Henry II. (France) was born in 1519, and succeeded his father Francis I. in 1547. He carried on the policy of the latter by allying himself with the German Protestants against the Empire, and obtained for France the three duchies, Metz, Toul, and Verdun.
In 1557, however, his troops met with reverses in Italy and at St. Quentin, the last great disaster being only partially compensated by the recovery of Calais from England. In the year of the treaty of Cateau Cambrgsis (1559) Henry was mortally wounded in a tournament by the captain of the Scottish Guard, Montgomery. This king strongly resembled in character Francis I., but the influence of the Guises led him at times to adopt a Catholic policy. His wife was the celebrated Catherine de Medici (q.v.), and his favourite mistress Diane de Poitiers.