HENRI III, French king, born (d: 1588) He was his mother’s favorite; she called him chers yeux (“Precious Eyes”) and lavished her fondness and affection upon him for most of his life. His elder brother Charles grew to detest him, resenting Henry’s greater health and activity; his younger brother, Francis-Hercules, also resented him, and continually plotted against him; his sister, Margot, went from adoring him to fearing and despising him, even accusing him – posthumously, in her memoirs – of incestuous thoughts and behavior toward her. As the French say, gras chance.
Convinced that France was in the hands of scheming ministers and clergy, he surrounded himself with handsome young men, his mignons. His passion for throwing orgies was only slightly less wild than that of Roman emperors. His artistic tastes were a source of concern to the court. Unlike the other men of his family, he showed a marked interest in clothes and fabrics, jewels, lapdogs, and toys. He also had a keen eye for fashions and beauty which in his later years would become an obsession, and constantly appeared elegant and sophisticated, although not always appropriate – on festive occasions, he was known to dress more richly and fantastically than the ladies of the court, adorning himself with jewels and fantastic costumes, prompting the Spanish ambassador, Zuniga, to write to Philip II of Spain, “With all of this he shows who he really is”.
On another occasion, a ball given by Catherine de’ Medici at Chenonceau in June 1577, the King whole-heartedly participated in the theme – transvestism – by wearing “diamonds, emeralds and pearls. His hair was tinted with violet powder and wearing a dress of superb brocade, he made a definite contrast to his wife”, who had chosen not to dress in men’s clothing. Such appearances earned Henry blunt epithets such as “Prince of Sodom”.