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Francis I


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King of France (1515–47). He was in many respects an archetypal Renaissance prince, able, quick-witted, and licentious, and a patron of art and learning, but he developed into a cruel persecutor of Protestants, and devoted the best part of his reign to an inconclusive struggle with the Habsburgs. He began by recovering the duchy of Milan (1515), but failed in his bid to be elected Holy Roman Emperor (1519). In 1520 he tried to secure the support of Henry VIII of England against the successful candidate, Charles V, at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and in 1521 he embarked on the first of four wars against the emperor, which ended with his capture at the Battle of Pavia (1525). He gained his release from captivity in Spain by renouncing his claims in Italy, but hostilities were resumed and continued intermittently, with the recovery of Milan as a main object, until the Peace of Crespy in 1544. His foreign wars were ruinously expensive, and the prodigality of his court foreshadowed that of Louis XIV. The palace of Fontainebleau was rebuilt during his reign, and the artists Leonardo da Vinci, Benvenuto Cellini, and Andrea del Sarto worked at his court.

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