Bartholomew’s Day) proved childless and was annulled, his legitimate line derived from his second wife, Marie de Médicis. She presented him with six children: the Dauphin Louis, Elisabeth, Christine, the Duke d’Orléans (who did not live long enough to be baptized with a Christian name), Gaston and Henriette Marie.

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