Henry IV (1553 - 1610) was the first Bourbon king of France. Prior to his ascension, the country was ravaged by eight civil wars, the Wars of Religion, as the French people grappled with the Protestant Reformation. Only his changing back and forth, from Protestant to Catholic, allowed him to survive these conflicts. He founded a new dynasty and unified the country. <br><br>The Bourbons started out as Protestants, only converting to Catholicism to be accepted by the majority of French. Ironically, he fell victim to the very violence and religious passions he sought to quell, and was assassinated in 1610.