François Ier by Jean Clouet. Oil on oak panel, circa 1530
Five hundred and nineteen years ago today, a son was born to a count of a minor branch of the house of Valois. François d'Angoulême became heir presumptive to the French king, Louis XII, only when it became clear Louis himself would have no sons. On his deathbed in 1515, Louis married his daughter Claude to her cousin, making François King of France at the age of twenty. François ruled for thirty-two years, during which time the French court blossomed, power became centralized, and France competed with England and Spain for control of the Continent. François reformed the judicial system, established French as the realm's official language, and sponsored exploration of the New World. He enticed Italian artists and artisans to France, supported writers and scholars, and designed and built elegant palaces throughout the kingdom. His sons and grandsons ruled France through the end of the century. Known for his joie de vivre, his exquisite taste, and his embrace of the chivalric code of honor, François is revered by the French as le grand roi François.
I write historical fiction set in sixteenth century France. An avid reader who fell in love with all things French as a teen, I went on to earn a Ph.D in French literature from Princeton. My stories grow from my research and my desire to make Renaissance Europe come alive for modern readers. Explore my blog and immerse yourself in this fascinating era!