Born heir to the small state of Navarre, it seemed unlikely that Henri would ever come to the throne of France; and his amatory adventures caused despair in those Huguenots who looked to him to lead them in the conflict which was dividing France.
A father at fifteen, he was sent to become a soldier under the great Coligny, but still found time for love affairs. yet when his mother died mysteriously, he began to change; and the man who rosde to Paris to play the part of bridegroom in the "Blood-Red Wedding" was alert fro treachery. Facing death nonchalantly , accepting the Mass in exchange for his life, amusing himself with the mistress whom he knew had been set to spy on him, he deluded even Catherine de' Medici.
Life with the tempestuous Margot was like a succession of farcical incidents from the Decameron. Reputed to have had more mistresses than any King of France, he passed lightly from one to another. There were the spies of Catherine de' Medici, promiscuous Charlotte de Sauves and gentle Dayelle; Fosseuse who came into conflict with Margot; Corisande whom he loved as a wife; Gabrielle who had been sold to a King and otehrs by her rapacious mother; Henriette, with teh acid tongue; these, and others occupied him until the day of his death when he was pursuing the youful Charlotte de Montmorency.
In addition to his mistresses there were two wives to plague him; flamboyant Margot, whose adventures rivalled his own, and Marie de' Medici, who came to torment his later years.
This was the man who, affectionately known as teh Evergreen Gallant because all through his life he was in love with some woman, brought prosperity back to a war-scarred country, declared Paris to be worth a Mass, and was recognized as the greatest King the French had ever known.