Sunday, October 4, 2015

Biography - Francis I & his mistress Anne d'Etampes 1508-1580 arts & letters & sex



Francis I of France (1494-1547)

Francis I of France (1494-1547) was France's Renaissance king who oversaw France during the turbulent early years of the Reformation. A humanist & patron of the arts, his court briefly included Leonardo da Vinci.  At his court, he also installed Benvenuto Cellini, Francesco Primaticcio, & Rosso del Rosso; but in the buildings at Chambord, St Germain, Villers-Cotterets, & Fontainebleau the French tradition triumphed over the Italian school.  The humanists Bude, Jacques Colin, & Pierre Duchatel were the king's intimates; & Clement Marot was his favorite poet.


Jean Clouet (1475–1540) Francis I of France (1494-1547)

In 1515, after his conquest of Milan, Francis invited the 65-year-old old Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) to settle in France. The king gave Leonardo the manor of Cloux outside Amboise, where the painter spent the last 3 years of his life. Although suffering from a paralysis of the right hand, Leonardo apparently was still able to draw & teach. He produced studies for the Virgin Mary from "The Virgin and Child with St. Anne." He drew studies of cats, horses, dragons, St. George, anatomical studies, the nature of water, the Deluge, & of various machines. Leonardo died on May 2, 1519 in Cloux, France. Legend has it that King Francis I was at his side when he died, cradling Leonardo's head in his arms.


Francis I of France (1494-1547)

By 1545, several of Leonardo’s major works, including Mona Lisa, were part of Francis’s collection. Francis also purchased the works of other Italian painters, including Michelangelo, (1475–1564); Raphael, (1483–1520); & Titian, (1488-1576).   Francis I instituted in 1530, at the instance of Guillaume Bude (Budaeus), Lecteurs royaux, who in spite of the opposition of the Sorbonne were granted full liberty to teach Hebrew, Greek, Latin, mathematics, &c.


Francis I of France (1494-1547) by Joos Van Cleve circa 1530

The king liked books, & a chest containing his favorite books—mostly ancient histories & medieval romances—followed him on his travels. He enlarged the library at Blois, which he had inherited. He employed agents in Italy & elsewhere to acquire precious classical manuscripts, many of them in Greek, for his library at Fontainebleau. The 2 royal libraries were integrated in 1544, eventually forming the nucleus of the present-day Bibliotèque Nationale in Paris. His paintings also were the beginning of the collection now in the Louvre.


1530 Anne de Pisseleu D'Heilly, Duchesse d'Etampes (1508-1580) attr to Corneille de Lyon (Netherlandish artist, active by 1533–d 1575)

It is reported that from 1526 to his death, Anne de Pisseleu, whom he recreated into the Duchesse d'Etampes, essentially dominated him. The daughter of a nobleman of Picardy, she came to court before 1522, as maid of honour to Louise of Savoy, Duchess d’Angoulême who was the mother of Francis I.


Jean Clouet (1475–1540) Anne de Pisseleu D'Heilly, Duchesse d'Etampes (1508-1580)

"Tradition has it that it was at Mont-de-Marsan in March 1526, that Francis first met Anne, the daughter of Guillaume d'Heilly, seigneur de Pisseleu, who was to become his mistress. Anne was 18 at the time and attached to the household of Madame de Vendome. By 1527, she had joined the 'fair band' of ladies which accompanied the king on hunting expedition." See: Renaissance Warrior and Patron: The Reign of Francis I By R. J. Knecht p 249


Anne de Pisseleu D'Heilly, Duchesse d'Etampes (1508-1580)

Francis I made Anne his mistress, probably upon his return from his captivity at Madrid in 1526, giving up his long-term mistress, Françoise de Foix, for her. Anne had her hands full keeping the King happy; engaging in political intrigues at court; & containing her rival Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henry II who would become King of France.


Anne de Pisseleu D'Heilly, Duchesse d'Etampes (1508-1580) by Jean Clouet (1475–1540)

Anne was described as being sprightly, pretty, witty, & cultured, "the most beautiful among the learned and the most learned among the beautiful." She apparently encouraged his interest in the arts & letters. She succeeded in keeping the favor of the king, until his death in 1547.


1557 Anne de Pisseleu D'Heilly, Duchesse d'Etampes (1508-1580) by Jean Clouet (1475–1540)

The liaison received some official recognition; when the new Queen of France, Eleanor of Austria, entered Paris in 1530, the King & Anne occupied the same window. Determined to give Anne some dignity at court, Francis I wanted to find her a husband who was of sufficiently high birth to gain acceptance of the courtiers. This honor & indignity fell to the son of an outlaw, to Jean de Brosse, Earl of Penthievre. Their sham marriage took place in Nantes August 25, 1532. To get Anne's new husband out of the way, the King appointed him governor of the Bourbonnais. The King, then, by letters patent of 23 June 1534, granted him the county of Etampes, erected for him a duchy January 18, 1536, & finally he got the Cordon of the Order of the Holy Spirit. Now Anne was titled.


Anne de Pisseleu D'Heilly, Duchesse d'Etampes (1508-1580) by Jean Clouet (1475–1540)

"There was a new scandal at court: Anne d'Etampes took a lover, Etienne Dolet. The King was such a puppet that he ignored the inappropriate behavior of his mistress...Etienne Dolet was executed on August 5, on Place Maubert in Paris. It was his 37th birthday...Once the King discovered that Dolet was Anne's lover, he had him burned at the stake." Both the King & Anne were witnesses to the execution. See: Shari Beck, A Portrait in Black and White: Diane De Poitiers in Her Own Words, 2011, p. 256-260


Francis I of France (1494-1547)

She was a friend to new ideas & tolerant of Protestants, whose beliefs she openly embraced after the King's death. With the death of Francis I in 1547, & the accession of Henry II, the Duchess d’Étampes was dismissed from court. She died in obscurity.


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