History - OnThisDay - 18 March 1555 - Francis, Duke of Anjou

On 18 March 1555 the youngest son of King Henry II of France and
Catherine de' Medici was born.




Youth

Francis was an attractive child but at the age of 8 he was scarred by smallpox.
In 1574 after the death of his brother King Charles IX of France, his other
brother Henry III was crowned King of France. Francis became heir to the
throne.

Following titles were granted to him:

1560-1584: Duke of Évreux;
1566-1584: Duke of Alençon, Duke of Châteaux-Thierry, Count of Perche,
                   Count of Meulan, Count of Mantes
1576-1584: Duke of Anjou, Duke of Berry, Duke of Touraine.



Duty

On the night of 15 September 1575, Francis fled from the French Court after
a difference with his brother King Henry III. Both Henry III and his mother
feared that he would join the Protestant rebels. These fears were right. He
joined the Prince of Condé and his forces in the south.

In 1578 there were arrangements for marrying him to Queen  Elizabeth I of
England. He was 24, Elizabeth 46 and the two became very close.

Between 1578 and 1581 there were wedding negotiations between Elizabeth
and the Duke of Alençon. He had put himself forward as a protector of the
Huguenots and a potential leader of the Dutch.

However Alençon was a Catholic and his elder brother King Henry III
remained childless. Thus Alençon became an heir to the throne. So the
wedding negotiations came to an end.



Francis travelled to the Netherlands. He arrived there on 10 February 1582.
However he was not popular with the Dutch and the Flemish, who saw the
Catholic French as their enemies, they refused to accept them as their
sovereign.

Francis, Duke of Anjou decided to take control of the Flemish cities of
Antwerp, Bruges, Dunkirk and Ostend by force.

He personally lead the attack on Antwerp. On 18 January 1583
he entered Antwerp, but the city militia ambushed and destroyed Anjou's
force in the French Fury. Anjou barely escaped with his life.

Francis with his sister

Death

This debacle marked the end of his military career, he returned to the French Court.
Soon Anjou fell seriously ill with malaria. He died on 10 June 1584 at the age of 29.


Source pictures: Wikipedia

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