France Day 26 Paris vaut bien une messe


In chapter 33 of their book “1066 and All That” W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman conclude their section on the St. Bartholomew Day Massacre with “After the massacre the French King, Henry of Navarre, turned Roman Catholic and made his memorable confession – ‘Paris is rather a Mess’…” Their humorous interpretation of “Paris vaut bien une messe” describes the time as well as the original saying. After Henry of Navarre took the throne to become King Henry IV he paid off his enemies instead of waging endless, costly wars against them; he also ended the “religious wars” that he had fought in when he issued the Edict of Nantes in 1598. With the help of the minister Maximilien de Béthune, Duke of Sully, they regularized the state finances, and then they set about cleaning up Paris and  restoring it as a great city. They also undertook public works and promoted education throughout France to improve the life of all people so there would be “a chicken in every pot”, which made Henry IV one of the most popular French kings ever. Although he was popular with the people, he had political and religious enemies. On the third attempt on his life, Henry IV was assassinated in 1610 by a Catholic fanatic, François Ravaillac, when Henry IV’s coach was stopped by traffic congestion in the Rue de la Ferronnerie. You can see that Henry IV was a man of good humor from the painting of him as Hercules vanquishing the Lernaean Hydra painted around 1600 by Toussaint Dubreuil. And I think he would have enjoyed “1066 and All That” as well.

We were in the Louvre and Orsay multiple times yesterday and the photos show the changing light as we walked back and forth between the apartment, the Louvre and the Orsay from mid-morning until 10:30 pm when we got home for the night.