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History   >   France – The Reign of Henry IV, 1589-1610

France in the Wars of Religion

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France – The Reign of Henry IV, 1589-1610

In this course, Dr Tom Hamilton (University of Cambridge) explores the life and reign of Henry IV of France, the king celebrated for his role in ending the Wars of Religion. The first lecture considers Henry's early life in the civil wars and especially his role in the events surrounding the Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre (24 August 1572). The second lecture traces Henry's political career as he became heir presumptive in 1584 then king of France in 1589, focusing in particular on the Catholic League that opposed his succession. In the third and fourth lectures, we consider how Henry and his ministers attempted to resolve the religious conflict in France, evaluating his relations with the papacy and the Protestants – especially through the Edict of Nantes (30 April 1598) – as well as the means by which he rebuilt the French economy. In the final module, we turn to Henry's assassination by François Ravaillac before thinking about Henry's legacy in the seventeenth century and beyond.

Further Reading:

Greengrass, Mark, France in the Age of Henri IV: The Struggle for Stability (London, 1995, first edition 1984)

Holt, Mack P., The French Wars of Religion, 1562-1629 (Cambridge, 2005)

Mousnier, Roland, The Assassination of Henri IV: The Tyrannicide Problem and the Consolidation of the French Absolute Monarchy in the Seventeenth Century (London, 1973)

France in the Wars of Religion

In this module, we introduce Henry of Navarre, thinking in particular about his Protestant upbringing and his role in the events leading up to the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572. We also think about his unlikely journey from near-assassination in the Wars of Religion to heir presumptive to the French throne, after the death of Francis, Duke of Anjou, the last surviving son of Henry II in June 1584.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Hamilton, T. (2018, August 15). France – The Reign of Henry IV, 1589-1610 - France in the Wars of Religion [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Hamilton, T. "France – The Reign of Henry IV, 1589-1610 – France in the Wars of Religion." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,


Dr Tom Hamilton

Dr Tom Hamilton

Durham University