French Expansion c. 1460-1560

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Map Code: Ax01784

In a postscript to the Hundred Years’ War, Edward IV of England, in alliance with Burgundy, invaded France in 1475. The French king, Louis XI, ‘the Prudent’, bought him off with 75,000 gold crowns. Prudence worked for Louis; instead of confronting the treacherous Burgundians he sat out their war with Lorraine, then, when their pugnacious Duke Charles the Bold was killed in battle, seized both Burgundy and Picardy bloodlessly. Another painless acquisition was Provence (1481) willed to Louis by its childless Count. Louis’s successor, Charles the Affable removed a longstanding thorn from the monarchy’s western flank by marrying Anne, the Duchess of Brittany (1491). Francis I (1515–47) one of the quintessential renaissance monarchs, eclipsed his predecessors in magnificence, but not in product. He seized the Duchy of Bourbon (1527) through a dubious lawsuit; his multiple Italian escapades eventually netted Savoy and Bugey, but both were ceded to Spain by his successor Henry II (1559).

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