Francis I and Henry II - some notes

Notes taken from a textbook on a few aspects of the reigns of Francis I and Henry II

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Francis I and Henry II ­ taken from JAP Jones Europe 1500-1600
Watershed ­ looked backwards to the feudal ways of the medieval period but looked forward to
the absolute monarchy of the 18th century through increasingly centralised government.
Territories of the French kingdom were new. Kings depend on popular support because their powers
were limited by the various bodies in the Provinces. There were many complicated local rights and
privileges that still existed which further undermined their position. The king was also expected to
seek advice before making decisions ­ limited the exercise of royal authority.
Authoritarian rule of Francis I and Henry II:
Parker argues that Francis "had the means to rule more or less as he wished." When their power was
threatened, both kings reacted with anger. They were personal sovereigns who controlled and
dominated many of the different groups in France.
Concordat of Bologna 1516 with the Catholic Church:
King's power reflected in his relationship with the Pope. 1516 ­ Francis needed Pope's support
against Italy. Pope Leo X keen to make an agreement with him, hence Concordat which restored in
theory a number of papal rights.
Parlement and Gallican Church angry about this, but Francis did not resist. Parlement refused to
register the Concordat and Francis got angry at the challenge ­ `only one king in France, not a senate
as in Venice.' So after threats from King, Parlement caved in and registered it.
Regency of Louise of Savoy 1523-27:
Francis was captured by Spanish in Battle of Pavia, 1525. Parlement took opportunity and protested
to LOS (Francis' mother) who was regency about various matters urging her to take action on a
number of fronts. Once Francis returned home he attacked Parlement ­ 1527, a lit de justice was
presented - Francis lectured Parlement about meddling in affairs of state. Also, each year Parlement
had to ask the king to confirm its powers. He left straight after presenting this leaving Parlement
without any chance of reply.
Assembly of Notables, 1527:
Neither Francis or Henry II ever called a meeting of the Estates General. However, in 1527, Francis
needed exceptional taxation to ransom his two sons left as hostages in Spain. Summoned Assembly
of Notables ­ representatives from Church and Parlement, local baillis and Provincial governors.
Made it clear in his speech that he was homouring the delegates, not consulting them. Assembly
gave him what he wanted (the money).
Monarchy's relations with local Parlements:
Francis determined that the 6 local Parlements should be law courts ­ not allowed to question his
edicts. Eg Parlement of Rouen 1540 ­ members of the Parlement refused to ratify all the points in
the King's edicts. As they were leaving for summer recess they were told to remain and of the King's

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The Parlement was then visited by the Chancellor who reprimanded them for 4
hours, then the King cancelled several of their recent decrees and closed them down until further
notice. It wasn't re-opened until the following year, even then 9 members were banished from the
Monarchy's relations with Provincial Estates:
Prov Estates could only be summoned by the king. He fixed the agenda, location and appointed the
Chairman. His representatives could forward his demands and listen to the requests of the Estates.…read more

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Feudalism collapsed and was replaced by a system of patronage and clients. Power of prov
governors is a reflection of this. This took place during a time of religious dissent which gave a cause
to displaced social groups to cling on to.
Consequent social forces were beyond the king's control. Nobility formed themselves into factions.
Growing urban merchant class developed along with urban poverty. Peasants were weighed down
by demands of the Church, kings and lords started popular revolts that went into the next century.…read more

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King's chamber. Henry given choice ­ convert or die. He converted. Returned Guienne to
Catholicism.…read more


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