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Henri IV - An unfinished reign


Charles de Lorraine, duc de Mayenne


Charles de Lorraine, duc de Mayenne was the son of François, the first duc de Guise.

With his brother Henri le Balafré, he founded the Holy League in 1585. After the execution of his two brothers at Blois in December 1588, Mayenne was accused of lèse-majesté. As the sole surviving leader of the League, Mayenne fought both Henri III and Henri IV every step of the way. On 5 August 1589, he signed the declaration proclaiming the cardinal de Bourbon to be king of France, in the place of the Protestant Henri IV. He was beaten at the battles of Arques (1589), Ivry (1590) and Fontaine-Française (1595), where he fought alongside Spanish troops. He finalled rallied to the side of Henri IV – whom he had fought for nearly 25 years – through the Treaty of Folembray (January 1596), under the terms of which he was given amnesty and a large sum of money. He then fought bravely in the ranks of the French army to expel Spain from the kingdom. After the death of the king, he was an adviser to the regent, Marie de Médicis. He died in 1611.

Portrait of Charles de Lorraine
© RMN / René-Gabriel Ojéda
Charles de Lorraine, duc de Mayenne (1554–1611), drawing by Thierry Bellange, XVIIe s. Musée national du château de Pau, P.

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