Henry II (France)

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Henry II
Signature Heinrich II. (France) .PNG

Henry II ( French Henri II ; born March 31, 1519 in the castle of Saint-Germain-en-Laye ; † July 10, 1559 in the Hôtel des Tournelles , Paris ) was King of France from 1547 to 1559 . He came from the Valois-Angoulême dynasty .

Life until the assumption of power


Heinrich II as a child

Heinrich was born on March 31, 1519 in the castle of Saint-Germain-en-Laye . He was the son of King Franz I and Queen Claudia . His older brother Franz III was the first to succeed to the throne . , the Duke of Brittany. As Duke of Orléans , the young Henry also had an important position in the kingdom.


After King Francis I was captured by the Spanish prisoners of war in the Battle of Pavia (1525), the two eldest sons of the king had to go to Castilian fortresses as hostages of the Spanish king, in accordance with the Treaty of Madrid to enable. In order to rule out an escape attempt by the French heir to the throne, the young Heinrich was exposed to conditions there that did not correspond to his rank. Heinrich should never forgive the Roman Emperor Charles V , who as Charles I was also King of Spain, for this defamation .


For the recapture of Italian possessions, Francis I was dependent on an alliance with the papacy. For this purpose, he had his son married on October 28, 1533 to Katharina de Medici , a relative of Pope Clement VII . However, the early death of Clement VII thwarted the French-papal alliance. Since Catherine no longer had any political value for France and her rank was no longer appropriate to that of a French prince to the throne, the relationship between her and Henry deteriorated.

Ascent to the first prince of the throne

On August 10, 1536, the older brother Franz died at the age of only 18 years. Thereupon Heinrich moved into the immediate position of heir to the throne. During this time he made Diana of Poitiers his lover, while his wife Katharina no longer appeared.

Protest against the Peace of Crepy

In the Peace of Crépy , Francis I and Charles V agreed on September 18, 1544 to return the territories they had conquered. France also gave up claims to the Kingdom of Naples and the counties of Asti, Flanders and Artois. Heinrich lodged a secret protest against this peace treaty in front of selected witnesses. The relationship with his father Franz I remained politically distant.

Henry II as king

Henry II

On July 25, 1547, he was anointed king in the Notre-Dame de Reims cathedral .

Domestically, he continued his father's centralistic efforts. With the edicts of Châteaubriant (1552) and Écouen (1559) he persecuted the Huguenots , but did not live to see the outbreak of the Wars of Religion (1562).

Henry's foreign policy was mainly shaped by wars with the House of Habsburg (Emperor Charles V and his son King Philip II of Spain), which were fought for supremacy in Central Europe and mainly took place on Italian soil. In 1552 he allied himself with the Protestant imperial princes who rebelled against Karl's religious policy in the “ Prince's Uprising ”, who illegally left him the dioceses of Metz , Toul and Verdun , where Heinrich was supposed to function as vicar.

In 1548 he concluded an alliance with the Scottish queen widow Marie de Guise , whose daughter Maria Stuart married his son, the heir to the throne Franz (II); for this he let the Scots get French military aid against the English. In 1554 he succeeded in driving the English out of Boulogne and in 1558 from Calais , who were the last bridgeheads they had left in France after the end of the Hundred Years War .

Grave of Henry II and Catherine de Medici, created by Germain Pilon

Heinrich was an avid hunter and liked to take part in tournaments . His mistress Diana of Poitiers encouraged him in this passion. During a jost on June 30, 1559 on the occasion of the celebration of the peace treaty with Habsburg ( Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis ), a splinter from Count Montgomery's broken lance stump pierced the visor of Heinrich's helmet and penetrated his brain through the eye. Despite an emergency operation by the best doctors of his time, he died after terrible suffering on July 10, 1559 and was buried in the Basilica of St. Denis . When the royal tombs of Saint-Denis were sacked during the French Revolution , his tomb was opened and looted on October 18, 1793, and his remains were buried in a mass grave outside the church. During the restoration after 1815, all remaining remains from the mass grave were exhumed. Since it was no longer possible to precisely assign them to individual individuals, they were buried in a common ossuary in the cathedral's crypt.

After Henry's death, France fell into disrepair under his three successive sons, Franz II, Charles IX. and Heinrich III. into a more than forty year period of dynastic instability and religious strife.

Marriage and offspring

Heinrich was married to Katharina von Medici ( 1519 - 1589 ) on October 28, 1533 when they were both 14 years old. In 1536 he was promoted to heir to the throne ( Dauphin ) and Duke of Brittany after the death of his older brother Franz .

Heinrich and Katharina had the children together:

He was also the father of the illegitimate children Diane (1538–1619), Heinrich von Angoulême (1550–1586) and Heinrich von Saint-Rémi (1557–1621).


Jean de Valois, comte d'Angoulême (1399–1467)
Charles de Valois Hzg. Of Angoulême (1459–1496)
Marguerite de Rohan (d. 1496)
Francis I , King of France (1494–1547)
Philip II of Savoy (1438–1497)
Luise of Savoy (1476–1531)
Marguerite de Bourbon (1438-1483)
Henry II King of France
Charles de Valois, duc d'Orléans (1394–1465)
Louis XII. King of France (1462-1515)
Maria von Kleve (1426–1486)
Claude de France (1499-1524)
Francis II Duke of Brittany (1435–1488)
Anne de Bretagne (1477-1514)
Margarete von Foix (died 1486)


Web links

Commons : Henry II (France)  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Rainer Babel: The French kings and emperors of the modern age . CH Beck Verlag, Munich 2006, p. 74 .
predecessor Office successor
Franz I. King of France
Francis II