He wasn’t destined to become king but a series of circumstances changed everything…

François de Valois was born on 12th September 1494 in the family château of Cognac. His father was Charles, Count of Orléans and his mother Louise of Savoy. The first few years were spent in Cognac with his mother, his sister Marguerite and a brilliant, cultivated court.
Here he talks of the events that marked his reign.

The facade of Château de Cognac with the Charente in the foreground

1498 : departure to Amboise

On the death of my father Charles, I was called with all my family to the court of my cousin Louis XII in Amboise. Here I received an education that was inspired by the Italian school of thought and training fit for a gentleman and a knight.

1515 : battle of Marignan

Musée de Cognac
Portrait de François 1er hipster avec ses lunettes de soleil et sa devise Nutrisco et extinguo

This was a turning point in my life. I married, at the age of 21, Claude the daughter of Louis XII and I became king of France. I dreamt of conquest in Italy and on 14th September 1515, my army was victorious against the Duke of Milan at Marignan.

My emblem is the salamander; it symbolises power over fire and so over men and the world. “Nutrisco et extinguo” is my motto; “I nurture and extinguish”.

Patron of the Italian Renaissance

Château de Fontainebleau

These wars enabled me to discover the splendours of Italian Renaissance art.
As a protector and patron of numerous artists, I invited Léonardo da Vinci, Le Rosso and Le Primatice. They transformed and embellished many of the royal châteaux in the Loire Valley, such as Blois, Chambord or my favourite residence at Fontainebleau. This château rapidly became the privileged place for my collection of paintings, tapestries, sculptures and works by goldsmiths; many today can be admired in the Louvre.

My court is the heart of my power and despite a large number of counsellors, my power is unique and absolute.

Ville de Cognac
The court of François 1st
François 1st, king of France

François’ Chinese Portrait in 5 questions

If you were an animal?
If you were a destination?
The Loire Valley
If you were a work of art?
The Giaconda (Mona Lisa)
If you were a sport?
If you were a famous person?
Leonardo da Vinci.

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