start page Charles V TOUR :  Ottoman contemporaries

French Renaissance rulers

Part 1
Jean II de Bourbon, 1459-1488
Anne de Bretagne, Duchess of Brittany 1498-1514 and Queen consort of France
Louis XII,   King of France 1498-1515
here Part 2
Louise of Savoy,   mother of François I
François I,   King of France 1515-1547
The three young sons of King François I
Part 3
Henri II,   King of France 1547-1559

Louise of Savoy, mother from François I.

François I ,   King of France 1515-1547
- also Lord of Asti 1515-1529 and Duke of Milan 1515-1521 -
François (Francis, *1494) I was Charles V most powerful opponent, apart from Sultan Süleyman of Turkey. François competed with Charles at the imperial election in 1519. In the battle of Pavia in 1525, Charles made him a captive and only released him after he had agreed to a hollow peace. His marriage to Charles's sister Eleanor did not prevent further battles against Charles in varying alliances: in the second war (1526-9) with the Pope, Milan and Venice, in the fourth war (1542-4) with the Duke of Cleves, the Pope and Sultan Süleyman. In the end, both their claims, i.e. Charles's claim to Burgundy and François's claim to Milan, Flanders and Artois, came to nothing. At home, François strengthened royal power and made the court the center of his country. He was ambitious and adventurous, a brilliant Renaissance monarch who loved the arts and literature. He invited Italian artists to France, including Leonardo da Vinci, from whom he acquired the portrait of the Mona Lisa.
Since the Middle Ages, mintmarks became in use: The place in the letter sequence of the legends, under which a "secret point" was attached, gave an indication of the minting location of the coin. From 1540 on, the minting sites were displayed in the field with letters A to Z. See a list of mint marks.

Early medals   -   Coins   -   Later medals

    Early medals    

Cast bronze medal 1504,   French school or attributed Giovanni Candida.   Ø 66 mm.
Specimen from Bibliothèque National de France, Paris
Armand II,187,1; TNG pl.VI,4; Kress 232; Hill (1930) 848a; Börner 327.

"Francis, Duke of Valois, Count of Angoulême in his 10th year of his age"  -   Bust to the right.
"I eat well (fire) and delete that badly"
Salamander surrounded by flames. The tail forms nearly a Savoy double loop.
This first medal on François I was commissioned by his mother Louise of Savoy. The salamander appears here for the first time as emblem of François I. His tutor François Demoulins created the motto NOTRISCO AL BVUONO STINGO EL REO. There exists also a scaled down version of this medal with the motto ET MORS VITA ("Death is life").

Uniface cast bronze medal 1512 by French school.     Ø 98 mm.
Specimen from Bibliothèque National de France, Paris  TNG pl.X,1; Hill Corpus 851; The Currency of Fame 139.

MAXIMVS FRANCISCVS FRANCORVM DVX 1512   "The supreme Francis, duke of the French 1512"
Laureated bust to left, wearing plate armor over a mail shirt.
This medal was also commissioned by his mother Louise of Savoy to spotlight François.
François married Claude, the eldest daughter of king Louis XII and Anne de Bretagne, in 1514
and became sure aspirant of the French throne, because king Louis XII had no sons.

Silver medal 1515.     Ø 52 mm, 78,85 g.  TNG pl.VI, 2.
Specimen in the Coin Cabinet from Landesmuseum Württemberg, Stuttgart

Obv.:   ·FRANCISCVS·I·FRANCORVM·REX   -   Laurel bust to the left.
Rev.:   VNVS·NON·SVFFICIT·ORBIS·   "One earth is not enough"
Celestial and earth globe under one crown. Exergue with date MDXV (1515).
Issued on the occasion of the concordate of 1801. [TNG p.5]
Face appearance and date contradict each other.

Bronze medal n. d. (1515-18) on the battle of Marignano,   attributed Matteo Dal Nassaro.
Ø 38 mm.     Specimen from Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris    Armand II,187,4; TNG pl.VII,5.

Bust to the left, Roman-style armor and coat.
Rev.:  Battle scene with riders and flags in front of the city wall of Milan, above it D.O.Q.M.
Maybe: D.O.Q.M. = DOMONUS QVE MEDIOLANI "Lord of Milan", on a flag LP for Leo Papa? [TNG p.6]
On September 14, 1515, the newly crowned King François I defeated in the Battle of Marignano the divided Swiss, who up to then were considered unbeatable. France was thus able to subdue the Duchy of Milan a second time.

Cast bronze medal n. d. (1515-18),   by Giovanni Maria Pomedelli.   Ø 51 mm, 38.14 g.
Specimen from the Coin Cabinet Berlin    Börner 225; TNG pl.VII,4; Hill (1930) 592.

Draped effigy to the left, with half-length hair, a hinged hat and a robe with the collar of the Order of Saint Michael supporting an image of Archangel Michael.
Rev.:   NVTRISCO - EXSTINGO.   "I feed I destroy"  -   Salamander on fire in a bowl with a foot.
A crown on top. At the bottom the sign Pomedellis (apple with monogram ZVAN).
This is the first medal carrying the title "Most Christian King".
Compare the Spacimen from Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris


Écu with the weight of 4 Testons 1537, Romans.  Ø 45 mm, 38,25 g.  Dupl.-; Hoffmann 80; Dav.-
The Bavarian Coin Collection presents this piece in their permanent exhibition in Munich.

Obv.:  +·FRANCISCVS·DEI·GRATIA·FRANCORVM·REX·I  (I = mintmaster)  under the shoulder: 1537
Rev.:   +·SIT·NOMEN.DOMINI·BENEDICTVM·R·C   "Praise the name of the Lord."   R·C = ?
quartered arms: France | Dauphiné (dolphin).
The point under the 2nd letter (an I) indicates the mint of Romans.
The Dauphiné was a largely independent feudal state in south-eastern France, situated between the river Rhone, the Alps and the Provence. Its duke inserted a dolphin into his coat of arms and therefore called himself Dauphin. The duchy was de jure part of the German empire, but in 1349 it fell to the French crown by inheritance. The French king used to pass it on to the Prince Royal in order to evade feudal duty. This triggered the tradition of naming the Prince Royal "Dauphin de France" even after the right of investiture was no longer upheld.

Teston du Dauphiné, 1. Typ, Crémieu. (Pt. 1er)     Ø 29 mm, 9,35 g.   Ciani 1140; Dupl. 821.
"Not unto us, o Lord, but unto thy name give glory"

Teston du Dauphiné, 1th type, Romans (Pt 2e).     Ø 29 mm.   Dupl. 829.
Rev.:   +·SIT·NOMEN·DomiNI·BENEDICTVM·R·⩈·   "The name of the Lord be praised"
Quartered coat of arms France | Dauphiné (dolphin).

Teston, 3rd type, Paris. (Pt. 18e)     Ø 29 mm, 9,4 g.   Ciani 1113; Dupl. 794.
Obv.:   FRANCISCVS:I':Dei:GRAtia:FRAnCORum:REX   -   Crowned bust.
The "point secret" under the 18th letter (an A at 9h) indicates the mint of Paris.

Rev.:  XPS:VINCIT:XPS:REGNAT:XPS:IMPERat  "Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands"
Crowned French coat of arms (fleur-de-lis). Point secret on the polylobe at the T of REGNAT at 8 h.

Teston, 3rd type, Poitiers. (Pt. 8e)     Ø 30 mm, 9,30 g.   Dupl. 794.
As before, but from mint Poitiers ("point secret" under the 8th letter of both legends).

Teston, 3rd type, Rouen. (Pt. 15e)     Ø 29 mm.   Dupl. 794.
As before, but from mint Rouen (point under the 15th letter of the legends).

Compare with the oil painting 1515-20 after Jean Clouet at Musée Condé in Chantilly
and with the detail of the oil painting 1527-30 by Jean Clouet at the Louvre.

Teston (1540), Turin.     Ø 29 mm, 9,42 g.   Dupl. 807; CNI II p.412,n.1.
Rev.:   + XPS◗VIN◗XPS◗ - RE◗XPS◗IMP◗G◗T   (G T : sign for the mintmaster Gabriele Tatti)
Arms between crowned initial F.   Under the arms the mintmark ·T· for Turin.
After Francesco Sforza's death in 1535, François I renewed the french claim on Milan. He was able to conquer Turin but not Milan (3rd war between Charles V and François I, 1536-1538). When the truce of Nice (1538) allowed François I to hold on to Piedmont, a French mintage in Turin came about between 1538 and 1542.

Teston, 14th type, Lyon (Pt 12e).     Ø about 29 mm, 9,52 g.   Dupl. 812.
Crowned bust, point secret at the 12th letter (an E).
"Not unto us, o Lord, but unto thy name give glory"
Coat of arms between crowned initials F. Ring (point secret) at the 12th letter of the legend (an E).
At the beginning of both legends there is a shamrock ♣ as a symbol for the Lyon mint.

1/2 Teston, 14th type, Lyon (Pt 12e).     Ø 22? mm.   Dupl. 813.

1/2 Teston du Dauphiné, 2nd type, Romans (Pt 2e 1523-28).    Ø 26 mm, 7,25 g.   Dupl. 824.
Similar to the following.

1/2 Teston de Bretagne, Nantes.     Ø mm, 3,74 g.   Dupl. 832.
Rev.:   French lily coat of arms between two crowned ermine tails.

Teston de Bretagne, 4th type, Rennes (1515-40).     Ø 29 mm, about 9 g.   Dupl. 833.
Obv.:   +FRANCISCVS:D:G:FRANCOR:REX·BRITN.DVX  "... duke of Brittany"
Bust to the right with a small crown on the beret.

Rev.:  ⁑+⁑DEVS:IN:ADIVTORVM:MEVM:INTENDE:R   "O God, come to my assistance",  R = Rennes.
Crowned arms of France, flanked by crowned ermines (symbol of Bretagne).
François I was the son-in-law of Anne, Duchess of Brittany (1477-1514), and succeeded to her numerous properties, in particular to Brittany. Anne was the last independent ruler of Brittany. She was also Countess of Nantes, Montfort, and Richmond, and Viscountess of Limoges. She first married Maximilian of Austria by proxy (19 Dec 1490), hoping that this alliance would keep Brittany independent. However, when King Charles VIII of France attacked the duchy, Anne was forced to break with Maximilian and marry Charles instead (6 Dec 1491). When Charles died without issue, Anne married his successor Louis XII. The union of Brittany with the French crown became irreversible, when Anne's daughter Claude married François d'Angoulême, who was to become François I of France.

Hardi.     Ø ? mm, 0,88 g.   Dupl.863.   Specimen from Catalogue BnF and BnF Gallica
Effigy from the front in armor, sword in the right and scepter in the left.
Rev.:   + ...·VI·XPS·RE·XPS·IMP·...   -   Cross, two lilies and two F in the angles.

Teston, 20th type, Paris (A & Pt 18e).     Ø 29 mm.   Dupl. 897.

Teston, 25th type, Lyon (D & Pt 12e, 1540-47).    Ø 29 mm, 9,52 g.  Dupl. 904; Hoffmann 81.
The circular point under the 12th letter stands for the mint of Lyon.
"Not unto us, o Lord, but unto thy name give glory."     F = mintmaster François Guilhen.
A circular point under the 12th letter of the legend.
Since 1540, a letter is added to the "point secret", here D below the arms for the mint of Lyon.

1/2 Teston, 25th type, Lyon (D).     Ø 22? mm.   D. 905.

1/2 Teston, 27th type, Tours (E).     Ø 22 mm.   Dupl. 909.
Obv.:   FRANCISCVS:Dei:GRACia:FRANCORum:·REX ♜   (♜ = mintmark for Tours)
Rev.:   +NOm NOBIS DomiNE:SED:NOmI·TVO DA GLORIA  -  E = mintmark for Tours.
"Not unto us, o Lord, but unto thy name give glory"

Teston, 28th type, Rouen (Pt 15e).     Ø 29 mm.   Dupl. 910a.

Gros de trois sous, Milan.     Ø ? mm.   Dupl. 960.

Teston as a sample in gold,   dies by Matteo Dal Nassaro, 1529.     Ø 29 mm.
Specimen from Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris   and also as sample in silver (10,4 g).

Bare-headed bust to the right, dressed as Roman, crown below the bust.
Rev.:   ✠XPS▴VINCIT▴XPS▴REGNAT▴XPS▴IMPERA  - Crowned shield of France.
Matteo Dal Nassaro from Verona was a goldsmith, die cutter and medalist.
He was active at the French court from 1515-48.

Sample of an écu d'or à l'effigie,   dies by Claude Le May (?), 1532.   Ø 27 mm.
Specimen from Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris


François as   Lord of Asti 1515-47   and as   Duke of Milan 1515-21
on separate pages.

    Later medals    

Cast bronze medal (1537) designed by Benvenuto Cellini.     Ø 41 mm.
Attwood 768; Börner 452; Armand I, 147, 3; Pollard Bargello 341 = Vannel & Toderi 663.

Obv.:   FRANCISCVS·I·FR - ANCORVM·REX·  -   Bust of François I facing left, bearded,
wearing a cuirass, a mantle, and a laurel wreath; to left, a sceptre.
Rev.:   FORTVNAM·VIRTVTE·DEVICIT   "He has overcome Fortune by Virtue"
A horseman galloping to right, holding a club aloft in his right hand. Below to right, a reclining female figure, nude, and, to left, a globe and a ruder. Signature in the exergue: ·BENVENV·F·
The original medal was struck from dies by Cellini. The occasion for its production was probably Cellini's first visit to Paris in 1537 and there is mention in an inventory of the artist's goods made in the following year of "una testa del Re de Francia de piombo" which may refer to a trial striking of the medal in lead. In fact, the Fitzwilliam Museum possess a lead striking of the obverse (Attwood 769) which shows a die crack behind the head of the king which is reproduced on the present cast medal as well as on other examples. Perhaps the dies broke at an early stage - which would explain why most surviving examples of the medal are casts. The reverse represents Fortune as the fallen female figure, her rudder and globe beside her, defeated by Virtue as the horseman, a design borrowed from Roman coinage.   [Morton & Eden]

Cast silver medal about 1538-44, attributed Matteo Dal Nassaro.     Ø 42 mm, 33,42 g.
Specimen from Coin Cabinet, Landesmuseums Württemberg, Stuttgart   Armand II,188,11; Kress 535.

Obv.:   FRANCISCVS PRIMVS·Francorum·Rex·INVICTISSIMVS   "... the most invincible"
Bust to the left in antique armor.

Rev.:  God Victoria (left) and god of war Mars (right) hold a wreath over the king.
"On the resolution of the permanently victorious king".

Bronze medal n. d., about 1559, attributed Leone Leoni.     Ø 103 mm, 486,3 g.
Specimen from Musée des Beax-Arts de Lyon     Armand -; TNG pl.X,1 (only obvers); Kress -.
Laurel bust to the left in antique armor.   //   the king riding to the left.
Another similar double faced piece without legends is kept in the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
TNG presents only the obverse, but including a legend: FRANCISCVS·I·FRANCORVM·REX·

Uniface silver medal 1537 (1902)   after Benedetto Ramelli.     Ø 134 mm.
Armand I 146,2; Toderi/Vannel 1161   produced after Georges Liard Sr c.1902.
Photo by BastienM for Wikipedia at Musée Paul-Dupuy à Toulouse.

Bust half left, flat cap with 3 feathers, double pearl necklace on the chest.

Silver medal n. d. (1525-47) by Domenico di Polo.  Ø 35 mm, 15,51 g.  Tordeli 1403 (this piece).

Cast bronze medal n. d. (1537?) by Ludwig Neufahrer or an unknown French medalist.
Ø 42,6 mm.    Habich I,2 1397; TNG pl.IX,5; Kress 604a; Scher 116.

Obv.:   FRANCISCVS - ·I·FRANCORVM·REX·Christianissimus°·43
"Francis I, most Christian king of the French at the age of 43"
"François dissipe cette flamme par la force de son intelligence: il triomphe de tous les obstacles, et la force de la tempête des évènemens ne peut l'engloutir" [TdN p.7 pl.IX,5]
"Francis dissipates this flame by the force of his intelligence: he triumphs over all obstacles, and the force of the storm of events cannot engulf him"
In a wreath, salamander in flames, a crown above it, below L·N.

Cast bronze medal n. d. (after 1535) by G. M. Pomedelli (?)     Ø 35 mm, 25,80 g, 6 h.
Armand III 242B; TNG pl.X,5; Kress 537 (Ø 39 mm, struck).

Bust slightly to the right, hat with a hanging feather and brocade shirt.
Unicorn dips his horn into a stream that flows from the rocks behind.
It was thought that the unicorn could clean the water with its horn. This emblem could indicate the king's eagerness to defend the purity of the Catholic faith.

The three young sons of King François I.

François de France (1518-1536), Dauphin de France and Duke of Bretagne
- First son -
He inherited Brittany from his mother Claude de France in 1514. Francois was crowned Duke of Brittany in 1532, shortly after France subordinated Brittany.
Together with his brother Henri, he was held hostage in Spain from 1526-30 so that his father, who had been captured by the Spanish at the Battle of Pavia in 1525, was released, just to break the peace treaty he had concluded as prisoner.
Francois, who had been ailing since being held hostage in Madrid, had asked for water after a sporting activity, collapsed and died days later. His secretary, who had served in the water, confessed under torture to have poisoned the Dauphin.

Cast bronze medal n. d.     Ø 53,2 mm, 63,1 g.
Armand II,189,15; TNG pl.VI,3 (with revers); Kress 538, this specimen (only obvers).

Obv.:   FRANCISCVS·II·FRANCiae - DELPHInus·BRITAnniae·DVX I   -   Bust to the left.
TNG also presents the associated revers:
Rev.   HERCVLI GAL - LIAE PACATORI   "To the pacifying Hercules of France"
Hercules, holding his club with one hand, and lifting his lion skin with the other, tramples Lernaean hydra.
The revers does not seem to have been made for this obvers.

Henri (1519-1559), successor to his father as King of France
- second son (see more below) -
Heinry was the only son who survived King Francis.

Cast bronze medal 1535.   Médailleur du Cardinal de Tournon.   Ø 71,2 mm, 103,1 g.
unfinished specimen in Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon

HENRicus:AVRELianus· - DVX:1535 / ANNORVM - 17   -   Bust to the left.

Charles de Valois-Angoulême, duc d'Orléans (1522-1545)
- third son -

Cast bronze medal 1535.   Médailleur du Cardinal de Tournon.   Ø 72 mm, 114.5 g.
unfinished specimen in Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon

CAROL·ENGOLIS:DVX - 1535 / ANNORVM· / 14   -   Bust to the right.

Part 3
Henri II,   King of France 1547-1559

• Duplessy, Jean :  Les Monnaies Françaises Royales de Hugues Capet à Louis XVI (987-1793),
    2º édition 1999, vol.1: up to Louis XII; vol.2: since François Ier
• Ciani, Louis :  Les monnaies royales francaises de Hugues Capet a Louis XVI,   Paris 1926
TNGTrésor de Numismatique et de Glyptique ... Médailles françaises depuis le règne de Charles VII,
    Paris 1836 & online
• Hoffmann, H. :  Les monnaies royales de France depuis Hugues Capet jusqu'à Louis XVI,
    Paris 1878 & online
• Mazerolle, Fernand :  Les médailleurs français du 15e siècle au milieu du 17e,   Paris 1902 & online
• Armand, Alfred :  Les médailleurs italiens des quinzième et seizième siècles, 3 vol.   Paris 1883 & online

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