So, Just Who Was Henry III of France?

We take a closer look at just who Henry III of France was, and the extraordinary life that he lived.

If you’ve a keen interest in the monarchy, chances are you will be familiar with France’s royal family.

Reading up about the monarchy is always fun, yet as we delve a little deeper and go back further and further in time, we find all manner of interesting info about people in the family who don’t grab as many headlines or as much attention as some of the bigger names in history.

So, Just Who Was Henry III of France?

Today we’re looking at Henry III of France. Henry led an extraordinary life, and while we don’t have the time to cram everything in, we can look at some of the more interesting aspects of his life.

Here’s a quick overview of the life and times of Henry III of France.

Who was Henry III of France?

Henry III of France was a former king of France, along with a former king of Poland, as well as being a member of the House of Valois.

He was not expected to become king and inherit the throne as he was the fourth son of King Henry II of France, and so he was instead considered an ideal candidate for the vacant Polish throne. In 1573, he was elected monarch of this very country, where he ruled, albeit briefly, until he inherited the French throne after his brother passed away.

So, Just Who Was Henry III of France?

Eventually, he was murdered by a Catholic fanatic and was succeed by the King of Navarre.

Early life

Henry III of France was the fourth son of King Henry II and his wife Catherine de’ Medici. He was born on September the 19th, 1551.

It was alleged that he was his mother’s favourite child where she would affectionately refer to him as ‘Chers Yeux’ which meant ‘Precious Eyes’. He was often treated with affection and was favoured by his mother.

As he grew older, he had a rebellious side and would often refuse to attend mass and even referred to himself as “a little Huguenot” as a reference to Protestantism. He would refuse to sing catholic hymns and would instead sing Protestant psalms.

This angered his mother who was a devout catholic and she insisted that her children never display any Protestant tendencies. Being the apple of his mother’s eye, this worked and he became a devout Catholic.


In 1570, it was believed that arrangements were made to attempt to get Henry to court Queen Elizabeth I in England.

Elizabeth was in her late 30s at the time and it was expected that she would marry and produce an heir to the throne.

Nothing came of this, but in 1575, Henry married Louise of Lorraine on the 13th of February. The couple never had children.

So, Just Who Was Henry III of France?

Life and death as King

Initially, Henry III become king of Poland from 1573 – 1575.

After his brother died, Henry became king of France, where at Reims Cathedral, he was crowned king in 1575.

In 1576, Henry signed the Edict of Beaulieu, which granted a number of concessions to the Huguenots. By doing so, this resulted in the formation of the Catholic League. Henry was forced to rescind many of the concessions he initially granted in the edict. This did not go down well.

On the 1st of August 1589, while preparing to attack Paris while lodged with his army, Henry III was stabbed to death by a young fanatic by the name of Jacques Clement. Clement was a friar and stabbed the king in the abdomen, before being killed by the king’s guards.

Henry III died the next morning, the Paris attack was postponed, and the city rejoiced at the news of his death.