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Francis I (1494-1547) was inconstant, amorous, hot-headed and flawed. Yet he was also arguably the most significant king that France ever had. This is his story.
A contemporary of Henry VIII of England, Francis saw himself as the first Renaissance king, a man who was the exemplar of courtly and civilised behaviour throughout Europe. A courageous and heroic warrior, he was also a keen aesthete, an accomplished diplomat and an energetic ruler who turned his country into a force to be reckoned with.
Yet he was also capricious, vain and arrogant, taking hugely unnecessary risks, at least one of which nearly resulted in the end of his kingdom. His great feud with his nemesis Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, defined European diplomacy and sovereignty, but his notorious alliance with the great Ottoman ruler Suleiman the Magnificent threatened to destroy everything.
With access to never-before-seen private archives, Leonie Frieda's comprehensive and sympathetic account explores the life of the most human of all Renaissance monarchs - and the most enigmatic.