Francis I (French: François Ier) was the first King of France from the Angoulême branch of the House of Valois, reigning from 1515 until his death. He was the son of Charles, Count of Angoulême, and Louise of Savoy. He succeeded his cousin and father-in-law Louis XII, who died without a male heir.
A prodigious patron of the arts, he initiated the French Renaissance by attracting many Italian artists to work on the Château de Chambord, including Leonardo da Vinci, who brought the Mona Lisa with him, which Francis had acquired. Francis' reign saw important cultural changes with the rise of absolute monarchy in France, the spread of humanism and Protestantism, and the beginning of French exploration of the New World. Jacques Cartier and others claimed lands in the Americas for France and paved the way for the expansion of the first French colonial empire.
For his role in the development and promotion of a standardized French language, he became known as le Père et Restaurateur des Lettres (the "Father and Restorer of Letters"). He was also known as François au Grand Nez ("Francis of the Large Nose"), the Grand Colas, and the Roi-Chevalier (the "Knight-King") for his personal involvement in the wars against his great rival the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain Charles V.
Following the policy of his predecessors, Francis continued the Italian Wars. The succession of Charles V to the Burgundian Netherlands, the throne of Spain, and his subsequent election as Holy Roman Emperor, meant that France was geographically encircled by the Habsburg monarchy. In his struggle against Imperial hegemony, he sought the support of Henry VIII of England at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. When this was unsuccessful, he formed a Franco-Ottoman alliance with the Muslim sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, a controversial move for a Christian king at the time.
|Reigned as||In Country||From||To||Coins Issued|
|François Ier le Père et Restaurateur des Lettres (King Francis I the Father and Restorer of Letters)||France, Kingdom of||1 January 1515||31 March 1547|
|Francesco I (Duke Francis I), King of France||Milan||11 October 1515||19 November 1521|