Francis I of France
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2011)|
|Reign||1 January 1515 – 31 March 1547|
|Coronation||25 January 1515|
|Consort||Claude, Duchess of Brittany
Eleanor of Austria
|Francis III, Duke of Brittany
Henry II of France
Madeleine, Queen of Scots
Charles, Duke of Orléans
Margaret, Duchess of Savoy
|House||House of Valois-Angoulême|
|Father||Charles, Count of Angoulême|
|Mother||Louise of Savoy|
12 September 1494|
Château de Cognac, France
|Died||31 March 1547
Château de Rambouillet, France
|Burial||Saint Denis Basilica, France|
Francis I (French: François Ier) (12 September 1494 – 31 March 1547) was a monarch of the House of Valois who ruled as King of France from 1515 until his death. He was the son of Charles, Count of Angoulême, and Louise of Savoy. He succeeded his cousin Louis XII, who died without a male heir.
A generous patron of the arts, he initiated the French Renaissance by attracting many Italian artists to his Château de Chambord, including Leonardo da Vinci, who brought the Mona Lisa with him. Francis' reign saw important cultural changes with the rise of absolute monarchy in France, the spread of humanism and Protestantism, and the beginning of French exploration of the New World. Jacques Cartier and others claimed lands in the Americas for France and paved the way for the expansion of the first French colonial empire.
For his role in the development and promotion of a standardized French language, he became known as le Père et Restaurateur des Lettres (the "Father and Restorer of Letters"). He was also known as François au Grand Nez ("Francis with the Big Nose"), the Grand Colas, and the Roi-Chevalier (the "Knight-King") for his personal involvement in the wars against his great rival Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
Encircled by the territories of Charles V, Francis persevered in the long and ruinous military conflict between France and the Holy Roman Empire known as the Italian Wars. In his struggle against Imperial hegemony he unsuccessfully sought the support of Henry VIII of England at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. As an alternative, he formed a Franco-Ottoman alliance with Suleiman the Magnificent, a controversial move for a Christian king at the time.
Early life and accession 
Francis was born at the Château de Cognac in the town of Cognac, which at that time lay in the province of Saintonge, a part of the Duchy of Aquitaine. The town lies today in the French department of Charente.
Francis was the only son of Charles, Count of Angoulême, and Louise of Savoy and a great-great-grandson of King Charles V. His family was not expected to inherit the throne, as his third cousin King Charles VIII was still young at the time of his birth, as was his father's cousin the Duke of Orléans, later King Louis XII. However, Charles VIII died childless in 1498 to be succeeded by Louis XII, who had no male heir. The Salic Law prevailed in France, thus females were ineligible to inherit the throne. Therefore, the four-year-old Francis (who was already Count of Angoulême after the death of his own father two years prior) became the heir presumptive to the throne of France in 1498 and was vested with the title of Duke of Valois.
Louis XII did have daughters, if not sons, and he decided to betroth his daughter Claude of France to Francis in 1498. Claude was heiress to the Duchy of Brittany through her mother, Anne of Brittany. The marriage took place on 18 May 1514. Louis died shortly afterwards and Francis inherited the throne. He was crowned King of France in the Cathedral of Reims on 25 January 1515, with Claude as his queen consort.
|Royal styles of
King Francis I
Par la grâce de Dieu, Roi de France
|Reference style||His Most Christian Majesty|
|Spoken style||Your Most Christian Majesty|
|Alternative style||Monsieur Le Roi|
As Francis was receiving his education, ideas emerging from the Italian renaissance were influential in France. Some of his tutors, such as Desmoulins (his Latin instructor) and Christophe de Longueil (a Brabantian humanist), were attracted by these new ways of thinking and attempted to influence Francis. Francis' mother was fascinated by Italian Renaissance art, and passed this interest on to her son. Although Francis did not receive a humanist education, he was more influenced by humanism than any previous French king.
Patron of the arts 
By the time he ascended the throne in 1515, the Renaissance had arrived in France, and Francis became an enthusiastic patron of the arts. At the time of his accession, the royal palaces of France were ornamented with only a scattering of great paintings, and not a single piece of sculpture, either ancient or modern. During Francis' reign the magnificent art collection of the French kings, which can still be seen at the Louvre Palace, was begun.
Francis patronized many great artists of his time, including Andrea del Sarto and Leonardo da Vinci; the latter was persuaded to make France his home during his last years. While Leonardo painted very little during his years in France, he brought with him many of his greatest works, including the Mona Lisa (known in France as La Joconde), and these remained in France after his death. Other major artists to receive Francis' patronage include the goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini and the painters Rosso Fiorentino, Giulio Romano, and Primaticcio, all of whom were employed in decorating Francis' various palaces. Francis also commissioned a number of agents in Italy to procure notable works of art and ship them to France.
Man of letters 
Francis was also renowned as a man of letters. When Francis comes up in a conversation among characters in Baldassare 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 particular abilities. Francis worked diligently 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 to look for rare books and manuscripts, just as he had agents looking for art works. During his reign, the size of the library greatly increased. Not only did Francis expand the library, there is also evidence that he read the books he bought for it, a much rarer event 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, which decreed that his library be given a copy of every book to be sold in France.
He also corresponded with the abbess and philosopher Claude de Bectoz, of whose letters he was so fond that he would carry them around and show them to the ladies of his court. Together with his sister, he visited her in Tarascon.[not in citation given]
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 began construction of the magnificent Château de Chambord, inspired by the architectural styles of the Italian renaissance, and perhaps even designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Francis rebuilt the Château du Louvre, transforming it from a medieval fortress into a building of Renaissance splendour. He financed the building of a new City Hall (the 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 Château de 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 out. Fontainebleau, for instance, had a gushing fountain in its courtyard where quantities of wine were mixed with the water.
Military action 
Militarily and diplomatically, Francis' reign was less successful. He tried and failed to become Holy Roman Emperor at the Imperial election of 1519, and he continued the incessant Italian Wars that his predecessors had started. There were temporary victories, however, such as when Francis managed to defeat the Swiss at Marignano in 1515, which enabled him to capture the Italian city-state of Milan.
Much of the military activity of Francis's reign was focused on his sworn enemy, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Francis and Charles maintained an intense personal rivalry. Charles, in fact, brashly challenged Francis 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 constant threat to Francis' kingdom.
Francis attempted to arrange an alliance with Henry VIII of England at the famous meeting at the Field of Cloth of Gold on 7 June 1520 but, despite a lavish fortnight of diplomacy, they failed to reach an agreement.
Francis' most devastating defeat occurred at the Battle of Pavia (24 February 1525), where he was actually captured by the forces of Charles V. Cesare Hercolani was able to injure his horse, which led Francis to be captured by the Spaniards Juan de Urbieta, Diego Dávila and Alonso Pita da Veiga. For this reason, Hercolani was named "victor of the battle of Pavia". Zuppa alla Pavese ("Pavia soup"), now a famous dish, was said to have been invented on the spot to feed the captive king right after the battle.[unreliable source?]
Francis was held captive in Madrid and in a letter to his mother he wrote, "Of all things, nothing remains to me but honour and life, which is safe." This line has come down in history famously as "All is lost save honour." In the Treaty of Madrid, signed on 14 January 1526, Francis was forced to make major concessions to Charles V before he was freed on 17 March 1526. Ottoman Sultan Suleiman's ultimatum to Charles V also played an important role in his release. 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. He also claimed that the agreement was void because his sons were taken hostage with the implication that his word alone could not be trusted. Thus he firmly repudiated it.
Francis persevered in his hatred of Charles V and desire to control Italy by conquest. The repudiation of the Treaty of Madrid led to the War of the League of Cognac of 1526-30. After the league failed, Francis concluded a secret alliance with the Landgrave of Hesse on 27 January 1534. This was directed against Charles V on the pretext of assisting the Duke of Wurttemberg to regain his traditional seat, from which Charles had removed him in 1519. Francis also obtained the help of the Ottoman Empire and renewed the contest in Italy in the Italian War of 1536–1538 after the death of Francesco II Sforza, the ruler of Milan. This round of fighting, which had little result, was ended by the Truce of Nice. The agreement collapsed, however, which led to Francis' final attempt on Italy in the Italian War of 1542–1546. This time, Francis managed to hold off the forces of Charles V and England's Henry VIII. Charles V was forced to sign the Treaty of Crépy because of his financial difficulties and conflicts with the Schmalkaldic League.
Relations with the New World and Asia 
In order to counterbalance the power of the Habsburg Empire under Charles V, 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 permitted 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 during Francis' early years on the throne. The construction of 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 into 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 present site of New York City.
In 1534, Francis sent Jacques Cartier to explore the St. Lawrence River in Quebec to find "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 
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. In 1529, Jean Parmentier, on board the Sacre and the Pensée, reached Sumatra. Upon its return, the expedition triggered the development of the Dieppe maps, influencing the work of Dieppe cartographers such as Jean Rotz.
Ottoman Empire 
Under the reign of Francis I, France became the first country in Europe to establish formal relations with the Ottoman Empire and to set up instruction in the Arabic language under the guidance of Guillaume Postel at the Collège de France.
In a watershed moment in European diplomacy, Francis came to an understanding with the Ottoman Empire that developed 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". It did however cause quite a scandal in the Christian world, and was designated "the impious alliance", or "the sacrilegious union of the [French] Lily and the [Ottoman]Crescent." Nevertheless, it endured for many years, since it served the objective interests of both parties. The two powers colluded against Charles V, and, in 1543, they even combined for a joint naval assault in the Siege of Nice.
In 1533, Francis I sent as ambassador to Morocco, colonel Pierre de Piton, initiating official France-Morocco relations. In a letter to Francis I dated 13 August 1533, the Wattassid ruler of Fez, Ahmed ben Mohammed, welcomed French overtures and granted freedom of shipping and protection of French traders.
Implementation of bureaucratic reform 
Francis took several steps to eradicate the monopoly of Latin as the language of knowledge. In 1530, he declared French the national language of the kingdom, and that same year opened the Collège des trois langues, or Collège Royal, following the recommendation of humanist Guillaume Budé. Students at the Collège could study Greek, Hebrew and Chaldean, then Arabic under Guillaume Postel beginning in 1539.
In 1539, in his castle in Villers-Cotterêts, Francis signed the important edict known as Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts, which, among other reforms, made French the administrative language of the kingdom as a replacement for Latin. This same edict required priests to register births, marriages, and deaths, and to establish a registry office in every parish. This initiated the first records of vital statistics with filiations available in Europe.
Religious policies 
It was during Francis' reign that divisions in the Christian religion in Western Europe created permanent international rifts. 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. In 1533 he even dared to suggest to Pope Clement VII convene a church council in which Catholic and Protestant rulers would have equal vote in order to settle their differences - an offer rejected by both the Pope and Charles V. However, beginning in 1523, he burned several heretics at the Place Maubert, which he managed to change from a place for lectures and a student gathering center to a venue for torture at the wheel or stake - and for the gallows. Francis' attitude toward Protestantism changed for the worse 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 the Catholic 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. In Paris, after 1540, he had heretics such as Etienne Dolet tortured and burned. Printing was censored and leading Protestants like John Calvin were forced into exile. The persecutions soon numbered in thousands of dead and tens of thousands of homeless.
Persecutions against Protestants were codified in the Edict of Fontainebleau (1540) issued by Francis. Major acts of violence continued, as when Francis ordered the execution of the Waldensians at the Massacre of Mérindol in 1545.
Francis died at the Château de Rambouillet on 31 March 1547, on his son and successor'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". He was interred with his first wife, Claude, Duchess of Brittany, in Saint Denis Basilica. He was succeeded by his son, Henry II.
Francis' tomb and that of his wife and 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.
His long nose earned him the nickname François au Grand Nez ("Francis of the Big Nose"), he was also colloquially known as the "Grand Colas" or "Bonhomme Colas". For his personal involvement in battles, he was known as le Roi-Chevalier ("the Knight-King") or the le Roi-Guerrier ("the Warrior-King").
Francis I in films, stage, and literature 
The amorous exploits of Francis inspired the 1832 play by Fanny Kemble, Francis the First, and the 1832 play by Victor Hugo, Le Roi s'amuse ("The King's Amusement"), which featured the jester Triboulet, the inspiration for the opera Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi.
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), and Timothy West (1998).
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 portrayed in Diane Haeger's novel "Courtesan" about Diane de Poitiers and Henri II.
Samuel Shellabarger's novel The King's Cavalier describes Francis the man, and the cultural and political circumstances of his reign, in some detail.
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.
Francis I (played by Timothy West) and Francis's son Henry II (played by Dougray Scott) are central figures in the 1998 movie Ever After, a retelling of the Cinderella story. The plot includes Leonardo da Vinci (played by Patrick Godfrey) arriving at Francis's court with the Mona Lisa.
Commentary on Francis I 
Principal Fairbairn of Mansfield College, Oxford, says, "The Roman amphitheater was, compared with the Place Maubert, a home of mild humanity; the gay and careless intolerance of Francis I had nothing to learn from pagan hate...
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, the daughter of King Louis XII, and Anne, Duchess of Brittany. The couple had seven children:
|Louise||19 August 1515||21 September 1517||Died at age two of convulsions. Engaged to the Infante Charles of Castile, later Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, from birth to death, no issue.|
|Charlotte||23 October 1516||18 September 1524||Died at age seven of measles. Engaged to the Infante Charles of Castile between 1518 and 1524, no issue.|
|Francis, Duke of Brittany||28 February 1518||10 August 1536||Died at the age of eighteen, no issue.|
|Henry II, King of France||31 March 1519||10 July 1559||Married Catherine de'Medici, had issue.|
|Madeleine, Queen Consort of Scotland||10 August 1520||7 July 1537||Married James V of Scotland, but died of tuberculosis at age sixteen. No issue.|
|Charles, Duke of Orléans||22 January 1522||9 September 1545||Died of the plague at age twenty-three, no issue.|
|Margaret, Duchess of Berry (since 1550)||5 June 1523||15 September 1574||Married Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, and had one son.|
On 7 July 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, Countess of Chateaubriand. In 1526, she was replaced by the blonde-haired, cultured Anne de Pisseleu d'Heilly, Duchess of 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.
- Plats, John (1826). A New Universal Biography: Forming the first volume of series III. Sherwood, Gilbert and Piper. p. 301.
- Cholakian, Patricia Francis; Cholakian, Rouben Charles (2006). Marguerite de Navarre: mother of the Renaissance. Columbia University Press. p. 49. ISBN 0231134126.
- "The Old Foodie: Restoration by Soup". Theoldfoodie.blogspot.com. 2006-02-24. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- "Francis I of France", Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition
- Renaissance Warrior and Patron: The Reign of Francis I by R. J. Knecht p.375 
- The English history of the British Empire'' p.61. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- ''European travellers in India'' Edward Farley Oaten p.123. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- ''Explorers and colonies: America, 1500–1625'' David B. Quinn p.57. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- Eastern wisdom and learning: the study of Arabic in seventeenth-century ... by G. J. Toomer p.26
- Kann, p.62. Books.google.com. 1980-11-26. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- Miller, p.2
- Merriman, p.133. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- "Francois I, hoping that Morocco would open up to France as easily as Mexico had to Spain, sent a commission, half commercial and half diplomatic, which he confided to one Pierre de Piton. The story of his mission is not without interest" in The conquest of Morocco by Cecil Vivian Usborne, S. Paul & co. ltd., 1936, p.33
- Orientalism in early modern France, by Ina Baghdianitz McCabe, ISBN 978-1-84520-374-0, p.25ff
- ''The rise and fall of Renaissance France, 1483–1610'' by Robert Jean Knecht p.158. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- Pierre Goubert, The Course of French History Psychology Press, 1991. p.92
- Benveniste, François. "Paris at the time of Philippe Auguste". François Benveniste. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- Goubert, op. cit., p.92
- R. J. Knecht, Francis I'' pp.405-406
- Larousse 
- Cambridge Modern History, Vol. 2, p. 347
- Constantin von Wurzbach (1860). "Habsburg, Eleonore von Oesterreich (Tochter Philipp’s von Oesterreich)". Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich. Vienna: Verlag L. C. Zamarski.
- Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII, X, no.450
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.
Francis I of France
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynastyBorn: 12 September 1494 Died: 31 March 1547
|King of France
1 January 1515 – 31 March 1547
|Duke of Milan
Francis Maria Sforza
as sole duchess
|Duke of Brittany
18 May 1514 – 20 July 1524
Merged in the crown
Title last held byLouis
|Duke of Valois
1498 – 1 January 1515
Merged in the crown
Title next held byMargaret
|Count of Angoulême
1 January 1496 – 1 January 1515
Merged in the crown
Title next held byLouise