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As well as two wives Henri IV had a number of mistresses. He also had many encounters where the relationship was not long enough for the other party to be considered a mistress. The four listed in the table below were mistresses, whose children he acknowledged as his. As bastards the children were not eligible to become Monarchs. However Henri did make sure they were cared for and gave them lands and titles.

A picture of Gabrielle d'Estrees

Gabrielle d'Estrees - Duchess of Beaufort - Henri had lived apart from Marguerite for several years when he first started his relationship with Gabrielle in 1591. She bore him three children, Cesar 1594 - 1665, Catherine-Henriette 1596 - 1663 and Alexandre 1598 - 1629. Since Marguerite had not produced children, Henri wished to divorce her and marry Gabrielle, thereby creating legitimate heirs. However Marguerite would not agree to the divorce. Gabrielle died on 10th April 1599, after falling ill, possibly due to food poisoning or deliberate poisoning. She was pregnant at the time which may also have contributed to her death. In December 1599 Henri was divorced from Marguerite. It seems Henri would have made Gabrielle his queen if she had survived.

Henriette de Balzac d'Entragues - Marquise de Verneuil - Henri met Henriette approximately six months after the death of Gabrielle d'Estrees. He promised to marry her, so she was shocked when he then married Marie de Medici by proxy, in October 1600. She was obviously consolable, because Henriette subsequently bore him two children, Henri 1601-1682 and Gabrielle-Angelique 1603-1627. It is worth noting that her son Henri was born, not long after Marie gave birth to the future King, Louis XIII. Henriette and her family were discovered to be plotting to have Spain recognise her son Henri, as rightful heir to the throne on the death of Henri IV. Although she was eventually reconciled with Henri IV, there are those who have accused her of being implicated with Ravaillac in Henri IV's assassination in 1610.

A picture of Henriette de Balzac d'Entragues - from a book about Henri IV, by Martha Walker Freer
A picture of Jacqueline de Bueil - from a book 'Last Loves of Henri of Navarre' - by H. Noel Williams

Jacqueline de Bueil - Comtesse de Moret - This was a fairly short lived romance, but produced one child Antoine 1607 - 1632. For the sake of appearances, Jacqueline was married off to Csy de Champvallon, although it was Henri who shared her bed.

Charlotte des Essarts - Comtesse de Romorantin - Charlotte had two children by Henri - Jean-Baptiste 1608 - 1670 and Marie-Henriette 1609 - 1629. In 1611 after the assassination of Henri, Charlotte married Louis of Lorraine, Cardinal de Guise (1585-1621). They had one son, Achille of Lorraine, Count of Romorantin.

Henri was believed to have had well over 50 lovers during his life. There were also a number of ladies who he tried to seduce, but who turned him down.

In addition to the four in the table above, here is a partial list of those he was apparently successful with:-

1. Madame de Sauve (one of the ladies used by Catherine de Medici, to keep tabs on various people at court). Also known as Charlotte de Beaune, Baronne de Sauve, and then later as Marquise de Noirmoutier. She was also the lady that Henri Duke of Guise spent his last night with, before being murdered at Blois on 23rd December 1588.

Madame de Sauve, from the book "Queen Margot" by H. Noel Williams

Madame de Sauve

2. Mlle. de Fosseuse (Henri made her pregnant, it was said she had a still born daughter). Had she given birth to a living son, it would have caused a lot of additional problems for Henri in his aspirations to become King of France. Henri's wife at the time, Marguerite Valois was involved in organising that the birth be conducted discreetly.

3. Mlle. Esther de Boyslambert (La Rochelle) - She had a son by Henri in 1587, but the son died in infancy.

4. Suzanne de Moulins (La Rochelle).

5. Mlle. de Tignonville (Bearn).

6. Mlle. Dayelle (Cypriot).

7. Mlle. de Rebours (Maid of honour of Marguerite Valois).

8. Xaintes.

9. Comtesse de Graumont, Diane d'Andouins, "La Belle Corisande" (reputedly had a son by Henri, who died as a toddler in 1590). Corisande supported Henri during the crucial period leading up to him becoming King of France. Her support included helping to finance his army.

A picture of "La Belle Corisande" from the book The Favourites of Henry of Navarre - Le Petit Homme Rouge - Credited (early 20th century) as being in the Verailles Museum.

La Belle Corisande

10. Marie de la Bourdaisiere.

Towards the end of his life Henri was infatuated with a very young girl, Charlotte Marguerite de Montmorency, Princesse of Conde, though accounts indicate that he probably didn't have his way with her.

Picture of Charlotte de Montmorency from "The Last Loves of Henri of Navarre" by H. Noel Williams.

Charlotte de Montmorency


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