On 1st January 1515, less than three months after his marriage to Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII and daughter of Henry VII, fifty-two year-old King Louis XII of France died. He had been suffering with gout for several years, but a particularly severe case had been afflicting him over the Christmas period of 1514. Louis’ contemporary, Robert III de La Marck, Seigneur of Fleuranges, Marshal of France and historian, wrote of Louis’ marriage to Mary and his ill-health:
“The King… desired to be a pleasing companion with his wife; but he deceived himself, as he was not the man for it… inasmuch as he had for a long time been very sick, particularly with gout, and for five or six years he had thought that he would die of it… and he lived on a very strict diet which he broke when he was with his wife; and the doctors told him that if he continued he would die from his pleasure.”1
The French people believed that his marriage to the eighteen year-old Mary Tudor led to the aging king overexerting himself and that this ultimately led to his death.
Louis was buried in the royal mausoleum of the Basilica of Saint-Denis, just north of Paris, alongside his second wife, Anne of Brittany. Tim and I visited Saint-Denis last March and Tim took these photos of the tomb of Louis and Anne. Click on them to enlarge them.
Following Louis’ death, Mary was kept isolated from men for six weeks at the Palais de Cluny to see if she was carrying the heir to the French throne, but then her real love, Charles Brandon, was sent to France to escort her home. Mary and Charles Brandon took a huge risk by secretly marrying in France on 3rd March 1515, without the King’s permission, something which could be classed as treason. Henry VIII was furious but his love for his favourite sister and his friendship with Brandon led to him forgiving the couple and they were officially married at Greenwich Palace on the 13th May 1515.
Louis XII did not have a surviving son so he was succeeded by his nearest male relative, Francis of Angoulême. Francis was the son of Louis’s cousin, Charles, Count of Angoulême, and Louise of Savoy, and he was also the husband of Louis’ daughter Claude. Francis became Francis I of France and he was crowned on 25th January 1515.
Notes and Sources
- Quoted in Carroll, Leslie (2010) Notorious Royal Marriages: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire, NAL, ebook version.