The first member of the House of Bourbon to achieve royal rank was a son of Antoine de Bourbon, Due de Vendome, and Jeanne d'Albret, heiress to the throne of Navarre. This son became King Henry III of Navarre (1572). Henry was almost killed on his wedding day in the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre (1572). The killing began in Paris and several thousand Protestants who had come to the capital for Henry's wedding were killed. Thousands more Protestanrs were killed in other towns and cities. With the death of the last Valois king of France, King Henry III (1589), Henry of Navarre became the first of a long line of Bourbon kings of France as Henry IV. Claiming the throne and Paris, however, proved difficult because of his Protestant faith. The War of the Three Henries (1585-89) was a struggle for the French crown. The Catholic League organized resistance to protestant Henry. Henry fought a long military campaign and in the end had to convert to Catholocism. He is seen as one of the most important and highly honored of the Bourbon kings. Henry IV had five legitimate children, one of whom died without male heirs. The other four were his successor, King Louis XIII, and three daughters, Elizabeth, Christina, and Henrietta Maria, through whose marriages the House of Bourbon was linked to the royal families of Spain, Savoy, and England.
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