- Claude of France
Claude Duchess of Brittany Reign 9 January 1514 – 20 July 1524
( 10 years, 193 days)
Predecessor Anne Successor Francis III Queen consort of France Tenure 1 January 1515 – 20 July 1524 Spouse Francis I of France Charlotte of Valois
Francis III, Duke of Brittany
Henry II of France
Madeleine, Queen of Scots
Charles, Duke of Orléans
Margaret, Duchess of Savoy
House House of Valois Father Louis XII of France Mother Anne, Duchess of Brittany Born 13 October 1499
Died 20 July 1524(aged 24)
Château de Blois
Burial Saint Denis Basilica Religion Roman Catholicism
Claude of France (French: Claude de France) (13 October 1499 – 26 July 1524) was a princess and queen consort of France and ruling Duchess of Brittany. She was the eldest daughter of Louis XII of France and Anne, Duchess of Brittany.
As the first spouse of Francis I of France, she was the mother of Henry II, and thus grandmother of the last three kings of the Valois line and also of Elisabeth, Queen consort of Spain; Claude, Duchess consort of Lorraine; and Margaret, the Queen consort of Henry IV of France. She is also the maternal grandmother of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy.
Queen Claude was named after St. Claude, a saint her mother had invoked during a pilgrimage so she could give birth to a living child.
Betrothals and marriage
Because her mother, Anne, Duchess of Brittany, had no surviving sons, Claude became heiress to the Duchy of Brittany. The crown of France, however, could pass only to and through male heirs, according to Salic Law. In 1504, Anne, eager to keep Brittany separate from the French crown, effected the Treaty of Blois, which promised Claude's hand in marriage to the future Holy Roman Emperor Charles V with the promise of Brittany and the Duchy of Burgundy. The prospect of a reduced France surrounded on several sides was unacceptable to the Valois, and so the betrothal was soon canceled.
The French nobles argued against a betrothal to a foreigner, urging Louis XII to marry Claude to her cousin Francis, Duke of Angoulême, "who is at least all French", and was also the heir-presumptive to the French crown. In 1506, the child was betrothed to Francis. In 1514, when her mother died, Claude became Duchess of Brittany; and on 18 May 1514, at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, she married Francis.
Claude, the pawn of so much dynastic maneuvering, was short in stature and afflicted with scoliosis, which gave her a hunched back. She was eclipsed at court by her mother-in-law, Louise of Savoy, and her sister-in-law, the literary Marguerite, Queen consort of Navarre.
When Francis became King in 1515, two of Claude's ladies-in-waiting were the English sisters Mary and Anne Boleyn, and another was Diane de Poitiers. Mary became the king's mistress before returning home in about 1519. Anne served as Claude's official translator whenever there were English visitors, such as in 1520. Anne was also a temporary companion to Claude's younger sister, Renée. Anne Boleyn returned to England in 1521, where she eventually became Queen of England as the second wife of Henry VIII. Diane de Poitiers was a principal inspiration of the School of Fontainebleau of the French Renaissance, and became the lifelong mistress of Francis's son and successor, Henry II.
Claude's life was spent in an endless round of annual pregnancies. Her husband had many mistresses, but was usually relatively discreet. Claude imposed a strict moral code on her own household, which only a few chose to flout.
Capetian Dynasty, House of Valois
Louis XII Children Claude of France Renée of France
Claude and Francis I had seven children:
- Louise, Princess of France (19 August 1515 – 21 September 1517) - died young.
- Charlotte, Princess of France (23 October 1516 – 8 September 1524) - died young.
- Francis, Dauphin of France (28 February 1518 – 10 August 1536) - died young.
- Henry II, King of France (31 March 1519 – 10 July 1559) - married Catherine de' Medici. Had issue.
- Madeleine, Princess of France (10 August 1520 – 2 July 1537) - married James V of Scotland. No issue
- Charles of Valois, Duke of Orleans (22 January 1522 – 9 September 1545) - Died young. Had no issue.
- Margaret of France, Duchess of Berry (5 June 1523 – 14 September 1574) - married Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy in 1559. Had issue.
Death and later events
Claude died in 1524, when she was only twenty-four. She was initially succeeded as ruler of Brittany by her eldest son, the Dauphin Francis, who became Duke Francis III, with Claude's widower King Francis I as guardian. After the Dauphin's death in 1536, Claude's second son, Henry, Duke of Orleans, became Dauphin and Duke of Brittany. He later became King of France as Henry II.
Claude's widowed husband himself remarried several years after Claude's death, to Eleanor of Austria, the sister of Emperor Charles V. The atmosphere at court became considerably more debauched, and there were rumours that King Francis's death in 1547 was due to syphilis.
The prayer book of Claude of France, is a tiny, jewel-like manuscript that was made for Claude around 1517, the year she was crowned queen of France. Her coat of arms appears on three different folios. The book is richly illustrated: the borders of each leaf are painted, front and back, with 132 scenes from the lives of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and numerous saints. The manuscript and a companion Book of Hours also made for the queen (in a Paris private collection) were illuminated by an artist who was given the nickname Master of Claude de France after these two volumes. It was donated to The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City in 2008 by Mrs. Alexandre Paul Rosenberg in memory of her husband.
"Reine Claude" plum
Claude is remembered in a classic small plum, the size of a walnut, pale green with a glaucous bloom. It is still called "Reine Claude" (literally, "Queen Claude") in France and is known in England as a "greengage".
Depictions in Popular Culture
Coat of Arms
Ancestors of Claude of France 16. Charles V of France 8. Louis I, Duke of Orléans (=#27) 17. Joanna of Bourbon 4. Charles, Duke of Orléans 18. Gian Galeazzo Visconti 9. Valentina Visconti, Countess of Vertus (#28) 19. Isabella, Countess of Vertus 2. Louis XII of France 20. Adolph III, Count of Mark 10. Adolph I, Duke of Cleves 21. Margaret of Jülich 5. Maria of Cleves 22. John II, Duke of Burgundy 11. Marie of Burgundy 23. Margaret of Bavaria 1. Claude of France 24. John V, Duke of Brittany 12. Richard, Count of Étampes 25. Joan of Navarre 6. Francis II, Duke of Brittany 26. Louis I, Duke of Orléans (=#8) 13. Margaret, Countess of Vertus 27. Valentina Visconti, Countess of Vertus (=#9) 3. Anne of Brittany 28. John I, Count of Foix 14. Gaston IV, Count of Foix 29. Jeanne of Albret 7. Margaret of Foix 30. John II of Aragon 15. Eleanor of Navarre 31. Blanche I of Navarre
ReferencesClaude of FranceCadet branch of the Capetian dynastyBorn: 13 October 1499 Died: 20 July 1524
French nobility Preceded by
Duchess of Brittany
French royalty Preceded by
Mary of England
Queen consort of France
VacantTitle next held byEleanor of Austria Italian nobility VacantTitle last held byAnne of Brittany Duchess consort of Milan
VacantTitle next held byChristina of Denmark Early monarchsc.818–913 House of Nantes938–958 House of Rennes958–1072 House of Cornouaille1072–1156 House of Penthièvre1156–1194 House of Plantagenet1194–1203Arthur I (1194–1203) House of Thouars1203–1221 House of Dreux1221–1364 House of Montfort1341/65–1514 House of Valois1514–1547 Courtesy title1547-presentLouis de France (1704-1705) · Louis de France (1707–1712) · Francis de Bourbon (1973–1984) Dauphines of FranceJeanne de Bourbon (1350-1364) · Princess Marguerite of Burgundy (1412-1415) · Duchess Jacqueline of Bavaria (1415-1417) · Princess Margaret of Scotland (1436-1445) · Princess Charlotte of Savoy (1451-1461) · Catherine de' Medici (1536-1547) · Mary, Queen of Scots (1558-1559) · Duchess Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria (1680-1690) · Princess Marie Adélaïde of Savoy (1711-1712) · Infanta Maria Teresa Rafaela of Spain (1745-1746) · Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony (1747-1765) · Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria (1770-1774) · Princess Marie Thérèse of France (1824-1830) Queens and Empresses of FranceAdelaide of Aquitaine (987–996) · Rozala of Italy (996) · Bertha of Burgundy (996–1000) · Constance of Arles (1003–1031) · Matilda of Frisia (1034–1044) · Anne of Kiev (1051–1060) · Bertha of Holland (1071–1092) · Bertrade de Montfort (1092–1108) · Adelaide of Maurienne (1115–1137) · Eleanor of Aquitaine (1137–1152) · Constance of Castile (1154–1160) · Adèle of Champagne (1164–1180) · Isabelle of Hainaut (1180–1190) · Ingeborg of Denmark (1193–1193; 1200-1223) · Agnes of Merania (1196–1200) · Blanche of Castile (1223–1226) · Margaret of Provence (1234–1270) · Isabella of Aragon (1270–1271) · Maria of Brabant (1274–1285) · Joan I of Navarre (1285–1305) · Margaret of Burgundy (1314–1315) · Clementia of Hungary (1315–1316) · Joan II of Burgundy (1316–1322) · Blanche of Burgundy (1322) · Marie of Luxembourg (1322–1324) · Jeanne d'Évreux (1325–1328) · Joan the Lame (1328–1348) · Blanche of Navarre (1350) · Joan I of Auvergne (1350–1360) · Jeanne de Bourbon (1364–1378) · Isabeau of Bavaria (1385–1422) · Marie of Anjou (1422–1461) · Charlotte of Savoy (1461–1483) · Anne of Brittany (1491–1498; 1498–1514) · Joan of France (1498) · Mary of England (1514-1515) · Claude of France (1515–1524) · Eleanor of Austria (1530–1547) · Catherine de' Medici (1547–1559) · Mary, Queen of Scots (1559–1560) · Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria (1570–1574) · Louise of Lorraine (1575–1589) · Margaret of Valois (1589–1599) · Marie de' Medici (1600–1610) · Archduchess Anne of Austria (1615–1643) · Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria (1660–1683) · Marie Leszczyńska (1725–1768) · Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria (1774–1792) · Princess Marie Joséphine of Savoy* (1795–1810) · Joséphine de Beauharnais (1804–1810) · Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria (1810–1814) · Princess Marie Thérèse of France* (1830) · Princess Maria Amalia of Naples and Sicily (1830–1848) · Eugénie de Montijo (1853–1870) *disputed
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