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Henry II of France

Henry II (Henri II in French) (March 31 1519 - July 10 1559), a member of the Valois Dynasty, was King of France from 1547 until his death.

Born in the Royal Château at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, the son of François I and Claude de France, his marriage was arranged to Catherine de Medici (April 13 1519 - January 5 1589) on October 28 1533 when both were 14 years old. His long-running affair with Diane de Poitiers lasted throughout his married life.


He was crowned King on July 25 1547 in the cathedral at Reims. His reign was marked by wars with Austria, and the persecution of the Protestant Huguenots. Henri II severely punished them, burning them alive or cutting out their tongues for speaking their Protestant beliefs. Even someone suspected of being a Huguenot was imprisoned for life.

Henry II was an avid hunter and participant in jousting tournaments. On July 1 1559, during a match to celebrate a peace treaty with his longtime enemies, the Hapsburgs of Austria and to celebrate the marriage of his daughter Elizabeth to King Philip II of Spain, King Henry's eye was pierced by a sliver that penetrated the brain, from the shattered lance of Gabriel Montgomery, captain of the King's Scottish Guard. He suffered terribly, passing away on July 10 1559 and was buried in a cadaver tomb in Saint Denis Basilica.

He was succeeded by his son, François II. Henri II's death resulted in the next forty years in France being filled with turbulence as his sons and other claimants to the French crown fought for power.


On October 28 1533, he married Catherine de Medici (April 13 1519 - January 5 1589)


  1. François II (January 19 1544 - December 5 1560)
  2. Elisabeth de France (April 2 1545 - October 3 1568) married Philip II of Spain
  3. Claude (November 12 1547 - February 21 1575) married Charles II, Duke of Lorraine
  4. Louis (February 3, 1549 - October, 1549)
  5. Charles-Maximilien (Charles IX) (June 27 1550 - May 30 1574)
  6. Edouard Alexandre (Henry III) (September 19 1551 - August 2 1589)
  7. Marguerite de Valois (May 14 1553 - March 27 1615)
  8. Hercule (François), Duke of Alençon and Anjou, (March 18 1555 - June 19 1584)
  9. Jeanne (June 24 1556 - June 24 1556) (Twin - died at birth)
  10. Victoire (June 24 1556 - August 1556) (Twin - died at two months)

Preceded by:
Francis I
King of France Succeeded by:
Francis II

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45