See J. S. C. Bridge, A History of France from the Death of Louis XI, Vol. III-IV (1929).
Louis XII (June 27, 1462 – January 1, 1515), called "the Father of the People" (Le Père du Peuple) was the thirty-fifth king of France and the sole monarch from the Valois-Orléans branch of the House of Valois. He reigned from 1498 to 1515 and pursued a very active foreign policy.
In the 1480s Louis was involved in the so-called Mad War against royal authority. Allied with Francis II, Duke of Brittany he confronted the royal army at the Battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier, but was comprehensively defeated and captured. Pardoned three years later, Louis joined his cousin King Charles VIII, in campaigns in Italy. He succeeded to the throne on the king's death.
In an attempt to take control of the Duchy of Milan, to which he had a claim in right of his grandmother Valentina Visconti, Louis embarked on several campaigns in Italy. He successfully secured Milan itself in the year 1499 from his enemy, Ludovico Sforza, and it remained a French stronghold for twelve years. His greatest success came in his war with Venice, with the victory at the Battle of Agnadello in 1509. Things became much more difficult for him from 1510 onwards, especially after Julius II, the great warrior Pope, took control of the Vatican and formed the "Holy League" to oppose the ambitions of the French in Italy. The French were eventually driven from Milan by the Swiss in the year 1513.
Louis also pursued the claim of his immediate predecessor to the Kingdom of Naples with Ferdinand II, the King of Aragon from the House of Trastámara. They agreed to partition the Neapolitan realm in the Treaty of Granada (1500), but were eventually at war over the terms of partition, and by the year 1504 France had lost its share of Naples.
Louis proved to be a popular king. At the end of his reign the crown deficit was no greater than it had been when he succeeded Charles VIII in 1498, despite several expensive military campaigns in Italy. His fiscal reforms of 1504 and 1508 tightened and improved procedures for the collection of taxes. He had duly earned the title of Father of the People ("Le Père du Peuple"), conferred upon him by the Estates in 1506.
The annulment was not simple, however. Described as "one of the seamiest lawsuits of the age", Louis did not, as might be expected, argue the marriage to be void due to consanguinity (the general allowance for the dissolution of a marriage at that time). Though he could produce witnesses to claim that the two were closely related due to various linking marriages, there was no documentary proof, merely the opinions of courtiers. Likewise, Louis could not argue that he had been below the legal age of consent (fourteen) to marry: no one was certain when he had been born, with Louis claiming to have been twelve at the time, and others ranging in their estimates between eleven and thirteen. As there was no real proof, however, he was forced to make other arguments.
Accordingly, Louis (much to the horror of his Queen) claimed that she was physically malformed, providing a rich variety of detail as to how she was malformed, and that he had therefore been unable to consummate the marriage. Joan, unsurprisingly, fought this uncertain charge fiercely, producing witnesses to Louis boasting of having "mounted my wife three or four times during the night." Louis also claimed that his sexual performance had been inhibited by witchcraft; Joan responded by asking how he was able to know what it was like to try to make love to her.
Had the Papacy been a neutral party, Jeanne would likely have won, for Louis's case was exceedingly weak. Unfortunately for the Queen, Pope Alexander VI (the former Roderic Borja) was committed, for political reasons to grant the divorce, and accordingly he ruled against Jeanne, granting the annulment. Outraged, she reluctantly stepped aside, saying that she would pray for her former husband, and Louis married the equally reluctant former Queen, Anne.
After the death of Anne, Louis then married Mary (1496–1533), the sister of Henry VIII, the King of England in Abbeville, France, on October 9, 1514, in an attempt to conceive an heir to his throne and perhaps to further establish a future claim for his descendants upon the English throne as well. He was ultimately unsuccessful. Despite two previous marriages, the king had no living sons and sought to produce an heir; but Louis died on January 1 1515, less than three months after he married Mary, reputedly worn out by his exertions in the bedchamber. Their union produced no children.
The only marriage of Louis's which produced any children was his second, with Anne of Brittany. By her he had two surviving daughters:
There were also two boys, who died shortly after birth:
|By Anne of Brittany|
|Claude of France||14 October 1499||20 July 1524||married Francis I of France on 18 May 1514; had issue|
|Renée of France||25 October 1500||12 June 1574||married Ercole II d'Este in April 1528; had issue|
|Unnamed son||21 January 1508||21 January 1508|
|Unnamed son||21 January 1512||21 January 1512|