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Henri III, ¼ ecu 1580 Nantes

Started by Figleaf, February 05, 2022, 10:01:12 PM

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Henri was the fourth son of Henri II, the third in the line of succession when he was born. When he accepted the Polish-Lithuanian throne in 1573 - Poland had elected kings, but the country was in fact ruled by its high nobility, the magnates - the crown prince of France had died. Almost exactly two years later, he received the message that his last elder brother had died. That made him king of France. Fearful of a possible negative reaction of the magnates, Henri left Poland at night to return to France.

France was a mess. François I, Henri's granddad had started a bloody and cruel persecution of protestants, setting a tone that divided the country. The catholic camp was led by Henri de Guise, duke of Lorraine with support of the Habsburgs, who would do anything if it would undermine French strength, and the pope, whose Christianity apparently did not include protestants. The protestant camp  was led by the prince of Condé and received financing from England, where the power of the royal house depended on being protestant, and the Republic, another bulwark of protestantism, at war with the Habsburgs. While there were bloody incidents, the situation developed into a civil war when Henri's younger and last brother François, died of malaria in 1584.

The cause for panic was that Henri III, though married to Louise of Lorraine, was childless and openly bi-sexual. It was therefore clear that the house of Valois would extinguish with him. The heir apparent was the king of Navarre, an ardent protestant and supporter of Condé. De Guise, appalled stated that a protestant could not occupy the throne of France. The civil war would ruin and exhaust the country and kill Henri, who was assassinated by a catholic.

My coin is a ¼ écu. The écu was a gold coin of 60 sols. The mint is Nantes (T). Dy 1133.

Obv: decorated cross +HENRICVS.III.Dei.Gratia.FRANCorvm.ET.POLoniae.REX T (mint) 580 (date)
Rev: crowned arms dividing II and II (denomination) SIT•NOMEN•DOMINI•BENEDICTVM

There are dots under the I of HENRICVS and the N of BENEDICTVM, both indicating the third quarter of the year.


An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


I like this piece. I have one of her twin sisters, the one minted in Rennes. But it's from Henri III; Henri of Navarre (future Henri IV) was his cousin.

Henri III is the kind of historical character that i like. Obsessed with fashion and his personal hygiene, it's told that he had many male lovers, whom he used to disguise as women, taking them to walk by Paris or to attend to knight tournaments. Those lovers would act like real women, fighting for being tye king's favorite. Other historicians claim that he actually had many female lovers, what costed him more than one venereal disease.

Eventually he was stabbed by a monk, and he was still able to take out the knive, punch his slayer, and even to write some lettets and assure his wife that he would be riding again in a few days. In fact, he died the day after, but for me he's worth of being called Legend.