Domestic Policy

Domestic Policy under Francis I., Henri II., 1515-1559

FRANCIS I. ruled from 1515 to 1547, his son HENRI II. from 1547 to 1559. Foreign policy took up a lot of their activity. France was little affected by the Lutheran reformation; yet in 1534 JEAN CALVIN had to flee the country when the University of Paris condemned his reformatoric writings. In 1541 he settled down in Geneva, which became the center of protestant reformation. Already in 1535, from Strassburg, Calvin had plead to King Francis I. to declare himself for the new belief and renounce popery.
Francis I., much devoted to foreign policy, regarded Calvin (1509-1564) as a troublemaker. He expanded royal authority at the expense of the church (here the CONCORDAT with the church in 1516 was a step forward) and the estates general, which did not convene between 1506 and 1560 (i.e. neither Francis I. nor Henri II. called on them to assemble). Rather than relying on the "nobility of the sword" (i.e. noblemen who had inherited their titles) Francis I and his son Henri II., by selling government offices, relied on "noblemen of the robe" (commoners who were ennobled by the king). This rebuttal alienated France's hereditary nobility; many of them turned to the teachings of Jean Calvin. Henri II., in the EDICTS OF CHATEAUBRIANT (1551), OF COMPIEGNE (1557) and OF D'ECOUEN (1559) condemned the HUGUENOTS (Calvinists), the Edict of Compiegne threatening them with death. In 1559 the French Huguenots held their first NATIONAL SYNOD. In a mock tournament held on the occasion of the marriage of his son Francis I., Henri II., combattant himself, was severely wounded by GABRIEL DE MONTGOMERY, a leading Huguenot; Henri II. died of his wounds shortly after.

Biography of Francis I., from infoplease
Who is who in 16th century France, from Le Poulet Gauche
Henri II Roi de France, from Histoire en Ligne
Chronology : French Renaissance, from e-renaissance, in French
DOCUMENTS Jean Clouet, Francis I. (1525), from Art Unframed

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 9th 2004

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