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

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