Henry III. (France), third son of Henry II., was born in 1551, and succeeded his brother Charles IX. in 1575. Previously to this he had, in command of the royal army, defeated the Huguenots at Jarnac and Moncontour (1569), and had been active on the day of St. Bartholomew (August 24, 1572).< Next year he was elected King of Poland. His reign in France is noteworthy as the period at which the religious wars reached their height. The struggle was not, however, solely between. Catholic and Huguenot, but was complicated by the ambition of the Guises and the Queen-mother, Catherine de Medici. The weak king, at first led by religious fanaticism to support the Holy League against the Huguenots, afterwards became tired of his masters, against whom Catherine also intrigued.
In 1588, at a great crisis in the affairs of Europe, Henry, Duke of Guise, was assassinated at Blois, and Ids brother, the Duke of Lorraine, imprisoned. The result of this was that Catholic Paris turned against the king, who was obliged to ally himself with the Huguenot Henry of Navarre. The two Henrys besieged Paris, but in August, 1589, the King of France was assassinated by Jacques Clement, a Dominican. Henry III. was the last male of the house of Valoi6. He was vicious and incapable, a prey in turn to dissipation and superstition.