The reigns of Francis I ( 1494 – 1547 ) and that of his boy and inheritor Henry II of France ( 1519 – 1559 ) non merely established the Valois-Angouleme dynasty on the Gallic thrown, every bit good as the full graduated table acceptance of Renaissance monarchy in France, but besides, harmonizing to some historiographers, proverb for the first clip in Gallic monarchal history the execution of absolute monarchy. Some historiographers, nevertheless, notably J. Russell Major, have rejected the claim that the reigns of Francis I and Henry II were absolute in nature ; reasoning that the term absolute monarchy can merely foremost be applied to the reign of Louis XIV. Taking this historiography into consideration this survey will foremost analyze whether early 16th century monarchy in France can be labelled as absolute, before comparing the reigns of Francis I and Henry II severally, looking closely at the noteworthy causes celebres that took topographic point between 1515 and 1559.
Any survey into whether the reigns of Francis I and Henry II were absolute, and so later a comparing of these two sovereigns as absolute swayers, necessitates at least a superficial scrutiny of 16th century Gallic monarchy.
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The esteemed early modern European historiographer, R. J. Knecht, comments that old coevalss and today ‘s coevals of historiographers are “ divided about the precise nature of Gallic monarchy in the 16th century ” . Indeed, there are legion faculty members that argue as to the precise nature of monarchy under Francis I and Henry II. G. Pages, in his book entitled La Monarchie d’Ancien Regime en France, argues that the reigns of Francis I and Henry II should be regarded as the first measure the Gallic monarchy took in the way of tyranny that would go most apparent throughout the reign of Louis XIV. Furthermore, harmonizing to Pages, Francis I and Henry II were both every bit powerful as any other old Gallic sovereign, if non more so, and that “ it was at the beginning of the 16th century ” , therefore the reigns of Francis I and Henry II, “ that the absolute monarchy triumphed ” . On the other manus, J. Russell Major argues that, instead than being absolute in nature, monarchy in 16th century France, and specifically the reigns of Francis I and Henry II, was more reliant upon the powers it received from late medieval tradition. In coaction with J. Russell Major, French bookman Henri Prentout argues, in his Les Etats provinciaux de Normandie, that the term absolute monarchy can non be used to mention to the reigns of 16th century Gallic sovereigns like Francis I and Henry II, but instead that the look more accurately reflects the reign of Louis XIV of France and the administrative and financial alterations implemented from 1643 to 1715. Indeed, instead than mentioning to Francis I and Henry II as inherently absolute sovereign, Prentout argues that their reigns could more realistically be termed “ contractual ” .
Whilst the two differing rational schools of idea on the subject make valid statements, even the most superficial of scrutinies into the historiography environing absolute monarchy under Francis and Henry – though a utile comparing can be found in Henry VIII – suggests that absolute monarchy necessitated a system that operated, though non entirely, with an component of deputation and outside audience. The ground for this demand for sovereigns like Francis and Henry to depute the royal privilege is that with an addition in the sum of disposal ( including financial and judicial disposal ) , in order to guarantee the fleet operation of organic structures of the province, a sovereign had to depute. As such, sovereigns had to depute such administrative undertakings to sure council members ; as Henry VIII did under Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and subsequently Thomas Cromwell and as Francis I and Henry II did with Anne de Montmorency, and in Francis I ‘s instance the Cardinal of Tounon and Admiral Annebaut ( though both were later removed from their places under Henry II ) . In this respect so ( albeit with a shifting in favoured forces ) , Francis I and Henry II can be said to hold operated likewise as a sort of demi-absolute sovereign, confer withing and deputing when necessary. One ‘s ain averment would look to be one mostly endorsed by R. J. Knecht who, in Gallic Renaissance Monarchy: Francis I & A ; Henry II, states that the reign of Francis I “ marked a important phase in the development of Gallic monarchy ” with the sovereign power going more “ centralized than it had been it the late Middle Ages ” . But every bit,
Having now established that early 16th century French monarchy, under Francis I and Henry II, can be deemed to hold been demi-absolutist – in that both swayers augmented monarchal power in a manner that had ne’er been witnessed, whilst supplying the foundation for tyranny under Louis XIV – it is imperative that one considers the cardinal causes celebres ( translated to intend celebrated cause or an incident that attracts public attending ) of both Francis ‘ and Henry ‘s reign, comparing the two sovereigns.
By contrast to the position advocated by J. Russell Major – that the reign of Francis I, and to an extent Henry II, saw an addition in audience as portion of the machinery of 16th century French monarchy – R. J. Knecht states that an “ scrutiny of one or two causes celebresaˆ¦ will demo how far ‘consultation ‘ entered into royal policy devising ” .
A good illustration of how audience entered the policy devising of Francis I can be seen in the Concordat of Bologna of 1516. The Concordat of Bologna illustrates both Francis using his absolute power, by coercing his Parlement to sign a policy it vehemently rejected, and besides how audience – in this case between Francis and Pope Leo X, “ with whom he [ Francis ] had several interviews ” – could fir into Francis ‘ ideal for absolute monarchy. Basically, the Concordat was a deal struck between Francis and Leo X, which stipulated that:
When any cathedrals or metropolitan sees in the said land
aˆ¦ shall fall vacantaˆ¦ their chapters and cannons shall non be entitled to continue to the electionaˆ¦ of the new archpriest. In the event of such a vacancy, the male monarch of Franceaˆ¦ shallaˆ¦ nowadays and nominate to us and our replacements as bishops of Romeaˆ¦ a sober and knowing maestro.
Whilst the bargaining between Francis and the Pope is an illustration of how Francis consulted with others and allowed outside parties, to an extent, to order policy in France ( giving Rome a considerable say over the dealing of the Gallican church ) , it was the mode in which the trade was forced through his ain Parlement that best demonstrates how absolute Francis ‘ reign could go. In coaction with the Paris Parlement the University protested smartly against the Concordat, but, to no help. For the “ lone consequence of their expostulations was that Francois ordered the imprisonment of several members of the University ” . It was non merely the University of Paris, nevertheless, that suffered as a consequence of the Francis ‘ finding to implement the Concordat. Having ab initio refused to register the covenant, Francis went into a “ fit of fury: at that place would merely be one male monarch in Franceaˆ¦ and no senate ” ; endangering to do the Parlement “ jog after him ” . In add-on to this instead blunt reproof of his Parlement, Francis, upon holding two of his Parlementaires declare the Parlement ‘s expostulations, issued them with a fleet ultimatum: to go forth tribunal by 6.a.m the undermentioned twenty-four hours ; or confront being thrown into a cavity and left there for up to six months. Finally, and non surprisingly, the covenant was officially registered ( though merely after Francis had threatened the constitution of a rival Parlement in Poitiers, and a caution being attached proclaiming the tribunal acted under duress ) . The Concordat of Bologna so is a powerful illustration of how Francis I implemented his new found absolute monarchal authorization.
It would be just to asseverate that both Francis I and Henry II saw themselves as absolute sovereigns who were responsible merely to a higher authorization than themselves, God. Another manner in which both of these sovereigns demonstrated their absolute power can be seen in their worsening usage of their several Parlements and the mode in which both Francis and Henry ran their supposedly representative establishments. The theory that both Francis and Henry saw themselves as absolute by right and that no earthly authorization was superior to them was one most decidedly “ conceded by Charles Guillart, a president of the Parlement of Paris ” , in a singular address made to Francis I in July 1527. In his address, Guillart proclaimed that “ we do non wish to name into inquiry or to dispute your authorityaˆ¦ This would be a sort of profanation and we are good cognizant that you are above the Torahs and that Torahs and regulations can non restrain you ” . Thus, in presenting this address, Guillart was overtly declaring Francis as above the Torahs of France, and that his absolute royal authorization was unquestionable. But, as there ever is with Parliamentary declarations, Guillart added a caution. “ We wish to state that you do non wish or should non wish to make all that is in your power, but merely that which is good and just, which is nil other than justness ” . This caution so, appears to be an effort by the Parlement to carry Francis merely to utilize his absolute royal authorization for honorable grounds. But, an scrutiny into an edict of 1527 specifying the powers of Parlement clearly supports the averment that Francis saw himself as an absolute sovereign, above the Torahs of his kingdom and, as the edict clearly demonstrates, above his jurisprudence shapers every bit good.
The edict rebelliously forbade the Parlement to “ tamper in any manner in personal businesss of province ” or in any other capacity than the judicial and more general commandments that “ each twelvemonth you shall obtain letters corroborating your delegated authorization ” . Furthermore, Francis “ revoked and annulled all that you [ Parlement ] have attempted in covering with instances on entreaty, assignments ” . This transition of the edict so would look to be a clear reproof by Francis of his Parlement, by prohibiting them in any manner to tamper in his personal businesss of province, except where granted to make so. Therefore, one might be forgiven for declaring this subdivision of the edict as entirely absolute in nature. But, under closer review, the advisory facet of absolute monarchy and the demand for deputation can be seen. Indeed, the edict itself declares that Parlementaires would have delegated authorization from Francis. The edict, nevertheless, did non entirely limit the ballad and non-religious powers of Parlement. For Francis besides forbade the Parlement to “ judge all affairs archiepiscopal, Episcopal and abbatial, and declares void and null any effort by you to conflict this prohibition ” . Interestingly though, the edict besides nullifies any effort by the Parlement to, non merely limit the powers of Francis himself, contravene the authorization of Francis ‘ household, notably Louise of Savoy. For, Francis cancelled “ all the restrictions imposed by you on the power and regency of his female parent ” . Although this may look to be nil but absolute in nature there is a intimation of deputation. For, this transition of the edict infers that Francis would at times need to go through royal authorization over to his female parent, Louise of Savoy, who would later move as trustee. Indeed, Francis proclaimed that “ in the event of his go forthing the land, he appoints the said lady [ his female parent ] as trustee and gives her such authorization and power as he himself has without reserve ” . Clearly so, this transition of the edicts confirms that deputation had it rightful topographic point amongst absolute regulation, albeit the delegated authorization was to a household member and non council members or courtiers. The edict, nevertheless, does non merely restrict Parlement ‘s authorization with respects to the aforementioned. To guarantee that Francis ‘s will was met, he forbade the “ tribunal to use in future any restriction, alteration or limitation to his regulations, edicts and charters ” . Therefore, this edict grossly curtailing Parlement ‘s authorization could non be rejected. But, “ should members of the tribunal find it necessary in the involvement of the male monarch or the province to add or take something, they will convey this to the male monarch ‘s notice ” . So whilst there is the smallest sum of room for tactic, it could be said that absolute power is being exercised, as the sovereign himself still had to be notified of the alterations and later had to choose for or against them.
It would be artful, nevertheless, holding seen how Francis badly limited the authorization of his ain Parlement and transferred this authorization to himself, to province that both Francis and particularly Henry II were entirely absolute and non willing to confer with others.
Henry II, harmonizing to his biographer Frederic J. Baumgartner, “ like most male monarchs of the early modern period, idea of himself as absolute but was unable to govern perfectly, nor did he do any strong attempt to make so ” . Knecht, by contrast, argues that Henry, holding ascended to the thrown, “ began by uncluttering up the tribunal ” , controling a considerable sum of the tribunals amusements that dominated his male parent ‘s, Francis I ‘s, reign. In this respect so, it could be said that Henry and Francis had differing theoretical accounts and thoughts of absolute monarchy. H. Noel Willams comments that whilst Henry was an honest male monarch with commendable purposes, as can be seen by his curtailing of licentious tribunal patterns, he was still at the topic of his “ greedy and ambitious front-runners who thought merely of working him for their ain selfish terminals ” . Thus, instead than exerting the force of authorities himself, it would look as though Henry was the pawn of his council members and front-runners. This averment that Henry was basically a weaker sovereign than his male parent and more willing to be governed than take control of the reigns of authorities himself, is one echoed by J.A. de Thou, composing in his Histoire universelle, who states that Henry was “ sort and easy traveling ” but “ tended to follow the thoughts of others instead than his ain sentiments ” . But every bit, Francis was susceptible to the force per unit areas of courtiers and the sentiments of his front-runners and council members. Marino Cavalli, the Venetian embassador to Francis ‘ tribunal, stated that if Francis:
endures bodily fatigues unflinchingly, he finds mental preoccupations more hard to bear and pass them over about wholly to the cardinal of Tournon and the admiral. He takes no determination and gives no answer without first listening to their advice: in all things he follows their advocate ; and if of all time ( which is really rare ) a answer is made to an embassador or a grant which these two council members have non approved, he cancels or modifies it.
In add-on to this comment, the Venetian embassador refers to Francis as “ submissive ” . However, Cavalli does province that in “ all great affairs of province ” Francis “ insists on his will being obeyed ” and that “ no 1 at tribunal, nevertheless great his authorityaˆ¦ darings remonstrate with his stateliness ” . Cavalli ‘s sentiment, as a whole, nevertheless, suggests that Francis ‘ tyranny came with restrictions ; both physical ( due to Francis ‘ progressively faulty physical fundamental law ) and mental ( as, in 1546, one twelvemonth before his decease, Francis ‘ mental abilities would hold doubtless been slightly diminished by old age ) . Although, one eminent historiographer of the period has argued that Francis “ was ever in charge of personal businesss, even at the terminal of his reign, when his wellness was earnestly undermined ” . What the correspondence of the Venetian embassador reveals is that whilst Francis exercised a grade of absolute power, given that he discharged personal businesss to sure council members – viz. the Cardinal of Tournon and Admiral Annebaut – he should be regarded as a demi-absolute sovereign, deputing personal businesss and confer withing where necessary.
Ultimately, while Francis may look to hold been the stronger, more forceful and absolute sovereign, both Henry and his male parent were susceptible to the positions of their front-runners: for Francis Admiral Annebaut and the Cardinal of Tournon ; and Henry, as Francis had done before his shame, Anne de Montmorency, who had seen his lucks reinvigorated ( rather literally as he had been offered a amount of 100,000 ecus by Henry as compensation for his loss of net incomes during his period of shame at the custodies of Francis ‘ kept woman Madame d’Etampes ) under Henry II.