A time of war
In 1584, Henri de Navarre became the new heir to the throne and soon had to face the hostility of a mainly catholic country. Although the Guise family was eliminated in 1588, the Catholic League was still powerful and Henri, “a king without a crown, a soldier without money, a husband without a wife”, had to confront it.
Maximilien placed himself entirely at the king’s service. He began the new military campaigns as captain of an artillery company. At the great battle of Ivry in March 1590, his courage and that of his fellow-protestants brought Henri IV a brilliant victory: more than 6,000 catholics died on that day, enabling the king‘s army to march on Paris. Gravely wounded, Maximilien narrowly escaped death. In recognition of his bravery, Henri IV appointed him a Knight of the Accolade, like a medieval hero.
However, with the support of catholic Spain, the League still enjoyed safe positions. In Pars and then in Rouen, to which he laid siege, Henri IV gave in before the resistance of the inhabitants.
On those occasions, Maximilien demonstrated strong military talents, especially in the sphere of artillery.
After being wounded once more at Thoiry, Maximilien had to convalesce again. Shortly after his wife died he met the woman who was to become his second wife, Rachel de Cochefilet, whom he married on May 18 1592 and with whom he retired to his family château at Rosny. The fact is that Maximilien, exhausted by battles and wounds, was no longer content with the friendly thanks of the kingwho, for political reasons, seemed to favor the new catholics over his old protestant friends.
However, at the king’s persistent request, Maximilien returned to war. He distinguished himself at the siege of Dreux in 1593, when negotiations between Henri IV and the League were offering the hope that hostilities might end.