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Character interview: Henry IV of France

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[During the interview, the king repeatedly interrupted the interview questions to make passes at the female journalist conducting the interview]

Q: Your Majesty, your flight from the French court [in 1575] caused quite the stir. Can you give us details on how you evade the royal guards.

[Laughing heartily] Ah, it was quite a bit of fun, really. I had spend the week before hiding from Queen Catherine, and while the court was upturned looking for me, I casually strolled into Mass. I gave them all in innocent look and they all figured I was too stupid to successfully escape. After that, they simply stopped watching me all that closely.

The day I gave the guards the slip, we were off hunting, which always requires you to split up in order to chance game or your hounds. I simply went a little further into the woods than they expected me to.

Q: You’ve spent most of your life at war with a country that you may one day rule. Does the idea of ruling hostile subjects make you nervous?

Not really. France needs a strong ruler. In fact, she deserves one. I believe that we’re all as weary of war as I am.

My record of ruling Navarre speaks for itself. If God wills it, I will do the same for France if she has need of me. I would rule all equally, both Catholic and Protestant.

Q: With France an equally Protestant and Catholic country, wouldn’t that affect your relationship with your neighbors? Spain and Austria are fervently Catholic while England and the breakaway Netherlands are just as devoted to Protestantism.

As a matter of fact, I think that France could serve as an example of how both faiths could life alongside one another. For future generations, that will likely be the case. I see Protestantism growing across France and Europe. We’ll simply have to learn how to live alongside one another.

I worry about religious extremists like the Catholic League. Their kind of terrorist attacks are the kind that disrupt our trade and at the very least keep our commerce and communication lines in tatters. We can’t go on like this for much longer.

Overall, a united France is a strong bulwark against an invading army. We could be foolish to ignore the might of the Spanish navy. There are rumors that they will try to invade the English soon. Elizabeth has done a fair job of uniting her country against foreign invaders. France must do the same or she will be an easy mark for invasion.

Q: The Guise family has taken the helm of the Catholic League, and you’ve always had a difficult relationship with the Guise.

No, not really. The Third Henry—ah, that’s a good nickname for Guise! “The Third Henry.” With the king we could be “The Three Henrys.” Anyway, the Duc and I were friends somewhat during my time at court. Sure, there was a rivalry, but on my part there really weren’t any hard feelings.

Q: You and the Duc d’ Alceon also had an interesting rivalry, can you shed light on that one?

Yes—we both were sleeping with Charlotte de Sauve! God, that woman is quite an enchanting minx. What beautiful golden hair! I’m partial to gold—probably because I had a nurse whose daughter had golden hair.

Charlotte is Catherine di Mecidi’s woman, and she’s quite capable of getting information to her mistress. Francis and I both knew that. Course, we both enjoyed our time with the delectable Charlotte—who wouldn’t? But we never begrudged each other’s presence in her bed. In fact, it was a bit of a game for both of us. Few women can handle two princes at the same time….

Q: You’ve been unable to conceive a legitimate heir with your wife, Queen Margot.

Margot is a royal princess and quite capable of fulfilling her duty. Don’t forget that her mother was married for virtually a decade before she gave her husband a healthy son. I have no doubt that Margot will do the same for me.

Q: Do you feel that your reputation with women is in some way tarnishing your legacy as king?

Ah, my dear—we are are all subject to our desires, are we not? I am sure that you are. In fact, I would be interested in speaking to you of desire after ou–

Q: Moving on. I understand that you have quite the talent for whittling.

Yes! [reaches into his pocket]. This is a bird that I whittled at camp during the battle of Coutras. It is for my cousin Conde’s daughter Eleanor. [he holds up an exquisitely carved wooden songbird, complete with details on the feathers].

I made a squirrel for my cousin Charles’ daughter Princess Elizabeth. The Queen said that she was quite happy with it. It’s just a bit of silliness, really. But it helps me to pass the time between troop movements. The French court gave me quite a bit of guff for my whittling, but I found it to be a great distraction from all the scheming and tension that I witnesses in Paris.

Q: Do you feel that you would ever return to French court?

Well, my position has changed quite dramatically since I left. I usually communicate with King Henri via messenger. My advisors are convinced that I’ll be kidnapped or assassinated if the French troops are given the slightest opportunity.

I know many people feel as if the court if the epicenter of culture and excitement, but for me it is quite tiring. There is too much emphasis on outside appearances. I’d much rather be in the middle of a field, whether its for fighting or for hunting.

Q; The Prince de Conde has said that he would never return to court, no matter the circumstances.

Did he! Ah, that sounds like Conde. He always did prefer a good Bible reading.

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