Francis II (January 19, 1544 – December 5, 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 marriage to Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland from 1558 until his death.
Early Life & Childhood Edit
Francis, Dauphin of France was born on January 19, 1544, the long awaited first child and heir of King Henry II & his Queen Catherine de Medici. Born 11 years & 3 months into his parents' marriage, Francis was at first raised at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. He was baptized on February 10, 1544 at the Chapelle des Trinitaires in Fontainebleau. His godparents were Francis I (who knighted him during the ceremony), Pope Paul III, and his great-aunt Marguerite de Navarre. He became governor of Languedoc in 1546, and Dauphin of France in 1547, when his grandfather Francis I died. Francis' governor was Jean d'Humières and his tutor was Pierre Danès, a Greek scholar originally from Naples. He learned dancing from Virgilio Bracesco and fencing from Hector of Mantua.
Marrying a Queen Edit
King Henry II, his father, arranged a remarkable betrothal for his son to Mary, Queen of Scotland, in the Châtillon agreement of January 27, 1548, when Francis was only four years old. Mary had been crowned Queen of Scotland in Stirling Castle on September 9, 1543 at the age of nine months following the death of her father James V. Besides being the queen of Scotland, Mary was a granddaughter of Claude, Duke of Guise, a very influential figure at the court of France. Once the marriage agreement was formally ratified, the six-year-old Mary was sent to France to be raised at court until the marriage. Although Mary was tall for her age and eloquent, while her betrothed Francis was abnormally short and stuttered, Henry II commented that "from the very first day they met, my son and she got on as well together as if they had known each other for a long time".
On April 24, 1558 at the Notre Dame Cathedral, the fourteen-year-old Dauphin married the Queen of Scotland in a union that could have given the future kings of France the throne of Scotland and also a claim to the throne of England through Mary's great grandfather, King Henry VII of England. Until his death, Francis held the title King consort of Scotland. Mary and Francis were to have no children during their short marriage, however, possibly due to Francis' illnesses or his undescended testicles.
A Dauphin then a King Edit
A little over a year after his wedding, on July 10, 1559, Francis became king at the age of fifteen upon the death of his father Henry II, who had succumbed to septicemia after being fatally injured in a jousting accident. On September 21, 1559, Francis II was crowned king in the Reims Cathedral 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 mottos 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. 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.
Reign of Francis II Edit
Francis II's reign was dominated by religious crisis. His unpopular and repressive policy toward Protestantism motivated the Amboise conspiracy, in which certain Protestant leaders attempted a coup d'état against the king and the House of Guise. Due to growing discontent, the government tried conciliation. Under the influence of Catherine de' Medici, it started a dialogue with the proponents of this relatively new movement, while remaining implacable towards agitators. Until the end of his reign, the kingdom of Francis II was paralyzed by local revolts. He reacted by becoming more authoritarian.
- The Amboise conspiracy
Determined to stop the persecution and have Protestantism officially recognized, a group of noblemen planned the Amboise conspiracy to overthrow the government and give power to the Princes of the Blood, who supported the new religion. The conspirators planned to take over the palace with the help of the royal guard, abduct the king, then eliminate the Guises if they offered any resistance. A substantial external military deployment was intended to secure the operation. The conspirators also most likely had the secret support of Louis, Prince of Condé, the ambitious younger brother of King Antoine of Navarre.
During February 1560, the court received multiple warnings about the conspiracy. Due to that threat, the royal council decided, under the influence of Queen Catherine de' Medici, to make some concessions. On March 8, 1560, the king signed an edict granting general amnesty to Protestants. But it was too late; the conspiracy was already under way. From all parts of the kingdom, troops were on their way to the Château d'Amboise, where the court was in residence. In the cities of Tours and Orléans, they received money and weapons from the conspirators.
The poorly organized conspiracy ended in a bloodbath. Its outcome was determined as early as March 15 when Jacques, Duke of Nemours, arrested some of the primary conspirators. Over the following days disorientated troops, mostly peasants, were arrested one by one in and around the forest of Amboise. The king was at first inclined to leniency. He freed them and ordered them to return to their homes. But on March 17, two hundred men tried to storm one of the city gates at the foot of the castle. Quickly repelled by the Duke of Guise, these rebels were unmercifully pursued. More than a hundred were executed, some even hanged from the ramparts of the castle. The retaliation continued for several weeks, and almost twelve hundred people died.
Loss of Scotland Edit
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 de Guise, became Regent for Scotland.
Because of French control over their country, a congregation of Scottish lords organized an uprising and made the regent and her French councils leave the capital, Edinburgh, in May of 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 was back in 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 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.
Just as English troops were not particularly successful, and 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 July 6, 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.
Early Death & burial Edit
The health of the king began to deteriorate in November 1560. On November 16 he suffered a syncope. After only 17 months on the throne, Francis II died on December 5, 1560 in Orléans, Loiret, from an ear infection. 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, but this has not been proven.
Francis II died childless, so his younger brother Charles, then ten years old, succeeded him. On December 21, the council named Catherine de Medici 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 Medici.
On December 23, 1560, the body of Francis II was interred in the Saint-Denis Basilica by the Prince of La Roche-sur-Yon. His parents & several siblings also rest here.
See Also Edit