Henri IV and his superintendant of finances, Maximilien Bethune, currently Baron de Rosny and eventually to become Duc de Sully, are busy re-establishing royal authority and enthusiastically reforming taxation, economic policy, overseas trade, and agriculture.
One of the big items of speculation is what the king is going to do for a queen and heirs to the throne. His marriage to Marguerite de Valois, which was the occasion of the great St. Bartholemew's Day Massacre in 1572, was childless and she has been in a kind of internal exile in the Auvergne since 1582. He obtained a divorce in 1599, which caused much speculation that he was planning to marry his mistress, Gabrielle d'Estrées (with whom he already had several children), but she died suddenly of convulsions during her fourth pregnancy on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter) in 1599. The king seems to have expressed his grief with a fit of wenching, and his new mistress is Henriette d'Entragues, a gold-digging schemer if there ever was one. Parliament and other dignitaries have been begging him to find a more suitable princess. One of the possible candidates is Marie de' Medicis, niece of the Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Meanwhile, there is some indication that matters may be heating up in Savoy. One of the terms of the 1598 treaty was papal abitration of the Marquisate of Saluzzo, which had been under French control and was seized by the Savoyards in 1588. The pope was not up to the task, and the Duke of Savoy came to the French court at the end of last year to negotiate the matter. He has just left Paris with an agreement that he will turn over Saluzzo by June 1, or else Bresse and some other territories. This peace agreement is already on its way to being broken.
In England, the Queen's favorite, the Earl of Essex was sent to Ireland in 1599. He failed to make any headway against the Irish rebels, signed an unapproved treaty with the Earl of Tyrone, and upon return to England at the end of the summer was imprisoned in the Tower. He is still awaiting trial and there is much speculation about his fate.
The Globe Theater opened in London this past summer. Thomas Platter, the Swiss medical student and diarist, saw a production of Julius Caesar there this past September and Master Knowlton was able to catch the production of Master Shakespeare's History of Henry V. He declares it his favorite play because he recognizes so many of the characters in it from his days in the wars. He's fond of going around reciting "no tittle tattle and prittle prattle in Pompey's camp."
Dutch opticians are working on the telescope.
Johannes Kepler is forced to leave Graz due to religious persecution of Protestants and is serving as Tycho Brahe's assistant in Prague.
Galileo figures out that light, "if not instantaneous, is extraordinarily rapid."
Rubens is painting in Italy, Caravaggio is producing his sensuous chiaroscuro works.
burnt at the stake in Rome on February 17 for his radical views about the
infinity of inhabited worlds in the universe and his obnoxious personality.