Why Famous: Henry IV was the first of the French Bourbon Kings, succeeding his cousin Henry III, the last of the Valois line in 1589. Before this he was King of Navarre, in South West France.
In 1572 Protestant Henry married his Catholic cousin Margaret of Valois to help solidify a peace between Catholic and Protestants during the French Wars of Religion. Instead it prompted the St Bartholomew's Day massacre. Instigated by Catholic leaders, it is likely more than 5,000 Huguenots were murdered and Henry himself only just escaped with his life.
Henry's succession to the throne of France continued to be contested by the Holy League before his succession and after. Henry only restored peace through various battles during which he showed strong leadership and courage and through his conversion to Catholicism in 1593.
The Edict of Nantes in 1598 finally established Catholicism as the official religion of France but crucially granted Protestants rights and freedoms.
To ensure an heir, Henry IV had his marriage to Margaret of Valois annulled and married instead Marie de Médicis, all the while maintaining an impressive list of mistresses.
Henry IV's reign was cut short by his assassination by a fanatical Roman Catholic in 1610.
- 1572-08-18 Henry of Navarre (later Henry IV of France) marries Margaret of Valois in Notre Dame cathedral, Paris, in attempt to make truce between Catholics and Protestants but prompts St. Bartholomew's Day massacre days later
- 1600-12-17 Marriage of Henry IV of France and Marie de' Medici
- 1576-02-03 Henry of Navarre (future Henry IV) escapes from Paris
- 1576-02-05 Henry of Navarre (later Henry IV of France) abjures Catholicism at Tours
- 1585-08-08 Pope Sixtus excommunicates Henry of Navarre (Henry IV)
- 1589-09-21 Battle at Arques: French King Henry IV beats Catholic League
- 1590-03-14 Battle of Ivry: French King Henry IV beats Catholic League during French Wars of Religion
- 1590-09-05 Alexander Farnese's army forces Henry IV of France to raise the siege of Paris
- 1591-03-01 Pope Gregory XIV threatens to excommunicate French King Henry IV
- 1591-04-19 Chartres surrenders to King Henry IV in France
- 1591-08-19 French King Henry IV occupies Rouen
- 1591-09-21 French bishops recognize Henry IV as King of France
- 1593-07-25 France's Protestant King Henry IV converts to Roman Catholic faith
- 1594-02-27 Henry IV crowned King of France
- 1594-03-22 French King Henry IV festival in Paris
- 1595-01-17 King Henry IV of France declares war on Spain
- 1595-09-17 Pope Clemens VIII recognizes Henry IV as King of France
- 1597-09-25 Amiens surrenders to French King Henry IV
- 1598-03-20 Governor of Brittany, Philippe Emmanuel the Duke of Mercœur submits to French King Henry IV at Angers
- 1600-08-06 Henry IV of France invades Savoy after negotiations break down over Saluzzo, controlled by Savoy since 1588
- 1610-05-14 Henry IV of France is assassinated by fanatical Catholic François Ravaillac who stabs him to death in the streets of Paris