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Henri IV - An unfinished reign

Learning the reins of power

When hostilities began again in late 1576, Guyenne became a training ground where Henri honed his military skills. He was a master of surprise, an area in which his daring and speed worked wonders. The years that followed were a time of learning, and they gave Henri a taste for risk, combat and camaraderie, which would serve him well in the coming years.

Guyenne was also a place where Henri received a political education. He gathered around him a truly mixed-confession government. By imposing Catholic advisers on the Huguenots in his entourage, Henri created a "laboratory of coexistence" that transcended religious appearances and showed that real entente was possible. "Both religions are there. You would not believe how well they get along with those representatives of the Religion that have come to join me," he wrote to Damville in 1576.

Endless rounds of talks were another form of political training. Negotiations at Bergerac, Nérac and Fleix, entre 1577 et 1580, l’obligent à se confronter aux avis contradictoires et à trouver des compromis. between 1577 and 1580, brought Henri into contact with opposing viewpoints and forced him to seek compromises. Later, he would use these skills when negotiating with the Holy League and the Spanish and when drafting the Edict of Nantes.

Related multimedia

Title: The château de Nérac

© Ministère de la Culture / Grégory Champeaud
Caption:
The château de Nérac, where the Treaty of Nérac was signed

Title: Nérac, the Promenade de la Garenne

Nérac, the Promenade de la Garenne
© Ministère de la Culture / Grégory Champeaud
Caption:
Nérac, the Promenade de la Garenne

Title: Nérac, the baths

Nérac, the baths
© Ministère de la Culture / Grégory Champeaud
Caption:
Nérac, the baths
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