Paul Delaroche: The assassination of Henry I, duc de Guise, at Château de Blois (1834)

(Musée Condé, Chantilly, France)

This painting shows a dramatic episode during the French Wars of Religion (1562-1598). The French Wars of Religion was fought between the French Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots). Henry I, duc de Guise, founded the so-called the Catholic League to prevent Henry of Navarre, heir to the French throne and head of the Huguenot movement, to succeed to the French throne. By 1588 this Catholic League controlled most of France and forced the French king Henry III to accede to its demands. The French king refused to be treated as a puppet by the Catholic League and decided to strike back. He had Henry I, duc de Guise, summoned to attend the king at the Château de Blois. Henry I was killed almost immediately by the king's bodyguard (the "the Forty-five") while the king looked on. The murder sparked much outrage and the king was forced to take refuge. The French king Henry III was murdered by a Catholic fanatic a year later. Henry of Navarre succeeded to the throne as king Henry IV. On the painting we can see the French king (standing at the left) while the body of the duc de Guise is on the right with the French bodyguard in the middle. Painting from 1834.