RAVAILLAC, FRANÇOIS (1578-1610), the assassin of Henry IV. of France, was born near Angoulême. He was of humble origin and began life as a valet de chambre, but afterwards became a lawyer and also teacher of a school. After having been imprisoned by his creditors, he sought admission to the recently founded order of Feuillants, but after a short probation was dismissed as a visionary. An application for admission to the Society of Jesus was equally unsuccessful in 1606. His disappointments fostered a fanatical temperament, and rumours that the king was intending to make war upon the pope suggested to him the idea of assassination, which he carried out on the 14th of May 1610. In the course of his trial he was frequently put to the torture, but persistently (and it is now believed truly) denied that he had been prompted by any one or had any accomplices. Sentence of death was carried out on the 27th of May following.
See Jules Loiseleur, Ravaillac et ses complices (1873), and E. Lavisse, Histoire de France, tome vi. (Paris, 1905).