100 Heroes: Louis XIII

The gay man who exiled his mother to take the French crown.

100 Heroes: Louis XIII

Louis XIII was King of France from 1610 to 1643.

With the help of Cardinal Richelieu, Louis XIII consolidated the power of the French throne and ruthlessly disposed of his opponents.

Early life

Born in 1601 at the Palace of Fontainebleau, Louis XIII was the eldest child of King Henry IV of France and his second wife Marie de’ Medici.

Contemporary accounts indicate that young Louis had an extreme stutter, and also a double row of teeth.

Rise to power

In 1610, Henry IV was assassinated and Louis ascended to the throne as Louis XIII. His mother acted as his Regent until he was 16.

With the encouragement of his advisers, Louis sent his mother into exile to break her influence and the power of her allies.

In 1618, the Thirty Years’ War broke out. The war ostensibly began as a battle about religion between the protestant states of northern Germany and the catholic states of the Holy Roman Empire. Most of Europe became embroiled in the war, and it became a proxy war for the great powers of the time.

Louis XIII and his allies began a campaign to suppress the protestant Huguenot forces within France.

In 1624, Cardinal Richelieu became Louis XIII’s most influential adviser. Richelieu helped Louis consolidate the power of the throne. France entered the Thirty Years’ War in opposition to the powerful Habsburg dynasty. Richelieu also encouraged French exploration and colonisation of countries around the world.


On 24 November 1615, Louis XIII married Anne of Austria, daughter of Philip III of Spain. The couple were rarely together, but did eventually manage to have a son.


As a teenager, it was noted that Louis’ interests were focused on male courtiers. It was recorded that he had an intense emotional attachment to his favourite courtier, Charles d’Albert.

François de Baradas, a royal equerry, was also believed to be regularly found in Louis’ bed. Baradas fell out of favour when he lost a duel – such fighting had been forbidden by royal decree.

Another notable lover was Henri Coiffier de Ruzé, Marquis of Cinq-Mars. He was later executed for conspiring with Spanish forces – an enemy during the Thirty Years’ War.


Louis XIII died in 1643. The cause was possibly tuberculosis or a digestive disorder.

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