Francis II, Duke of Brittany

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Francis II (in French François II) (June 23 1433September 9 1488), was duke of Brittany, from 1458 to his death. He was son of Richard count d'Etampes and grandson of Duke John V. Francis' life was characterised by conflicts with the crown of France, ruled by king Louis XI of Valois (War of the Public Weal), and especially his son Charles VIII.

Francis II married twice, first to his cousin Margaret, heiress of Brittany, daughter of Francis I, then to Margaret of Foix, princess of Navarre. Only one daughter, Anna of Brittany, from his second marriage, survived to adulthood.

During the minority of Charles VIII of France, Francis II aligned himself with the Duke of Orleans and the count of Angouleme, against the regency of Anne of Beaujeu. His attention to the internal politics of his neighbour France made him neglect his own affairs. Brittany's prime-minister Monsieur de Landois was an oppressive and corrupt man and his actions caused a major open revolt. The minor nobles and the people of Brittany were supported by the crown of France, eager to get even with Francis II. Unable to get help from Brittany's traditional allies, the English (by then Richard III of England was having enough of his own problems – see Wars of the Roses), Francis saw his duchy ravaged and Landois hanged by the infuriated people in what is known as the Mad War (La Guerre Folle). Even without Landois in power, the Bretons remained suspicious of their duke. Nevertheless, in 1486, the Estates of Brittany confirm the succession of Brittany on Francis' daughter Anne, to assure independence from France.

The Treaty of Chateaubriant, signed in 1487 with France, reassured Brittany's independence, but the French continued to harass the duchy. Francis then allied with Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor against France, to tone down the offensives. The move did not result according to plan and once again, Brittany was ravaged. In July 28 Brittany was defeated in the battle of Saint Aubin de Cormier. A few days later, on August 10, Francis was forced to sign the Peace of Verger. In the terms of the treaty, the duke was compelled to recognise himself and his duchy as a vassal of the king of France.

Francis II died shortly afterwards, following a fall from his horse during a leisure ride. After his death, Charles VIII invaded Brittany and forced the heiress Anne to marry him, thus succeeding in the control of the duchy.

See also: Dukes of Brittany family tree - Other politically important horse accidents

Preceded by:
Arthur III
Duke of Brittany Succeeded by:

de:Franz II. (Bretagne)


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