This article retraces the main stages of the Roman negotiations of 1595, which resulted in Henry IV’s absolution by Clement VIII and the restoration of relations between France and Rome. The goal is to examine, in particular, symbolic aspects of the reconciliation between king and pope, as well as the nature of behaviour and the role of protagonists in the resolution of a long and severe recession.
An analysis of talks carried on by Henry IV’s ambassadors at the Papal Court is followed by a detailed study of a solemn ceremony of the king's absolution in front of the Saint Peter’s Basilica. A particular attention is paid to its perception by contemporaries. The symbolism of the king’s penance is revealed to be a key moment for understanding the meaning of a long-expected reconciliation between secular and spiritual powers by the end of the Religious wars in France.