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
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repealed all the privileges granted to the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.