Henry IV

Internal and Foreign Policy

Henry soon turned to the internal reconstruction of his war-ravaged kingdom. With the Edict of Nantes (1598; see Nantes, Edict of), he established political rights and a measure of religious freedom for the Huguenots. Aided by baron de Rosny (later duc de Sully), Henry restored some measure of financial order, encouraged agriculture, founded new industries, built roads and canals, expanded foreign trade through commercial treaties with Spain, England, and the Ottoman Empire, and encouraged colonization of Canada. Anxious to see prosperity reach all classes, he is reputed to have said, "There should be a chicken in every peasant's pot every Sunday." In his foreign policy Henry sought to weaken the Spanish and Austrian Hapsburgs. He was preparing to oppose them on the question of the succession to the duchies of Cleves and Jülich when he was stabbed to death by a fanatic, François Ravaillac.

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