Henry IV of France
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Henry IV (Pau, 13 December 1553 - Paris, 14 May 1610), ruled as King of France from 1589 to 1610 and, as Henry III, King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France. His parents were Jeanne III of Navarre and her husband, Antoine de Bourbon, duc de Vendôme.
As a Huguenot, Henry was involved in the Wars of Religion before ascending the throne in 1589. Once crowned, he changed his faith from Calvinism to Catholicism, but in 1598 he enacted the Edict of Nantes, which guaranteed religious liberties to the Protestants and thereby effectively ended the civil war. One of the most popular French kings, both during and after his reign, Henry showed great care for the welfare of his subjects and displayed an unusual religious tolerance for the time. He was murdered by a fanatical Catholic, François Ravaillac.
Henry was nicknamed Henry the Great (Henri le Grand), and in France is sometimes called le bon roi Henri ("good king Henry") or le Vert galant ("the green gallant"), a reference to his constant womanising. He also gave his name to the Henry IV style of architecture, which he patronised.