On this day in history, 20th July 1524, Queen Claude of France, consort of Francis I, died at the age of just twenty-four at the Royal Chateau of Blois. She was temporarily laid to rest there and then later moved to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Denis just outside Paris.
Brantôme declared that Claude’s husband, Francis I, gave her “the pox, which shortened her days”, meaning syphilis, but the cause of her death is not known for certain.
In today's talk, I give an overview of Queen Claude's life, as well as sharing the theories regarding her death.
Also on this day in Tudor history, 20th July 1554, John Knox, theologian and a leader of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, published a pamphlet attacking the Catholic Queen Mary I, her religious measures and her persecution of Protestants. Find out what he said in last year’s video:
Also on this day in history:
- 1547 – Death of Beatus Rhenanus (or Beatus Bild), humanist, classical scholar and friend of Erasmus, in Strasbourg. His works included a biography of priest and preacher Johann Geiler von Kaisersberg, a nine volume work on Erasmus, the Rerum Germanicarum Libri III and his editions of the work of Roman historian Velleius.
- 1554 – Philip of Spain arrived in England, at Southampton, in readiness for his marriage to Mary I.
On this day in history, 20th July 1524, Queen Claude of France, consort of Francis I, died at the age of just twenty-four. She died at Blois and was temporarily laid to rest in the chapel there, but then moved to the royal mausoleum of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Denis just outside Paris in 1527. Brantôme declared that Claude’s husband, Francis I, gave her “the pox, which shortened her days”, meaning syphilis, but the cause of her death is not known for certain.
Let me tell you a bit more about Queen Claude of France before I share some photos that Tim and I took of the tomb she shares with her husband, Francis I.
• Claude was born on 13th October 1499 and was the eldest daughter of King Louis XII of France and his second wife, Anne of Brittany. Out of the 14 pregnancies her mother experience, only Claude and her sister, Renée survived childhood.
• In 1501, the infant Claude was contracted to marry Charles, the future Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. However, the contract was cancelled in 1505 when an ill Louis XII decided that it was best to marry his daughter off to his heir, his first cousin once removed, Francis, Duke of Valois and later Duke of Angoulême, son of Charles, Count of Angoulême, and Louise of Savoy.
• Claude became Duchess of Brittany on her mother’s death in January 1514.
• On 18th May 1514, Claude married Francis, and on 9th October 1514, her father married Mary Tudor, sister of King Henry VIII. However, Louis’ marriage was shortlived as he died on 1st January 1515. His daughter became queen of France as her husband succeeded her father as king, becoming King Francis I of France.
• Claude was crowned queen on 10th May 1517 at the Basilica of St-Denis, by which point she had given her husband two children, daughters Louise and Charlotte. She went on to give him at least five more, including Henry II, King of France.
• Due to her almost annual pregnancies, Claude spent much of her time away from court in the Upper Loire area, at the chateaux of Amboise and Blois.
• Claude attended the historic meeting between her husband and King Henry VIII at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520.
• Anne Boleyn, future Queen of England, was one of Claude’s ladies, serving her from 1515 to late 1521.
• Claude was a well-loved queen. Historian Pierre de Bourdeille, seigneur de Brantôme, described her as “very good and very charitable, and very sweet to everyone and never showed displeasure to anybody in her court or of her domains”.
• Queen Claude was petite and suffered with scoliosis, and problems with her hips. Theories regarding her cause of death on this day in 1524 include syphilis, complications after childbirth or a miscarriage, exhaustion from her many pregnancies, and bone tuberculosis.
• Claude’s husband, King Francis I, went on to marry Eleanor of Austria, daughter of Philip the Handsome and Juana of Castile.
• Trivia: Queen Claude has a greengage, the Reine Claude, named after her.
Wow! Queen Claude was known for her sophistication, her intelligence and her strict moral codes and her loyalty. Yet, her husband was constantly unfaithful to her, although he spent each night with his wife. Claude must have had a great strain on her health. She gave Francoise several children, seven at least and was only 24 when she died, having been married almost nine years since she was 14. As the article says its not known for certain what the cause of her death was and I do hope it wasn’t syphilis, that would be really horrible, although Francis is believed to have suffered from it. Doesn’t it cause sterilisation in a woman? She was possibly deeply affected by so many pregnancies and if her physical disabilities affected her bones and caused a disease, then the poor woman must have been in terrible pain. A combination of physical problems and the strain of so many pregnancies on her body probably contributed to her very early demise. RIP Claude, Queen of France.