An edition of the Henriade
was illustrated by Jean-Michel Moreau.
The poem, in ten chants or cantos, comprises two major parts; the first is strictly from an historical point of view, and its material is only factual. The second part is looser in its factual integrity, and draws more strongly from Voltaire's imagination. These "fictions", as Voltaire calls them, mostly relate to Henry IV, and "draw from the regions of the marvelous", and include "the prediction of Henry's conversion, of the protection given to him by Saint Louis, his apparition, the fire from Heaven destroying those magical performances which were then so common, etc." Voltaire also stated that various other sections of the poem were purely allegorical: "for example, the voyage of Discord to Rome, Politics and Fanaticism personified, the temple of Love, the Passions and Vices, etc."
The poem was written in a reformed styling of the twelve-syllable Alexandrine couplet. He made this stylised hexameter for dramatic effect. Some commentators remarked that this particular rhythm of verse was unsuited to the content and theme of the poem. According to the poem's editor O.R. Taylor, the poem "rarely touches the sensibility of the modern reader" and readers hoping for sublime fire will be disappointed, though Voltaire's verse is always idiomatic and never pedestrian. Voltaire's English Essay upon the Civil Wars in France. Extracted from Curious Manuscripts (1727) expresses his Enlightened opinions on these themes in a prose form that is more approachable to modern taste.
O.R. Taylor's critical edition of La Henriade devotes a full volume to an introduction, accounting for the germination of the idea and its publication history, the contextual theory of the epic and sources both literary and in recent history and contemporary events, and the nineteenth-century decline in the poem's popularity. Taylor reprints eighteenth-century prefaces to the poem, which always carried critical apparatus in the form of Voltaire's own notes.