Atentát na francouzského krále Jindřicha IV. Politická vražda ve věku konfesionalizace
Selected contents from this journal
THE ASSASSINATION OF KING HENRY IV OF FRANCE. POLITICAL MURDER IN THE CONFESSIONAL AGE
Languages of publication
On the 14th of May 1610 Henry IV of France was stabbed to death. Henri’s assassin, François Ravaillac, was a man of the people. He was arrested on the spot. Before France’s highest court, the Parliament of Paris, he was subjected to interrogation under torture. The judges tried to get him to name his accomplices and admit to a conspiracy. But Ravaillac insisted, that he had acted entirely on his own – and at God’s express orders. The king had been on the point of inflicting serious damage on the Catholic Church, since he was about to launch a war against the Pope and, to this end, was working with foreign Protestants – moreover, he had been treating heretics in France leniently. Henri’s return to the Catholic fold had been a lie and an act of hypocrisy. In France, people of Ravaillac’s persuasion were not exactly thin on the ground. Styling themselves “good Catholics”, they did not believe in the sincerity of Henri of Navarre’s return to the Church. In 1610 the king was on the verge of launching a new war against the House of Habsburg, having decided to intervene in the disputed succession to the Duchies of Jülich, Cleves and Berg. Determined to forestall a pro-Habsburg outcome, he wanted Düsseldorf, capital of the United Duchies, to be ruled by a Protestant prince as successor to the late Duke of Cleves. This was unacceptable to the Habsburg courts in Madrid, Brussels and Prague. The king was seeking an alliance with the Protestant imperial states (Reichsstände) in Germany, who had united under the leadership of the Palatinate. On account of the close proximity of Jülich and Cleves to the Spanish Netherlands, but also to the Spanish military road leading from Brussels to Milan, the constellation was more than delicate. But owing to Henri’s assassination, the threat of war on the Rhine was unexpectedly defused. The winners were the Habsburgs and the Catholic estates (Reichsstände) in the Holy Roman Empire, the losers the Protestants throughout Europe and in France. Henri’s widow, Marie de’ Medici, now regent, moved swiftly to change the direction of French foreign policy by seeking an understanding with Catholic Spain. For supporters of the party of “good Catholics” at the Paris court and throughout France, this was an outcome they could live with. Thus the regicide Ravaillac died knowing he had achieved his goal of changing French policy. So was he a deluded fanatic or a martyr for the Catholic nature of the monarchy in France? As he met his bloody end, probably he saw himself as being the latter.
Publication order reference