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France in the Reign of Henry IV, 1589-1610

5. The Assassination of Henri IV

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the assassination of Henry IV by François Ravaillac, and Henry's legacy in 17th-century France and beyond.


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)


Tom Hamilton is a Junior Research Fellow at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. He works on the social, cultural, and religious history of early modern France and Europe. Currently he is finishing his first book, A Storehouse of Curiosities: Pierre de L’Estoile and his World in the Wars of Religion. It gives a new account of France’s troubles from the perspective of an extraordinary Parisian diarist and collector, Pierre de L'Estoile (1546-1611), asking what it was like to live through the civil wars, how people found out about events, and how they remembered them.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

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

MLA style

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

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