Saturday, 4 February 2017

French King, Francis II

Francis II (French: François II) (19 January 1544 – 5 December 1560) was a monarch of the House of Valois-Angoulême who was King of France from 1559 to 1560. He was also King consort of Scotland as a result of his willing marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots, from 1558 until his death in 1560.
Francis II and Mary Stuart
He ascended the throne of France at the age of fifteen after the accidental death of his father, Henry II, in 1559. His short reign was dominated by the first stirrings of the French Wars of Religion.

Although the royal age of majority had been set at fourteen, his mother, Catherine de' Medici, entrusted the reins of government to his wife's uncles from the House of Guise, staunch supporters of the Catholic cause. They were unable to help Catholics in Scotland against the progressing Scottish Reformation, however, and the Auld Alliance was dissolved. Francis was succeeded by two of his brothers in turn, both of whom were also unable to reduce tensions between Protestants and Catholics.

A little over a year after his marriage, on 10 July 1559, Francis became king at the age of fifteen upon the death of his father Henry II, who had been killed in a jousting accident. On 21 September 1559, Francis II was crowned king in Reims by his uncle Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine. The crown was so heavy that nobles had to hold it in place for him. The court then moved to the Loire Valley, where the Château de Blois and the surrounding forests were the new king's home. Francis II took the sun for his emblem and for his mottoes Spectanda fides (This is how faith should be respected) and Lumen rectis (Light for the righteous).

According to French law, Francis at the age of fifteen was an adult who in theory did not need a regent. But since he was young, inexperienced, and in fragile health, he delegated his power to his wife's uncles from the noble House of Guise: François, Duke of Guise, and Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine.
Francis II and his wife Mary Stuart
His mother, Catherine de' Medici, agreed to this delegation. On the first day of his reign, Francis II instructed his four ministers to take orders from his mother, but since she was still in mourning for the loss of her husband, she directed them to the House of Guise.

The two eldest brothers of the House of Guise had already had major roles in the reign of Henry II. Francis, Duke of Guise, was one of the most famous military commanders in the royal army and the Cardinal of Lorraine had participated in the most important negotiations and matters of the kingdom. After the young king ascended the throne, the two brothers split the custody of the kingdom: Francis became head of the army and Charles the head of finance, justice, and diplomacy.

The rise of the House of Guise worked to the detriment of its old rival, Anne de Montmorency, Constable of France. At the new king's suggestion, he left the court for his estates to get some rest. Diane de Poitiers, mistress of the previous king, was also asked not to appear at court. Her protégé Jean Bertrand had to surrender his title Keeper of the Seals of France to chancellor François Olivier, whom Diane had removed from this position a few years earlier. It was a palace revolution.

The transition has been described as brutal, but while it no doubt caused the Constable considerable frustration, there were no confrontations or reprisals. Anne de Montmorency remained tied to power. As soon as the day after the death of the king, he was present at the council meeting and was also at the coronation. Later he supported the repression of the conjuration of Amboise, notably by going to the Parlement of Paris to communicate to its members the measures taken by the king. In July 1560 he came back to court and to the council, although in a much less flamboyant manner than before. The Guises were now the new masters of the court.
Francis II and Mary Stuart

The king granted them numerous favours and privileges, one of the most significant being the title of Grand Master of France, a title until then held by the son of the Constable, François de Montmorency.

With the marriage of Francis II and Mary Stuart, the future of Scotland was linked to that of France. A secret clause signed by the queen provided that Scotland would become part of France if the royal couple did not have children. The queen's mother, Marie of Guise, was already regent for Scotland. Because of French control over their country, a congregation of Scottish lords organised an uprising and made the regent and her French councils leave the capital, Edinburgh, in May 1559. Having taken refuge at the fortress of Dunbar, Marie of Guise asked France for help. Francis II and Mary Stuart sent troops right away. By the end of 1559, France had regained control of Scotland.

Nothing seemed to stand in the way of France controlling Scotland apart from English support for the uprising of the Scottish nobles. Queen Elizabeth I of England was still offended that Francis II and Mary Stuart had put on their coat of arms those of England, thus proclaiming Mary's claims on the throne of England. In January 1560, the English fleet blockaded the port of Leith, which French troops had turned into a military base. They were supported by the arrival in April of 6000 soldiers and 3000 horsemen, which began the siege of the city.
Mary Stuart

Just as English troops were not particularly successful, the French troops found themselves in a better strategic position. But the poor financial situation of the French government and internal turmoil in the French kingdom prevented any military reinforcements from being sent. When the Bishop of Valence and Charles de La Rochefoucault, sieur of Randan, sent by the king to negotiate, arrived in Scotland, they were treated almost like prisoners.

With Marie of Guise shut up in an Edinburgh fortress, the two men were forced to negotiate a peace that was disadvantageous to France. On 6 July 1560, they signed the Treaty of Edinburgh, which ended French occupation of Scotland. Francis II and Mary Stuart had to withdraw French troops and stop displaying England's arms.

A few weeks later, Scotland's parliament established Protestantism as the state religion. When Francis II and Mary Stuart were presented with the Treaty of Edinburgh, they were outraged and refused to sign it; they also challenged the legitimacy of the Scottish parliament's decision.

The health of the king deteriorated in November 1560. On 16 November he suffered syncope. After only 17 months on the throne, Francis II died on 5 December 1560 in Orléans, Loiret, from an ear condition. Multiple diseases have been suggested, such as mastoiditis, meningitis, or otitis exacerbated into an abscess.

Ambroise Paré, the royal surgeon, considered performing a trepanation. Some suspected Protestants of having poisoned the king, a view held by Catholics as the tensions between them and Protestants were on the rise; however, this has not been proven. Francis II died childless, so his younger brother Charles, then ten years old, succeeded him. On 21 December, the council named Catherine de Médici as Regent of France.

The Guises left the court, while Mary Stuart, Francis II's widow, returned to Scotland. Louis, Prince of Condé, who was jailed and awaiting execution, was freed after some negotiations with Catherine de Médici. On 23 December 1560, the body of Francis II was interred in the Saint-Denis by the Prince of La Roche-sur-Yon.

No comments:

Post a Comment