Francis I

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Francis I

, Holy Roman emperor
Francis I, 1708–65, Holy Roman emperor (1745–65), duke of Lorraine (1729–37) as Francis Stephen, grand duke of Tuscany (1737–65), husband of Archduchess Maria Theresa. He succeeded his father in Lorraine, but agreed (1735) to cede his duchy to Stanislaus I of Poland to end the War of the Polish Succession (see Polish Succession, War of the); in exchange he received the right of succession to Tuscany. In 1736 he married Maria Theresa, heiress to all Hapsburg lands. Francis succeeded (1737) the last Medici ruler of Tuscany and carried out several long-needed reforms. In 1740, Maria Theresa acceded to her inheritance, which was immediately contested in the War of the Austrian Succession (see Austrian Succession, War of the; 1740–48) by an alliance under Frederick II of Prussia. The election (Sept., 1745) of Francis to succeed Charles VII as emperor was recognized by Frederick in the Treaty of Dresden (Dec., 1745) with Maria Theresa. Francis I governed little; the real rulers were Maria Theresa and chancellor Kaunitz. Founder of the house of Hapsburg-Lorraine, Francis was succeeded as Holy Roman emperor by his eldest son, Joseph II, and as grand duke of Tuscany by his younger son, Leopold (later Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II).

Francis I

, emperor of Austria
Francis I, emperor of Austria: see Francis II, Holy Roman emperor.

Francis I

, king of France
Francis I, 1494–1547, king of France (1515–47), known as Francis of Angoulême before he succeeded his cousin and father-in-law, King Louis XII.

Wars with the Holy Roman Emperor

Francis resumed the Italian Wars, beginning his reign with the recovery of Milan through the brilliant victory at Marignano (1515). A candidate for the Holy Roman emperor's crown (1519), he was defeated by Charles V, king of Spain, whose supremacy in Europe Francis was to contest in four wars. In 1520 Francis tried to secure the support of King Henry VIII of England against the emperor in the interview on the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

Although no agreement was reached with the English king, Francis began his first war against the emperor (1521–25). He was defeated at La Bicocca (1522) and at Pavia (1525), where he was captured. Francis regained his freedom by consenting to the Treaty of Madrid (1526); he renounced his claims in Italy, agreed to surrender Burgundy to Charles, and abandoned his suzerainty over Flanders and Artois. Resolved to violate a treaty signed under duress, Francis created the League of Cognac (1526) with Pope Clement VII, Henry VIII, Venice, and Florence, and commenced his second war (1527–29) against Charles. It ended, unfavorably for Francis, with the Treaty of Cambrai (see Cambrai, Treaty of), which left Burgundy to France but otherwise duplicated the Treaty of Madrid.

Francis fulfilled the treaty's terms until 1535, when the death of the duke of Milan, Francisco Sforza, opened the question of the Milanese succession. In a third attempt to regain Milan, Francis invaded (1536) Italy. Charles retaliated by invading Provence, and in 1538 a 10-year truce was arranged at Nice. In 1542 with the support of the Ottoman sultan Sulayman I, Francis for the fourth time attacked the emperor, who allied himself (1543) with Henry VIII. Their invasion of France resulted (1544) in the Treaty of Crépy, in which Francis relinquished his claims to Naples, Flanders, and Artois. Peace with England (1546) confirmed the loss of Boulogne.

The French Renaissance

Despite Francis's military failures, his reign saw domestic glory in the fullest development of the French Renaissance. Leonardo da Vinci, Benvenuto Cellini, and Andrea del Sarto worked at his court. Francis and his sister, Margaret of Navarre, were the patrons of François Rabelais, Clément Marot, and Guillaume Budé; Francis also founded the Collège de France. The most permanent monuments of Francis's reign are the châteaus of the Loire, notably Chambord, and the royal residence at Fontainebleau.

Other Aspects of Francis's Reign

The king also had some notable political achievements, including a concordat with the papacy and an alliance with Switzerland (both in 1516). Jacques Cartier, exploring the coast of North America for Francis, established French interest in Canada. In domestic affairs, Francis expanded the absolutism of the monarchy. Government affairs were dominated by successive personal favorites, including Anne, duc de Montmorency, and Francis's mistresses. Louise of Savoy, the king's mother, was also influential. Francis's persecution of the Waldenses (1545), his ruinous expenditures for foreign wars, and the prodigality of his court foreshadowed some aspects of the reign of King Louis XIV. Francis I was succeeded by his son, Henry II.


See biographies by F. Hackett (1935, repr. 1968) and D. Seward (1973).

Francis I

, king of the Two Sicilies
Francis I, 1777–1830, king of the Two Sicilies (1825–30), son and successor of Ferdinand I. He continued the ruthless and reactionary policy of his father, and his court was notorious for waste and corruption. He was succeeded by his son Ferdinand II.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Francis I


Born Feb. 12, 1768, in Florence; died Mar. 2, 1835, in Vienna. Austrian ruler from 1792; emperor of Austria from 1804. Member of the Hapsburg-Lorraine dynasty. Last Holy Roman emperor (as Francis II; 1792–1806).

Francis helped organize monarchist coalitions against France during the revolutionary and Napoleonic periods. In 1810, however, he gave his daughter Marie Louise in marriage to Napoleon. He played an important role in the formation of the Holy Alliance. Francis’ domestic policies, especially after 1815, were aimed at strengthening the clerical-feudal police regime.

Francis I


Born Sept. 12, 1494, in Cognac; died Mar. 31, 1547, in Rambouillet. French king from 1515. Member of the Valois dynasty.

Francis’ policies were aimed at transforming France into an absolute monarchy. He made the Royal Council the chief administrative body of the state, introduced general vicegerents in the provinces, supervised the activities of the governors, and limited the power of the parlements. In 1532 he annexed Brittany. Francis greatly increased taxes and eliminated the distinction between state taxes and royal revenue. In 1539 he issued the Edict of Villers Cotterets, which prohibited strikes and abolished workers’ “companionships.”

In 1516, Francis concluded the Concordat of Bologna with Pope Leo X. Edicts issued in 1535 and 1540 mandated the persecution of Calvinists as heretics. The king organized the mass extermination of the Waldenses in 1545.

In the Italian Wars of 1494–1559, Francis at first met with success; he gained a victory at Marignano in 1515 and captured Milan. In 1525, however, he was defeated by the army of Emperor Charles V near Pavia. Francis was captured and taken to Madrid, where he was forced to sign the humiliating Treaty of Madrid in 1526. Upon his return to France later that year, he formed the League of Cognac with Pope Clement VII, Venice, and the duke of Milan. Francis resumed military operations in 1527 and continued fighting until 1529. In 1535 or 1536 he signed an advantageous treaty—known as the Capitulations—with Turkey.

A great patron of the arts, Francis brought many Italian architects and artists to France. In 1530 he established the humanistic lecteurs royaux, (royal scholars), an institution that in the late 18th century developed into the Collège de France. Francis, however, persecuted radical thinkers, such as the humanist Etienne Dolet, who was burned at the stake in 1546.


Paris, P. Etudes sur François I, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1885.
Terrasse, C. François I, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1945–49.
Levis-Mirepoix, A. François I., Paris, 1953.
Bailly, A. François I. Paris, 1961.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Francis I

1. 1494--1547, king of France (1515--47). His reign was dominated by his rivalry with Emperor Charles V for the control of Italy. He was a noted patron of the arts and learning
2. 1708--65, duke of Lorraine (1729--37), grand duke of Tuscany (1737--65), and Holy Roman Emperor (1745--65). His marriage (1736) to Maria Theresa led to the War of the Austrian Succession (1740--48)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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(147) Clement VII may have wished to keep the original in Florence but could not deny the request of the marchese, who would be an important ally of the pope in the struggle between Charles V and Francis I for control of Italy.
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In a culture which generally refused to acknowledge women as theologians, fiction offered Marguerite, King Francis I's sister, who had already in the 1530s been attacked for the perceived heterodoxy of her poetry, a safer and more effective means of reaching and persuading her audience.
Principal wars: Franco-Spanish War (1502-1504); War of the League of Cambrai (1508-1510); Francis I's invasion of Italy (1515).