Henry II, king of France

Henry II, 1519–59, king of France (1547–59), son of King Francis I. His robust physique contrasted with his weak and pliant disposition. Throughout his reign he was governed by Anne de Montmorency, by his mistress Diane de Poitiers, and by François and Charles de Guise. He renewed the struggle against Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (Charles I of Spain), allying himself with the German Protestants despite his own strong Catholicism. War continued under Charles's son King Philip II of Spain, who was allied with Mary Tudor of England, until the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559) ended French pretensions in Italy. In 1558, Calais was conquered from the English. Henry issued a series of increasingly severe edicts against the Protestants and established more firmly the absolute royal power. His queen, Catherine de' Medici, played a minor role during her husband's reign. Henry, accidentally killed by Gabriel de Montgomery in a tournament, was succeeded by Francis II.

See H. N. Williams, Henry II: His Court and Times (1910).

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