Henrietta Maria of France Biography

Henrietta Maria of France, also known as Queen Mary, was the wife of King Charles I of England and the mother of James II and Charles II. Despite never having a coronation, she played a significant role in national affairs during the civil war. Born into a royal house during a time of political turmoil, she faced the loss of her father at a young age and grew up under the care of her governess. Henrietta’s relationship with Charles was initially strained, but improved after the assassination of his close friend. Following her husband’s execution, she sought refuge in France and later returned to England after her son’s restoration to the throne. Henrietta passed away in Paris at the age of 59, leaving behind a legacy of resilience and involvement in the tumultuous events of her time.

Quick Facts

  • British Celebrities Born In November
  • French Celebrities Born In November
  • Died At Age: 59
  • Spouse/Ex-: Charles I of England (m. 1625)
  • Father: Henry IV of France
  • Mother: Marie de’ Medici
  • Children: Anne Stuart, Charles II, Elizabeth Stuart, Henrietta of England, Henry Stuart – Duke of Gloucester, James II, Mary – Princess Royal and Princess of Orange
  • Born Country: France
  • Empresses & Queens
  • Royal Family Members
  • Died on: September 10, 1669
  • Place of death: Colombes, France
  • Ancestry: Italian French
  • Cause of Death: Drug Overdose
  • City: Paris

Childhood & Early Life

Henrietta Maria of France was born on 25 November 1609, in Palais du Louvre, Paris, France, as the youngest daughter of King Henry IV of France and his second wife, Marie de’ Medici. Her father was assassinated when she was seven years old, and her mother was banished from Paris, leaving Henrietta to be raised by her governess Françoise de Montglat.

Marriage & Relationship with King Charles I

Henrietta Maria first met King Charles I in 1623 while he was traveling from Paris to Spain. The trip ended badly, and the king decided to marry Henrietta Maria instead. They married in 1625, shortly after Charles’ accession to the throne. Despite being the wife of King Charles I of England, Henrietta was never crowned due to her Catholic religion. Their relationship was initially quarrelsome, but after the assassination of the king’s friend, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, their relationship began to improve. They had two surviving children, Charles II and Henrietta.

Pre-War Years

Henrietta Maria remained sympathetic to her fellow Catholics and began the construction of a new Catholic chapel in 1632. She faced criticism for her active participation in masque plays and conversions to Catholicism within her circle. In the early 1640s, an alliance of parliamentarians succeeded in executing Charles’ advisers, and Henrietta Maria reportedly encouraged the king to arrest his parliamentary enemies.

First English Civil War (From 1642 to 1646)

During the First English Civil War, Henrietta Maria was in Hague trying to raise money for the Royalist cause. She successfully evaded the parliamentarian navy and landed in Yorkshire with arms and troops. However, her private chapel at Somerset House was destroyed by parliament members. As the war progressed, Henrietta Maria and Charles’ military situation deteriorated, leading to their defeat at the Battle of Alresford. Henrietta Maria, who was pregnant at the time, moved to Exeter to give birth and then left for France.

Second & Third English Civil Wars (From 1648 to 1651)

Henrietta Maria settled in Paris and tried to convince her husband to accept a Presbyterian government in England. However, Charles rejected the peace settlement offered by the opposition, leading to the Second Civil War and his eventual capture by parliamentary forces. King Charles was executed in 1649, leaving Henrietta Maria in shock. During the Third Civil War, she was joined by her old Royalist circle, but her influence was eliminated by her son Charles II. She lived in a convent at Chaillot that she founded in 1651.

Henrietta Maria During the Restoration Period

In 1660, Henrietta Maria returned to England following the Restoration. She took up residence at Somerset House and was supported by a generous pension. However, she faced personal tragedies with the deaths of her son Henry and daughter Mary. She later returned to France and resided at the Hôtel de la Bazinière in Paris.

Family & Personal Life

Henrietta Maria had an elder brother, King Louis XIII of France, and an elder sister named Christine Marie. From her marriage to King Charles I, she had several children, including Charles II, James II, and Henrietta. She also experienced the loss of her children Elizabeth, Anne, Catherine, and Henry.

Death & Legacy

Henrietta Maria died on 10 September 1669, at the château de Colombes near Paris. She was 59 years old. The North American Province of Maryland was named in her honor.

Leave a Comment