He was born as the fourth son of King Henry II and Catherine de' Medici, and was not expected to assume the French throne. After becoming King in 1574, Henry was rumored to have engaged in same sex relationships with his court favorites, known as mignons.
On 31 May 1578, he laid the first stone to the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris. According to legend, Henry cried as he had left a rainy funeral service for two of his mignons, who had killed each other in a duel the night before. The Pont Neuf was subsequently called le pont des Pleurs, the bridge of tears, by the Parisians. In 1581, the Italian mathematician and astrologer Giordano Bruno moved to Paris, soon gaining favor with Henry. It was at the king's recommendation that Bruno travelled to England in 1593.
In 1589, Henry was assassinated by the Catholic fanatic Jacques Clément, and was succeeded by his brother-in-law and distant cousin, Henry IV. The heart of the deceased king was placed in an urn in the Church of the Celestines, and was later moved to the Basilica of Saint-Denis. Henry's body would be desecrated during the French Revolution, and his teeth were stolen by the official Charles Brulay, who sold them at auction.