Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Renaissance France - Anne of Brittany VI

Anne of Brittany
The Search for an Heir

In 1505 when Louis was once again very ill and, in the absence of his wife in Brittany on ducal business, he bowed to pressure from Cardinal d’Amboise. Louis cancelled Claude’s engagement to Charles[i], in favour of his heir François. He named Anne as Regent for the ten year old François. Anne was furious with Louis’s action as it threatened the autonomy of Brittany; she remained in Brittany for five months to make clear her displeasure.

Louis recovered and spent the late summer riding and hunting in the environs of Tours. In May 1506, following a convocation of the Estates General in Tours, the betrothal between Claude and François was confirmed. After the engagement to Claude, Louis increased François’ pension to 20,000 livres per annum[ii]. Two years later François moved from Amboise to live at court.

Philip the Fair was furious at Louis’ perfidy but he died at the age of twenty-eight in September 1506 and Maximilian named his daughter Margaret as regent for his six year old grandson Charles[iii].

Along with five miscarriages Anne gave birth to a stillborn son on 21st January 1503. Anne detested Louise of Savoy who was ambitious for her own son and gloated over Anne’s stillborn children;

‘Anne, Queen of France…..had a son, but he could not retard the exaltation of my Caesar [François] because he was lacking in life.’[iv]

Eleven years after Claude’s birth, on 25th October 1510, Princess Renée was born; Louis was present in the birthing chamber, having rushed to Lyons. Renée was named after St René of Angers; Louis and Anne had made several pilgrimages to Angers pray for an heir. Michelle de Saubonne, Madame de Soubise, was named as Renée’s governess.

In March 1511 Anne became sick with a fever and her life was despaired of; but she recovered after having been given the last rites. Anne suffered the loss of another stillborn son in January 1512. After this Louis gave up hopes of an heir and made François the Dauphin. He was admitted to the king’s council and made captain of 100 lances.

Louis at Home and Abroad

Louis believed that the king should live from his income from his own domains, not rely on his subjects paying for him. Louis was determined to keep taxation to a minimum and the taille levied was used for the defence of France. Louis kept to a minimum the pensions he paid and for this he was mocked. But he was unrepentant, saying;

‘I much prefer to make dandies laugh at my miserliness than to make the people weep at my open-handedness.’[v]

Louis used the sale of financial offices to fund his expenditure. The fight to quell the 1506 revolt in Genoa was funded by an additional surplus tax that was revoked once the revolt was suppressed. On 4th February 1505 Queen Jeanne died; she’d lived in seclusion in Berri since the divorce.
Marguerite d'Angouleme

In 1509, in alliance with Pope Julius II[vi] and Maximilian, Louis in his role as Duke of Milan, took his army to fight the Venetian Republic. Both Anne and de la Trémoille opposed the war; Anne because she was a pacifist and Trémoille because he was suspicious of Maximilian’s motives.

Anne wrote to Louis urging him to come home which he did in the August, although only forty-seven, the campaign had tired him. Anne met him at Grenoble. En route to Paris Louis was stricken with gout at St Pierre le Moûtier and he retired to Blois where he spent some time with Claude.

In December François’ sister, Marguerite, was married to Charles d’Alençon, a bosom friend of her brother’s. Louis and Anne were both present at the marriage and at the dinner and at the tournament that followed François displayed his jousting skills.

Religious Divide

Julius II
Pope Julius was a quarrelsome man and his and Louis’ interests soon diverged. Julius then joined forces with Maximilian who was still enraged at Louis’ games over Claude’s marriage and Henry VIII on Louis’ northern and western borders distracted Louis’ attention from Milan. It did not help that Anne supported Julius over her husband.

Anne was guided in religious matters by her confessor Yves de Maheuc and tried to make peace between the Vicar of Rome and Louis. Louis was not pleased, claiming that;

‘The Holy Father aims at royal honours; St Peter had not the leisure to look after the affairs of Claudius or Nero, which in truth do not belong to him at all.’[vii]

Anne refused to let the churchmen from Brittany to attend the Council of Pisa[viii], preferring to adhere to the Council of the Lateran convened by Julius. Louis and Anne were not in accord and Anne now redoubled her pious activities, lavishing alms on the Filles Pénitentes de Paris and the Minimes of Nigeon and inviting them to pray for Louis. Anne had the Jews expelled from Brittany although she gave pensions to those prepared to convert. In March 1512 Anne retired to bed with a fever and did not leave her chamber until May.

Louis was infuriated by Julius’ refusal to raise any French churchmen to the College of Cardinals and he was not pleased when Julius made peace with Venice. By the summer of 1512 Milan was in revolt; Louis had, possibly deliberately, failed to control his soldiers and the Milanese were sickened by the casual cruelty of the French.

Battle of Ravenna
The Swiss, encouraged by Maximilian, invaded and panicked Louis into retreating towards Asti. The majority of his army was caught on the wrong side of a river and were forced to surrender. The remnants of the army entered the Dauphiné in late June, barely two months after a great victory at Ravenna.

On 10th December, ignoring Anne’s intercession, Julius summonsed Louis to appear at the Lateran Council. Having finally persuaded her husband to relent in his animosity to the pope, Anne begged the Cardinal de Luxembourg to intercede with the council and beg Julius to pardon Louis. Before Julius could receive Louis’ submission he died on 21st February 1513.

When Leo X was made pope Louis immediately forbad money to be sent to the church in Rome, causing a serious reduction in church revenue. Leo had supported Maximilian Sforza as a rival to Louis as Duke of Milan and he funded the Swiss battalions defending Piedmont against further French incursions. The church now suffered from that support.


Anne on her deathbed
On 9th January 1514 Anne died at Blois; she never recovered her health after the loss of her last stillborn child in January 1512.  Anne was suffering from gallstones and was in great pain during the last days of her life. She was thirty-seven years old and had been active almost to the last with the negotiations with Ferdinand of Aragon, trying to negotiate the marriage between Renée and his grandson Ferdinand. Anne left custody of her daughters to Louise of Savoy.

Louis went into seclusion for several days, telling his courtiers;

‘Go make the vault…..big enough for us both. Before the year is over I’ll be with her.’[ix]

The mourning period was extended beyond the traditional forty days and Louis wore black and insisted that anyone wishing to talk to him should also be dressed in black. Anne was buried in the Chapel of St Denis and the bill for candles for the two services in Notre Dame and the chapel amounted to 2,050 livres[x].

On 18th May Claude married François d’Angoulême at St Germain en Laye. The wedding was subdued as the court was still in mourning for the queen.
Mary Tudor
Another wedding was to follow shortly; on 9th October, desperate for an heir, Louis married Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII. The marriage had the added advantage of splitting his two enemies; Henry and Maximilian.
Mary was thirty years Louis’ junior and in her train were two young ladies Anne and Mary Boleyn. Queen Mary wrote to her brother of;

‘How lovingly the King her husband treats her.’[xi]

Louis was taken with Mary’s charm, beauty and eagerness to please.

Louis’ lifestyle changed completely after his marriage and this may have exacerbated his health problems; he was suffering from gout. Louis died just under a year after Anne’s death on 1st January 1515. Just over two months later, her forty days of seclusion over, Mary was secretly married to Charles’ Brandon, her brother’s great friend. François commissioned Jean Juste to create his parents-in-law’s tomb which was completed in 1531.


Louis XII – Frederic J Baumgartner, MacMillan Press Ltd 1996

Renaissance Europe – JR Hale, Wm Collins Sons and Co Ltd 1971

The Rise and Fall of Renaissance France – RJ Knecht, Fontana Press 1996

Absolute Monarchs – John Julius Norwich, Random House 2011

A History of France 1460-1560 – David Potter, MacMillan Press Ltd 1995

Anne of Brittany – Helen Josephine Sanborn, General Books 2012

The March of Folly – Barbara W Tuchman, Sphere Books Ltd 1984

Twice Crowned Queen – Constance de la Warr, Eveliegh Nash 1906 (Reprint 2015)

[i] He later married Isabella of Portugal
[ii] In 2013 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £13,980,000.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £384,000,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £5,306,000,000.00 www.measuringworth.com
[iii] Whose mother was in Spain, confined as a mad woman
[iv] Louis XII - Baumgartner
[v] The Rise and Fall of Renaissance France - Knecht
[vi] Known as Papa Terribilis
[vii] A Twice Crowned Queen – de la Warr
[viii] An attempt to end the Western Schism
[ix] Louis XII - Baumgartner
[x] In 2013 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £1,341,000.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £37,520,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £506,500,000.00 www.measuringwealth.com
[xi] Louis XII - Baumgartner

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Renaissance France - Anne of Brittany V

Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne
Queen of France Again

On 7th January 1499 Anne and Louis were married in the Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne in Nantes. The newly-weds remained in Brittany for most of the winter; Louis indulged in hunting which instantly became fashionable amongst the nobility. In April they travelled to Blois, where Anne entered the city in state for a second time. Louis departed for Lyon in the summer to organise the forthcoming Italian campaign.

As the plague was resurgent in Blois, Anne moved to Romorantin to stay with Louise of Savoy, Duchess d’Angoulême and mother of the heir to the throne. Louis and Anne’s eldest child Princess Claude[i] was born here on 13th October 1499. Louis was close to Milan when he received the news of Claude’s birth;

‘There is good hope of having a son, since one has a daughter.’[ii]

At the end of November Louis travelled back to France to attend Claude’s baptism; the royal family then returned to Blois. When Claude was eight months old she was placed in the care of the Dame du Bouchage[iii].

A circle of learned men were attracted to Anne’s service; among them the Italian humanist Publio Fausto Andrelini from Forlì, historian Jean Lemaire de Belges and poet Jean Marot. She also took into her service the most famous musicians of her time; Johannes Ockeghem, Antoine de Févin, Loyset Compère and Jean Mouton.

The Paternal Inheritance

Ludovico Sforza
Louis had his eye on Milan; Louis’ claim to the dukedom came from his paternal grandmother, Valentina Visconti, the only daughter of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan. Gian’s sons all died without issue and the dukedom was claimed by Francesco Sforza. The current duke Ludovico Sforza had defeated Louis at Novara during the 1495 campaign and Louis was looking for revenge.

With his sponsorship of Cesare Louis had the support of Alexander VI; he also secured the neutrality of Venice by agreeing her annexation of Cremona. The renewal of the Treaty of Étaples freed Louis of the possibility of an invasion from England while the Swiss allowed Louis to recruit troops in the cantons. Philibert of Savoy allowed Louis freedom of passage through his lands upon promise of a pension of 22,000 livres[iv] post conquest.

To fund his army in Italy Louis cut back hard on his spending on pensions and the provincial estates general were asked to provide subsidies. The Venetian ambassador reported;

‘To hold the estates consists of one thing; the king opens up his revenues and expenses and asks for a subsidy.’[v]

One of the prime movers in the effort to gain Milan for the French crown was Georges d’Amboise[vi], the Archbishop of Rouen. And among Louis’ troops rode Tristan de Salazar, the Archbishop of Sens, in full armour with lance in hand. Command of the French army was given to Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, Stuart d’Aubigny and Louis de Ligny[vii].

A Second Foray into Italy

The first French troops arrived in the Milanese demesne in mid-July; Sforza offered  to make Louis his heir, which Louis refused. The French troops took Valenza and Alessandria; while Sforza was distracted by his French rival, the Venetians marched on Lodi and several towns in Lombardy rebelled against their Sforza overlord.

On 2nd September 1499 Ludovico Sforza fled to Maximilian’s court and Louis made his triumphal entry into Milan. To win hearts and minds, Louis severely punished his troops for any excess and the local nobility, persecuted under the Sforzas, had their privileges restored. Louis left Milan in late 1499 and as soon as his back was turned his men started to misbehave.

Ludovico Sforza returned at the head of an army of Swiss mercenaries in January 1500. The Milanese threw the French out of Milan, bar the troops garrisoning the castle. Louis sent a new army under Georges de la Trémoille, and the two sides met at the Battle of Novara on 8th April. Sforza’s troops refused to fight the Swiss on the French side and Trémoille allowed them to leave the battlefield. Sforza tried to conceal himself but was discovered and taken prisoner. He was imprisoned at Loches and died a few years later.

Ferdinand of Aragon
This success turned Louis’ eyes to Naples, where many of his courtiers had lost lands and lordships they hoped to recover. Louis now agreed a partnership with Ferdinand of Aragon, following the secret Treaty of Granada, signed on 11th November 1500[viii], Machiavelli wrote that Louis was foolish to involve;

‘A very powerful foreigner…..who was capable of driving him out.’[ix]

Louis sent a new army into Italy under the command of Stuart d’Aubigny. Ferdinand sent his own army under Gonzalo da Cordoba and caught between the two allied armies King Federigo IV felt he had no choice but to surrender. He spent his last years in the Chateau de Tours. The two allies fell out and the French invaded Spanish territory in 1502 which Gonzalo recovered the following year, defeating d’Aubigny and the Duke of Nemours. .


Philip the Fair
On 30th April 1500, in a secret directive Louis signed a secret protocol directing that Claude should marry his successor should Louis die without a son. In April 1501 Philip the Fair sent ambassadors, proposing that his son Charles marry the 18 month old Claude.

On 10 August 1501 the marriage contract between Claude and Maximilian’s heir Charles was signed at Lyon by François de Busleyden Archbishop of Besançon, and William de Croÿ, Nicolas de Rutter and Pierre Lesseman, the Burgundian ambassadors. As a part of the contract, Claude’s inheritance of Brittany was promised to Charles.

‘The King and Queen….promise….to procure that as soon as Madam Claude shall come to marriageable age, she shall take as husband and spouse Monseigneur de Luxembourg.’[x]

The betrothal was not popular in Brittany.

Philip and his Spanish wife Juana[xi] visited France at the end of November and were received in the new Chateau de Blois. The couple were received with much ceremony; Claude was meant to have taken part but was overcome with noisy tears and had to be removed.

The first Treaty of Blois, signed in 1504, gave Claude a considerable dowry in the likely event of Louis XII's death without male heirs: besides Brittany, Claude was also to receive the Duchies of Milan and Burgundy, the Counties of Blois and Asti and the territory of the Republic of Genoa, then occupied by France.

Downfall of a Soldier

Louise of Savoy
In late 1503 Louis fell ill and the doctors feared for his life. In the new year the Maréchal de Gié, governor of the young heir François, contacted Alain d’Albret telling him to get 10,000 men ready to defend the kingdom in the event of the king’s death. Anne was antagonistic towards Gié as he was one of the commanders of the French army that had overrun Brittany. Louise of Savoy detested him too, as he tried to reduce her influence over her son.

In July 1504 an investigation began into the accusations against Gié; the charges ranged from the banal, that he had told Louise of Savoy that Anne hated her, to the charge that he was intending to ensure that he would control François and head the regency council in the event of Louis’ death. D’Amboise, eager to remove a rival for power, had the prosecutor Pierre Bonnin draw up charges. According to Bonnin Gié;

‘Wept and lamented when he read it, saying that he was lost and confessing that it was true.’[xii]

Altar-piece showing Louis XII to left and Anne to right
In October Gié met with members of the Grand Conseil and hearing his case and denied any wrong doing. In December the Grand Conseil refused to convict Gié and adjourned the case for three months during which Gié was to remain at liberty. Anne was most displeased and prevailed upon Louis to transfer the case to the Parlement of Toulouse. Anne went to Brittany and had the records searched for any evidence of Gié’s crimes.

The Toulouse Parlement heard the case throughout 1505 and delivered judgment on 9th February 1506. They dismissed most of the charges but Gié was found guilty of a number of misdemeanours, mostly in relation to the misuse of royal troops. He was suspended from his job as Maréchal for five years and barred from court for that period as well as being removed as François’ guardian. Gié spent the remainder of his life on his estates.

Louis XII – Frederic J Baumgartner, MacMillan Press Ltd 1996
Renaissance Europe – JR Hale, Wm Collins Sons and Co Ltd 1971
The Rise and Fall of Renaissance France – RJ Knecht, Fontana Press 1996
Absolute Monarchs – John Julius Norwich, Random House 2011
A History of France 1460-1560 – David Potter, MacMillan Press Ltd 1995
Anne of Brittany – Helen Josephine Sanborn, General Books 2012
The March of Folly – Barbara W Tuchman, Sphere Books Ltd 1984
Twice Crowned Queen – Constance de la Warr, Eveliegh Nash 1906 (Reprint 2015)

[ii] A Twice Crowned Queen – de la Warr
[iii] There are two le Bouchage; one in Charente and the other in Isère
[iv] In 2013 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £15,100,000.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £426,300,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £6,008,000,000.00 www.measuringworth.com
[v] Louis XII - Baumgartner
[vi] Recently made a cardinal at the behest of Louis
[vii] Without a direct heir, Louis was unable to leave France
[viii] Louis has been criticised for signing this treaty whose long-term effects was to increase Spanish influence in Europe
[ix] Louis XII - Baumgartner
[x] A Twice Crowned Queen – de la Warr
[xi] Daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella
[xii] Louis XII - Baumgartner