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Henrietta Maria of France (French: Henriette Marie de France); (25 November 1609 – 10 September 1669) was the Queen consort of England, Scotland and Ireland as the wife of King Charles I.

She was the mother of two kings, Charles II and James II, and was grandmother to Mary II, William III, and Anne of Great Britain.

Biography

Henrietta Maria was a revered beauty all of her life, as well as an ardent Roman Catholic.


Henrietta Maria was the daughter of King Henry IV of France (Henry III of Navarre) and his second wife, Marie de' Medici. She was born at the Palais du Louvremarker on 25 November 1609, but some historians give her a birthdate of 26 November. In England, where the Julian calendar was still in use, her date of birth is often recorded as 16 November. Henrietta Maria was brought up as a Roman Catholic. As the daughter of the Bourbon king of France, she was a Fille de France and a member of the House of Bourbon. She was the youngest sister of the future King Louis XIII of France. Her father was assassinated on 14 May 1610, in Paris, before she was a year old; her mother was banished from the royal court in 1617.

After her older sister Christine Marie married Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy, in 1619, Henriette Marie took on the highly prestigious style of Madame Royale; this style was used by the most senior royal princess at the French court.

Marriage

She first met her future husband in Paris, in 1623, while he was travelling to Spainmarker with the Duke of Buckingham to arrange his marriage with the Infanta Maria Anna of Spain. Charles' trip to Spain ended badly, however, as King Philip III of Spain demanded that he convert to Roman Catholicism and remain in Spain for a year after the wedding as a sort of hostage to ensure England's compliance with all the terms of the treaty. Charles was outraged, and upon their return to England in October, he and Buckingham demanded that King James declare war on Spain.

Searching elsewhere for a bride, Charles looked to France where the attractive Henriette Marie lived at the court of her brother and was still unmarried by 1625. However, her religion made her an unpopular choice of wife for the English King, whom she married by proxy on 11 May 1625, shortly after his accession to the throne.

They were married in person at St. Augustine's Church, Canterbury, Kentmarker, on 13 June 1625, but her Roman Catholic religion made it impossible for her to be crowned with her husband in an Anglican service.

Initially their relationship was rather frigid and argumentative. Henrietta Maria had brought a large and expensive retinue with her from France, all of them Roman Catholic. It is said that eventually Charles sent them home to France, only allowing his teenage bride to retain her chaplain and confessor, Robert Phillip, 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 recalcitrant queen away.

Henrietta Maria took an immediate dislike to Buckingham, the former King's favourite. However, after Buckingham's death in August 1628, her relationship with her husband improved and the two finally forged deep bonds of love and affection. Her refusal to give up her Catholic faith alienated her from many of the English 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. He also did not share his father's sexual ambivalence.

English Civil War activities

Henrietta Maria increasingly took part in national affairs as the country moved towards open conflict through the 1630s. She despised Puritan courtiers and sought a coup to pre-empt the Parliamentarians . As civil war approached, she was active in seeking funds and support for her husband, but her concentration on Catholic sources like Pope Urban VIII and the French angered many in England and hindered Charles' efforts. She was also sympathetic to her fellow Catholics and even gave a requiem mass in her private chapel at Somerset Housemarker for Father Richard Blount, S.J. upon his death in 1638.

In August 1642, when the conflict began, she was on the continent where she continued to raise money for the royalist cause, and did not return to England until early 1643. She landed at Bridlingtonmarker in Yorkshiremarker with troops and arms, and joined the royalist forces in northern England, making her headquarters at Yorkmarker. She remained with the army in the north for some months before rejoining the King at Oxfordmarker. 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' and 'Queen Mother' at Somerset Housemarker in London until 1665 when she returned permanently to France. After her son's restoration, she travelled to England where Pepys, on 22 November 1660, met her and described her as a 'very little plain old woman, and nothing more in her presence in any respect nor garb than any ordinary woman'.

Her financial problems were resolved by a generous pension. She founded a convent at Chaillot, where she settled.

In 1661, she saw her youngest daughter Henrietta Anne marry the Duke of Orléans, only sibling of Louis XIV; that marriage made Henrietta Maria the maternal line great-grandmother of Louis XV of France and as such, an ancestor of the present-day Juan Carlos I of Spain, as well as the Duke of Parma and reigning Grand Duke of Luxembourg.

In August 1669, she saw the birth of her grand daughter Anne Marie d'Orléans; Anne Marie was the maternal grand mother of Louis XV making Henrietta Maria an ancestor of most of today's royal families.

Henrietta Maria died at the château de Colombes, near Paris, and was buried in the French royal necropolis at the Basilica of St Denismarker. As a member of the French royal family, her son-in-law, the Duke of Orléans, was also buried there in 1701.

Commemoration

The U.S. state of Marylandmarker was named in her honour by her husband, Charles I. George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore submitted a draft charter for the colony with the name left blank, suggesting that Charles bestow a name in his own honor. Charles, having already honored himself and several family members in other colonial names, decided to honor his wife. The specific name given in the charter was "Terra Mariae, anglice, Maryland". The English name was preferred over the Latin due in part to the undesired association of "Mariae" with the Spanish Jesuit Juan de Mariana. Cape Henrietta Maria, at the western meeting of James Baymarker and Hudson Baymarker in Northern Ontario, is also named for her.

The slave ship Henrietta Marie (which carried slaves to what is now the United Statesmarker and sank 35 miles off the coast of Key Westmarker after selling 190 slaves to Jamaicamarker in 1701) was also named after Henrietta Maria.




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