Vendée in the days of Fairies and Giants

King Louis XIII's father was perhaps France's favorite sovereign -- Henri IV.  Born a Protestant but also the closest cousin of the Catholic king, Henri IV had all the advantages of his age, all that is but the religion that kept him from the throne.  When the last great Valois king died and left three sons who would die young and without male heirs, Henri IV was the obvious man-who-would-be king.  Catholic Paris would have none of it, however.  Henri IV and his great captains, among them the Protestant philosopher, poet, and soldier Agrippa d'Aubigné, were victorious in every battle and finally took Paris itself. The truce was negotiated and Henri accepted not only victory but also the religion of those he had defeated.  "Paris is well worth a mass" is one of the most famous quotes in French.  Henri's campaign was not only military, though.  He worked with politics as deftly as with the sword  "A chicken in every pot" was his promise to every Frenchman or woman who offered support.  He meant by this that his reign would bring not only peace but prosperity.  He held his promise and France was quickly the most prosperous realm on earth.  Henri's declaration of religious freedom -- the first on earth -- was in part responsible.  Fanaticism was not dead, however, and Henri was assassinated in 1610.  His son Louis XIII was only a child. Richelieu would soon take the real reigns of powers and he would focus on the "disharmonies" caused by a nation who had given up its religious authority.  His work was to make national unity at the price of national diversity.  He would work to crush the Protestants and he would start right here in Vendée.
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This page last updated on 6/10/2003 2:18:21 PM.