Reigniting the armed conflicts between the Catholics and Protestants, the immediate aftermath of the massacre resulted in the Fourth War of Religion. Characterized by sieges on Protestant strongholds, the war ended in July 1573, with the Edict of Boulogne. The proclamation severely limited the religious freedoms of Protestants, only allowing them open worship in only three cities. As a result of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, the civil war between the Huguenots and the Catholics would continue intermittently for over twenty years.
By 1589, there was only one male heir left to the French throne: Margaret of Valois’ husband, King Henry of Navarre. The political marriage had been a disaster. On opposite sides of the French Wars of Religion, Henry and Margaret lived separately for most of their lives. After his coronation in 1594, Henry divorced Margaret so that he could remarry and have heirs. Henry welcomed his ex-wife at the French court, allowing her to keep her position as the last Valois princess and financing her income. She remained in Paris until her death, forming close friendships with the king and his new queen.
The coronation of King Henry IV of France ended the Valois dynasty that had ruled France since the fourteenth century. Through Henry’s descendants from his second marriage to Marie de Medici, the Bourbons would rule France for the next two centuries. Despite the opposition to a Protestant king, Henry IV helped France recover from decades of civil war. Converting to Catholicism, he signed the Edict of Nantes in 1598, promoting religious toleration throughout the country.
Maintaining a fragile peace between the Catholics and the Huguenots allowed Henry to rebuild the country during his reign. Without the threat of civil war, the king improved the infrastructure of the country. He promoted education and increased agricultural production, bringing France into a period of prosperity. Upon his death in 1610, Henry had earned the love of his people, embracing his nickname “Good King Henry.” France would eventually reach the epoch of its cultural and political power under the reign of Henry’s grandson, “the Sun King,” Louis XIV.
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