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King Henry III

Henry III (of France) (1551-1589), king of France (1574-1589), the last of the Valois kings. Despite his considerable gifts, he failed to resolve the religious civil wars in his country and brought it close to bankruptcy. Henry was born at Fontainebleau on September 19, 1551, the third son of Henry II and Catherine de Médicis. He was the leader against the Huguenots (French Protestants) and took part in the victories over them at Jarnac and at Moncontour in 1569. In 1572 he aided his mother in planning the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew's Day. He was elected king of Poland in 1573, but after one year returned to France to ascend the throne on the death of his brother, Charles IX. The wars between the Roman Catholics and Protestants continued throughout Henry's reign.

In 1585, when the king, was forced to exclude Henry of Navarre from the succession and repealed all the privileges granted to the Huguenots, Henry of Navarre began the so-called War of the Three Henrys against the king. Defeated at Coutras in 1587, the king found his power rivaled by that of the duc de Guise. In 1588, on the Day of Barricades, the citizenry of Paris, led by the duc de Guise, revolted against the king, forcing him to flee the city. The king subsequently had Henri de Lorraine and his brother Louis de Lorraine assassinated and allied himself with Henry of Navarre, whom he declared his successor. The two Henrys then became joint leaders of a Huguenot army. While attempting to regain Paris on August 1, 1589, the king was stabbed by Jacques Clément, a fanatical Dominican friar, and died the next day.

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