20 July 1524 – Death of Queen Claude of France

Posted By on July 20, 2014

Queen Claude by Corneille de Lyon

Queen Claude by Corneille de Lyon

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 abbey of St Denis just outside Paris in 1527. Brantôme declared that Claude’s husband, Francis I, gave her “a disease that shortened her days”, meaning syphilis, but it is not known for certain what she died of.

Why am I writing about a queen consort of France on a website about Anne Boleyn? Well, because Anne Boleyn served Queen Claude in France from 1515 to late 1521. You can read more about Anne Boleyn’s time in France in the following articles:

12 thoughts on “20 July 1524 – Death of Queen Claude of France”

  1. Gail Marion says:

    Married at age 14 and having delivered 7 children prior to death at age of 24, perhaps Queen Claude was just worn out. Here is a article about her surviving Prayer Book, including a photo of it. Of course, Anne Boleyn shared her love of these masterful works of art.


  2. MummerSwan says:

    This portrait is haunting. Such an image–sadness and sweetness in that face. Perhaps she had a sense of humor with her slightly crooked smile. I also can see why Anne wore a french hood when she returned home. A very beautiful style.

  3. I doubt it was syphyliss because he would have died from it before she did.she probably had TB or cancer.both were very prevalent in those times.also if a recent childbirth then puerperal fever could have been the culprit too.

    1. Camille Dvorak says:

      I concur, she had scoliosis as well, with that many pregnancies sucking the calcium out of her bones and, no doubt severe, vitamin deficiencies, she was susceptible to just about any viral or bacterial infection that came down the pike. It’s not like they had prenatal vitamins.

  4. BanditQueen says:

    Claude was clever and lovely and sweet and must have been forgiving as well to put up with Francis and his many mistresses. Francis does seem to have treated her well and to have slept with her as his wife, and they had several children, he slept with her most nights and treated her with respect. Claude was renowned for her virtue and for her education. It is believed that Anne gained much of her own education at the court of Queen Claude who was a patroness and persuaded her husband to invite Leonardo da Vinci to his court. She may also have had a back deformity, but clearly this did not prevent her from her role as mother and Queen, as hostess and patron and as royal companion to the King. She was known for her generous spirit and all the ambassadors were impressed by her; her court was known for its high culture. I am not a medical expert but it is my understanding that syphillis contributes to going sterile and senile. I do not believe that there is enough evidence to support Claude having this terrible disease; even though she could indeed have contracted it from Francoise. There was also a treatment for it at the time: mercury which meant being absent from sight for six weeks at least and losing her hair. This surely would have been remarked upon. Many people were treated successfully and repeatingly over time to cure them. I think that she may have died of cancer. Whatever she died of it is very tragic as she was only 24 and her children very young. Her prayer book is very beautiful and this lady was by all accounts beautiful as well, inside and out. RIP Queen Claude

    1. margaret says:

      hi bandit queen ,would you not think 24 is a very young age to have died of cancer ,I would have thought maybe Tb possibly,but again whos to know.

      1. Camille Dvorak says:

        Not necessarily, my daughter had hodgkins lymphoma. By the time she was diagnosed at 15 the tumor in the center of her chest was causing severe chest pain and arhythmia, not to mention shortness of breath. (She’s fine now, the disease has a 90 – 95% cure rate.)
        I also had a cousin die at 22 of breat cancer that metastasized into her bone marrow.
        St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital was founded for those thought to be “too young” to have cancer.
        TB or something else is more likely.
        Btw, the English rarely had cholera epidemics due to their favorite beverage.
        Tea, as anyone knows, requires boiling water, thus killing bacteria.

    2. bruno says:

      Bandit Queen, I may be too much insisting but Queen Claude was not known as beautiful.
      Even, of course, if she had the qualities you were quoting.
      I love the portrait above showing a woman with physical defects but a sweet expression on her face; she might be squiniting as well ( not obvious, just suggested by eyes not parallel), it is another argument for the sitter being the queen.
      Yes, I know, it was made about ten years or more after Claude’s death.
      But I do think, that the color of her hair, her features are very near of what we know about sisters Claude and Renée of Valois .
      At the time it was done, Renée was in Ferrara (as a duchess)
      Queen Claude had a reputation for being much eloquent, a fact noted by ambassadors then.
      Also her kindness to every human being made her loved by her subjects.
      A benignancy also showed in the portrait.
      Disconcerting resemblance again (ok, in my mind).
      Possibly a posthumous work ?
      Not convincing, I can guess precisely because of the unaffected expression of the sitter – really true to life as it is

  5. Charlotte says:

    Cancer can take you at any age

  6. Sarah says:

    There’s some debate whether that portrait is actually of Claude, isnt there?

    1. Claire says:

      Yes,there is. It is a beautiful portrait and is part of the collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow – see http://www.arts-museum.ru/data/fonds/europe_and_america/j/2001_3000/6594_Zhenskiy_portret/index.php?lang=en. It is of an unknown woman thought to be Claude, but there are some doubts because of the dating of the style of her costume being later than her death date.

  7. carrie says:

    Claude could very well have died of a cancer of perhaps the cervix or maybe ovaries. The earlier a woman becomes sexually active the higher the chances of cancer in the female parts. With Francois always messing around he could have brought home anything who knows? Claude is another one of those admirable queens who did her duty and died for it.

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