Henry II of France

Infobox French Royalty|monarch
name=Henry II
title=King of France, Count of Provence

reign=31 March 1547 – 10 July 1559
coronation=25 July 1547
titles="HM" The King
The Dauphin of Viennois
The Duke of Brittany
The Duke of Orléans
full name=
predecessor=Francis I
successor=Francis II
spouse=Catherine de' Medici
issue=Francis II of France
Elisabeth, Queen of Spain
Claude, Duchess of Lorraine
Charles IX
Henry III
Margaret, Queen of Navarre and France
Hercule François, Duke of Anjou
royal house=House of Valois
royal anthem =
father=Francis I
mother=Claude of France
date of birth=birth date|1519|3|31|df=y
place of birth=Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
date of death=death date and age|1559|7|10|1519|3|31|df=y
place of death=Paris, France
place of burial=Saint Denis Basilica, France|

Henry II ( _fr. Henri II) (31 March 1519 – 10 July 1559), of the House of Valois and the son and successor of Francis I, was King of France from 31 March 1547, until his death.

Early years

Henry was born in the Royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude de France and the grandson of Louis XII of France and Anne, Duchess of Brittany. With his brother, he spent three years in Spain as a hostage to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, as surety for his father, who had been captured at the Battle of Pavia. Henry married Catherine de' Medici (13 April 1519–5 January 1589) on 28 October 1533, when both were fourteen years old.

The following year he became involved with the thirty-five-year-old, recently widowed, Diane de Poitiers, who became his most trusted confidante and for the next twenty-five years wielded considerable influence behind the scenes, even signing royal documents. Extremely confident, mature and intelligent, she left Catherine powerless to intervene.

When his older brother Francis died in 1536 after a game of tennis, Henry became heir to the throne; he succeeded his father on his 28th birthday, March 31, 1547 and was crowned King of France on 25 July 1547 at Reims.


Henry's reign was marked by wars with Austria, and the persecution of the Protestant Huguenots. Henry II severely punished them, particularly the ministers: burning them at the stake or cutting off their tongues for speaking their heresies. Even those suspected of being Huguenots could be imprisoned. The Edict of Chateaubriand (27 June 1551) called upon the civil and ecclesiastical courts to detect and punish all heretics and placed severe restrictions on Huguenots, including loss of one-third of property to informers, and confiscations. It also strictly regulated the press by prohibiting the sale, importation or printing of any unapproved book.

The Italian War of 1551–1559, sometimes known as the Habsburg–Valois War, began when Henry declared war against Charles V with the intent of recapturing Italy and ensuring French, rather than Habsburg, domination of European affairs. An early offensive into Lorraine was successful, with Henry capturing the three episcopal cities of Metz, Toul, and Verdun, but the attempted French invasion of Tuscany in 1553 was defeated at the Battle of Marciano.

After Charles's abdication in 1556 split the Habsburg empire between Philip II of Spain and Ferdinand I, the focus of the war shifted to Flanders, where Phillip, in conjunction with Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy, defeated the French at St. Quentin. England's entry into the war later that year led to the French capture of Calais, and French armies plundered Spanish possessions in the Low Countries; but Henry was nonetheless forced to accept the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis, in which he renounced any further claims to Italy.

The Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis was signed between Elizabeth I of England and Henry on 2 April and between Henry and Philip II of Spain on 3 April 1559, at Le Cateau-Cambrésis, around twenty kilometers south-east of Cambrai. Under its terms, France restored Piedmont and Savoy to the Duke of Savoy, but retained Saluzzo, Calais and the bishoprics of Metz, Toul, and Verdun. Spain retained Franche-Comté. Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, married Margaret of France, Duchess of Berry, the sister of Henry II, and Philip II of Spain married Henry's daughter Elisabeth.

Henry raised the young Queen Mary I of Scotland at his court, hoping to use her as a tool of Valois imperialism. On April 24, 1558, Henry's fourteen-year-old son Francis was married to Mary in a union intended to give the future king of France not only the throne of Scotland but a claim to the throne of England. Henry had Mary sign secret documents, illegal in Scottish law, that would ensure Valois rule in Scotland even if she died without heir (Guy 2004:91). Mary's claim to the English throne quickly became current when Mary I of England died later in 1558, Henry and his Catholic advisors regarding Elizabeth Tudor as illegitimate.


Henry II was an avid hunter and a participant in jousts and tournaments. On 30 June 1559, at the Place des Vosges in Paris, during a match to celebrate the Peace Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis with his longtime enemies, the Habsburgs of Austria and to celebrate the marriage of his daughter Elisabeth of Valois to King Philip II of Spain, King Henry was mortally wounded by the lance of Gabriel Montgomery, captain of the King's Scottish Guard. The lance pierced his temple and, despite the efforts of royal surgeon Ambroise Paré, he died on 10 July 1559 [ [http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Henry_II_Of_France Classic Encyclopedia Web, Based on 1911 Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica] ] and was buried in a cadaver tomb in Saint Denis Basilica. Prior to his death, Queen Catherine limited access to his bedside and denied his mistress (Diane de Poitiers) access to him, even though he repeatedly asked for her. Following his death, Catherine sent de Poitiers into exile, where she was to live in comfort on her own properties until her death.

Henry was succeeded by his son, Francis II, who died the following year and was succeeded by his two brothers. Their mother acted as Regent. For the forty years following Henry II's death, France was filled with turbulence as Protestants and Catholics fought the bitter Wars of Religion.


Henry's ancestors in three generations

1 = Henry II of France
2 = Francis I of France
3 = Claude of France
4 = Charles, Count of Angoulême
5 = Louise of Savoy
6 = Louis XII of France
7 = Anne of Brittany
8 = John, Count of Angoulême
9 = Marguerite de Rohan
10 = Philip II, Duke of Savoy
11 = Margaret of Bourbon
12 = Charles I de Valois, Duke of Orléans
13 = Marie of Cleves
14 = Francis II, Duke of Brittany
15 = Margaret of Foix

See Children of Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici

Henry II also had four illegitimate children:
*By Catherine Michelle: Elaine de francias (1557)–(1635) Henry supposedly questioned whether or not to give her a title and it was not until his death bed that he admitted to her being his. He gave her the title Countess de Montmorency. It is questioned as to why he was so secretive about this one daughter.
*By Filippa Duci: Diane, Duchesse d'Angoulême (1538–1619). Some sources have stated that the little girl was the natural daughter of Henry's long-time mistress, Diane de Poitiers. This is probably not the case since Henry had Filippa Duci monitored closely throughout her pregnancy, and there is a record of this. She gave birth to the baby in a convent and it appears that she remained there for the rest of her life. The younger Diane married (at the age of 14) Orazio Farnese, Duke of Castro. He died young in battle. Her second marriage was to François, Duc de Montmorency.
*By Lady Janet Stewart (1508–1563), herself an illegitimate daughter of James IV of Scotland: Henri de Valois (1551 – June 1586). He was legitimized and became governor of Provence.
*By Nicole de Savigny: a son, Henri (1557–1621), whom Henry did not legitimize because he was unsure about his paternity. He gave him the title of Comte de Saint-Rémy. One of his last descendants was to be Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy, Comtesse de la Motte, famous for her role in the Affair of the Diamond Necklace.


Infobox French Monarchical Styles
royal name=King Henry II
Par la grâce de Dieu, Roi de France
dipstyle=His Most Christian Majesty
offstyle=Your Most Christian Majesty
altstyle=Monsieur Le Roi|
Michel Nostradamus, the French astrologer known for his prophecies, is often said to have first become famous when one of his quatrains was construed as a prediction of the death of King Henry II:

CI, Q 35 "The young lion shall overcome the older one," "on the field of combat in single battle," "He shall pierce his eyes in a golden cage," "Two forces one, then he shall die a cruel death."

But in fact the link was first proposed in print only in 1614 [César Nostradamus, "L'Histoire et Chronique de Provence", Lyon, Simon Rigaud, 1614] , 55 years after the event and 48 after Nostradamus's death. The quatrain also speaks of pierced eyes, but Henry died of an injury to his temple. The Italian astrologer Luca Gaurico, a contemporary of Nostradamus, is also said to have predicted the king's death.



* Guy, John, "My Heart is my Own", London, Fourth Estate, 2004, ISBN 0–00–71930–8

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Henry IV of France — Infobox French Royalty|monarch name=Henry IV title=King of France and Navarre caption= succession=King of France reign=2 August 1589 ndash; 14 May 1610 coronation=27 February 1594 predecessor=Henry III successor=Louis XIII succession1=King of… …   Wikipedia

  • Henry III of France — Infobox French Royalty|monarch name=Henry III title=King of France and Poland Grand Duke of Lithuania; Count of Provence caption=Henry III Image in the Louvre. reign=30 May 1574 – 2 August 1589 coronation=13 February 1575 titles= HM The King of… …   Wikipedia

  • Henry I of France — Infobox French Royalty|monarch name=Henry I title=King of the Franks caption= reign=14 May 1027 ndash; 20 July 1031; 20 July 1031 ndash; 4 August 1060 reign type=Junior king Senior king coronation=14 May 1027, Cathedral of Reims othertitles=Duke… …   Wikipedia

  • Henry IV of France — (1553 1610)    Henry IV was the first French monarch from the Bourbon dynasty. Raised a Protestant, he converted to Catholicism in 1593 and was crowned king of France in the following year. He ended the Wars of Religion in 1598 when he signed the …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

  • Henry IV of France's succession — to the throne in 1589 was followed by a four year war to establish his legitimacy. Henry IV inherited the throne after the assassination of Henry III, the last Valois king, who died without children. Henry was already King of Navarre, as the… …   Wikipedia

  • Henry IV of France's wives and mistresses — played a significant role in the politics of his reign. Both Henry (1553–1610) and his first wife Marguerite of Valois, whom he married in 1572, were repeatedly unfaithful to each other, and the collapse of their marriage led to their… …   Wikipedia

  • Descendants of Henry IV of France — King Henry IV of France Henry IV of France was the first Bourbon king of France. Formerly known as Henri of Navarre, he succeeded to the French throne with the extinction of House of Valois, at the death of Henry III of France. In 1584, Prince… …   Wikipedia

  • Descendants of Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici — The Praying figures of Henry II of France and his wife, Catherine De Medici, Funerary Monument, created by Francesco Primaticcio who appointed Germain Pilon as sculptor, commissionned by Catherine de Medici at the death of Henry II, completed in… …   Wikipedia

  • Henry VIII of England — Henry VIII redirects here. For other uses, see Henry VIII (disambiguation). Henry VIII …   Wikipedia

  • Henry II of England — Henry Plantagenet redirects here. For others, see Category:House of Plantagenet. Henry II King of England (more...) Reign 25 October 1154 – 6 July 1189 …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.