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Henri IV - An unfinished reign

Marriage to Marie de Médicis

For several months, negotiations between the king's entourage and Ferdinand I, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Marie's uncle, had been proceeding nicely. Although Marie was perhaps somewhat stout – Henri and Gabrielle apparently made fun of her portrait – she was nevertheless a better partner for the king than Gabrielle. The daughter of a Habsburg, she descended from a family that had already given France a queen – Catherine de Médicis. In addition, Henri IV's debts to his family were astronomical (more than one million écus, some said). The talks very quickly turned to the question of money. Finally, an agreement was reached: Marie's dowry would be 600,000 écus, 350,000 of which would be paid in cash.

The marriage ceremonies took place in two stages. On 5 October 1600, Henri IV married Marie de Médicis by proxy. The Grand Duke himself represented the king at the ceremony in the Duomo, and attended the sumptuous festivities that Rubens – who was present – recorded for posterity. Shortly after, Marie left her native Tuscany to join her husband in France. Her retinue, consisting of 2,000 persons aboard 18 ships, dropped anchor in Marseille on 3 November 1600. To the new queen's disappointment, Henri was not waiting for her at the dock. Officially, he was preoccupied with the conflict with Savoy. In truth, he was entirely taken up with his new mistress, Henriette d’Entragues.

No problem – Marie and her splendid retinue travelled up the Rhone valley to a new meeting set in Lyon. There, on 3 December 1600, the new queen made her triumphal entry, warmly acclaimed by the crowds who had come to see her. She had to wait another six days for the arrival of her husband, who immediately asked to share her bed. Finally, on 17 December 1600, the couple received the blessing of the papal legate at Saint John's Cathedral.

Related multimedia

Title: Henri IV receiving a portrait of Marie de Médicis

Henri IV receiving a portrait of Marie de Médicis
© RMN / René-Gabriel Ojéda / Thierry Le Mage
Caption:
Henri IV receiving a portrait of Marie de Médicis, painting by Pierre Paul Rubens. Musée du Louvre, INV1772

Title: Henriette de Balzac d’Entragues

Portrait of Henriette de Balzac d’Entragues
© Musée national du château de Pau / Jean-Yves Chermeux
Caption:
Henriette de Balzac d’Entragues, engraving by Jérôme Wiérix, circa 1600. Musée national du château de Pau, P. 765

Title: Marie de Médicis disembarks at the port of Marseille

Marie de Médicis disembarks at the port of Marseille
© RMN / Hervé Lewandowski
Caption:
Marie de Médicis disembarks at the port of Marseille, 3 November 1600, painting by Pierre Paul Rubens, 1621–1625. Musée du Louvre, INV1774

Title: The meeting of the king and Marie de Médicis in Lyon

The meeting of the king and Marie de Médicis in Lyon
© RMN / Hervé Lewandowski
Caption:
The meeting of the king and Marie de Médicis in Lyon, 9 November 1600, painting by Pierre Paul Rubens, 1621–1625. Musée du Louvre, INV1775

Title: Marie de Médicis

Portrait of Marie de Médicis
© Musée national du château de Pau / Jean-Yves Chermeux
Caption:
Marie de Médicis, engraving by Jean Wiérix, Musée national du château de Pau, P.55.33.3

Title: Marriage of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis

Marriage of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis
© Archives municipales de Lyon
Caption:
Marriage of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis

Title: Marriage of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis

Marriage of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis
© Archives municipales de Lyon
Caption:
Marriage of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis , detail of the manuscript

Title: Marriage of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis

Marriage of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis
© Archives municipales de Lyon
Caption:
Marriage of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis, manuscript

Title: Marriage of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis

Marriage of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis
© Archives municipales de Lyon
Caption:
Marriage of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis

Title: Preparation of Marie de Médicis's journey from Marseille to Lyon

Preparation of Marie de Médicis's journey from Marseille to Lyon
© Archives municipales de Lyon
Caption:
Preparation of Marie de Médicis's journey from Marseille to Lyon (Marriage of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis)

Title: Marriage of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis (17 December 1600)

Marriage of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis
© BnF
Caption:
Marriage of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis (17 December 1600), engraving, 17th c. Département des estampes et de la photographie de la BnF

Title: Celebrations and ceremonies of France. Marriage of Henri IV

Marriage of Henri IV
© Archives départementales de la Moselle / Luc Dufrène
Caption:
Celebrations and ceremonies of France. Marriage of Henri IV
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