France is a country that is known for its young and innovative leaders. Before the emergence of Emmanuel Macron as the youngest president in the history of France in 2017, Francis II of France was the youngest King of ancient France. The young Francis became the king of France in 1559 at fifteen after his father Henry II died in a jousting accident.
On his ascension unto the throne in the late 1550s, his throne was dominated by the first instigation of the French Religious Wars, intertwined with a prolonged period of crisis and popular unrest between Catholics and Huguenots in the French Kingdom. His reigns lasted for 17 months before death took him away.
Francis II of France marked his name as a ceremonial king and youngest leader of one of the oldest kingdoms in the world. Here are seven things to learn about this young monarch.
The Background of Francis II of France
The 19th day of January 1544 heralded the birth of Francis II in Cháteau de Fontainebleau, France. His birth came fifteen years after the marriage of his parents, reports have it that the delay in conceiving and birthing of Francis could have been as a result of his father’s repudiation of his mother in favor of his mistress Diane de Poitiers.
Diane repudiated Henry’s request and continued to insist that he spends his nights with his lawfully wedded wife which ultimately resulted in Francis’ conception and birth. Francis II of France was first raised at Cháteau de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. At age 10, he was baptized at the Chapelle des Trinitaires in Fontainebleau and his godfathers were Francis 1, Pope Paul III, as well as his great-aunt Marguerite de Navarre.
The young heir was tutored by Pierre Danès. He also learned dancing from Virgilio Bracesco and fencing from Hector of Mantua.
Who Are His Siblings?
Francis II was not born an only child. His younger sister was Elizabeth of France, she was born on April 2, 1545, but died on October 3, 1558. Before her death, she was married and had children too. Another of Francis’ sibling was Claude of France, she was born in 1547 and died in 1575. The fourth child of his parents Henry II was Louis, Duke of Orléans, he was born in 1549 and died the following year.
Charles IX, King of France was Henry II’s fifth child; he was born in 1550 and succeeded Francis II in 1560. He held sway till 1574 when he died of tuberculosis. Another of Francis II’s sibling was Henry III, born in 1551 and succeeded Charles IX in 1574 until he died in 1575.
Other of Francis II’s siblings include Margaret of France, born 1553 and died in 1615. Hercules, Duke of Anjou, born 1555 and died in 1584. The last two are Victoria of France and Joan of France, they were born twins on June 24, 1556, while Joan died immediately after death, Victoria died two months later on August 17, 1556.
Henry II had three other illegitimate children they include Diane, Duchesse d’Angouléme (1538 – 1619), Henri d’Angouléme (1551 -1586), and Henri de Saint-Rémy (1557 – 1621).
7 Things You Didn’t Know About Francis II of France
1. His Family
Francis II of France was born into the royal family of King Henry II of France (father) and Catherine de’ Medici (mother). Henry II was the son of Francis I, from whom he inherited the throne. The death of Henry II (Francis II’s) father in a jousting accident paved way for Francis to ascend the highly dignified throne at the age of fifteen.
His father was born on the 31st of March 1519 and died on the 10th of July 1559 at the age of 40, his mother was born on 13th of April 1519 and died on 5th of January 1589 at the age of 69.
2. Religious Views
The young heir was raised as a Roman Catholic, and the church supported his reign. Sadly, his reign was marred by the first religious unrest between Catholics and protestants. Due to the unpopular and repressive policy made by his regents to Protestants which motivated the Amboise conspiracy, Protestant leaders attempted a coup d’etat against the king and the House of Guise because of growing dissatisfaction. The rulers opted for conciliation, with the help of Francis II of France’s mother, Catherine de’ Medici.
3. He was betrothed to Mary of Scots
At the little age of 4, Francis II was betrothed to Mary, Queen of Scots, in the Châtillon agreement of January 27, 1548. The betrothal was arranged by Francis II of France’ father – King Henry II in his attempt to see that royal blood did not leave his household. Mary Stuart was sent to France to be raised at court till she was married to Francis II on April 24, 1558, at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. At the time of their marriage, Francis was 14 years old.
4. He Reigned in Scotland
The marriage between Francis II and Mary Stuart gave Francis II of France access to the throne of Scotland and to England. Mary’s great-grandfather, King Henry VII of England ensured Francis ruled in England as well. Francis was on the throne of Scotland until his death in 1560. Mary was crowned Queen of Scotland in Stirling Castle on September 9, 1543, at the age of 6 days old, after the death of her father, James V.
5. Francis II of France stuttered
During his days on earth, Francis was said to have stuttered. His betrothed wife, Queen Mary was said to be tall and eloquent. Despite their contrary features, they stayed married till the death of Francis II of France.
6. He had No Children
Francis II of France maybe have been bestowed with kingly power but he lacked the will to use it. He also did not birth an heir or any child before his untimely death occurred on the 5th of December 1560. Thus, his brother Charles succeeded him as king after his death while his widowed wife returned to Scotland.
7. He was a Sickly and Inexperienced King
By the reason of his age and little or no exposure, Francis was unarguably an inexperienced teenager who ruled a kingdom in crisis. He was fragile in physical and psychological composition. Little wonder he chose his wife’s uncles – Francis, the duke of Guise, and Charles, the cardinal of Lorraine as his regents. More so, the question about whether his marriage was consummated or not still remains unanswered.
Cause Of Death
Francis II of France suffered from a syncopal episode, and as a result of this, he was said to have collapsed on November 16, 1560. He eventually died on December 5, 1560, due to multiple complications including ear condition, mastoiditis, and meningitis. On the other hand, he was rumored to have been poisoned by Protestants, although the allegation was never proven.