Historical figure Francesco I di Valois

Born in: 1494  - Died in: 1547
Francis I of Valois was king of France from 1515 to his death. He was the son of Charles de Valois-Angoulême and Luisa di Savoia and was the first of the royal dynasty of the Valois-Angoulême, which will die out with the death of Henry III, which took place in 1589.

The mother, left widow, had to provide for the education of her children and availed herself of the help of her confessor, Cristoforo Numai da Forlì. This, perhaps, explains the interest that Francis showed, even as a king, for religious matters. On May 8, 1514 Francesco married Claudia of France (1499 - 1524), daughter of King Louis XII, of the House of Orléans, and Duchess of Brittany. Given that Louis did not leave male heirs and that the lex salica remained the only legal document that regulated the issues of descent, denying women the opportunity to ascend the throne, the death of Louis, occurred in 1515, Francis, Conte d'Angoulême , succeeded him in the regency of France.
In the run to power of the Holy Roman Empire lost the election to the imperial office (1519) in favor of Charles V of Habsburg, who managed to buy the votes of voters thanks to financial support from the German banker Jakob Fugger.

Francesco, being great-grandson of Valentina Visconti, believed his full right to have Milan back as his family legacy. In 1515 he descended to Italy: the expedition was long and bloody.

l September 13, 1515, near Marignano south of Milan, later called Melegnano, Francesco I, head of a French and Venetian army, clashed with the Swiss army, a course to give strength to Massimiliano Sforza, duke of Milan. The victory of the French monarch halted the expansionist policy of the Confederates and guaranteed to France the control of the duchy of Milan.
Thanks to this victory, moreover, Francis I forced Pope Leo X to negotiate for the possession of the territories of Parma and Piacenza. The negotiation took place in Bologna, was conducted by the French chancellor Antoine Duprat and ended with the Concordat of Bologna that sanctioned the renunciation by the pope to the territories in question, the abolition, by the King of France, of the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges of 1438, the right of the king of France to the nomination of bishops and abbots, to whom the pope limited himself to the conferment of spiritual authority, which confirmed Gallicanism.

In June 1520 Francesco I met in Flanders, between the cities of Calais, then the last British possession on the European continent, and of Guînes, the English king Henry VIII. The meeting, organized by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor of Henry VIII, took place in the sumptuous setting of the so-called Campo del Drappo d'Oro, a camp richly set up for the occasion. Francis I was aiming to have England allied in the chessboard of the fight against Charles V and tried to combine the marriage between Henry's daughter, Maria Tudor and her son Francesco di Valois, Delfino of France. Despite the great pomp and efforts of Francesco, the meeting did not have the desired effect: the marriage between Maria and Francesco never happened and shortly thereafter Henry VIII tightened an alliance with Charles V.

In 1521 the expansionist ambitions of Francis I, realized in the attempt to seize northern Italy, and the fact that he saw the autonomy of France in grave danger, surrounded as he was by the possessions concentrated in the hands of a single sovereign, brought him several times to the clash with the Emperor Charles V: it was the beginning of a long war that, alternating with precarious truces, lasted throughout his life.
The campaign of 1524-25 resulted in a disaster for the French with the battle of Pavia: the French cavalry, with the king on his head, was swept away by the Spanish archibugiers and the army was routed; Francesco I was imprisoned for three months in Pizzighettone, in the tower called "del Guado", then he remained a prisoner for a week in a tower of the Abbey of Cervara, before being taken to Spain. Among the many who claimed to have taken prisoner Francesco I there was also the captain of fortune Cesare Hercolani who deserved for this the nickname of "winner of Pavia". In fact, the capture of the king of France is attributable to three Spanish knights, Diego D'Avila, Juan de Urbieta and Alonso Pita da Veiga, mentioned by Paolo Giovio in his "Life of the Marquis of Pescara" (Fernando Francesco D ' Avalos), whose descendants keep the documents proving the truth of the fact.

Francesco I remained in Madrid for a year. He was released on payment of a ransom and obliged to sign the Treaty of Madrid which provided humiliating conditions: by signing him, he pledged to cease all claims on the regions of Artois, Flanders, and the Kingdom of Naples, in addition to renouncing Burgundy and to the Duchy of Milan and to leave their two children in Spain as hostages. Returned to France and not at all decided to cede Burgundy, object of the desire of Charles V as, previously, of his grandfather Maximilian, he contested the clauses of the treaty, which he refused to ratify, and joined (22 May 1526) the League of Cognac promoted from Pope Clement VII.

In the plans of the League, which also included Venice, Genoa, Florence and Francesco II Sforza, there was to tear the Kingdom of Naples to the Spaniards, settling an Italian prince who would pay a fee to Francis I. The pacts provided that the King of France constituted two armies, one of which would have fallen in Lombardy and the other directly in Spain. But for the whole 1526 Francesco I, engaged in treating the liberation of his children, did not participate in the war events, disregarding the close pacts with the allies. These were easily overcome by the imperial troops marching towards Rome. The brutal sack of Rome, accomplished by the lansquenets and propitiated by the betrayal of Cardinal Pompeo Colonna, marked the defeat and dissolution of the League of Cognac but was also the reason that prompted Francis to intervene.
After returning Milan to the Sforza, he attempted the capture of Naples (1528), but the plague that decimated his army and the defection of the Genoese led him to the defeat of Aversa. In the summer of 1529, at Cambrai, a new peace was signed between Francis and Charles V who, while sanctioning the Habsburg rule in Italy, rectified in favor of France the conditions of the Madrid agreement: Francis, committing himself to abandoning any claim on the Kingdom of Naples and the Duchy of Milan, he obtained the release of his children held hostage and firmly tied Burgundy to his crown. It was during this period that he contracted his second marriage, in compliance with the Treaty of Madrid, with the sister of the Emperor, Eleonora, former widow of the king of Portugal Manuel I.

Meanwhile, the politics of Francesco I had become more and more open-minded. Trying to turn in their favor those who represented the greatest cracks for the eternal adversary, namely the pressure of the Turks at the threshold of the Empire, especially in Hungary, and the claims of the Lutheran German Princes, he had made alliances with the sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and with the League of Smalcalda. The occasion for a new conflict, the third, was the extinction of the Sforza family. In 1535, at the death of the Duke of Milan Francesco II Sforza, who had married Christina of Denmark, grandson of Charles V, too young to give him heirs, he risked being inherited by the son of the Emperor, Philip II of Spain (as in effects occurred in 1540), which is unacceptable for the king of France.
At the beginning of 1536, 40,000 French soldiers invaded the Duchy of Savoy, conquered Turin, and stopped at the Lombard border, waiting for a possible negotiated solution. In response, Charles V invaded Provence, but renounced the siege of Avignon, greatly fortified, and even repairing in Spain. The truce of Nice, of 1538, with Pope Paul III committed to shuttling from one room to another in an attempt to mediate between the two contenders who hated each other to refuse to sit in the same room, kept the city of Turin to the French , without the balances in the Italian chessboard changing too much. In the County of Aosta, not invaded by Francis I in the fear of an eventual invasion, the defensive apparatus of the Castle of Verrès was modernized and the Conseil des Commis was established, which will become a historic Aosta Valley institution.

The failure of the Imperial fleet in the conquest of Algiers, which had the aim of annihilating the forces of Colonel Khayr al-Din Barbarossa, the creator of the raids waging in the Mediterranean in the name of the Sultan, presented himself to Francis I as a new possibility of triggering a war against an apparently weakened and frustrated Emperor. Begun in July 1542, the clashes had the Netherlands, Piedmont, as the theater, where the French obtained the important victory of Ceresole Alba, and the Roussillon.
After two years of convulsive and bloody battles, interspersed with brief truces for the disastrous financial situation of the contenders, Charles V, strong of the alliance with the King of England Henry VIII could conquer Luxembourg and go to Paris, while the English sovereign besieged Boulogne: this led Francis to demand the cessation of hostilities, which officially ended with the signing of Crepy's Peace in September 1544.

The ambitions of expansion in Italy of the French sovereign as well as those on the Emperor's Burgundy could be said to be definitively concluded. Francesco died of septicemia in the castle of Rambouillet and was buried with his first wife in the basilica of Saint-Denis. His tomb was desecrated during the French Revolution in October 1793.

Francesco I di Valois Visited places

Castello di Montechiarugolo

 Piazza Mazzini, 1 - 43022 Montechiarugolo - Parma

12th-century castle, formerly the residence of the Visconti and the Este, can count on meeting and congress rooms for 40 to 100 people (for a total of 240). We organize banquets for weddings and... see

Offered services

Location for Ceremonies and Conferences

Time period

Italy, Parma