Henry VIII,the Reign
Henry Dauphin of France
31 March 1519 – 10 July 1559
Dauphin of France
31 March 1519 –10 August 1536
King of France
31 March 1547 – 10 July 1559
Profile Henry Dauphin of France
Henry II was a monarch of the House of Valois who ruled as King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559 The second son of Francis I, he became Dauphin of France upon the death of his elder brother Francis III, Duke of Brittany, in 1536.
As a child, Henry and his elder brother spent over four years in captivity in Spain as hostages in exchange for their father. Henry pursued his father's policies in matter of arts, wars and religion. He persevered in the Italian Wars against the House of Habsburg and tried to suppress the Protestant Reformation.
Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany (daughter of Louis XII of France and Anne, Duchess of Brittany, and a second cousin of her husband).
His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by the forces of his sworn enemy, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and held prisoner in Spain. To obtain his release, it was agreed that Henry and his older brother be sent to Spain in his place. They remained in captivity for over four years.
Henry married Catherine de' Medici, a member of the ruling family of Florence, on 28 October 1533, when they were both fourteen years old. The following year, he became romantically involved with a thirty-five-year-old widow, Diane de Poitiers. They had always been very close: she had publicly embraced him on the day he set off to Spain, and during a jousting tournament, he insisted that his lance carry her ribbon instead of his wife's. Diane became Henry's mistress and most trusted confidante and, for the next twenty-five years.
When his elder brother Francis, the Dauphin and Duke of Brittany, died in 1536 after a game of tennis, Henry became heir apparent to the throne. He succeeded his father on his 28th birthday and was crowned King of France on 25 July 1547 at Reims Cathedral.