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Henrietta Maria of France

From Academic Kids

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Henrietta Maria, painted by Peter Lely, 1660.

Henrietta Maria (November 25, 1609September 10, 1669) was Queen Consort of England, Scotland and Ireland (June 13, 1625 - January 30, 1649) through her marriage to Charles I. The U.S. state of Maryland (in Latin, "Terra Mariae") was so named in her honour by Cæcilius Calvert, son of George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore.

Henriette-Marie de Bourbon was the youngest daughter of Henry IV of France and Maria de Medici and the sister of the future Louis XIII of France. Her father was killed before she was one; her mother was banished in 1617.

She was born at the Louvre Palace and brought up as a Roman Catholic. This made her an unpopular choice of wife for the English King, whom she married by proxy on May 11 1625, shortly after his accession to the throne. They were married in person at St Augustine's Church, Canterbury, Kent, on June 13 1626. However, her religion made it impossible for her to be crowned with her husband in an Anglican service. Initially their relationship was cold. Henrietta Maria had brought many servants with her from France, all of them Catholic, and all costing the King a lot of money to maintain. It is said that eventually Charles sent this retinue home, only allowing his teenage bride to retain her chaplain and two ladies in waiting. Finding her sadly watching the retinue depart for France at the window of a palace, Charles angrily and forcibly dragged his wayward queen away. Charles had intended to marry a daughter of Philip III of Spain, but a mission to Spain in 1623 had failed. Every time the two would meet, they would start arguing, and would separate, not seeing each other for weeks. They would meet again, and have to separate again, because they could not stop arguing.

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Henrietta Maria (c. 1633) by Anthony van Dyck.

Henrietta Maria was not close to George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, the King's favourite. Buckingham was murdered in August 1628, probably with the backing of Queen Henrietta and her French faction at the Royal court. After this her relationship with the King improved and they finally found deep bonds of love and affection. Her refusal to give up her Catholic faith alienated her from many of the people and certain powerful courtiers such as William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury and Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford. Charles, on the other hand, had definite leanings towards Catholicism, and, once he had reached maturity, did not share his father's sexual ambivalence. Henrietta Maria gave birth to ten children, six of whom survived into adulthood, and also had several miscarriages. Their surviving children were Charles (b. 1630), Mary, Princess Royal (later Princess of Orange) (b. 1631), James (b. 1633), Elizabeth (b. 1636), Anne (b. 1637), Henry, Duke of Gloucester (b. 1640), and Henrietta Anne, Duchess of Orleans (b. 1644).

Henrietta Maria increasingly took part in national affairs as the country moved towards open conflict through the 1630s. She allied with Puritan courtiers to deflect a diplomatic approach to Spain and sought a coup to pre-empt the Parliamentarians. As war approached she was active in seeking funds and support for her husband, but her concentration on Catholic sources like the Pope and the French angered many in England and hindered Charles' efforts.

In August 1642, when the conflict began, she was in Europe. She continued to raise money for the Royalist cause, and did not return to England until early 1643. She landed at Bridlington in Yorkshire with troops and arms, and joined the Royalist forces in northern England, making her headquarters at York. She remained with the army in the north for some months before rejoining the King at Oxford. The collapse of the king's position following Scottish intervention on the side of parliament, and his refusal to accept stringent terms for a settlement led her to flee to France with her sons in July 1644. Charles was executed in 1649, leaving her almost destitute.

She settled in Paris, appointing as her chancellor the eccentric Sir Kenelm Digby. She angered both Royalists in exile and her eldest son by attempting to convert her youngest son, Henry, to Catholicism. She returned to England following the Restoration in October 1660 and lived as 'Dowager Queen' at Somerset House in London until 1665 when she returned permanently to France. Her financial problems were resolved by a generous pension. She founded a covent at Chaillot, where she settled.

Henrietta Maria died at Château de Colombes, and was buried in the Royal tombs at Saint Denis Basilica near Paris.

External link

fr:Henriette de France (1609-1669) la:Henrietta Maria simple:Henrietta Maria of France

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