Paris 1589-1643 PDF Print E-mail

The History of Paris – Architecture, Urbanism, Society - Part 2:

Paris under the Bourbons, Henri IV and Louis XIII, 1589-1643

Course Schedule:  Fridays 10:30 am – 12:00 noon.  Coffee and tea served at gallery sessions between 10:00 and 10:30am.

21 May - Gallery - Henri IV and the modernization of Paris.

28 May - Visit - Hôtels particuliers in the Marais. Meet on place des Vosges, near statue of Louis XIII,

middle of the square. Métro: St Paul (line 1).

4 June  - Gallery - Paris under Louis XIII, Anne of Austria and Richelieu.

11 June - Visit - Baroque painting and the Royal Louvre – Musée du Louvre. Meet by information desk beneath Pyramid with ticket in hand at 10:15 am. Métro: Palais-Royal Louvre.

18 June - Visit - The Marais and the Ile Saint-Louis. Meet exit of métro St Paul (line 1) on rue St Antoine.

23 June -Wednesday 2pm - 3:30pm - The Church and Convent of The Val de Grâce. Meet opposite courtyard of the convent on rue St Jacques (at intersection of rue du Val de Grace). Metro: RER Port Royal (line B). Please bring 5 € for group ticket.



Anthony Blunt, Art and Architecture in France 1500-1700, Pelican History of Art, Penguin (latest edition).

Anthony Sutcliffe, Paris, an Architectural History, Yale University Press, 1993.

Colin Jones, Paris, Biography of a City, Penguin.


Henri IV (1553-1610) Reign: 1589-1610


1553 – Birth of Henri, son of Antoine de Bourbon and Jeanne d’Albret queen of Navarrre in the Béarn (southwest France).

“Baptized” by his father with garlic and wine, the young boy grows up in the country among farmhands. From his childhood he will retain his rustic good nature and physical strength.

1569 – At 16 he is named nominal head of the Protestant army commanded by admiral Coligny.

1572 – Death of Henri’s mother, he inherits her title to the kingdom of Navarrre. Marries in Paris on 18 August Marguerite de Valois sister of King Charles IX. Six days later breaks out the St Bartholomew’s day massacre. Henri is spared the fate of the other Protestant nobles since he is the brother in law of the King. Henri plays the game of apparent loyalty and remains at court.

1574 – Death of Charles IX succeeded by his brother Henri III.

1576 – Henri de Bourbon escapes Paris and the court, finds refuge in the Poitou in the west, from where he will lead the Protestant resistance to the Catholic League.

1584 – The death of François d’Alençon last brother of King Henri III makes Henri, cousin to the King, heir presumptive to the French crown. Pope Sixtus V declares Henri a heretic and deprives him of his rights to the French crown. War breaks out between Henri and the Catholic League lead by Henri de Guise and supported by the Spanish King. King Henri III will eventually side with his cousin against the Guises. This is the war of the “three Henris”.

1589 – Death of Catherine de Medicis in Blois in January. Henri and King Henri III lay siege to Paris in the hands of the Catholic party. The King is knifed by a fanatical monk on 1 August in St Cloud. Before his death he designates Henri de Navarre as his successor. Paris resists successfully and the war continues.

1594 – The Catholic nobles wary of Spain’s pretensions to the French throne indicate to Henri that they would eventually accept his claim to the crown if he converted to Catholicism. Henri accepts with the famous phrase: “Paris vaut bien un messe!” (“Paris is well worth a mass”). Henri is crowned in Reims and enters Paris on 22 March.

1595 – Final defeat of the Catholic party lead by the duc de Mayenne. Pope Clement VIII gives his blessing to Henri.

1598 – The edict of Nantes declares Catholic faith the official religion of the state but tolerates Protestant worship. End of the wars of religion.

1599 – Peace treaty with Spain. Henri annuls his childless marriage with Marguerite de Valois.

1600 – Henri marries Marie de Medici daughter of the Grand Duke of Tuscany.

1601 – Birth of a son and Dauphin named Louis.

1602 – Birth of a daughter, Elisabeth, future wife of Philip IV of Spain.

1603 – Return of the Jesuit order to France.

1604 – Institution of the “paulette” a state tax on the inheritance of judicial or financial offices enabling those offices to pass on from father to son.

1607 – Finance minister Maximilien de Béthune, duc de Sully restores the royal finances.

1608 – Foundation of a French colony in Quebec. French alliance with the German Protestant union against Vienna and Madrid.

Birth of a third son of Henri and Marie (a second son Nicolas will die in 1611) named Gaston.

1610 – On 14 May a fanatic Catholic, Ravaillac, knifes and kills Henri IV in his carriage on the rue de la Feronnerie in Paris. Louis XIII, his eldest son, is King at the age of 9.


Paris architecture under Henri IV:


Pont Neuf 1599-1606 by Guillaume Marchant and Charles Petit

Place Dauphine begun 1607 probably by Claude Châtillon and Louis Métézeau

Place Royale (des Vosges) 1605 – 1612 by Claude Châtillon and Louis Métézeau

Hôpital Saint-Louis begun 1607 probably by Claude Vellefaux or Claude Châtillon

Great Gallery of the Louvre 1594-1610 by Jacques II Androuet du Cerceau

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