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Henri IV - An unfinished reign

Preparations for war

In the wars against both Spain and the House of Savoy, Sully showed a genius for innovation in the areas of supply, billeting and munitions. He continued his efforts while at the same time filling the royal coffers. Henri IV thus the means to fulfil his ambitions – a modern, standing army consisting of well-paid and well-equipped men.

Early in 1610, nearly 37,000 men stood ready to invade the duchies. According to the plan of attack, Henri's ally, Maurice, Prince of Orange, would open the hostilities by invading Jülich. The lion's share of the troops would follow, led by Henri IV flanked by the duc de Bouillon, de Nevers, de Sully and the vicomte of Rohan. At the same time, other troops had been raised to protect the borders and to attack in Italy. In all, Henri would lead nearly 100,000 men, "an extraordinary force for the period" (J.P. Babelon), unequalled by any other European monarch.

The date was set, and the governors received orders to return to their province. The army began to gather at Châlons-sur-Marne, where provisions and artillery were also being assembled. On Wednesday, 19 May 1610, Henri IV would leave for the front, at the head of his army.

Related multimedia

Title: Henri IV, king of France and Navarre

Portrait of Henri IV
© RMN / René-Gabriel Ojéda
Caption:
Henri IV, king of France and Navarre, painting, French School, early 17th century, Musée national du château de Pau, D.53-2-51; MV3283

Title: Henri IV in armour

Henri IV in armour
© Musée national du château de Pau / Jean-Yves Chermeux
Caption:
Henri IV in armour, engraving by Thomas de Leu, 1593. Musée national du château de Pau, P.55-15-3

Title: Pourtraict du Très-chrestien et très victorieux Henri IIII

Frontispiece with portrait of Henri IV
© Musée national du château de Pau / Jean-Yves Chermeux
Caption:
Pourtraict du Très-chrestien et très victorieux Henri IIII, roy de France et de Navarre, engraving by Georges Blaignan (Paris, Abel Langelier, 1604). Musée national du château de Pau, Inv. BP.4237.

Title: Henri IV in armour

Henri IV in armour
© Musée national du château de Pau / Jean-Yves Chermeux
Caption:
Henri IV in armour, workshop of Guillaume Dupré, bronze. Musée national du château de Pau, Inv. DP. 53.3.9.
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