Henry IV

Henry IV
Henry IV
German king and Holy Roman Emperor (1050-1108)

Catholic Encyclopedia. . 2006.

Henry IV
     Henry IV
     Catholic_Encyclopedia Henry IV
    King of France and Navarre, son of Jeanne d'Albret and Antoine de Bourbon, b. 14 December, 1553, in the castle of Pau; d. 14 May, 1610. He began his military career under Admiral de Coligny and, from 1569, played a decisive part in the wars of religion as head of the Protestant (Protestantism) party. By the death of the Duke of Anjou, in 1584, Henry of Bourbon became heir-presumptive to the crown of France. The manifesto of Pérrone (March, 1585) issued by the Catholic princes gave proof of their uneasiness: Cardinal de Pellevé and the Jesuit Claude Mathieu expressed their anxiety at Rome. Although Sixtus V, a strong supporter of royal authority, was not in complete sympathy with the programme and the action of the League, yet relying on the public right which in the Middle Ages had been acknowledged in the whole of Christian Europe, he took decisive measures against Henry of Bourbon. Wishing France to have a king who was respected and hostile to heresy, he declared that Henry of Bourbon had forfeited his rights to the throne of France, deprived him of the crown of Navarre, and released his subjects from their oath of fidelity (9 September, 1585). The parliamentarians and the Gallican lawyers protested. Hofmann published his "Brutum fulmen Pape Sixti V" in answer to the papal Bull. Henry of Bourbon appealed to France, through his letters to the clergy and the nobility (1 January, 1586); he attempted to gain the support of the Protestant (Protestantism) princes of Germany, and resolved to try the fortune of arms. For the account of the circumstances and the military events that assured the throne to Henry of Bourbon see GUISE, THE HOUSE OF. To establish himself on the throne his conversion was necessary; and the conversion of Henry IV is still an historical problem which must be examined in detail. A legend attributes to Henry IV the saying "Paris is well worth a Mass"; his conversion, then, would only have been a piece of policy devoid of all contrition. No contemporary document records this epigram, though the "Caquets de l'accouchée", a satirical collection of the year 1622, speaks of Sully saying to Henry IV "Sire, Sire, la couronne vaut bien une messe", and these words, themselves doubtful, are probably the origin of the famous epigram so often attributed to the king. The opinion that the conversion of Henry IV was not sincere is refuted by the circumstances of his conversion, by the great interest Henry IV took in the so-called theological colloquies between Catholics and Protestants (Protestantism), and by his regarding it as a point of honour to seek and find theological reasons before carrying out that religious change necessitated by political exigency.
    When, on 2 August, 1589, by the death of Henry III, Henry of Bourbon definitively inherited the royal crown, he had on his side the Protestants (Protestantism), the politiques, who belonged mainly to parliamentary and Gallican circles, and finally many Catholics who entreated him to become a member of the Catholic Chirch; against him he had the Guises and the League supported by Philip II of Spain and Pope Gregory XIV. Among the Catholics who stood by Henry of Bourbon, a certain number, from 1591 to 1593, seeing that he took no steps to be instructed in the Catholic Faith, began to form a tiers parti, who were in favour of selecting as king the young Cardinal Charles de Bourbon, second son of Louis I, Prince of Condé. Not having received Holy orders, Charles could have married. By the spring of 1593 the more moderate members of the League, fearing the influence of Philip II on French affairs, were in agreement with the tiers parti to elect a Catholic Bourbon, that is to say, Henry of Bourbon, if he would be converted, or, if he would not, Cardinal Charles de Bourbon. Henry IV had declared on several occasions that he would never embrace Catholicism for merely political reasons. "Religion is not changed as easily as a shirt", he wrote in 1583. "It would be setting very little value on either religion", said Villeroy, Henry's representative, in 1592, "to promise a change before being instructed and well-informed." From March, 1592, Henry IV had an intimate friend in Jacques Davy Duperron, a convert from Protestantism, later a priest and a Cardinal, and the conversations with Duperron had a great influence on his mind. The theological conference at Mantes (April, 1593) in which, for seven consecutive days, Duperron argued with four Protestant (Protestantism) pastors as to whether the whole Christian doctrine is contained in the Sacred Scriptures, ended in the defeat of the pastors. One of them, Palma Gayet, who had been Henry of Bourbon's tutor, carried away from the discussion the germs of his own conversion to the Catholic Faith. At the same time Sully, although he was a Protestant (Protestantism), told Henry IV that the means of salvation through Christ were to be found in the Catholic as well as in the Reformed Church, and he urged him to become a Catholic in order to win the tiers parti over definitively. Henry IV announced to the Grand Duke of Tuscany on 26 April, 1593, and to the Prince de Conti on 10 May, 1593, his coming submission to the Catholic Church; on 16 May the royal council pronounced in favour of the conversion. In the beginning of June Henry IV assisted at Mantes at another discussion on the Church and salvation, in which Duperron, who had just been named Bishop of Evreux, again vanquished two Protestant (Protestantism) pastors; then on 22 July he went to Saint-Denis, where a score of bishops and theologians awaited him. The following morning he had a conference with Duperron, with the Archbishop of Bourges, and with the Bishops of Le Mans and Nantes; he questioned them on three points that were not yet clear to him–the veneration of the saints, auricular confession, and the authority of the pope. The discussion lasted five hours. That afternoon, after a lengthy discussion, Henry signed a formula of adhesion to the Catholic Faith, and a special promise of obedience to the Holy See. On 26 July he renewed his declaration before the assembled theologians; and on 25 July, amidst great pomp, Renaud de Beaune de Semblançay, Archbishop of Bourges and Grand Almoner of France, received his abjuration at the door of the basilica of Saint-Denis, and then heard his confession. The joy of the people was unbounded.
    But it was necessary to have the situation regularized by the Holy See, which had formerly excommunicated Henry of Bourbon. An officer of the king's household, La Clielle, was dispatched to Rome in September to announce to Pope Clement VIII that Louis de Gonzague, Duke of Nevers, would soon arrive with a solemn embassy to offer the pope the obedience of Henry IV. Cardinal Toledo informed La Clielle, in the name of Clement VIII, that it was first necessary for Henry to do penance and be absolved from the crime of heresy, and that the embassy would not be received for the time being. In fact, the Jesuit, Possevino, was sent to meet it and to forbid it to come to Rome, though Nevers was permitted to enter the city alone, and even then, not as an ambassador, but as a private individual; between 21 November, 1593, and 14 January, 1594, he had five audiences with the pope, but obtained nothing, the pope refusing even to receive three of the French bishops, then in Rome, who had taken part in the ceremonies at Saint-Denis. In February, 1594, Cardinal de Plaisance, papal legate in France, learning that Henry IV was to be consecrated at Chartres on 27 February, informed the Catholics that he would not be absolved. This caused a great sensation in France, and soon Cardinal de Plaisance began to fear that a schism like that of Henry VIII in England was imminent. Cardinal de Gondi, Archbishop of Paris, finally won (May, 1584) the consent of Clement VIII to enter in to negotiations with Henry IV. Henry first charged Arnaud d'Ossat, a priest living in Rome, with the preliminary secret negotiations. The papacy first contended that Henry required not only absolution, but rehabilitation, which would render him capable of being recognized as a legitimate sovereign; d'Ossat, little by little, won some concessions. But the measures taken by the Parlement of Paris against the Jesuits in January, 1595, after the attempt of Jean Chastel on the life of Henry IV, were exploited at the papal court by the ambassador of Philip II; and Clement VIII seemed, for a time, decided to make the recall of the Jesuits the condition sine qua non of the absolution of Henry. It was a French Jesuit, Alexandre Georges, who, being presented to the pope by Father Acquaviva, general of the Society, represented to Clement VIII that the public weal demanded a prompt reconciliation between the Holy See and France. Clement allowed himself to be persuaded, and on 12 July, 1595, Duperron, the official ambassador of Henry, arrived in Rome to settle the conditions of absolution. Clement VIII did not confirm purely and simply the absolution pronounced at Saint- Denis, but took another course, and on 17 September, 1595, in the portico of St. Peter's, solemnly declared the King of France free from all excommunication. This moral triumph was followed by the victory of Fontaine Française (1595) which gave Burgundy to Henry IV, by the capture of Amiens which gave him Picardy, by the defection of the Duke of Mercœur which put him in possession of Brittany, and by the Treaty of Vervins, concluded in 1598 with Philip II. On the dissolution of his marriage with Margaret of Valois, sister of Charles IX, by the Holy See, in 1599, he married Marie de Medici (1600). This union resulted in an increase of French influence in Italy.
    Henry's foreign policy consisted in preserving peace to allow France time to strengthen her finances and her army; he negotiated with the Low Countries against Spain, and with the Protestant (Protestantism) princes of Germany against the empire, but without going the length of open hostilities. His plan was to gather the weaker states around France and unite against the Hapsburgs. Sully in his "Economies Royales" credits him with projecting a coalition of all the states of the empire against the Hapsburgs of Vienna and Madrid, and with planning, on their downfall, a redivision of Europe into fifteen states (six hereditary monarchies, six elective monarchies, and three republics), between wiich peace would be guaranteed by congresses of perpetual peace. It is now proved that this pretended plan, called by many historians the grand dessein of Henry IV, was entirely the product of Sully's imagination, and that he amused himself in his old age with forging letters and stories wholesale to have the history of this "great design" believed.
    The domestic policy of Henry IV was marked by an increased centralization of the royal authority and by great industrial, commercial, and agricultural prosperity, due in a large measure to the intelligent solicitude of Sully. France enjoyed a period of genuine religious peace during the last twelve years of Henry's reign. The Edict of Nantes (see FRANCE, HUGUENOTS) guaranteed security to the Protestants (Protestantism), and Catholicism arose from the ruin caused by the long years of religious warfare. In the name of the Assembly of the Clergy in 1596, Claude d'Augennes de Rambouillet, Bishop of Le Mans, complained to Henry IV of the appointment of unworthy candidates and of children to abbacies and bishoprics. Henry promised to give the matter his attention; he nominated d'Ossat bishop and tried to induce St. Francis de Sales to settle in France. But the abuses continued, when it suited the whims of the king; he appointed one of his illegitimate sons Bishop of Metz at the age of six, and a child of four years of age Bishop of Lodève. The reform of the Church was begun through the initiative of Catholic piety and not by the influence of royalty. Henry IV, however, contributed towards it, owing to the influence of Père Coton, by favouring the work of the Jesuits, who, although they had been banished by a decree of the Parlement of Paris, were left undisturbed in the districts under the jurisdiction of the Parlements of Bordeaux and Toulouse. The Edict of Rouen (1603) authorized them to remain in all places where they were established, and, further, to found colleges at Lyons, Dijon, and La Flèche, and in 1605 they were permitted to return to their Collège de Clermont at Paris.
    Henry IV, despite the efforts of d'Ossat and Duperron, did not dare, through fear of the reformers and the parlementaires, to allow the publication of the decrees of the Council of Trent in France, but the researches of the Abbé Couzard with regard to the embassy of Philippe de Béthune, a younger brother of Sully, and a convert from Protestantism, at Rome (September, 1601-June, 1605) show that the relations of Henry towards the Holy See were marked by a very cordial respect, frankness, and a conciliating attitude. The frivolity of Henry IV in his private life won for him the nickname Vert galant; the royal mistresses Gabrielle d'Estrées and Henriette d'Entraigues are notorious. He was assassinated by Ravaillac on 14 May, 1610.
    BERGER DE XIVREY AND GUADET, Recueil des lettres missives de Henri IV (9 vols., Paris, 1845-76); LESTOULE, Mémoires journaux (10 vols., Paris, 1875-88); DUPERRON, Ambassades et négociations (Paris, 1623); AMELOT DE LA HOUSSAYE, Lettres du Cardinal d'Ossat (5 vols., Paris, 1708); DUPLESSIS-MORNAY, Mémoires et Correspondance (10 vols., Paris, 1824-5); POIRSON, Histoire du regne de Henri IV (4 vols., Paris, 1862); DE LACOMBE, Henri IV et sa politique (Paris, 1877); WILLERT, Henry of Navarre and the Huguenots of France (London, 1893); BLAIR, Henry of Navarre and the Religious Wars (Philadelphia, 1895); PHILIPPSON, Heinrich IV und Philipp III., die Begründung des französoschen Uebergewichtes in Europe (3 vols., Berlin, 1;871-76); PFISTER, Les Economies royales et la grand dessein de Henri IV in Revue historique (1804), LIV, LV, LVI; DE LA BRIÈRE, La conversion de Henri IV: Saint-Denis et Rome (Paris, 1905); FÉRET, Henri IV et l'Eglise (Paris, 1875); IDEM, Le Cardinal Du Perron (Paris, 1877); PRAT, Recherches sur la Compagnie de Jésus en France au temps du P. Coton (5 vols., Lyons, 1876); PERRENS, L'Eglise et l'Etat en France sous le règne du Henri IV (Paris, 1873); couzard, Une mabassade à Rome sous Henri IV, Septembre, 1601-Juin, 1605 (Paris, 1900).
    Transcribed by WGKofron With thanks to Fr. John Hilkert and St. Mary's Church, Akron, Ohio
     Henry IV
     Catholic_Encyclopedia Henry IV
    German King and Roman Emperor, son of Henry III and Agnes of Poitou, b. at Goslar, 11 November, 1050; d. at Liège, 7 August, 1108. The power and resources of the empire left behind by Conrad II, which Henry III had already materially weakened, were still further impaired by the feebleness of the queen regent, who was devoid of political ability. The policy of Henry III, which had been chiefly directed to Church affairs, had already called forth the opposition of the princes. But now, under the regency, which continued the same policy, the hostility between the ecclesiastical and temporal nobles came to a climax on the kidnapping of the king from Kaiserswert (1062). The regency passed into the hands of of the princes after the seizure of the boy-king. At the outset Archbishop Anno of Cologne had charge of the government of the empire and supervised the education of the royal child. But he was soon compelled to accept the energetic Adalbert, Archbishop of Bremen, as a colleague. The boy's whole heart went out to the joyous, splendour-loving Archbishop of Bremen. That prelate was now de facto the real ruler of Germany. He returned with vigorous steps to the deserted paths of Conrad II's policy and attempted, not in vain, to restore the empire's prestige, particularly in the East. At the Diet of Tribur this masterful prelate fell a victim to the jealous hostility of the princes (1066). It now appeared that the young king was quite able to satisfy his violent craving for independence; and he determined to carry out the policy of Adalbert.
    Henry IV's real political independence did not begin until 1070. When he seized the reins of government, thanks to the energetic rule of Adalbert, the condition of the empire was no worse than at the death of Henry III. But, meantime, the papacy had been entirely emancipated from the imperial power, and the German Church, on which Otto the Great had built up his power, had become more closely united to Rome and ceased to be a constitutional state church. Consequently, though this did not appear immediately, the foundations of the Othonian system were undermined. Strong and energetic popes had appeared on the scene and found allies. On the one hand the powers of Lorraine and Tuscany offered a valuable support to the papacy in Central Italy. Here Beatrice of Tuscany had contracted a matrimonial alliance with the unruly Duke Godfrey of Lorraine. On the other hand Hildebrand's admirable conciliatory policy had likewise gained allies in the southern half of the peninsula among the Normans. And finally the high Church party did not lack friends even in Northern Italy. The Pataria of Milan, a democratic movement that combined an economic with an ecclesiastical reform agitation, was won over by Hildebrand to the cause of the Papal See.
    This policy inaugurated by Hildebrand had already indicated opposition to the empire. It is true that one the German side there was a reaction against violations of the legal status prevailing in papal elections and other affairs: but definiteness of aim and enduring vigour were on the side of the reform party and its masterful spokesman Hildebrand, who, as Gregory VII, was soon to come forward as the young king's opponent. (See CONFLICT OF INVESTITURES.) Hatred and passion distorted the portraits of both these men in contemporary history. Even to-day we can see only faint outlines of these two men, the central figures of a tragedy of world-wide historical import. We know that Henry IV had a good literary education, but that his literary and artistic interests were not profound and were not, as in the case of his father, submerged in unpractical idealism. He was a conscious realist. He failed altogether to understand the politico-religious aims of his father's policy. Some of his contemporaries disparaged his moral character, with some justice perhaps, but certainly with much exaggeration. Of course his nature was passionate: that is probably the reason he never in his whole life acquired a refined harmony of character. At times he was plunged in the depths of despair, but he always reacted against the most serious disasters, overcame the worst fits of despondency and was ready to renew the combat. He was also a clever, though perhaps not always an honest diplomat. This hapless king was truly the idol of his people because of his pride as a ruler, his earnest defence of the dignity of the empire and his benevolent care for the peace of the empire and the welfare of the common people.
    Henry had no sooner become independent than he reverted to the principles that governed the policy of Conrad II. He also founded his military power on the ministerials, the lower nobility. These ministerials were to counterbalance the power of the spiritual and temporal princes, the latter of whom, however, were beginning to achieve territorial independence and to establish within the State a power that could not be overestimated. With his usual hopefulness Henry expected to be able to crush them: he believed that he could at least revive the power of Conrad II. Henry's strong hand first made itself felt in Bavaria. Otto von Northeim lost his duchy and important possessions in Saxony besides. The king bestowed the duchy on Guelph IV, son of Azzo of Este. We now see at once how well considered was Henry's policy; for from the Saxon lands of Otto von Northeim he sought to create a well rounded personal domain which was to provide an economic basis for his royal power. This personal domain he sought to protect by means of royal fortresses. But to the ever restless Saxons, whose ancient rights the king had indubitably violated in the consolidation of his landed possessions, these fortresses might well appear so many threats to their liberties. Soon, not only in Saxony, but elsewhere throughout the empire, the particularist princes rose to oppose the vigorous centralizing policy of the emperor. The situation assumed a dangerous aspect. Henry's diplomatic skill was now shown. Through the mediation of the spiritual princes the Treaty of Gerstungen (1074) was effected, by which, on the one hand, the king's possessions were left intact, while, on the other, the insurgents secured the dismantling of the royal fortresses and the restoration of all their rights. But soon the revolt broke out anew and was not subdued until Henry's victory at the Unstrut (1075), which resulted in the overthrow of Saxony. Henry seemed to have attained all his desires. In truth, however, the particularist forces had only withdrawn for the moment and were awaiting a favourable opportunity to break the chains which fettered their independence. The opportunity soon came.
    In 1073 Hildebrand had ascended the papal throne as Gregory VII. The "greatest ecclesiastical statesman", as von Ranke calls him, directed his attacks against the traditional right of the German kings to participate in the filling of vacant sees. At the Lenten synod of 1075 in Rome he forbade investiture by laymen. The bishops were to cease being dependents of the Crown and become materially the dependents of the papacy. That foreboded a death-blow to the existing constitution of the empire. The bishops of the empire were also the most important officials of the empire: the imperial church domains were also the chief source of income of the emperor. It was a question of life and death for the German Crown to retain its ancient influence over the bishops. A bitter conflict between the two powers began. A synod at Worms (1076) deposed Gregory. Bishops and king again found their interests threatened by the papacy. Gregory's answer to Henry's action was to excommunicate him at the Lenten synod of the same year. For the particularist powers this was the signal of revolt. At Tribur Henry's opponents formed an alliance. Here the final decision in Henry's case was left to the pope, and a resolution was passed that if Henry were not freed from excommunication within a year he should forfeit the empire. At this critical juncture, Henry decided on a surprising step. He submitted himself to solemn ecclesiastical penance and thus forced Gregory as a priest to free him from excommunication (1077).
    By doing so Gregory in no wise gave up his design of making himself the arbiter of Germany. In Gregory's opinion Henry's penance could only postpone but not prevent this arbitration. Henry was satisfied once more to set his feet on solid ground. But the German princes now broke out into open revolution. They set Rudolph of Rheinfelden up as a rival king. With his difficulties, however, Henry's ability grew more apparent. He had recourse to his superior resources as a diplomatist. In his struggle with the pope, who took the side of the German princes, he made use of the opposition within the Church in Italy against the hierarchical aims of the Curia; in his dispute with the princes and their rival king Henry looked for support to the loyalty of the masses, who honoured him as the preserver of order and peace. After several years of civil war, Rudolph lost his throne and his life at Mölsen in 1080. By his death the opposition in Germany lost their leader. In Italy also affairs took a more favourable turn for Henry. It is true that in 1080 the pope had excommunicated Henry anew, but the ban did not make the same impression as before. Henry retorted by setting up Guibert of Ravenna, who proclaimed himself antipope under the title of Clement III. The growing opposition within the Church aided Henry on his journey to Rome in 1081. From 1081 to 1084 he went four times to the Eternal City. Finally his antipope was able to crown him in St. Peter's. Soon after the pope was liberated by his Norman allies and escorted to Salerno, where he died, 25 May, 1085.
    The struggle was continued under Gregory's second successor, Urban II, who was determined to follow in Gregory's footsteps. Germany was suffering from the horrors of civil war, and the great masses of of the people still supported their king, who in 1085 proclaimed the Truce of God for the whole empire. By means of skilful negotiation he now succeeded in winning over the greater part of the Saxons, to whom he restored their ancient rights. On the other hand the ranks of the bishops loyal to the king had been thinned out by the clever and energetic policy of the pope. Moreover a new and dangerous coalition was formed in Italy when the seventeen-year old Guelph married Matilda of Tuscany who had reached the age of forty. Henry's efforts to break up this alliance were successful at first; but at this point his son Conrad deserted him. The latter had himself crowned in Milan and formed alliances with the pope and with the Guelph-Tuscan party. This had a paralysing effect on the emperor, who passed the year 1094 inactive in Italy, while the pope became the leader of the West, in the First Crusade. Fortunately for Henry's interests the younger Guelph now dissolved his marriage with Matilda, and the elder Guelph made his peace with the king once more. The latter was now able to return to Germany and compel his enemies to recognize him. His son Henry was elected king in 1098.
    Henry sought to restore order once more, even to the point of proclaiming general peace throughout the empire (1103). This policy of pacification benefited the great mass of the people and the rapidly growing cities and was directed against the disorderly lay nobility. Perhaps this may have induced the newly chosen young king to take up arms in rebellion against his father. Perhaps he wished to make sure of the sympathies of this nobility. At all events the younger Henry gathered a host of malcontents around his banner in Bavaria in 1104. Supported by the pope, to whom he swore obedience, he betook himself to Saxony, where he soon reawakened the traditional dissatisfaction. No humiliation was spared the prematurely aging emperor, who was kept prisoner in Böckelheim by his intriguing son and compelled to abdicate, while only those elements on whom he had always relied, particularly the growing cities, stood by him. Once more the emperor succeeded in gathering troops around his standard at Liège. But just as his son was drawing near at the head of an army Henry died. After some opposition his adherents buried him in Speyer. In him perished a man of great importance on whom, however, fortune frowned. Still his achievements considered from the point of view of their historical importance, were by no means insignificant. As defender of the rights of the Crown and of the honour of the empire, he saved the monarchy from a premature end, menaced though it was by the universal disorder.
    See also bibliographies under HENRY III, GREGORY VII, URBAN II, and INVESTITURES, CONFLICT OF; MEYER VON KNONAU, Jahrbächer des Deutschen Reiches unter Heinrich IV. und Heinrich V., I-V (Leipzig, 1890-1904); DIECKMANN, Heinrich IV., seine Persönlichkeit und sein Zeitalter (Wiesbaden, 1889); ECKERLIN, Das Deutsche Reich während der Minderj*hrigkeit Heinrich IV. bis zum Tage von Kaiserswert (Halle Dissertation, 1888); SEIPOLDY, Das Reichsregiment in Deutschland unter König Heinrich IV. 1062-66 (Göttingen Dissertation, 1871); FRIEDRICH, Studien aus Wormser Synode (Greifswald Dissertation, 1905) : the most important literature issued during this period is collected in the Libelli de lite in Monumenta Germaniæ Historica.
    Transcribed by Gerald Rossi

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII. — New York: Robert Appleton Company. . 1910.

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