Category Archives: The Valois Dynasty

The French renaissance was a lot like today, but without the comforts. It was a time of extreme violence, economic disparity, bigotry, religious wars, pandemics, fanaticism and, surprisingly, a flowering in the arts. The parallels to the world today are dismaying and surprising.
The Valois family dynasty ruled France during this turmoil. Ambitious, greedy, ruthless, sensuous, sickly and arrogant, the Valois personified their times. Their dynasty weakened over time with each successive generation, becoming more and more divisive, decadent and distant from their subjects. The last Valois, Henry III, was a cross dressing( to me a plus!), murderous fanatic who was stabbed to death by a mad monk.

Catherine de Medici ( 1519-1589) The Conciliator

Catherine was married to Henry II and had to compete with his mistress Diane de Poitiers who ruled her lover. After ten years she finally produced a string of 10 children. Her secret motto was Hate and Wait. She lived … Continue reading

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Henry II( 1519-1547)The Quiet Burn

Sullen in his youth he blossomed as king and merrily killed as many Protestants as he did hunting deer. He died in a joust when a lance pierced through his eye to his brain.

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Francis I( 1494-1547) The Ambitious

Francis I was the first true renaissance monarch of France. His reign coincided with the Protestant reformation. His catholic paranoia led to increasingly violent persecution. Extravagant and sensual he left France richer in culture but economically weaker. He died of … Continue reading

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Louis XII( 1462-1515) The Father of the People

A successful administrator and reformer. He had three wives but no children. In his gouty old age he died trying to get his last wife pregnant.

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Anne of Britanny( 1477-1514) The Wealthy

Anne was the richest woman in Europe, she married Charles VIII and Louis XII. She ran the country for them both. She bore 14 children. Only three survived.

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Charles VIII( 1470-1498) The Affable

One of the most foolish and incompetent monarchs of France. He wanted to conquer Italy. He failed miserably and bankrupted his kingdom. He died after a tennis game when he hit his head on a stone doorway lintel.

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Louis XI( 1423-1483) The Universal Spider

Secretive, cunning, ruthless and superstitious, Louis XI worked the strings of governments like a harp. He loved plotting conspiracies.

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