Francis II of France - Encyclopedia




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FRANCIS II. (, 5441 5 60), king of France, eldest son of Henry II. and of Catherine de' Medici, was born at Fontainebleau on the 19th of January 1544. He married the famous Mary Stuart, daughter of James V. of Scotland, on the 25th of April 1558, acid ascended the French throne on the 10th of July 1559. During his short reign the young king, a sickly youth and of feeble understanding, was the mere tool of his uncles Francis, duke of Guise, and Charles, cardinal of Lorraine, into whose hands he virtually delivered the reins of government. The exclusiveness with which they were favoured, and their high-handed proceedings, awakened the resentment of the princes of the blood, Anthony king of Navarre and Louis prince of Conde, who gave their countenance to a conspiracy (conspiracy of Amboise) with the Protestants against the house of Guise. It was, however, discovered shortly before the time fixed for its execution in March 1560, and an ambush having been prepared, most of the conspirators were either killed or taken prisoners. Its leadership and organization had been entrusted to Godfrey de Barri, lord of la Renaudie (d. 1560); and the prince of Conde, who was not present, disavowed all connexion with the plot. The duke of Guise was now named lieutenant-general of the kingdom, but his Catholic leanings were somewhat held in check by the chancellor Michel de l'Hopital, through whose mediation the edict of Romorantin, providing that all cases of heresy should be decided by the bishops, was passed in May 1560, in opposition to a proposal to introduce the Inquisition. At a meeting of the statesgeneral held at Orleans in the December following, the prince of Conde, after being arrested, was condemned to death, and extreme measures were being enacted against the Huguenots; but the deliberations of the Assembly were broken off, and the prince was saved from execution, by the king's somewhat sudden death, on the 5th of the month, from an abscess in the ear.

Principal Authorities.-"Lettres de Catherine de Medicis," edited by Hector de la Ferriere (1880 seq.), and "Negociations ... relatives au regne de Francois II," edited by Louis Paris (1841), both in the Collection de documents inedits sur l'histoire de France; notice of Francis, duke of Guise, in the Nouvelle Collection des memoires pour servir a l'histoire de France, edited by J. F. Michaud and J. J. F. Poujoulat, series i. vol. vi. (1836 seq.); Memoires de Conde servant d'eclaircissement ... a l'histoire de M. de Thou, vols. i and ii. (1743); Pierre de la Place, Commentaires de l'estat de la religion et de la republique sous les rois Henri II, Francois II, Charles IX (1565); and Louis Regnier de la Planche, Histoire de l'estat de France. .. sous ... Francois II (Pantheon litteraire, new edition, 1884). See also Ernest Lavisse, Histoire de France (vol. vi. by J. H. Mariejol, 1904), which contains a bibliography.

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