Birthday: June 27, 1462
Died At Age: 52
Sun Sign: Cancer
Also Known As: Louis of Orléans
Born Country: France
Born in: Château Royal de Blois, Blois, France
Famous as: King
Emperors & Kings
Spouse/Ex-: Mary Tudor - Queen of France (m. 1514), Anne of Brittany (m. 1499 – 1514), Joan of France - Duchess of Berry (m. 1476 – 1498)
father: Charles, Duke of Orléans
mother: Duchess of Orléans, Marie of Cleves
children: Claude of France, Michel Bucy, Renée of France
Died on: January 1, 1515
place of death: Hôtel des Tournelles
Cause of Death: Gangrene
Who was Louis XII of France?
Louis XII of France was the king of France who ruled from 1498 to 1515. He also served as the king of Naples from 1501 to 1504. Before becoming the king, he was known as Louis of Orléans. He battled against the French army at the Mad War as a young man and was later captured by Charles VIII who incorporated him in his army. Louis eventually succeeded Charles VIII who left no closer heir after his death in 1498. The son of Charles, Duke of Orléans and his third wife Marie of Cleves, Louis grew up in Château de Blois. He earned the title of duke after his father’s death in 1465. In 1476, Louis was forced to marry Joan, the supposedly sterile daughter of his second cousin King Louis XI. Later, their marriage was annulled so that he could marry Charles’ widow, Anne of Brittany. With Anne, Louis produced many children. He also fathered an illegitimate son. He became known as ‘Father of the People’ for maintaining civil peace within France during his reign. Louis XII of France died in 1515 without leaving a legal male heir and was succeeded by his cousin and son-in-law Francis.
Childhood & Early Life
Louis XII of France was born as Louis d'Orléans on June 27, 1462, at the Royal Château de Blois in France, to Charles, Duke of Orléans and his third wife, Marie of Cleves.
He became the Duke of Orléans in 1465. In 1485, he participated in the Mad War against Anne, sister of King Charles VIII and daughter of Louis XI who had died in 1483 when Charles was a teen.
On 28 July 1488, Louis confronted Anne and her troops at the Battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier. He was defeated and captured. Three years later, he was pardoned and included in King Charles VIII’s army.
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Accession & Reign
On 7 April 1498, Louis succeeded Charles to the royal throne as Louis XII of France as Charles died without an heir. Under his reign, the governance in the country saw much improvement. He reduced the taxes and reformed the country’s legal system.
He reduced the pensions for the foreign princes and nobility. He established the Catholic Church as a Gallic Church and distributed the power of appointment to French officials.
Through the Ordinance of Blois and the Ordinance of Lyon issued in 1499 and 1510, respectively, the king extended the authority of judges and also made efforts to reduce corruption in the legal system.
On 6 July 1495, Louis, as the Duke of Orleans fought against the French army under Charles VIII at the Battle of Fornovo. After being defeated, he joined the French army.
Louis joined Charles VIII on a campaign against Italy to occupy the Duchy of Milan. The actual war had started in 1494. A series of battles occurred over the years that later became known as the "Italian Wars".
After becoming the king in 1498, Louis continued fighting for Milan under his own campaign called the "Great Italian War" that took place from 1499 to 1504.
A year before gaining the title of the king, he had signed a peace agreement with the Holy Roman Empire’s Emperor Maximillian I. He had also signed a treaty with Spain to maintain cordial relations.
In early 1499, he renewed an old alliance with Scotland and also signed a deal with the Swiss Confederation that would enable France to recruit indefinite troops in the Confederation.
The Great Italian War
As the king, Louis XII of France had an ambition to conquer Milan. On 10 August 1499, the French army led by Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, a non-Frenchman who was born and raised in Milan, reached the Duchy of Milan.
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They surrounded Milan’s western town Rocca di Arazzo and bombarded it before conquering it. The same was repeated at Annone. The French army then marched toward Milan’s last fortified town, Pavia, which was eventually surrendered by the Italian army under Lodovico Sforza.
On 6 October 1499, Louis XII entered Milan. Now the French army faced Sforza who had collaborated with the Swiss to regain Milan.
In mid-January 1500, Sforza entered the Duchy of Milan upon which Marshal Trivulzio left the city. After Trivulzio left his post, Louis XII sent Louis de La Trémoille to recapture Milan. Sforza was forced to leave Milan, and he was later captured and imprisoned for life in France.
Conquering the Kingdom of Naples
In 1500, France along with Florence sieged Pisa, enabling Louis XII to strengthen his claim over the Kingdom of Naples. He decided to share half of the kingdom with Ferdinand II, the King of Aragon.
In 1501, he raised an army under Bernard Stuart of Aubigny to conquer his portion of Naples. After conquering it successfully, Louis was declared the king alongside Ferdinand II. However, their agreement did not last long.
The French king sent his troops under Louis d' Armagnac, Duke of Nemours to fight Spain at the Battle of Agnadello in May 1508. The battle was eventually won by the French army.
Family & Personal Life
Louis XII of France married thrice. In 1476, he was forced to marry Louis XI’s daughter Joan of France. Their union produced no children as Joan was sterile.
His second marriage was with Charles VIII’s widow Anne, Duchess of Brittany in 1499. Charles had married her to unite the Kingdom of France with Duchy of Brittany. Louis married Anne to sustain this union.
With Anne, the king had four stillborn sons and two surviving daughters, namely Renée of France and Claude of France.
After Anne's death, he married a sister of Henry VIII of England, Mary Tudor, in October 1514. This marriage produced no issue.
Death, Succession, & Legacy
Louis XII of France died on 1 January 1515 after receiving his final sacraments.
He was succeeded by his cousin and son-in-law Francis I of France who was married to his daughter Claude of France.
The king’s fiscal reforms of 1504 and 1508 improved and strengthened the measures for the collection of taxes.