Baptised Catholic, he converted to Protestantism along with his mother Jeanne d'Albret, Queen of Navarre. He inherited the throne of Navarre, in 1572, on the death of his mother. As a Huguenot, Henry was involved in the Wars of Religion, he barely escaped the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre and later led protestant forces against the French Royal Army.
As a prince de sang by his father, Antoine de Bourbon, he was also the natural heir to the throne of France. On the death of the childless Henry III, he ascended the throne of France in 1589, but had to abjure his Calvinist faith. However, his coronation was followed by a four-year war against the Catholic League to establish his legitimacy.
One of the most popular French kings, both during and after his reign, Henry showed great care for the welfare of his subjects and, as a politique, displayed an unusual religious tolerance for the time. He notably enacted the Edict of Nantes, in 1598, which guaranteed religious liberties to the Protestants, thereby effectively ending the civil war. He was assassinated by François Ravaillac, a fanatical Catholic.
On 25 July 1593, with the encouragement of the great love of his life, Gabrielle d'Estrées, Henry permanently renounced Protestantism, thus earning the resentment of the Huguenots and of his former ally, Queen Elizabeth I of England. He was said to have declared that Paris vaut bien une messe ("Paris is well worth a Mass"), though there is some doubt whether he said this himself or the statement was attributed to him by his contemporaries.
Henry IV in The War That Came EarlyEdit
When Vaclav Jezek arrived in Paris to fight for the Czechoslovakia government-in-exile, he recalled that some French King long ago had said "Paris is worth a Mass". Viewing the destruction, he did knew Paris was a mess.
Alistair Walsh had a similar vague recollection after the German push on Paris was stopped. He not only couldn't recall the name of the King, he couldn't even remember what he had said Paris was worth. However, he did know the Germans thought it was worth everything to their campaign and when they failed to take it, they tried to level it by launching nightly bombing raids by the Luftwaffe.