...I presented to the King [Louis] a letter of credence from the King [James] my master: the King [Louis] assured me of a reciprocal affection to the King [James] my master, and of my particular welcome to his Court: his words were never many, as being so extream [sic] a stutterer that he would sometimes hold his tongue out of his mouth a good while before he could speak so much as one word; he had besides a double row of teeth, and was observed seldom or never to spit or blow his nose, or to sweat much, 'tho he were very laborious, and almost indefatigable in his exercises of hunting and hawking, to which he was much addicted...
Born at the Château de Fontainebleau, Louis XIII was the oldest child of King Henry IV of France and his second wife Marie de' Medici. As son of the king, he was a Fils de France ("son of France"), and as the eldest son, Dauphin of France. His father Henry IV was the first French king of the House of Bourbon, having succeeded his ninth cousin, Henry III of France (1574–1589), in application of Salic law. Louis XIII's paternal grandparents were Antoine de Bourbon, duc de Vendôme, and Jeanne d'Albret, Queen of Navarre. His maternal grandparents were Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Joanna of Austria, Grand Duchess of Tuscany. Eleonora de' Medici, his maternal aunt, was his godmother. As a child, he was raised under the supervision of the royal governess Françoise de Montglat.
Louis XIII shared his mother's love of the lute, developed in her childhood in Florence. One of his first toys was a lute and his personal Doctor, Jean Héroard, reports him playing it for his mother in 1604, at the age of three. In 1635, Louis XIII composed the music, wrote the libretto and designed the costumes for the "Ballet de la Merlaison." The king himself danced in two performances of the ballet the same year at Chantilly and Royaumont.
Louis XIII ascended the throne in 1610 upon the assassination of his father, and his mother Marie de' Medici acted as his Regent. Although Louis XIII became of age at thirteen (1614), his mother did not give up her position as Regent until 1617, when he was 16. Marie maintained most of her husband's ministers, with the exception of Maximilien de Béthune, Duke of Sully, who was unpopular in the country. She mainly relied on Nicolas de Neufville, seigneur de Villeroy, Noël Brûlart de Sillery, and Pierre Jeannin for political advice. Marie pursued a moderate policy, confirming the Edict of Nantes. She was not, however, able to prevent rebellion by nobles such as Henri, Prince of Condé (1588–1646), second in line to the throne after Marie's second surviving son Gaston, Duke of Orléans. Condé squabbled with Marie in 1614, and briefly raised an army, but he found little support in the country, and Marie was able to raise her own army. Nevertheless, Marie agreed to call an Estates General assembly to address Condé's grievances.
On 24 November 1615, Louis XIII married Anne of Austria, daughter of Philip III of Spain. This marriage followed a tradition of cementing military and political alliances between the Catholic powers of France and Spain with royal marriages. The tradition went back to the marriage of Philip II of Spain with the French Princess Elisabeth of Valois. The marriage was only briefly happy, and the King's duties often kept them apart. After twenty-three years of marriage and four stillbirths, Anne finally gave birth to a son on 5 September 1638, the Future Louis XIV.
In the meantime, Charles d'Albert, the Grand Falconer of France, convinced Louis XIII that he should break with his mother and support the rebels. Louis staged a palace coup d'état. As a result, Concino Concini was assassinated on 24 April 1617. His widow, Leonora Dori Galigaï, was tried for witchcraft, condemned, beheaded, and burned on 8 July 1617, and Marie was sent into exile in Blois. Later, Louis conferred the title of Duke of Luynes on d'Albert.
The French nobles were further antagonised against Luynes by the 1618 revocation of the paulette tax and by the sale of offices in 1620. From her exile in Blois, Marie de' Medici became the obvious rallying point for this discontent, and the Bishop of Luçon (who became Cardinal Richelieu in 1622) was allowed to act as her chief adviser, serving as a go-between Marie and the King.
In order to continue the exploration efforts of his predecessor Henry IV, Louis XIII considered a colonial venture in Morocco, and sent a fleet under Isaac de Razilly in 1619. Razilly was able to explore the coast as far as Mogador. In 1624 he was given charge of an embassy to the pirate harbour of Salé in Morocco, in order to solve the affair of the library of Mulay Zidan.
French nobles launched a rebellion in 1620, but their forces were easily routed by royal forces at Les Ponts-de-Cé in August 1620. Louis then launched an expedition against the Huguenots of Béarn who had defied a number of royal decisions. This expedition managed to re-establish Catholicism as the official religion of Béarn. However, the Béarn expedition drove Huguenots in other provinces into a rebellion led by Henri, Duke of Rohan.
In 1621, Louis XIII, was formally reconciled with his mother. Luynes was appointed Constable of France, after which he and Louis set out to quell the Huguenot rebellion. The siege at the Huguenot stronghold of Montauban had to be abandoned after three months owing to the large number of royal troops who had succumbed to camp fever. One of the victims of camp fever was Luynes, who died in December 1621.
The rebellion was ended by the Treaty of Montpellier, signed by Louis XIII and the Duke of Rohan in October 1622. The treaty confirmed the tenets of the Edict of Nantes: several Huguenot fortresses were to be razed, but the Huguenots retained control of Montauban and La Rochelle.
In the sphere of the men's fashion, Louis helped introduce the wearing of wigs among men in 1624 that became fashionable for the first time since antiquity. This would be a dominant style among men in European and European-influenced countries for nearly 200 years until the fashion changes brought about by the French Revolution.
In 1630, Razilly was able to negotiate the purchase of French slaves from the Moroccans. He visited Morocco again in 1631, and helped negotiate the Franco-Moroccan Treaty (1631). The Treaty gave France preferential treatment, known as Capitulations: preferential tariffs, the establishment of a Consulate, and freedom of religion for French subjects.
Acadia was also developed under Louis XIII. In 1632, Isaac de Razilly became involved, at the request of Cardinal Richelieu, in the colonization of Acadia, by taking possession of the Habitation at Port-Royal (now Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia) and developing it into a French colony. The King gave Razilly the official title of lieutenant-general for New France. He took on military tasks such as taking control of Fort Pentagouet at Majabigwaduce on the Penobscot Bay, which had been given to France in an earlier Treaty, and to inform the English they were to vacate all lands North of Pemaquid. This resulted in all the French interests in Acadia being restored.
France's greatest victory in the conflicts against the Habsburg Empire during the period 1635–59 came at the Battle of Rocroi (1643), five days after Louis's death caused by apparent complications of intestinal tuberculosis. This battle marked the end of Spain's military ascendancy in Europe and foreshadowed French dominance in Europe under Louis XIV, his son and successor.
Louis XIII died in Paris on 14 May 1643, the 33rd anniversary of his father's death. According to his biographer A. Lloyd Moote, "his intestines were inflamed and ulcerated, making digestion virtually impossible; tuberculosis had spread to his lungs, accompanied by habitual cough. Either of these major ailments, or the accumulation of minor problems, may have killed him, not to mention physiological weaknesses that made him prone to disease or his doctors' remedies of enemas and bleedings, which continued right to his death."