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King Francis I
History's Francis I.jpg
Biographical Information
Real Name: Francis of Valois
Title: King of France

King Francis I
Francis I of France

Born: 12 September 1494
Death: 31 March 1547
Age: 52
Religion: Roman Catholicism
House: House of Valois
Gender: Male Male.png
Originally From: Château de Cognac, France
Parents: Charles d'Orléans (Father)

Louise of Savoy (Mother)

Wife: Claude, Duchess of Brittany

Eleanor of Austria

Family: Marguerite de Navarre (Sister)
Children: Prince Francis

King Henry
Queen Madeleine
Charles of Valois
Margaret of Valois

Burial: Saint Denis Basilica, France
TV Character Information
Signature: Francis I's Signature.png
First appearance: Long Live The King
Portrays: Francis of Valois
Portrayed by: Mentioned

King Francis I was the father of King Henry II and his brother Prince Francis. He traded his children freedom and safety for his own and sent them to Spain as prisoners for his own release.

Early Life

Francis was the only son of Charles, Count of Angoulême. 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 future King Louis XII. However, Charles VIII died childless and was succeeded by Louis XII, who had no male heir. The Salic Law prevailed females from inheriting the throne. Therefore four-year-old Francis of Valois became the heir to France in 1498.

In 1505, Louis XII, having fallen ill, ordered that his daughter Claude and Francis be married immediately via proxy on 18 May 1514. Louis died shortly afterwards and Francis inherited the throne. He was crowned King of France on 25 January 1515, with Claude as his wife and queen.

Later in Life

Francis was also renowned as a man of letters. Francis wanted 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. 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 he 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. Francis' older sister, Marguerite, Queen of Navarre, was also an accomplished writer who produced the classic collection of short stories known as the Heptameron. Francis 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.

Italian Wars

Francis' most devastating defeat occurred at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 during another part of the continuing The Italian Wars or the Four Years' War. Francis was captured by the forces of King Charles V. his horse was injure, which led Francis to be captured by the Spaniards.

Francis I was held captive in Madrid. In the Treaty of Madrid the following year, Francis was forced to make major concessions to Charles V before he was freed 3 months later. Among the concessions that Francis I yielded to Charles V were the surrender of any claims to Naples and Milan in Italy, along with a few more steep stipulations. Additionally, Francis I 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.

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. Accordingly, when Pope Clement VII became fearful of the ambitions of the Holy Roman Empire in Italy and negotiated with Venice to form the League of Cognac. Francis I, willingly, joined this anti-empire league on 22 May 1526.


Francis died on 31 March 1547, on his son and successor's Henry II'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".

Francis' tomb and that of his wife and mother, along with the tombs of other French kings and members of the royal family, including his daughter-in-law Catherine de' Medici and grandson, King Henry III were desecrated on 20 October 1793. Known as the Reign of Terror at the height of the French Revolution.


  • In 1524, King Francis I assisted the citizens of Lyon in financing the expedition to North America. On this expedition, they visited the present day New York City, naming it New Angoulême, and claimed Canada's Newfoundland for the French crown.
  • He and Catherine were very close, and actually preferred her over his own son, the future King Henry II.
  • His cousin, Princess Madeleine, was the mother of his beloved daughter-in-law, Catherine de' Medici.
  • King James of Scotland, himself, the young Prince Henry, and King Henry II of Navarre (Queen Jeanne's father) all went boar-hunting together in 1536, before King James' wedding to Princes Madeleine.

Family Tree

King Francis I
Claude of France
Duke Francis
King Henry II
Catherine de' Medici
Madeleine of Valois
King Francis II
Queen Elisabeth
King Philip II
Princess Claude
King Charles IV
King Henry III
Queen Margaret
Catherine Michelle
Duke Henry II
Christina of Lorraine
Marie Elisabeth