The Leaguers proclaimed as king an old uncle of the King of Navarre, the Cardinal of Bourbon, but all the more moderate Catholics rallied round Henry of Navarre, who took the title of Henry IV.
At Ivry, in Normandy, Henry met the force of Leaguers, and defeated
them by his brilliant courage. "Follow my white plume," his last order
to his troops, became one of the sayings the French love to remember.
But his cause was still not won—Paris held out against him, animated by
almost fanatical fury, and while he was besieging it France was invaded
from the Netherlands. The old Cardinal of Bourbon was now dead, and
Philip II. considered his daughter Isabel, whose mother was the eldest
daughter of Henry II., to be rightful Queen of France. He sent therefore
his ablest general, the Duke of Parma, to co-operate with the Leaguers
and place her on the throne.
A war of strategy was carried on, during
which Henry kept the enemy at bay, but could do no more, since the
larger number of his people, though intending to have no king but
himself, did not wish him to gain too easy a victory, lest in that case
he should remain a Calvinist. However, he was only waiting to recant
till he could do so with a good grace. He really preferred Catholicism,
and had only been a political Huguenot; and his best and most faithful
adviser, the Baron of Rosny, better known as Duke of Sully, though a
staunch Calvinist himself, recommended the change as the only means of
restoring peace to the kingdom.
There was little more resistance to
Henry after he had again been received by the Church in 1592. Paris,
weary of the long war, opened its gates in 1593, and the inhabitants
crowded round him with ecstasy, so that he said, "Poor people, they are
hungry for the sight of a king!" The Leaguers made their peace, and when
Philip of Spain again attacked Henry, the young Duke of Guise was one of
the first to hasten to the defence. Philip saw that there were no
further hopes for his daughter, and peace was made in 1596.
7 months ago