1 XVII. ROYAL ABSOLUTISM IN THE KINGDOM OF FRANCE; THE DUTCH REPUBLIC Henry IV of Navarre inherited the French throne in 1589 after the bloody War of the Three Henries and ruled till his assassination by a religious fanatic in 1610. When he assumed the throne, the Protestant Henry converted to Roman Catholicism, supposedly uttering that "Paris was worth a mass." Upon taking the throne, Henry IV established the Bourbon dynasty which would rule France up to the French Revolution and for a brief period following the fall of Napoleon. Henry IV was very popular with the people, especially the peasant class. He is said to have believed that "Every peasant should have a chicken in his pot on Sunday." Edict of Nantes--1598Passed by King Henry IV of France, it guaranteed certain rights and privileges to the Protestant Huguenots in France. 1.Private worship and liberty of conscience 2.Public worship in Protestant towns (200) and castles 3.Protestant books could be legally published 4.Full civil and political rights in France 5.French governmental financial support for Protestant schools 6.Right to assemble 7.Right to exercise judicial power in own communities 8.Right to maintain 200 fortified towns and defensive forces in these towns to ensure that the rights guaranteed by the Edict were allowed to be carried out. Henry IV passed the Edict of Nantes because he had certain Protestant sympathies, the Protestants were simply too strong to eliminate, and he and France were tired of war. Henry IV was eager to avoid wars. His chief minister was the Huguenot Duke of Sully (1559-1641) who reformed the tax system so efficiently that by 1600 the government enjoyed an economic surplus. Henry IV and sully also encouraged building of new roads, planting of trees and the establishment of more local and regional fairs. Henry IV strongly encouraged the development of commerce and put forth policies to stimulate commercial development. (For example, he had thousands of mulberry trees planted in order to provide more food for silk worms which would, in turn, increase the number of silk worms thereby increasing French production of silk.) During his reign he managed to pacify all of France. He brought stability back to France and helped the country recover from the War of the Three Henrys. He was succeeded on the throne by his eight-year-old son, Louis XIII. During his minority, his mother, Marie de Medici, served as regent. Her reign led to financial problems for France and she was not regarded favorably by the French
2 nobility. Marie was depicted as lazy, not particularly tactful and somewhat incompetent. When Louis XIII came of age, he tried to rule himself, but found he preferred hunting over the day-to-day operations of government. In 1624, he chose Cardinal Richelieu to serve as his chief minister. Louis XIII might not have liked Cardinal Richelieu, but he realized the Cardinal could lead France. Louis XIII steadfastly supported Richelieu until Richelieu's death in 1642. Without the support of the king, Richelieu could have been easily removed from power.