Francis I of France: Wikis


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Francis I
Duke of Brittany; Count of Provence
King of France
Reign 1 January 1515 - 31 March 1547 (&0000000000000032.00000032 years, &0000000000000089.00000089 days)
Coronation 25 January 1515
Predecessor Louis XII
Successor Henry II
Spouse Claude, Duchess of Brittany
Eleanor of Habsburg
Francis III, Duke of Brittany
Henry II
Madeleine, Queen of Scots
Charles, Duke of Orléans
Margaret, Duchess of Savoy
House House of Valois
Father Charles, Count of Angoulême
Mother Louise of Savoy
Born 12 September 1494(1494-09-12)
Cognac, Charente, France
Died 31 March 1547 (aged 52)
Château de Rambouillet
Burial Saint Denis Basilica, France

Francis I (French: François Ier; 134 September 1494 – 31 March 1547), was King of France from 1515 until his death.

Francis I is considered to be France's first Renaissance monarch. His reign saw France make immense cultural advances. He was a contemporary of Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire, with whom he was allied in a Franco-Ottoman alliance, as well as of Henry VIII of England and of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, his great rivals.


Early life

Francis I, the only son of Charles, Count of Angoulême, and of Louise of Savoy, was born at the Château de Cognac [1], Cognac (c. 400 km southwest of Paris), in the modern French department of Charente, in the province of Saintonge which was part of the former Duché d'Aquitaine. His father was the first cousin of King Louis XII. In 1498, the four-year-old Francis, already Count of Angoulême, was created Duke of Valois. He was the heir presumptive of Louis XII who did not succeed in siring sons with any of his three wives. In 1506, and by instigation of Louis XII, young Francis was betrothed to Claude of France, the daughter of Louis XII and Anne of Brittany, and heiress of the Duchy of Brittany. The marriage took place on 18 May 1514. Because of the Salic Law that excluded women from succeeding to the throne of France, the throne passed to Francis I at the death of Louis XII of France, as he was a male-line great-great-grandson of Charles V of France and the descendant of the eldest surviving male line of the Capetian Dynasty. Claude, Duchess of Brittany, became queen consort of France.

Medal of Francis I after the battle of Marignano in 1515.

In 1515 Francis was crowned King of France in the Cathedral of Reims. Despite being only twenty-years old, he already had unprecedented humanist credentials. While his two predecessors, Charles VIII and Louis XII, had spent much of their reigns concerned with Italy they did not much embrace the new intellectual movements coming out of it. Both monarchs continued in the same patterns of behavior that had dominated the French monarchy for centuries. They are considered the last of the medieval French monarchs, but they did lay the groundwork for the Renaissance to come into full swing in France.

Contact between the French and Italians in the long running series of wars under Charles VIII and Louis XII had brought new ideas to France by the time the young Francis was receiving his education. Thus a number of his tutors, such as Desmoulins, his Latin instructor, and Christophe de Longueil were schooled in the new ways of thinking and they attempted to imbue Francis with it. Francis' mother also had a great interest in Renaissance art, which she passed down to her son. One certainly cannot say that Francis received a humanist education; most of his teachers had not yet been affected by the Renaissance. One can, however, state that he clearly received an education more oriented towards humanism than any previous French king.



Patron of the arts

Francis I receiving the last breath of Leonardo da Vinci in 1519, by Ingres, painted in 1818.

By the time Francis I ascended the throne in 1515, the Renaissance had clearly arrived in France, and Francis was an important supporter of the change. He became a major patron of the arts and lent his support to many of the greatest artists of his time and encouraged them to come to France. Some did work for him, including such greats as Andrea del Sarto, and Leonardo da Vinci, whom Francis convinced to leave Italy in the last part of his life. While Leonardo did little painting in his years in France, he brought with him many of his great works, such as the Mona Lisa, known in France as La Joconde, and these stayed in France upon his death.

Other major artists whom Francis employed include the goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini, and the painters Rosso, Romano and Primaticcio, all of whom were heavily employed in decorating Francis' various palaces and exceedingly loyal. Francis employed a number of agents in Italy who endeavoured to procure artworks by Italian masters such as Michelangelo, Titian, and Raphael and ship them to France. These agents had some notable successes, even if plans to try to move Leonardo's Last Supper to France proved impractical. When Francis ascended the throne, the royal palaces were decorated with only a scattering of great paintings, and not a single piece of sculpture either ancient or modern. It is during Francis' reign that the magnificent art collection of the French kings that can still be seen in the Louvre was truly begun.

French Monarchy-
Capetian Dynasty, House of Valois
(Valois-Angoulême branch)
Blason France moderne.svg

Francis I
   Francis, Dauphin of Viennois
   Henry II
   Magdalene, Queen of Scots
   Charles of Valois
   Margaret, Duchess of Savoy
Henry II
   Francis II
   Elizabeth, Queen of Spain
   Claude, Duchess of Lorraine
   Charles IX
   Henry III
   Margaret, Queen of Navarre
   François, Duke of Anjou
   Joan of Valois
   Victoria of Valois
Francis II
Charles IX
Henry III

Man of letters

Francis I painted in 1515.

Francis was also renowned as a man of letters. When Francis comes up in a conversation among characters in Castiglione's Book of the Courtier, it is as the great hope to bring culture to the war-obsessed French nation. Not only did Francis support a number of major writers of the period, he was a poet himself, if not one of immense quality. Francis worked hard at improving the royal library. He appointed the great French humanist Guillaume Budé as chief librarian, and began to expand the collection. Francis employed agents in Italy looking for rare books and manuscripts, just as he had looking for art works. During his reign, the size of the library increased greatly. Not only did Francis expand the library, there is also, according to Knecht, evidence that he read the books he bought for it, a much rarer feat in the royal annals. Francis set an important precedent by opening his library to scholars from around the world in order to facilitate the diffusion of knowledge.

In 1537, Francis signed the Ordonnance de Montpellier, decreeing that his library be given a copy of every book to be sold in France.

Francis's older sister, Marguerite, Queen of Navarre, was also an accomplished writer, producing the classic, Heptameron.


Francis poured vast amounts of money into new structures. He continued the work of his predecessors on the Château d'Amboise and also started renovations on the Château de Blois. Early in his reign, he also began construction of the magnificent Château de Chambord, inspired by the styles of the Italian renaissance, and perhaps even designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Francis rebuilt the Louvre, transforming it from a medieval fortress into a building of Renaissance splendour. He financed the building of a new City Hall (Hôtel de Ville) for Paris in order to have control over the building's design. He constructed the Château de Madrid in the Bois de Boulogne, and rebuilt the Château de St-Germain-en-Laye. The largest of Francis' building projects was the reconstruction and expansion of the royal château of Fontainebleau, which quickly became his favourite place of residence, as well as the residence of his official mistress - Anne, duchess of Étampes. Each of Francis' projects was luxuriously decorated both inside and outside. Fontainebleau, for instance, had a gushing fountain in its courtyard where quantities of wine were mixed with the water.

Military action

Coin of Francis I. Cabinet des Médailles.

Militarily and politically, Francis's reign was less successful; he tried and failed to become Holy Roman Emperor, and pursued a series of wars in Italy. Francis managed to defeat the Swiss at Marignano in 1515, which enabled him to capture the Italian city-state of Milan.

Grand culverin of Francis I, with royal salamander emblem and with the Latin motto Nutrisco et extinguo ("I nourish [the good] and extinguish [the bad]"). Caliber: 140mm, length: 307cm, recovered in Algiers in 1830. Musée de l'Armée.

Much of the military activity of Francis's reign was focused on his sworn enemy, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Francis and Charles had an intense personal rivalry and a bitter hatred for one another, which they inherited from their predecessors' wars in Burgundy and Navarre; Charles, in fact, brashly challenged Francis himself to single combat, multiple times. In addition to the Holy Roman Empire, Charles personally ruled Spain, Austria and a number of smaller possessions neighboring France, and was thus a threat to Francis's kingdom. Francis attempted to arrange an alliance with Henry VIII of England. The negotiations took place at the famous Field of Cloth of Gold of 1520, but ultimately failed. Francis' most devastating defeat occurred at the Battle of Pavia (24 February 1525), where he was captured by Charles: Cesare Hercolani hurt his horse and Francis was captured by Spaniards Juan de Urbieta, Diego Dávila and Alonso Pita. For this reason, Hercolani was named "victor of the battle of Pavia". The famous Zuppa alla Pavese[2],[3], now a renowned recipe, was said to have been invented on the spot to feed the captive king right after the battle.

Grand culverin of Francis I with salamander emblem and inscription in Arabic language, captured by the Ottomans in the Siege of Rhodes (1522). Musée de l'Armée.

Francis was held captive in Madrid. In the Treaty of Madrid signed on 14 January 1526, Francis I was forced to make major concessions to Charles V before he was freed on 17 March 1526. Francis was allowed to return to France in exchange for his two sons, Francis and Henry, but once he was free he argued that his agreement with Charles was made under duress, and also claimed that the agreement was void, as his sons had been taken hostage suggesting his word alone was not trusted, and he repudiated it.

Francis continued to persevere in his hatred of Charles V and desire to control Italy via more wars in Italy. The repudiation of the Treaty of Madrid led to the War of the League of Cognac. After the failure of the league, he obtained the help of the Ottoman Empire and went to war again in Italy in the Italian War of 1536–1538 after the death of Francesco II Sforza, the ruler of Milan. He was defeated once again by Charles V and forced to sign the Treaty of Nice. However, the Treaty of Nice collapsed and led to the Francis' final attempt on Italy via in the Italian War of 1542–1546. This time, Francis managed to hold off the forces of Charles V and England's Henry VIII and Charles V was forced to sign the Treaty of Crepy because of financial problems and problems with the Schmalkaldic League.

Relations with the New World and Asia

Giovanni da Verrazzano's voyage in 1524.
A symbol of French explorations under Francis I: the French ambassador to England Jean de Dinteville in "The Ambassadors", by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1533.

In order to counter-balance the power of the Habsburg Empire under Charles Quint, and especially its control of large parts of the New World through the Crown of Spain, Francis I endeavoured to develop contacts with the New World and Asia. Fleets were sent to the Americas and the Far East, and close contacts were developed with the Ottoman Empire, that would permit the development of French Mediterranean trade as well as the establishment of a strategic military alliance.

The port city now known as Le Havre was founded in 1517, in Francis I's early years on the throne. Founding a new port was urgently needed in order to replace the ancient harbours of Honfleur and Harfleur whose utility had decreased due to silting. Le Havre was originally named Franciscopolis after the King who founded it, but this name did not survive later reigns.


In 1524, Francis assisted the citizens of Lyon in financing the expedition of Giovanni da Verrazzano to North America; on this expedition, Verrazzano claimed Newfoundland for the French crown and founded New Angoulême on the actual site of New York City.

In 1531, Bertrand d'Ornesan, Baron de Saint-Blancard tried to establish a French trading post at Pernambuco, Brazil.[4]

In 1534, Francis sent Jacques Cartier to explore the St. Lawrence River in Quebec to find certaines îles et pays où l'on dit qu'il se doit trouver grande quantité d'or et autres riches choses ("certain islands and lands where it is said there must be great quantities of gold and other riches"). In 1541, Francis sent Jean-François de la Roque de Roberval to settle Canada and to provide for the spread of "the Holy Catholic faith."

Far East Asia

An example of the Dieppe maps showing Sumatra. Nicholas Vallard, 1547.

French trade with East Asia was initiated during the reign of Francis I with the help of shipowner Jean Ango. In July 1527, a French Norman trading ship from the city of Rouen is recorded by the Portuguese João de Barros to have arrived in the Indian city of Diu.[5] In 1529, Jean Parmentier of Dieppe, onboard the Sacre and the Pensée, reached Sumatra.[5][6] Upon its return, the expedition triggered the development of the Dieppe maps, influencing the work of Dieppe cartographers, such as Jean Rotz.[7]

Ottoman Empire

Francis I (left) and Suleiman the Magnificient (right) initiated a Franco-Ottoman alliance. Both were separately painted by Titian circa 1530.

In a watershed moment in European diplomacy, Francis came to an understanding with the Ottoman Empire, which transformed into a Franco-Ottoman alliance. The alliance has been called "the first nonideological diplomatic alliance of its kind between a Christian and non-Christian empire".[8] It did however cause quite a scandal in the Christian world,[9] and was designated as "the impious alliance", or "the sacrilegious union of the Lily and the Crescent"; nevertheless, it endured since it served the objective interests of both parties.[10] The two powers colluded against Charles V, and, in 1543, they even combined for a joint naval assault in the Siege of Nice.

Implementation of bureaucratic reform

The Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts in August 1539, prescribed the use of French in official documents.

In 1539, in his castle in Villers-Cotterêts[11], Francis signed the important edict known as Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts, which, among other reforms, made French the administrative language of the kingdom, replacing Latin. This same edict required priests to register births, marriages and deaths and to establish a registry office in every parish. This established the first records of vital statistics with filiations available in Europe.


Coin of Francis I, 1529.

It was during Francis' reign that divisions in the Christian religion in Western Europe erupted. Martin Luther's preaching and writing led to the formation of the Protestant movement which spread through much of Europe, including France.

Initially, under the influence of his beloved sister Marguerite de Navarre, Francis was relatively tolerant of the new movement, and even considered it politically useful, as it caused many German princes to turn against his enemy, Charles V. However, Francis' attitude toward Protestantism changed following the "Affair of the Placards", on the night of 17 October 1534, in which notices appeared on the streets of Paris and other major cities denouncing Mass. A notice was even posted on the door to the king's room, and, it is said, the box in which he kept his handkerchief. Antoine Marcourt, a Protestant pastor, was responsible for the notices.

The most fervent Catholics were outraged by the notice's allegations. Francis himself came to view the movement as a plot against him, and began to persecute its followers. Protestants were jailed and executed. In some areas whole villages were destroyed. Printing was censored and leading Protestants like John Calvin forced into exile. The persecutions soon numbered tens of thousands of homeless people.

These persecutions against Protestants were codified in the Edict of Fontainebleau (1540) issued by Francis.


Francis I and Charles V entering Paris in January 1540.

Francis died at the château de Rambouillet on 31 March 1547, on his son and heir's 28th birthday. It is said that "he died complaining about the weight of a crown that he had first perceived as a gift from God"[citation needed].

Francis I was interred with his first wife, Claude de France, Duchess of Bretagne, in Saint Denis Basilica. He was succeeded by his son, Henry II.

Francis' tomb, that of his wife and of his mother, along with the tombs of other French kings and members of the royal family, were desecrated on 20 October 1793, during the Reign of Terror, at the height of the French Revolution.


Francis' legacy is generally considered a mixed one. He achieved great cultural feats, but they came at the expense of France's economic well-being.

The persecution of the Protestants was to lead France into decades of civil war, which did not end until 1598 with the Edict of Nantes.

Francis I in fiction

Royal styles of
King Francis I
Par la grâce de Dieu, Roi de France

Blason France moderne.svg

Reference style His Most Christian Majesty
Spoken style Your Most Christian Majesty
Alternative style Monsieur Le Roi

The amorous exploits of Francis inspired the 1832 play by Fanny Kemble (1809-1893) Francis the First and the 1832 play by Victor Hugo (1802-1885), Le Roi s'amuse ("The King's Amusement") featuring the jester Triboulet, which later inspired the opera of Giuseppe Verdi (1813 – 1901), Rigoletto.

Francis was first played in a George Méliès movie by an unknown actor in 1907, and has also been played by Claude Garry (1910), Aimé Simon-Girard (1937), Sacha Guitry (1937), Gérard Oury (1953), Jean Marais (1955), Pedro Armendáriz (1956), Claude Titre (1962), Bernard Pierre Donnadieu (1990), Timothy West (1998).

Francis was portrayed by Peter Gilmore in the comedy film "Carry on Henry" charting the fictitious two extra wives of Henry VIII (including Marie cousin of King Francis).

Francis receives a mention in a minor story in Laurence Sterne's novel Tristram Shandy. The narrator claims that the king, wishing to win the favour of Switzerland, offers to make the country the godmother of his son. When, however, their choice of name conflicts, he declares war. He is also mentioned in Jean de la Brète's novel Reine - Mon oncle et mon curé, where the main character Reine de Lavalle idolises him after reading his biography, much to the dismay of the local priest. He often receives mentions in novels on the lives of either of the Boleyn sisters - Mary Boleyn (d. 1543) and her sister, Queen Anne Boleyn (executed 1536), both of whom were for a time educated at his court. Mary had, according to several accounts, been Francis' one-time mistress and Anne had been a favourite of his sister: the novels The Lady in the Tower, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Last Boleyn, Dear Heart, How Like You This? and Mademoiselle Boleyn feature Francis in their story. Francis is also in Diane Haeger's novel "Courtesan" about Diane de Poitiers and Henri II. He has also featured as a recurring character in the Showtime series The Tudors, opposite Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII and Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn. Francis is played by French actor, Emmanuel Leconte.

Samuel Shellabarger's novel The King's Cavalier describes Francis the man, and the cultural and political circumstances of his reign, in some detail.

Marriage and issue

One alleged out-of-wedlock issue, Henri de la Rue.

On 18 May 1514, Francis married his second cousin, Claude of France, Duchess of Brittany, who was the daughter of Louis XII, King of France, and Anne, Duchess of Brittany. The couple had seven children:

Name Birth Death Notes
Louise, Princess of France 19 August 1515 21 September 1517 Died young. Had no issue.
Charlotte of Valois 23 October 1516 8 September 1524 Died young. Had no issue.
Francis III, Duke of Brittany 28 February 1518 10 August 1536 Died young. Had no issue.
Henry II, King of France 31 March 1519 10 July 1559 Married Catherine de' Medici (1519 - 1589) in 1533. Had issue.
Madeleine of France, Queen of Scots 10 August 1520 2 July 1537 Married James V, King of Scotland (1512 - 1542) in 1537. Had no issue.
Charles de Valois, Duke of Orléans 22 January 1522 9 September 1545 Died young. Had no issue.
Margaret of France, Duchess of Berry 5 June 1523 14 September 1574 Married Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy (1528 - 1580) in 1559. Had issue.

On 7 August 1530, Francis I married his second wife Eleanor of Austria, a sister of the Emperor Charles V. The couple had no children. During his reign, Francis kept two official mistresses at court. The first was Françoise de Foix, comtesse de Chateaubriand. In 1526, she was replaced by the blonde-haired, cultured Anne de Pisseleu d'Heilly, duchesse d'Étampes who, with the death of Queen Claude two years earlier, wielded far more political power at court than her predecessor had done. Another of his earlier mistresses, was allegedly Mary Boleyn, mistress of King Henry VIII and sister of Henry's future wife, Anne Boleyn.[12]


Francis I of France
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Born: 12 September 1494 Died: 31 March 1547
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Louis XII
King of France
1 January 1515 – 31 March 1547
Succeeded by
Henry II
Preceded by
Maximilian Sforza
Duke of Milan
Succeeded by
Francesco II Sforza
French royalty
Preceded by
Louis, Duke of Orléans
Heir to the Throne
as Heir presumptive
7 April 1498 — 1 January 1515
Succeeded by
Charles IV, Duke of Alençon
French nobility
Preceded by
Louis XII of France
Duke of Brittany by marriage
with Claude of Brittany
as 'Francis III'

18 May 1514–20 July 1524
Succeeded by
Catherine de' Medici
Dauphin of Viennois, Count of Valentinois and of Diois
as 'Francis III of Viennois'

1 January 1515 – 28 September 1518
Succeeded by
Francis IV
Count of Provence and Forcalquier
as 'Francis I'

1 January 1515 – 31 March 1547
Succeeded by
Henry II of France
Preceded by
New creation
Duke of Valois
1498 – 1 January 1515
Succeeded by
Merged into Royal Domain
(eventually Margaret)
Preceded by
Count of Angoulême
1 January 1496 – 1 January 1515
Succeeded by
Merged into Royal Domain
(Louise of Savoy as Duchess of Angoulême)


Further reading

  • Clough, C.H., "Francis I and the Courtiers of Castiglione’s Courtier." European Studies Review. vol viii, 1978.
  • Denieul-Cormier, Anne. The Renaissance in France. trans. Anne and Christopher Fremantle. London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1969.
  • Grant, A.J. The French Monarchy, Volume I. New York: Howard Fertig, 1970.
  • Guy, John. Tudor England. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.
  • Jensen, De Lamar. Renaissance Europe. Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company, 1992.
  • Knecht, R.J. Renaissance Warrior and Patron: The Reign of Francis I. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
  • Major, J. Russell. From Renaissance Monarchy to Absolute Monarchy. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
  • Seward, Desmond. François I: Prince of the Renaissance. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1973.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

FRANCIS I. (1494-1547), king of France, son of Charles of Valois, count of Angouleme, and Louise of Savoy, was born at Cognac on the 12th of September 1494. The count of Angouléme, who was the great-grandson of King Charles V., died in 1496, and Louise watched over her son with passionate tenderness. On the accession of Louis XII. in 1498, Francis became heirpresumptive. Louis invested him with the duchy of Valois, and gave him as tutor Marshal de Gie, and, after Gie's disgrace in 1503, the sieur de Boisy, Artus Gouffier. Francois de Rochefort, abbot of St Mesmin, instructed Francis and his sister Marguerite in Latin and history; Louise herself taught them Italian and Spanish; and the library of the château at Amboise was well stocked with romances of the Round Table, which exalted the lad's imagination. Francis showed an even greater love for violent exercises, such as hunting, which was his ruling passion, and tennis, and for tournaments, masquerades and amusements of all kinds. His earliest gallantries are described by his sister in the 25th and 42nd stories of the Heptameron. In 1507 Francis was betrothed to Claude, the daughter of Louis and in 1508 he came to court. In 1512 he gained his first military experience in Guienne, and in the following year he commanded the army of Picardy. He married Claude on the 18th of May 1514, and succeeded Louis XII. on the 1st of January 1515. Of noble bearing, and, in spite of a very long and large nose,. extremely handsome, he was a sturdy and valiant knight, affable, courteous, a brilliant talker and a facile poet. He had a sprightly wit, some delicacy of feeling, and some generous impulses which made him amiable. These brilliant qualities, however, were all on the surface. At bottom the man was frivolous, profoundly selfish, unstable, and utterly incapable of consistency or application. The ambassadors remarked his negligence, and his ministers complained of it. Hunting, tennis, jewelry and his gallantry were the chief preoccupations of his life.

His character was at once authoritative and weak. He was determined to be master and to decide everything himself, but he allowed himself to be dominated and easily persuaded. Favourites, too, without governing entirely for him, played an important part in his reign. His capricious humour elevated and deposed them with the same disconcerting suddenness. In the early years of his reign the conduct of affairs was chiefly in the hands of Louise of Savoy, Chancellor Antoine Duprat, Secretary Florimond Robertet, and the two Gouffiers, Boisy and Bonnivet. The royal favour then elevated Anne de Montmorency and Philippe de Chabot, and in the last years of the reign Marshal d'Annebaud and Cardinal de Tournon. Women too had always a great influence over Francis - his sister, Marguerite d'Angouleme, and his mistresses. Whatever the number of these, he had only two titular mistresses - at the beginning of the reign Francoise de Chateaubriant, and from about 1526 to his death Anne de Pisseleu, whom he created duchesse d'Etampes and who entirely dominated him. It has not been proved that he was the lover of Diane de Poitiers, nor does the story of " La belle Ferronniere " appear to rest on any historical foundation.' Circumstances alone gave a homogeneous character to the foreign policy of Francis. The struggle against the emperor Charles V. filled the greater part of the reign. In reality, the policy of Francis, save for some flashes of sagacity, was irresolute and vacillating. Attracted at first by Italy, dreaming of fair feats of prowess, he led the triumphal Marignano expedition, which gained him reputation as a knightly king and as the most powerful prince in Europe. In 1519, in spite of wise counsels, ' On this point see Paulin Paris, Etudes sur le reine de Francois I". he stood candidate for the imperial crown. The election of Charles V. caused an inevitable rivalry between the two monarchs which accentuated still further the light and chivalrous temper of the king and the cold and politic character of the emperor. Francis's personal intervention in this struggle was seldom happy. He did not succeed in gaining the support of Henry VIII. of England at the interview of the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520; his want of tact goaded the Constable de Bourbon to extreme measures in 1522-1523; and in the Italian campaign of 1525 he proved himself a mediocre, vacillating and foolhardy leader, and by his blundering led the army to the disaster of Pavia (the 25th of February 1525), where, however, he fought with great bravery. " Of all things," he wrote to his mother after the defeat, " nothing remains to me but honour and life, which is safe " - the authentic version of the legendary phrase " All is lost save honour." He strove to play the part of royal captive heroically, but the prison life galled him. He fell ill at Madrid and was on the point of death. For a moment he thought of abdicating rather than of ceding Burgundy. But this was too great a demand upon his fortitude, and he finally yielded and signed the treaty of Madrid, after having drawn up a secret protest. After Madrid he wavered unceasingly between two courses, either that of continuing hostilities, or the policy favoured by Montmorency of peace and understanding with the emperor. At times he had the sagacity to recognize the utility of alliances, as was shown by those he concluded with the Porte and with the Protestant princes of Germany. But he could never pledge himself frankly in one sense or the other, and this vacillation prevented him from attaining any decisive results. At his death, however, France was in possession of Savoy and Piedmont.

In his religious policy Francis showed the same instability. Drawn between various influences, that of Marguerite d'Angouleme, the du Bellays, and the duchesse d'Etampes, who was in favour of the Reformation or at least of toleration, and the contrary influence of the uncompromising Catholics, Duprat, and then Montmorency and de Tournon, he gave pledges successively to both parties. In the first years of the reign, following the counsels of Marguerite, he protected Jacques Lefevre of Etaples and Louis de Berquin, and showed some favour to the new doctrines. But the violence of the Reformers threw him into the arms of the opposite party. The affair of the Placards in 1534 irritated him beyond measure, and determined him to adopt a policy of severity. From that time, in spite of occasional indulgences shown to the Reformers, due to his desire to conciliate the Protestant powers, Francis gave a free hand to the party of repression, of which the most active and most pitiless member was Cardinal de Tournon; and the end of the reign was sullied by the massacre of the Waldenses (1545) Francis introduced new methods into government. In his reign the monarchical authority became more imperious and more absolute. His was the government " du bon plaisir." By the unusual development he gave to the court he converted the nobility into a brilliant household of dependants. The Concordat brought the clergy into subjection, and enabled him to distribute benefices at his pleasure among the most docile of his courtiers. He governed in the midst of a group of favourites, who formed the conseil des affaires. The states-general did not meet, and the remonstrances of the parlement were scarcely tolerated. By centralizing the financial administration by the creation of the Tresor de l'Epargne, and by developing the military establishments, Francis still further strengthened the royal power. His government had the vices of his foreign policy. It was uncertain, irregular and disorderly. The finances were squandered in gratifying the king's unbridled prodigality, and the treasury was drained by his luxurious habits, by the innumerable gifts and pensions he distributed among his mistresses and courtiers, by his war expenses and by his magnificent buildings. His government, too, weighed heavily upon the people, and the king was less popular than is sometimes imagined.

Francis owes the greater measure of his glory to the artists and men of letters who vied in celebrating his praises. He was pre-eminently the king of the Renaissance. Of a quick and cultivated intelligence, he had a sincere love of letters and art. He holds a high place in the history of humanism by the foundation of the College de France; he did not found an actual college, but after much hesitation instituted in 1530, at the instance of Guillaume Bude (Budaeus), Lecteurs royaux, who in spite of the opposition of the Sorbonne were granted full liberty to teach Hebrew, Greek, Latin, mathematics, &c. The humanists Bude, Jacques Colin and Pierre Duchatel were the king's intimates, and Clement Marot was his favourite poet. Francis sent to Italy for artists and for works of art, but he protected his own countrymen also. Here, too, he showed his customary indecision, wavering between the two schools. At his court he installed Benvenuto Cellini, Francesco Primaticcio and Rosso del Rosso, but in the buildings at Chambord, St Germain, Villers-Cotterets and Fontainebleau the French tradition triumphed over the Italian.

Francis died on the 31st of March 1547, of a disease of the urinary ducts according to some accounts, of syphilis according to others. By his first wife Claude (d. 1524) he had three sons and four daughters: Louise, who died in infancy; Charlotte, who died at the age of eight; Francis (d. 1536); Henry, who came to the throne as Henry II.; Madeleine, who became queen of Scotland; Charles (d. 1545); and Margaret, duchess of Savoy. In 1530 he married Eleanor, the sister of the emperor Charles V.

Authorities. - For the official acts of the reign, the Catalogue des actes de Francois I", published by the Academie des Sciences morales et politiques (Paris, 1887-1907), is a valuable guide. The Bibliotheque Nationale, the National Archives, &c., contain a mass of unpublished documents. Of the published documents, see N. Camuzat, Meslanges historiques.. . (Troyes, 1619); G. Ribier, Lettres et memoires d'estat (Paris, 1666); Letters de Marguerite d'Angouleme, ed. by F. Genin (Paris, 1841 and 1842); the Correspondence of Castillon and Marillac (ed. by Kaulek, Paris, 1885), of Odet de Selve (ed. by Lefevre-Pontalis, Paris, 1888), and of Guillaume Pellicier (ed. by Tausserat-Radel, Paris, 1900); Captivite du roi Francois I er , and Poe'sies de Francois I" (both ed. by ChampollionFigeac, Paris, 1847, of doubtful authenticity); Relations des ambassadeurs venitiens, &c. Of the memoirs and chronicles, see the journal of Louise of Savoy in S. Guichenon's Histoire de la maison de Savoie, vol. iv. (ed. of 1778-1780); Journal de Jean Barillon, ed. by de Vaissiere (Paris, 1897-1899); Journal d'un bourgeois de Paris, ed. by Lalanne (Paris, 1854); Cronique du roy Francois I eT , ed. by Guiffrey (Paris, 1868); and the memoirs of Fleuranges, Montluc, Tavannes, Vieilleville, Brantome and especially Martin du Bellay (coll. Michaud and Poujoulat). Of the innumerable secondary authorities, see especially Paulin Paris,E tudes sur le regnede Francois IeT (Paris, 1885), in which the apologetic tendency is excessive; and H. Lemonnier in vol. v. (Paris, 1903-1904) of E. Lavisse's Histoire de France, which gives a list of the principal secondary authorities. There is a more complete bibliographical study by V. L. Bourrilly in the Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine, vol. iv. (1902-1903). The printed sources have been catalogued by H. Hauser, Les Sources de l'histoire de France, X VI e siecle, tome ii. (Paris, 1907). (J. I.)

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Simple English

[[File:|thumb|Francis I]] Francis I of France (September 12, 1494 - March 31, 1547) was a King of France and a member of the house of Valois.



Francis was born in Cognac, France on September 12, 1494. His parents were Charles, Duke of Angouleme and Louise of Savoy.


Francis I married Claude of France on May 18, 1514. Their children were:


Francis was very interested in art and liked the artist Leonardo da Vinci.


Francis died on March 31, 1547. He is buried in the Saint Denis Basilica.


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