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Henri IV - An unfinished reign

A royal hostage (Act II)

For the second time in a few years, Henri de Navarre found himself a hostage at court, deprived of liberty by the same people who had ordered the massacre. Although Condé abjured Protestantism on 12 September 1572, Henri played for time and did not immediately give in. Finally, on 26 September, he was forced to rejoin the Catholic church. This was the fifth time he had changed faiths, and he was not yet twenty years old. To add insult to injury, he was then forced to sign an edict that re-established Catholic worship in Béarn and to fight alongside royalist troops in the siege of La Rochelle, the "French Geneva".

During the four years that followed, Henri found himself imprisoned in a gilded royal cage. If truth be told, however, apart from being deprived of his freedom and under constant surveillance, Henri's life was not all that disagreeable. He learned how to observe and to put up an appearance, and he devoted himself to his favourite sport, hunting. In fact, it was during a hunting party in the forest of Senlis that Henri, accompanied by a few friends, slipped away from his gaolers. Galloping at breakneck speed, he headed for the shelter of his lands in the southwest.

Related multimedia

Title: Henri, king of Navarre

Henri, king of Navarre circa 1575
© RMN / René-Gabriel Ojéda
Henri, king of Navarre circa 1575, painting, French School, 16th c. Musée national du château de Pau, P.82-1-1

Title: The hunting party of king Henri IV

The hunting party of king Henri IV
© Archives départementales de la Moselle / Luc Dufrène
The hunting party of king Henri IV

Title: Ball at the court of Henri III

Ball at the court of Henri III
© RMN / Thierry Le Mage
Ball at the court of Henri III, painting, French School, second half of the 16th c. Musée du Louvre, INV8730
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