Henry II of Navarre

Henry II

Henry II by an unknown French painter
King of Navarre
Reign 12 February 1517 - 25 May 1555
Predecessor Catherine
Successor Joan III
Born (1503-04-18)18 April 1503
Died 25 May 1555(1555-05-25) (aged 52)
Spouse Margaret of Angouleme
House Albret
Father John III of Navarre
Mother Catherine of Navarre

Henry II (18 April 1503 – 25 May 1555), nicknamed Sangüesino because he was born at Sangüesa, was the King of Navarre from 1517, although his kingdom had been reduced to a small territory north of the Pyrenees by the Spanish conquest of 1512. Henry succeeded his mother, Queen Catherine, upon her death. His father was her husband and co-ruler, King John III, who died in 1516.

King of Navarre

After the latest failed reconquest attempt of Navarre in 1516, John III died, followed by Catherine I's demise in her independent dependencies of Béarn (1517). Heir apparent Henry was proclaimed King of Navarre, and was lavishly crowned in Lescar. The title was also claimed by Ferdinand II of Aragon, who had invaded the realm in 1512 and usurped the title, and the claim was continued by his grandson Charles V. Henry II enjoyed the protection of Francis I of France.

After ineffectual conferences at Noyon in 1516 and at Montpellier in 1518, an active effort was made in 1521 to establish him in de facto sovereignty in Pamplona and occupied territory. A French and Navarrese expedition made another attempt at reconquering occupied Navarre, but were ultimately repelled by Charles after the Battle of Noain (June 1521).

Henry in contemporary miniature

In 1525, Henry was taken prisoner at the Battle of Pavia, but he contrived to escape under a guise and in 1526, married Margaret, sister of King Francis I and widow of Charles, Duke of Alençon. By her, he was the father of Joan III of Navarre, and was consequently the grandfather of Henry IV of France. In 1530, after the Treaty of Cambrai between Castile and France, Charles V evacuated the northernmost county (merindad) of Navarre, Lower Navarre, allowing Henry to seize it. The Pyrenean border between Lower and Upper Navarre now constitutes the Franco-Spanish border in this sector.

Henry had some strong sympathy with the Huguenots, and was fluent in both French and Spanish, according to the seigneur de Brantôme.[1] He died at Hagetmau on 25 May 1555.


In 1526, he married Margaret of Angoulême[2] who became known as Marguerite de Navarre (11 April 1492- 21 December 1549) and had issue:

  1. Joan III of Navarre (16 November 1528 – 9 June 1572), mother of Henry IV of France
  2. John (7 July 1530 - 25 December 1530)


Henry's ancestors in four generations

Jean I of Albret
Alain I of Albret
Catherine de Rohan
John III of Navarre
William of Châtillon-Limoges
Françoise of Châtillon-Limoges
Isabelle de la Tour d'Auvergne
Henry II of Navarre
Gaston IV, Count of Foix
Gaston of Foix, Prince of Viana
Eleanor of Navarre
Catherine I of Navarre
Charles VII of France
Magdalena of Valois
Marie of Anjou


  1. J. N. Hillgarth (2000), The Mirror of Spain, 1500–1700: The Formation of a Myth (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan), 238.
  2. Patricia Francis Cholakian and Rouben Charles Cholakian, Marguerite de Navarre: Mother of the Renaissance, (Columbia University Press, 2006), xxii.


Henry II of Navarre
Born: April 18 1503 Died: May 25 1555
Preceded by
King of Navarre
Count of Foix

1517 – 25 May 1555
Succeeded by
Joan III


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