Now that the drums have given way to silence, and silence to speech, we can gather together in memory of him who has remained for each the model of the rulers.

The Republic was not born of nothing. It knows how to pay tribute to all that, in
the history of France, preceded it and sometimes also prepared it. Today she salutes,
on the occasion of the four hundredth anniversary of his tragic death, the one who,
is said to be “the only king whose memory the people have kept”. It pays tribute to
he to an anticipation of his own values, just as much as he salutes a
plume to which it borrows one of its three colours – the famous “panache”
white” remained one of the shades that, united with the colors of Paris,
make up its flag. That is why each of the elected, whatever their
color, the town hall of Paris, the town halls of the 1st and 6th arrondissements, the
Henri IV” and, through me, the President of the Republic and the government all
the whole, have faithfully joined forces to give this great
national celebration.
If we celebrate a sad event, it is to show our attachment
to this great sovereign, victim of fanaticism,
which he could only be the target for having been the perfect opponent in all his
as in all his life. It is also to say that beyond
this death, the values of this exemplary monarch have triumphed. They have made
is an inspiration that goes beyond its time, that has not ceased to nourish the
best of our history and which, we want to make the bet today, will be one
of the sources of the future.
Everyone knows these values, they are those of tolerance and freedom,
a lesson of joy of life, energy and human solidarity. This
are also the values of culture and faith in the humanism of the arts.
This future is that of a France and a Europe whose stars and all
identities interact harmoniously, with mutual respect. This is the wish
Henrician civil harmony and religious peace extended to the dimensions of
our planet.
Already VOLTAIRE, in La Henriade, had shown the very strong link that unites tolerance
with the cosmic order of the world. He sang a first apotheosis of Henry IV
carried into heaven by Saint Louis, who contemplates the heavenly order and grasps that
diversity is inscribed in the divine designs and that tolerance is the only
response to the efflorescence of particular confessions.
The Henriade thus sort of preceded the vision of today’s artist,
dear Jean-Charles of CASTELBAJAC. That is why I too give in to the pleasure
to match the modern and the contemporary and to give you some bits of this
heavenly journey that seems to prefigure your own dream of a Henry IV 'king of
stars and ruler of the future:
Beyond their course, and far into this space
Where matter swims, and God alone embraces,
Are innumerable suns, and endless worlds.
In this immense abyss he opens a way for them.
Beyond all these heavens, the God of heaven resides.
It is there that the hero [Henry IV] follows his heavenly guide;
This is where all these diverse minds are formed
That fill the bodies and populate the universe.
There are, after death, our souls plunged,
From their gross prison forever free.
An incorruptible judge gathers at his feet
Those immortal spirits that his breath created.
It is this infinite being that we serve and ignore:
Under different names the whole world loves him:
From the top of the empyreus he hears our cries;
He looks with pity at this long pile of mistakes,
These crazy portraits that human ignorance
Made with pi-summer of its immense wisdom».
(La Henriade, song VII)
He is indeed a paradoxical king to whom we pay tribute today.
both he who knew how to contemplate from Sirius the vain quarrels of
men and place themselves at a good distance, and he who knew how to be in the same
time the warmest and closest king to everyone. It is through these
two paths that HENRY IV will forever remain a universal king.
Adorning him with a shining sword is also a reminder that peace
is based on courage, that justice does not go without the support of strength, and
it is to show that without the lights of mind and heart for us
guiding, strength and courage – all virtues – are nothing.
After some pyrotechnic evocations retracing his glory, we
will be able to see the light and flexible architecture that frames this
familiar statue. No doubt that the king will lend himself to these plays of light
with his legendary tenderness and smile.
He will be here for two months until our national holiday of the 14th
July, in this «simple pageant», in the eyes of passers-by arriving from all
horizons in the capital. It will appear to them in all the brilliance of which it shines
already in our memories, within this neighbourhood that carries its imprint and
which is already a bit like its case.
So tonight, after we were gathered with gratitude, we want
say, by the few moments of a feast faithful to his spirit that knew to be
our joy to be, by the grace of history, the heirs of a
generosity, which first launched France into the adventure of freedom,
of equality and brotherhood.
Thank you.