France 1515–98

  • David Maland


Francis I and Henry II paid little or no attention to the day-to-day business of government which had so occupied the time of Louis XI and Louis XII. Their temperament inclined them to live lavishly in the public eye, and their inclinations were reinforced by a profound desire to conform to popularly accepted notions of royal behaviour. They quizzed their ambassadors about the physical appearance and athletic prowess of their international rivals, Charles V and Henry VIII, and it was in self-conscious imitation of the courtly style of Italy that they bestowed their patronage on the arts. Francis indeed showed considerable interest in the New Learning. His sister, Margaret of Navarre, was one of the best educated women of the sixteenth century, and she ensured for many years that humanists who strayed across the border into heresy were protected by the king from the consequences. Poets and humanists, of course, were maintained at little cost, but Francis also showed himself willing to spend considerable sums on the employment of artists and architects, (see page 401). Leonardo da Vinci, Andrea del Sarto and many other Italians were brought to France, and the so-called First School of Fontainebleau was established under the direction of the Florentine artist Giovanni Battista Rosso.


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Copyright information

© David Maland 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Maland
    • 1
  1. 1.Manchester Grammar SchoolUK

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