1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Louise of Savoy

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LOUISE OF SAVOY (1476–1531), duchess of Angoulême, mother of Francis I. of France, was daughter of a cadet of the house of Savoy, Philip, count of Bresse, afterwards duke of Savoy. Through her mother, Marguerite de Bourbon, she was niece of Pierre de Bourbon, sire de Beaujeu, afterwards duke of Bourbon. At the age of twelve she was married to Charles of Valois, count of Angoulême, great-grandson of King Charles V. The count died in 1496, leaving her the mother of two children, Marguerite (b. 1492) and Francis (b. 1494). The accession of Louis XII., who was childless, made Francis of Angoulême the heir-presumptive to the throne of France. Louise brought her children to the court, and received Amboise as her residence. She lived henceforth in fear lest Louis should have a son; and in consequence there was a secret rivalry between her and the queen, Anne of Brittany. Finally, her son became king on the 1st of January 1515 by the death of Louis XII. From him Louise received the county of Angoulême, which was erected into a duchy, the duchy of Anjou, and the counties of Maine and Beaufort. She was then given the title of “Madame.” From 1515 to her death, she took the chief share in the government. The part she played has been variously judged, and is not yet completely elucidated. It is certain that Louise had a clear head, practical good sense and tenacity. In the critical situation after the battle of Pavia (1525) she proved herself equal to the emergency, maintained order in the kingdom, and manœuvred very skilfully to detach Henry VIII. of England from the imperial alliance. But she appears to have been passionate, exceedingly rapacious and ever careful of her own interest. In her malignant disputes with the constable de Bourbon on the question of his wife’s succession, she goaded him to extreme measures, and her rapacity showed itself also in her dealings with the surintendant des finances, J. de Beaune, baron de Samblançay (d. 1527), who diverted the money intended for the French soldiers in Italy into the coffers of the queen, and suffered death in consequence. She died in 1531, and Francis reunited to the crown her domains, which comprised the Bourbonnais, Beaujolais, Auvergne, la Marche, Angoumois, Maine and Anjou.

There is extant a Journal of Louise of Savoy, the authenticity of which seems certain. It consists of brief notes—generally very exact and sometimes ironical—which go as far as the year 1522. The only trustworthy text is that published by Guichenon in his Histoire généalogique de la maison de Savoie (ed. of 1778–1780, vol. iv.).

See Poésies de François I er et de Louise de Savoie . . ., ed. by Champollion-Figeac (1847); De Maulde, Louise de Savoie et François I er (1895); G. Jacqueton, La Politique extérieure de Louise de Savoie . . . (1892); H. Hauser, “Étude critique sur le Journal de Louise de Savoie,” in the Revue historique, vol. 86 (1904).