François I, roi de France

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François de Valois de Valois, Roi de France

Also Known As: "'le Chevalier'"
Birthplace: Château de Cognac, Cognac, Charente, Poitou-Charentes, France
Death: Died in Rambouillet, Île-de-France, France
Place of Burial: Saint-Denis, Seine-Saint-Denis, Île-de-France, France
Immediate Family:

Son of Charles d'Orleans, comte d'Angoulême and Louise de Savoie, comtesse d'Angoulême
Husband of Dau De La Rieux; Claude de Valois-Orléans, reine de France and Leonor de Habsburgo, reine de France
Father of Henry de La Rieux; Louis de Saint Gelais, seigneur de Lansac; Louise de Valois; Charlotte de Valois; François III de Valois, dauphin de France and 6 others
Brother of Marguerite d'Angoulême, Reina de Navarra
Half brother of Souveraine d'Angoulême and Jeanne d'Angoulême

Occupation: King of France, comte d'Angoulême (1496-1515), duc de Valois (1499-1515), King of France (1515-1547), duca di Milano, Roi de France (1515-1547), King of France 1515-1547, Francis, I of France, roi de France
Managed by: Flemming Allan Funch
Last Updated:

About François I, roi de France

Francis I (French: François Premier and François d'Angoulême) (12 September 1494 – 31 March 1547), was crowned King of France in 1515 in the cathedral at Reims and reigned until 1547.

Francis I is considered to be France's first Renaissance monarch. His reign saw France make immense cultural advances. He was a contemporary of Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire, as well as King Henry VIII of England and of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, his great rivals.

Francis was born in 1494 as the son of Charles d’Orléans, Count of Angoulême. His father died early on and his extensive education was supervised by his mother, Louise of Savoy. Due to Louis XII’s lack of heirs he became next in line to the French throne. In 1506 he was betrothed to the daughter of the king, Claude de France, and in 1508 he took up residence at the court, where he began as apprentice to the king. It was while fulfilling this role, his cousin the ruling king Louis XII exclaimed that “This Big Boy will ruin everything”. On January 1st he was proclaimed king of France.

This was an expansionary time, when princes constantly had to police their borders while at the same time be seen to uphold the territorial claims of their ancestors. Those of Francis’ included districts and cities bordering on the Netherlands and the Holy Roman Empire plus the Kingdom of Naples, Southern Italy and Sicily and the Duchy of Milan. All-in-all he spent 20 of his 32 years as king going to war. At first he was quite successful routing the Old Swiss Confederacy at Marignano and thus pawing the way for French reclamation of the Duchy of Milan. Nevertheless, in 1525 this was followed by the disaster at Pavia in 1525, when Francis I was captured by Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. The next year was spent in custody in Madrid, while the conditions for a release were negotiated. It stands to reason these were harsh and when the king finally returned to France he renegaded even though his two eldest sons had been exchanged for the king. The two boys, 8 and 7 spent the next four and a half years in Madrid until he had payed his way and seceded Burgundy.

He is not considered to have been a military genius but he did succeed in skillfully negotiating diplomatic relations with his allies and enemies while at the same time projecting an image of his royal power in a wider European context. This was partly the result of his near-continuous alliances with the heretic Henry VIII as well as the Ottoman Sultan. Thus he succeeded in holding the holy Roman Emperor at bay. But war was a defining characteristic of the politics of that time (as Machiavelli did explain) and Francis was personally engaged in both traditional war-games like jousting and hunting as well as present at the various battlefields.


Predecessor: Louis XII Successor: Henry II

  • NOTE: NOT FATHER OF Emanuele Filiberto, Duca di Savoia. please unlink connection.

-------------------- In 1515, Francis 1st, head of the Valois-Angoulême branch, succeeded his cousin Louis XII, whose daughter, Claude de France, he had married, for a thirty-two year reign. It started with the wars with Italy, the victory of Marignano and the transfer of the Quattrocento to France, but turned into a confrontation with the Habsburgs after the election of Charles the Fifth to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire, sought by François 1st (1519). During the bitter defeat of Pavia (1525), observance of a point of honour (never retreat) led to the captivity of Francis 1st, followed by the disastrous Treaty of Madrid (France lost one quarter of its territory), which was violated by Francis 1st immediately he was freed (1526). The war thus resumed. Francis 1st finally sought an alliance with Suleiman the Magnificent and the German Protestant princes, scandalising Christianity. The long struggle which ensued ended in a fragile European balance with the truce of Crépy-en-Laonnois (1544). Within the country, absolutism developed. Signs of this are the words of Francis 1st "Because such is our pleasure" and the expression "His Majesty" which became obligatory. After the Placards affair (1534), the issue of the Protestants, repressed at the time, remained undecided. The King founded the Collège de France and built Fontainebleau and Chambord, which symbolised the first French Renaissance. The Ordinance de Villers-Cotterêts made French the official language of the kingdom (1539).

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François I, roi de France's Timeline

September 12, 1494
Cognac, Charente, Poitou-Charentes, France
Age 7
Age 18
Cognac, Charente, Poitou-Charentes, France
May 18, 1514
Age 19
Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
January 15, 1515
Age 20
August 19, 1515
Age 20
Amboise, Indre-Et-Loire, Centre, France
Age 20
October 23, 1516
Age 22
Amboise, Indre-et-Loire, Centre, France
February 28, 1518
Age 23
Amboise, Indre-et-Loire, Centre, France
March 31, 1519
Age 24
Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Ile-de-France, France