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Henrietta Maria of France

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Marie de' Medici

Henrietta of

Queen consort of England

Henrietta Maria of France httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsbb

13 June 1625 – 30 January 1649

25 November 1609 Palais du Louvre, Paris, France (

13 September 1669 Royal Basilica of Saint Denis

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Charles II, King of England Mary, Princess of Orange James II, King of England Elizabeth of England Anne of England Catherine of England Henry, Duke of Gloucester Henrietta, Duchess of Orleans

Henry IV, King of France

September 10, 1669, Colombes, France

Charles I of England (m. 1625)

Charles II of England, James II of England

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Marie de' Medici, Henry IV of France

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Henrietta maria of france

Henrietta Maria of France (French: Henriette Marie; 25 November 1609 – 10 September 1669) was queen consort of England, Scotland, and Ireland as the wife of King Charles I. She was mother of his two immediate successors, Charles II and James II.


Her Roman Catholicism made her unpopular in England, and also prohibited her from being crowned in an Anglican service; therefore she never had a coronation. She began to immerse herself in national affairs as civil war loomed on the horizon, and was compelled to seek refuge in France in 1644, following the birth of her youngest daughter, Henrietta, during the height of the First English Civil War. The execution of King Charles in 1649 left her impoverished. She settled in Paris, and then returned to England after the Restoration of her eldest son, Charles, to the throne. In 1665, she moved back to Paris, where she died four years later.

The North American Province of Maryland was named in her honour, and the name was carried over into the current U.S. state of Maryland.


Henrietta Maria was the youngest daughter of King Henry IV of France (Henry III of Navarre) and his second wife, Marie de' Medici, and named after her parents. She was born at the Palais du Louvre on 25 November 1609, but some historians give her a birth-date 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 Catholic. As 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, when she was less than a year old.

After her older sister, Christine Marie, married Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy, in 1619, Henriette took the highly prestigious style of Madame Royale; this was used by the most senior royal princess at the French court. Henrietta Maria was trained, along with her sisters, in riding, dancing, and singing, and took part in French court plays. Although tutored in reading and writing, she was not known for her academic skills; the princess was heavily influenced by the Carmelites at French court. By 1622, Henrietta Maria was living in Paris with a household of some 200 staff, and marriage plans were being discussed.

Henrietta Maria as queen

Henrietta Maria and Charles I of England were married on 13 June 1625, during a brief period in which England's pro-Spanish policy was replaced by a pro-French policy. After an initially difficult period, she and Charles formed an extremely close partnership and were devoted to each other. Henrietta Maria never fully assimilated herself into English society; she did not speak English before her marriage, and as late as the 1640s had difficulty writing or speaking the language. This, combined with her Catholic beliefs, marked her out as different and potentially dangerous in the English society of the time, which feared Catholic subversion and terrorism like the Gunpowder Plot, and led to her becoming an unpopular queen. Henrietta Maria has been criticised as being an "intrinsically apolitical, undereducated and frivolous" figure during the 1630s; others have suggested that she exercised a degree of personal power through a combination of her piety, her femininity and her sponsorship of the arts.


Henrietta Maria first met her future husband in Paris, in 1623, while he was travelling to Spain with the Duke of Buckingham to discuss a possible marriage with the Infanta Maria Anna of Spain – Charles first saw her at a French court entertainment. Charles' trip to Spain ended badly, however, as King Philip IV of Spain demanded he convert to Catholicism and live in Spain for a year after the wedding to ensure England's compliance with the terms of the treaty. Charles was outraged, and upon returning to England in October, he and Buckingham demanded that King James declare war on Spain.

Searching elsewhere for a bride, Charles looked to France instead. The English agent Kensington was sent to Paris in 1624 to examine the potential French match, and the marriage was finally negotiated in Paris by James Hay and Henry Rich. Henrietta Maria was aged just fifteen at the time of her marriage, but this was not unusually young for royal princesses of the period. Views on Henrietta Maria's appearance vary; her husband's niece, Sophia of Hanover commented that the... "beautiful portraits of Van Dyck had given me such a fine idea of all the ladies of England that I was surprised to see that the queen, who I had seen as so beautiful and lean, was a woman well past her prime. Her arms were long and lean, her shoulders uneven, and some of her teeth were coming out of her mouth like tusks.... She did, however, have pretty eyes, nose, and a good complexion...."

The new Queen brought to England with her a huge quantity of expensive possessions; including diamonds, pearls, rings, diamond buttons, satin and velvet gowns, embroidered cloaks, skirts, velvet chapelles; 10,000 livres worth of plate, chandeliers, pictures, books, vestments and bedroom sets for her, her ladies in waiting, twelve Oratorian priests and her pages.

Henrietta Maria married Charles by proxy on 11 May 1625, shortly after his accession to the throne. They were then married in person at St. Augustine's Church, Canterbury, Kent, on 13 June 1625, but her Catholic religion made it impossible for her to be crowned with her husband in an Anglican service; Henrietta Maria proposed that the French Catholic Bishop of Mendes crown her instead, but this was unacceptable to Charles and the court. Henrietta Maria was allowed to watch Charles being crowned, at a discreet distance. In the end, her failure to be crowned went down badly with the London crowds, although England's pro-French policy gave way rapidly to a policy of supporting French Huguenot uprisings, and then a disengagement from European politics as internal problems grew.

Catholicism and the Queen's household

Henrietta Maria had strong Catholic beliefs, which would heavily influence her time as queen, and particularly the initial years following her marriage. Charles liked to call Henrietta Maria simply "Maria", with the English people calling her "Queen Mary", alluding to Charles' Catholic grandmother. Henrietta Maria was very open about her Catholic beliefs, to the point of it being "flagrant" and "unapologetic"; she obstructed plans to forcibly take into care the eldest sons of all Catholic families with the aim of bringing them up as Protestants, and also facilitated Catholic marriages, committing a criminal offence under English law at the time. In July 1626, Henrietta Maria stopped to pray for Catholics who had died at the Tyburn tree, causing huge controversy – Catholics were still being executed in England during the 1620s, and Henrietta Maria felt passionately about her faith. In due course, Henrietta Maria would unsuccessfully try to convert her Calvinist nephew Prince Rupert during his stay in England.

Henrietta Maria had brought a large and expensive retinue with her from France, all Catholic. Charles blamed the poor start to his marriage on this French entourage. Charles finally had them dismissed from the court on 26 June 1626. Henrietta Maria was greatly upset, and initially some – including the Bishop of Mendes – refused to leave, citing his orders from the French King. In the end, Charles had to deploy armed guards to physically eject them. Despite Charles's orders, however, Henrietta Maria managed to retain seven of her French staff including her chaplain and confessor, Robert Phillip.

Charles's ejection of the French entourage was also closely linked to getting Henrietta Maria's spending under some sort of control. Henrietta Maria initially spent at an incredible rate, resulting in debts that were still being paid off several years later. Her new first treasurer was Jean Caille; he was succeeded by George Carew and in 1629 Richard Wynn took over. Even after the reform of the Queen's household, spending continued at a high level; despite gifts from the King, Henrietta Maria was having to secretly borrow money in 1627, and the Queen's accounts show a huge number of expensive dresses being bought during the pre-war years.

Over the next few years, the Queen's new household began to form around her. Henry Jermyn became her favourite and vice-chamberlain in 1628. The Countess of Denbigh became the Queen's Head of the Robes and confidante. She acquired several court dwarves, including Jeffrey Hudson and "little Sara". Henrietta Maria established her presence at Somerset House, Greenwich, Oatlands, Nonsuch, Richmond and Holdenby as part of her jointure lands by 1630. She added Wimbledon House in 1639, which was bought for her as a present by Charles. She also acquired a menagerie of dogs, monkeys and caged birds.

Henrietta Maria and Charles

Henrietta Maria's marriage to Charles did not begin well and his ejection of her French staff did not improve it. Initially their relationship was frigid and argumentative, and Henrietta Maria took an immediate dislike to the Duke of Buckingham, the King's favourite.

Instead of Charles, one of Henrietta Maria's closest companions in the early days of her marriage was Lucy Hay. Lucy was the wife of James Hay, who had been a favourite of King James and who was now a gentleman of the bedchamber to Charles; James had helped negotiate Charles's marriage to Henrietta Maria. Lucy was a staunch Protestant, a noted beauty and a strong personality. Many contemporaries believed her to be a mistress to Buckingham, rumours which Henrietta Maria would have been aware of, and it has been argued that Lucy was attempting to control the new queen on his behalf. Nonetheless, by the summer of 1628 the two were extremely close friends, with Hay one of the queen's ladies-in-waiting.

In August 1628, Buckingham was assassinated, leaving a gap at the royal court. Henrietta Maria's relationship with her husband promptly began to improve and the two forged deep bonds of love and affection, marked by various jokes played by Henrietta Maria on Charles. Henrietta Maria became pregnant for the first time in 1628 but lost her first child shortly after birth in 1629, following a very difficult labour. In 1630, the future Charles II was born successfully, however, following another complicated childbirth by the noted physician Theodore de Mayerne. By now, Henrietta Maria had effectively taken over Buckingham's role as Charles's closest friend and advisor. Despite the ejection of the French staff in 1626, Charles's court was heavily influenced by French society; French was usually used in preference to English, being considered a more polite language. Additionally, Charles would regularly write letters to Henrietta Maria addressed "Dear Heart." These letters showcase the loving nature of their relationship. For example, on 11 January 1645 Charles wrote, "And dear Heart, thou canst not but be confident that there is no danger which I will not hazzard, or pains that I will not undergo, to enjoy the happiness of thy company"

Henrietta Maria, as her relationship with her husband grew stronger, split with Lucy Hay in 1634. The specific reasons are largely unclear although the two had had their differences before. Hay was an ardent Protestant, for example, and led a rather more dissolute life than the Queen; Henrietta Maria may also have felt rather overshadowed by the confident and beautiful Hay and because she now had such a close bond with her husband, such confidants were no longer as necessary.

Henrietta Maria and the arts

Henrietta Maria had a strong interest in the arts, and her patronage of various activities was one of the various ways in which she tried to shape court events. Henrietta Maria and Charles were "dedicated and knowledgeable collectors" of paintings. Henrietta Maria was particularly known for her patronage of the Italian painter Orazio Gentileschi, who came to England with Henrietta Maria in 1626 as part of her favourite François de Bassompierre's entourage. Orazio and his daughter Artemisia Gentileschi were responsible for the huge ceiling paintings of the Queen's House at Henrietta Maria's palace in Greenwich. Another of Henrietta Maria's favourite painters was the Italian Guido Reni, but she also supported the miniature painters Jean Petitot and Jacques Bourdier.

Henrietta Maria became a key patron in Stuart masques, complementing her husband's strong interest in paintings and the visual arts. She performed in various works herself, including as an Amazon in William Davenant's 1640 "Salmacida Spolia". Henrietta Maria also helped to support the musical works of English composer Nicholas Lanier, and was responsible for Davenant being appointed the Poet Laureat in 1638.

The queen liked physical sculpture and design too, and retained the designer Inigo Jones as her surveyor of works during the 1630s. Like Charles, Henrietta Maria was enthusiastic about garden design, although not horticulture itself. She employed the French gardener André Mollet to create a baroque garden at Wimbledon House. She patronised the Huguenot sculptor Le Sueur, and she was responsible for the lavish creation of her famous chapel, that, although plain on the outside, was beautifully crafted inside with gold and silver reliquaries, paintings, statues, a chapel garden and a magnificent altarpiece by Rubens. It also had an unusual monstrance, designed by François Dieussart to exhibit the Holy Sacrament.

Henrietta Maria and the English Civil War

During the 1640s, the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland were dominated by a sequence of conflicts termed the English Civil War or the Wars of the Three Kingdoms; within England, the conflict centred on the rival Royalist and Parliamentarian factions. Henrietta Maria, as Charles' Queen, was to become heavily involved in this conflict that would result in her husband's death and her exile in France. There have been various schools of thought as to Henrietta Maria's role in the civil war period and the degree of her responsibility for the ultimate Royalist defeat. The traditional perspective on the Queen has suggested that she was a strong-willed woman who dominated her weaker-willed husband for the worst; the historian Wedgwood, for example, highlights Henrietta Maria's steadily increasing ascendancy over Charles, observing that "he sought her advice on every subject, except religion" and indeed complained that he could not make her an official member of his council. Reinterpretation in the 1970s argued that Henrietta Maria's political role was more limited, suggesting that the King took more decisions himself personally. Bone concludes, for example, that despite having a very close personal relationship with Henrietta Maria, Charles rarely listened to her on matters of state politics. A third, more recent model argues that Henrietta Maria did indeed exercise political power and influence during the conflict, less so directly but more as a result of her public actions and deeds, which constrained and influenced the choices available to Charles.

Pre-war years

As the 1630s came to a close, relations between the different factions comprising English society became increasingly tense. Arguments over religion, society, morals, and political power were becoming increasingly evident in the final years before war broke out. Henrietta Maria's strong views on religion and her social life at the court meant that, by 1642, she had become a "highly unpopular queen who apparently never successfully commanded intense personal respect and loyalty from most of her subjects".

Henrietta Maria remained sympathetic to her fellow Catholics and, in 1632, began construction of a new Catholic chapel at Somerset House. The old chapel had been deeply unpopular amongst Protestants, and there had been much talk amongst London apprentices of pulling it down as an anti-Catholic gesture. Although modest externally, Henrietta Maria's chapel was much more elaborate inside and was opened in a particularly grand ceremony in 1636. The result was great alarm amongst many in the Protestant community.

Henrietta Maria's religious activities appear to have focused on bringing a modern, 17th century European form of Catholicism to England. To some extent, it worked, with numerous conversions amongst Henrietta Maria's circle; historian Kevin Sharpe argues that there may have been up to 300,000 Catholics in England by the late 1630s – they were certainly more open in court society. Charles came under increasing criticism for his failure to act to stem the flow of high-profile conversions. Henrietta Maria even gave a requiem mass in her private chapel for Father Richard Blount, S.J. upon his death in 1638. Henrietta Maria also continued to act in masque plays throughout the 1630s, which met with criticism from the more Puritan wing of English society. In most of these masques she chose roles designed to advance ecumenism, Catholicism and the cult of Platonic love.

The result was an increasing intolerance of Henrietta Maria in Protestant English society, gradually shifting towards hatred. In 1630, Alexander Leighton, a Scottish doctor, was flogged, branded and mutilated for criticising Henrietta Maria in a pamphlet, before being imprisoned for life. In the late 1630s, the lawyer William Prynne, popular in Puritan circles, also had his ears cut off for writing that women actresses were notorious whores, a clear insult to Henrietta Maria. London society would blame Henrietta Maria for the Irish Rebellion of 1641, believed to be orchestrated by the Jesuits to whom she was linked in the public imagination. Henrietta Maria herself was rarely seen in London, as Charles and she had largely withdrawn from public society during the 1630s, both because of their desire for privacy and because of the cost of court pageants.

By 1641, an alliance of Parliamentarians under John Pym had begun to place increasing pressure on King Charles, himself embattled after the failure of several wars. The Parliamentary faction achieved the arrest and subsequent execution of the king's advisers, Archbishop William Laud and Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford. Pym then turned his attention to Henrietta Maria as a way of placing further pressure on Charles. The Grand Remonstrance passed by Parliament at the end of 1641, for example, did not mention the Queen by name, but it was clear to all that she was part of the Roman Catholic conspiracy the remonstrance referred to and condemned. Henrietta Maria's confidant Henry Jermyn, who had himself converted to Catholicism in the 1630s, was forced to flee to the Continent after the First Army Plot of 1641.

Henrietta Maria encouraged Charles to take a firm line with Pym and his colleagues. Henrietta Maria was widely believed to have encouraged Charles to arrest his Parliamentary enemies in January 1642, although no hard proof of this exists. The Marquis de La Ferté-Imbault, the French ambassador, was keen to avoid any damage to French prestige by an attack on the Queen, but was equally unimpressed by Charles' record on relations with France. He advised caution and reconciliation with Pym. The arrest was bungled, and Pym and his colleagues escaped Charles' soldiers, possibly as a result of a tip-off from Henrietta Maria's former friend Lucy Hay. With the anti-royalist backlash now in full swing, Henrietta Maria and Charles retreated from Whitehall to Hampton Court. The situation was steadily moving towards open war, and in February Henrietta Maria left for the Hague, both for her own safety and to attempt to defuse public tensions about her Catholicism and her closeness to the King.

First English Civil War (1642–6)

In August 1642, when the Civil War finally began, Henrietta Maria was in Europe at the Hague, raising money for the Royalist cause. Henrietta Maria focused on raising money on the security of the royal jewels, and in attempting to persuade the Prince of Orange and the King of Denmark to support Charles' cause. She was not well during this period, suffering from toothache, headaches, a cold and coughs. Henrietta Maria's negotiations were difficult; the larger pieces of jewellery were both too expensive to be sold easily, and politically risky – many buyers were deterred in case a future English Parliament attempted to reclaim them, arguing they had been illegally sold by Henrietta Maria. Henrietta Maria was finally partially successful in her negotiations, particularly for the smaller pieces, but she was portrayed in the English press as selling off the crown jewels to foreigners to buy guns for a religious conflict, adding to her unpopularity at home. She urged Charles, then in York, to take firm action and secure the strategic port of Hull at the earliest opportunity, angrily responding to his delays in taking action.

At the beginning of 1643, Henrietta Maria attempted to return to England. The first attempt to cross from the Hague was not an easy one; battered by storms, her ship came close to sinking and was forced to return to port. Henrietta Maria used the delay to convince the Dutch to release a shipload of arms for the King, which had been held at the request of Parliament. Defying her astrologers, who predicted disaster, she set to sea again at the end of February. This second attempt was successful and she evaded the Parliamentarian navy to land at Bridlington in Yorkshire with troops and arms. The pursuing naval vessels then bombarded the town, forcing the royal party to take cover in neighbouring fields; Henrietta Maria returned under fire, however, to recover her pet dog Mitte who had been forgotten by her staff.

Henrietta Maria paused for a period at York, where she was entertained in some style by the Earl of Newcastle. Henrietta Maria took the opportunity to discuss the situation north of the border with Royalist Scots, promoting the plans of Montrose and others for an uprising. She also supported the Earl of Antrim's proposals to settle the rebellion in Ireland and bring forces across the sea to support the King in England. Henrietta Maria continued to vigorously argue for nothing less than a total victory over Charles' enemies, countering proposals for a compromise. She rejected private messages from Pym and Hampden asking her to use her influence over the King to create a peace treaty, and was impeached by Parliament shortly afterwards. Meanwhile, Parliament had voted to destroy her private chapel at Somerset House and arrest the Capuchin friars who maintained it. In March, Henry Marten and John Clotworthy forced their way into the chapel with troops and destroyed the altarpiece by Rubens, smashed many of the statues and made a bonfire of the Queen's religious canvases, books and vestments.

Travelling south in the summer, she met Charles at Kineton, near Edgehill, before travelling on to the royal capital in Oxford. The journey through the contested Midlands was not an easy one, and Prince Rupert was sent to Stratford-upon-Avon to escort her. Despite the difficulties of the journey, Henrietta Maria greatly enjoyed herself, eating in the open air with her soldiers and meeting friends along the way. She arrived in Oxford bringing fresh supplies to great acclaim; poems were written in her honour, and Jermyn, her chamberlain, was given a peerage by the King at her request.

Henrietta Maria spent the autumn and winter of 1643 in Oxford with Charles, where she attempted, as best she could, to maintain the pleasant court life that they had enjoyed before the war. The Queen lived in the Warden's lodgings in Merton College, adorned with the royal furniture which had been brought up from London. The Queen's usual companions were present: Denbigh, Davenant, her dwarves; her rooms were overrun by dogs, including Mitte. The atmosphere in Oxford was a combination of a fortified city and a royal court, and Henrietta Maria was frequently stressed with worry.

By early 1644, however, the King's military situation had started to deteriorate. Royalist forces in the north came under pressure, and following the Royalist defeat at the battle of Alresford in March, the royal capital at Oxford was less secure. The Queen was pregnant with the future Princess Henrietta and the decision was taken for her to withdraw safely west to Bath. Charles travelled as far as Abingdon with her before returning to Oxford with his sons – it was the last time the two saw each other.

Henrietta Maria eventually continued south-west beyond Bath to Exeter, where she stopped, awaiting her imminent labour. Meanwhile, however, the Parliamentarian generals the Earl of Essex and William Waller had produced a plan to exploit the situation. Waller would pursue and hold down the King and his forces, while Essex would strike south to Exeter with the aim of capturing Henrietta Maria and thereby acquiring a valuable bargaining counter over Charles. By June, Essex's forces had reached Exeter. Henrietta Maria had had another difficult childbirth, and the King had to personally appeal to their usual physician, de Mayerne, to risk leaving London to attend to her. The Queen was in considerable pain and distress, but decided that the threat from Essex was too great; leaving baby Henrietta in Exeter because of the risks of the journey, she stayed at Pendennis Castle then took to sea from Falmouth in a Dutch vessel for France on 14 July. Despite coming under fire from a Parliamentarian ship, she instructed her captain to sail on, reaching Brest in France and the protection of her French family.

By the end of the year, Charles' position was getting weaker and he desperately needed Henrietta Maria to raise additional funds and troops from the continent. The campaigns of 1645 went poorly for the Royalists, however, and the capture, and subsequent publishing, of the correspondence between Henrietta Maria and Charles in 1645 following the Battle of Naseby proved hugely damaging to the royal cause. In two decisive engagements—the Battle of Naseby in June and the Battle of Langport in July—the Parliamentarians effectively destroyed Charles' armies. Finally, in May 1646 Charles sought shelter with a Presbyterian Scottish army at Southwell in Nottinghamshire.

Second and Third English Civil Wars (1648–51)

With the support of the French government, Henrietta Maria settled in Paris, appointing as her chancellor, the eccentric Sir Kenelm Digby, and forming a Royalist court in exile at St-Germain-en-Laye. During 1646 there was talk of Prince Charles joining Henrietta Maria in Paris; Henrietta Maria and the King were keen, but the Prince was initially advised not to go, as it would portray him as a Catholic friend of France. After the continued failure of the Royalist efforts in England, he finally agreed to join his mother in July 1646.

Henrietta Maria was increasingly depressed and anxious in France, from where she attempted to convince Charles to accept a Presbyterian government in England as a means of mobilising Scottish support for the re-invasion of England and the defeat of Parliament. In December 1647, she was horrified when Charles rejected the "Four Bills" offered to him by Parliament as a peace settlement. Charles had secretly signed "The Engagement" with the Scots, however, promising a Presbyterian government in England with the exception of Charles' own household. The result was the Second Civil War, which despite Henrietta Maria's efforts to send it some limited military aid, ended in 1648 with the defeat of the Scots and Charles' capture by Parliamentary forces.

In France, meanwhile, a "hothouse" atmosphere had developed amongst the royal court in exile at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Henrietta Maria had been joined by a wide collection of Royalist exiles, including Henry Wilmot, George Digby, Henry Percy, John Colepeper and Charles Gerard. The Queen's court was beset with factionalism, rivalry and dueling; Henrietta Maria had to prevent Prince Rupert from fighting a duel with Digby, arresting them both, however, she was unable to prevent a later duel between Digby and Percy, and between Rupert and Percy shortly after that.

King Charles was executed by Parliament in 1649; his death left Henrietta Maria almost destitute and in shock, a situation not helped by the French civil war of the Fronde, which left Henrietta Maria's nephew King Louis XIV short of money himself. Henrietta Maria also was no longer the Queen but the Queen Mother to the young King Charles II. During the ensuing, and final, Third English Civil War the whole of the Royalist circle now based itself from St-Germain, with the Queen Mother's followers being joined by the old Royalist circle who had been with Charles II at the Hague, including Ormonde and Inchiquin and Clarendon, whom she particularly disliked. She also quarrelled with Ormonde: when she said that if she had been trusted the King would be in England, Ormonde, with his usual bluntness, retorted that if she had never been trusted the King need never have left England. Co-location began to bring the factions together, but Henrietta Maria's influence was waning. In 1654, Charles II moved his court on to Cologne, eliminating the remaining influence of the Queen Mother in St-Germain.

Henrietta Maria increasingly focused on her faith and on her children, especially Henrietta (whom she called "Minette"), James and Henry. Henrietta Maria attempted to convert both Princes James and Henry to Catholicism, her attempts with Henry angering both Royalists in exile and Charles II. Henriette, however, was brought up a Catholic. Henrietta Maria had founded a convent at Chaillot in 1651, and she lived there for much of the 1650s.

Henrietta Maria under the Restoration

Henrietta Maria returned to England following the Restoration in October 1660 along with her daughter Princess Henrietta. Henrietta Maria's return was partially prompted by a liaison between the Earl of Clarendon's daughter Anne and Henrietta Maria's son, the Duke of York – Anne was pregnant, and the Duke had proposed marrying her. Henrietta Maria still disliked Clarendon, and did not want Anne as a daughter-in-law, but Charles II agreed and despite her efforts the wedding went ahead. Henrietta Maria did not return to much public acclaim – Samuel Pepys counted only three small bonfires lit in her honour, and described her a "very little plain old woman, and nothing more in her presence in any respect nor garb than any ordinary woman". She took up residence once more at Somerset House, supported by a generous pension.

In 1661, she returned to France and arranged for her youngest daughter, Henrietta to marry the Duke of Orléans, the only brother of Louis XIV. This significantly helped English relations with the French.

After her daughter's wedding, Henrietta Maria returned to England in 1662 accompanied by her son Charles II and her nephew Prince Rupert. She had intended to remain in England for the rest of her life, but by 1665 was suffering badly from bronchitis, which she blamed on the damp British weather. Henrietta Maria travelled back to France the same year, taking residence at the Hôtel de la Bazinière, the present Hôtel de Chimay in Paris. In August 1669, she saw the birth of her granddaughter Anne Marie d'Orléans; Anne Marie was the maternal grandmother of Louis XV making Henrietta Maria an ancestor of most of today's royal families. Shortly afterwards, she died at the château de Colombes, near Paris, having taken an excessive quantity of opiates as a painkiller on the advice of Louis XIV's doctor, Antoine Vallot. She was buried in the French royal necropolis at the Basilica of St Denis, with her heart being placed in a silver casket and buried at her convent in Chaillot.


During his 1631 Northwest Passage expedition in the ship Henrietta Maria, Captain Thomas James named the north west headland of James Bay where it opens into Hudson Bay for her. The U.S. state of Maryland 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 honour. Charles, having already honoured himself and several family members in other colonial names, decided to honour his wife. The specific name given in the charter was "Terra Mariae, anglicize, 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.

Numerous recipes ascribed to Henrietta Maria are reproduced in Kenelm Digby's famous cookbook The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Kt. Opened.

Titles and styles

  • 25 November 1609 – 13 June 1625: Her Highness Princess Henriette Marie of France
  • circa 10 February 1619 – 13 June 1625: Madame Royale
  • 13 June 1625 – 30 January 1649: Her Majesty The Queen
  • 30 January 1649 – 10 September 1669: Her Majesty The Queen Mother
  • Arms

    The Royal Coat of Arms of England, Scotland and Ireland impaled with her father's arms as King of France and Navarre. The arms of Henry IV were: "Azure, three fleurs de lys Or (France); impaling Gules, a cross a saltire and an orle of chains linked at the fess point with an amulet Or (Navarre)". For her supporters she used the crowned lion of England on the dexter side, and on the sinister used one of the angels which had for some time accompanied the royal arms of France.

    Fictional portrayals

    Henrietta Maria has a small part in Alexandre Dumas's novel Twenty Years After, the sequel to The Three Musketeers, in which the Musketeers, at her request, try and fail to save Charles I.

    Henrietta Maria is a character in Andrew Swanston's historical thriller The King's Spy, published by Bantam Press on 2 August 2012 (UK). Likewise, in the opera I Puritani by Vincenzo Bellini, the mezzo-soprano role of Enrichetta di Francia is based on her.

    The historical novel Loyal in Love (Three Rivers, 2007), originally titled Myself, My Enemy (1983), by author Jean Plaidy is a fictionalized biography of Henrietta Maria's life, beginning with her childhood in France, to her marriage to Charles I of England, through the English Civil War and her subsequent exile to the court of Louis XIV, concluding with her death in 1669. She is also written as a secondary character in another of Plaidy's fictional biographies, this time about her daughter-in-law Catherine of Braganza, titled The Merry Monarch's Wife (Three Rivers, 2008) originally titled The Pleasures of Love (1991). Both are part of the author's Queens of England series.

    Henrietta Maria is a character in Plaidy's trilogy The Wandering Prince (1956), A Health Unto His Majesty (1956), and Here Lies Our Sovereign Lord (1958). These books cover the life and reign of Charles II, and his relationships with his mistresses, namely Barbara Palmer, Louise de Kéroualle, and Nell Gwynn in the bawdy restoration court of England. These books were republished as the omnibus "The Loves of Charles II" (Three Rivers, 2005). These titles are part of the author's Stuart Saga.


    Henrietta Maria of France Wikipedia

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