1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Louis XII. of France

LOUIS XII. (1462–1515), king of France, was grandson of Louis of Orleans, the brother of Charles VI., and son of the poet prince, Charles of Orleans, who, after the battle of Agincourt, spent twenty-five years of captivity in England. Louis was duke of Orleans until his accession to the throne, and he was fourteen years old when Louis XI. gave him the hand of his second daughter, Joan the Lame. In the first years of the reign of Charles VIII., Louis made a determined stand against the government of the Beaujeus, stirred up coalitions of the feudal nobles against them, and was finally defeated and taken prisoner at St Aubin du Cormier in 1488. Charles VIII. set him at liberty in 1491. These successive checks tamed him a little. In the Italian expedition of 1494 he commanded the vanguard of the royal army, occupied Genoa, and remained in the north of Italy, menacing Milan, on which he was already dreaming of asserting his rights. The children of Charles VIII. having died in infancy, he became heir-presumptive to the throne, and succeeded Charles in 1499. Louis was then thirty-six years old, but he seems to have grown old prematurely. He was fragile, narrow-shouldered and of a sickly constitution. His intelligence was mediocre, his character weak, and he allowed himself to be dominated by his wife, Anne of Brittany, and his favourite the Cardinal d’Amboise. He was a good king, full of moderation and humanity, and bent upon maintaining order and improving the administration of justice. He enjoyed a genuine popularity, and in 1506 the estates of Tours conferred on him the surname of Père du Peuple. His foreign policy, which was directed wholly towards Italy, was for the most part unskilful; to his claims on Naples he added those on Milan, which he based on the marriage of his grandfather, Louis of Orleans, with Valentina Visconti. He led in person several armies into Italy, and proved as severe and pitiless towards his enemies as he was gentle and clement towards his subjects. Louis had two daughters. After his accession he had divorced his virtuous and ill-favoured queen, Joan, and had married, in 1499, Anne of Brittany, the widow of Charles VIII. On her death in January 1514, in order to detach England from the alliance against him, he married on the 9th of October 1514, Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII. of England (see Mary, queen of France). He died on the 1st of January 1515.

For a bibliography of the printed sources see Henri Hauser, Les Sources de l’histoire de France, XVIe siècle, vol. 1. (Paris, 1906). The principal secondary authorities are De Maulde, Histoire de Louis XII. (Paris, 1889-1893); Le Roux de Lincy, Vie de la reine Anne de Bretagne (Paris, 1860); H. Lemonnier, Les Guerres d’Italie (Paris, 1903) in the Histoire de France by E. Lavisse.