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Treasures

Piece signed Henri III of France to Nicolas de Harlay

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Prepare your visit Ticketing Future event Ville de Genève, Musées d'art et d'histoire Crédits photographiques : © Musée d'art et d'histoire, Ville de Genève, photographe : Yves Siza Auteurs : Ferdinand Hodler (Berne, 14.03.1853 — Genève, 19.05.1918) Titre : L'Unanimité Datations : 1912/1913 Matières et techniques : Huile sur toile mise au carreau; Peinture Dimensions : haut.: 52.5 cm; larg.: 163 cm; Haut 52.5, larg 163 cm N° d’inventaire : 1939-0044

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The MIR has, in its collection, this exceptional letter signed by King Henry III of France (1551-1589), dated April 22, 1589. Its recipient is the politician and diplomat Nicolas de Harlay (1546-1629), Sieur de Sancy.

The document illustrates the context of the eighth and last war of religion in France in the 16th century. The king then engaged in a fight against the Catholic League, anxious to curb the expansion of the latter, while the Catholics accused him of weakness in the fight with the Protestants. The Duke of Guise, the main leader of the League, was executed on his orders while other League leaders were arrested.

Here, Henri III orders Sancy to raise troops against the League – and in particular the Swiss, already renowned for their military qualities. He intends indeed "to employ people of war both Suysses and others who will be in the army against our enemies who would like to oppose their passage (…)".

In order to raise this army and support the king against the leaguers, Sancy will pawn his famous diamond, "le Sancy". A few months later, on August 1, 1589, Henri III was the victim of an attack; stabbed by a leaguer, he died the day after his injury. He will be succeeded by Henri de Navarre, under the name of Henri IV.

This manuscript by Admiral Gaspard de Coligny was one of the main Protestant leaders during the religious wars in 16th century France.

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