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French Renaissance rulers

Jean II de Bourbon, 1459-1488
Anne de Bretagne, Duchess of Brittany 1498-1514 and Queen consort of France
Louis XII,   King of France 1498-1515
François I,   King of France 1515-1547
Henri II,   King of France 1547-1559
 

Jean II de Bourbon, Duc de Bourbon et d'Auvergne, ..., seigneur de Dombes 1459-1488

Dombes with its capital Trévoux is located in the NE of Lyon and belonged to the dukes of Bourbon since the 13th century. John was the first to coin money in Dombes. The smaller coin types hardly differ from the crown coins, but the gold coins do all the more: Jean was the first to issue a coin with a ruler's portrait in the Renaissance style on French soil - long before French kings came into contact with the Renaissance while campaigning in Italy.


Franc à cheval, n. d., Trévoux.     3,45 g.   Divo Dombes 1, p.56; Friedb.119.
Obv.:   +IONES∗DVX∗BORBONII∗TREVOBCII:DNS
Bust to the left with the chain of orders (connected shells) of the Order of Saint-Michel around his neck.
Rev.:   DEXTER A*D - NI*EXAL - TAVIT*MEA
Dextera Domini Exaltavit Mea = "the right hand of the Lord hath exulted me"
The prince in armor wielding the sword on a prancing horse decorated with lilies.
His successor Pierre II de Bourbon (1488-1503) continued to issue this type of cold coin.


Anne de Bretagne, Duchess of Brittany 1498-1514 and Queen consort of France

Louis XII ,   King of France 1498-1515
- also Lord of Asti 1465-1515, King of Neapel 1501-1504, Duke of Milan 1500-1512 -
Louis XII (*1462 †1515) of Valois-Orleans was 8 years older than his cousin King Charles VIII of Valois and of a cadet branch of the dynasty. As his succession to the throne was unlikely, he had not been educated for the task. He became king quite unexpectedly in 1498 when Charles VIII died after hitting his head against a door lintel. Louis's marriage to Jeanne de France had remained without issue. He now asked for an annulment of the marriage, which Pope Alexander VI granted for his own political reasons. Louis married Anne de Bretagne, his predecessor's widow, to ensure that the duchy of Brittany would remain under French sovereignty. Their daughter Claude, heiress to Brittany, would later complete Brittany's integration into France by marrying François I, Louis's cousin and successor to the French throne.
In 1500, Louis's attempt to take over Naples failed when his alliance with Ferdinand the Catholic of Aragón broke up. The ambitious Pope Julius II involved Louis in the Ligue de Cambrai against territory-grabbing Venice, but ousted him again from Milan in 1512 with the help of the Holy League.
While Louis's military campaigns in Italy were not only expensive but also unsuccessful in the long run, he was able to consolidate and strengthen the position of the French crown and to modernise the country. He was given the title "Père du peuple", which he earned by having customary law codified, by introducing fiscal reforms, by improving government procedures, and by reducing taxes. The spread of Humanism picked up during his reign.
Louis was able to assert his hereditary title to the dukedom of Milan in 1499 after a successful campaign under Marshal Trivulzio. However, as he had inherited the domain of Asti from his grandmother Valentina Visconti, daughter of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, duke of Milan, he issued coins titling "Duke of Orleans and Milan and Lord of Asti" before actually becoming duke.


Teston, Paris.     Ø ca.29 mm.   Ciani 918/920; Lafaurie 632; Duplessy 660.
Obv.:   +:LVDOVICVS:D:G:FRANCORV:REX:   -   crowned bust
The point at the 18th letter of the legend, a "point secret", indicates Paris as the mint place.

Rev.:  +:XPS:VINCIT:XPS:REGNAT:XPS:ImPeraT:   "Christ wins, Christ reigns, Christ commands."
Crowned coat of arms in polylobe. Less eyecatching: the point secret at the 18th letter (a T) of the legend.


Teston, Tours.     Ø ca.29 mm, 9,19 g.   Ciani 918; Lafaurie 632.
Obv.:   +LVDOVICVS:DEI:GR:FRANCORV:REX   -   crowned bust
The point secret placed at the forehead (6th letter of the legend) indicates Tours as the mint.

Rev.:   + XPS:VInCIT:XPS:REGNAT:XPS:ImPerAT♜•   (♜ = tower for mint Tours)
crowned coat of arms in polylobe. Point secret at the 6th letter (a C).
Teston is the French imitation of the Italian Testone (Ital. testa = head). It is the typical large coin of the Renaissance when many Italian sovereigns began promoting their fame by placing portraits to their own likeness on medals and coins. Louis became acquainted with the idea during his stay in Italy. He first minted in Asti, Milan and Naples before issuing the first testone in France.


Ducat n. d., Naples.     Ø ca.22 mm, 3,50 g.   Ciani 983; Duplessy 716; Friedb.826.
Obv.:   LVDOvicus⦂FRANcorum◦REGNI◦Que◦NEAPolis◦Rex◦   -   crowned bust with large head
Rev.:   ✠PERDAM&⦂BABILLONIS◦NOMEN   "I will ruin the name of Babylon"
crowned arms of France.
Louis issued this ducat during his short reign in Naples in 1501-1504.


Medal on the capture of Milan.     Ø 38 mm, 26,62 g.   Mazerolle II, p.9 & pl.II, 26.
Obv.:   LVDOVIC'·XII·FRANCORV·REX·MEDIOLANI·DVX  -  Bustd with a flap to the left.
Rev.:   ·VICTOR·TRIVMPHATOR·SEMPER·AVGVST·
Under a crown a hedgehog to the left; below 3 towers (for the city of Tours).
This medal was made on the occasion of the royal visit of the city of Tours in November 1501. The city ordered 60 pieces of this medal from the engraver Michel Colombes and the goldsmith Jean Chapillon.
The French conquest of Milan by Gian Giacomo Trivulzio in 1499/1500 was celebrated on this occasion.

Compare the painting (ca. 1500) in Windsor Castle.

François I ,   King of France 1515-1547
- also Lord of Asti 1515-1529 and Duke of Milan 1515-1521 -
François I was Charles V most powerful opponent, apart from Sultan Süleyman of Turkey. François competed with Charles at the imperial election in 1519. In the battle of Pavia in 1525, Charles made him a captive and only released him after he had agreed to a hollow peace. His marriage to Charles's sister Eleanor did not prevent further battles against Charles in varying alliances: in the second war (1526-9) with the Pope, Milan and Venice, in the fourth war (1542-4) with the Duke of Cleves, the Pope and Sultan Süleyman. In the end, both their claims, i.e. Charles's claim to Burgundy and François's claim to Milan, Flanders and Artois, came to nothing. At home, François strengthened royal power and made the court the center of his country. He was ambitious and adventurous, a brilliant Renaissance monarch who loved the arts and literature.


Bronzemedal 1504,   attributed Giovanni Candida.   Ø 66 mm.   Armand II,187,1; Kress 232.
Commissioned by king Louis XII..

Obv.:   FRANCOIS DVX DE VALOIS COMTE DANGOLESME AV X AN De S EAtatis
Bust at the age of 10 to the right capped with a flap.
Rev.:   ·NOTRISCO·ALBVUONO·STINGO·EL REO·MCCCCCIIII
"I eat well (fire) and delete that badly"
Salamander surrounded by flames.
The salamander appears here for the first time as emblem of Francis I.


Teston n.d., Paris. (3rd type)     Ø 29 mm, 9,4 g.   Duplessy 794.
Obv.:   FRANCISCVS:I':Dei:GRAtia:FRAnCORum:REX     crowned bust
The "point secret" under the 18th letter (an A) indicates the mint of Paris.

Rev.:  XPS:VINCIT:XPS:REGNAT:XPS:IMPERat   "Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands."
Crowned French coat of arms (fleur-de-lis). Point secret on the polylobe at the T of REGNAT at 8 h.

Compare with the oil painting 1515-20 after Jean Clouet at Musée Condé in Chantilly
and with the detail of the oil painting 1527-30 by Jean Clouet at the Louvre.


Écu with the weight of 4 Testons 1537, Romans.  Ø 45mm, 38,25g.  Dupl.-; Hoffmann 80; Dav.-
The Bavarian Coin Collection presents this piece in their permanent exhibition in Munich.

Obv.:  +·FRANCISCVS·DEI·GRATIA·FRANCORVM·REX·I  (I = mintmaster)  under the shoulder: 1537
Rev.:   +·SIT·NOMEN.DOMINI·BENEDICTVM·R·C   "Praise the name of the Lord."   R·C = ?
quartered arms: France | Dauphiné (dolphin).
The point under the 2nd letter (an I) indicates the mint of Romans.
The Dauphiné was a largely independent feudal state in south-eastern France, situated between the river Rhone, the Alps and the Provence. Its duke inserted a dolphin into his coat of arms and therefore called himself Dauphin. The duchy was de jure part of the German empire, but in 1349 it fell to the French crown by inheritance. The French king used to pass it on to the Prince Royal in order to evade feudal duty. This triggered the tradition of naming the Prince Royal "Dauphin de France" even after the right of investiture was no longer upheld.


Teston n. d., Lyon. (14th type)     Ø ca.29 mm, 9,52 g.   Duplessy 812.
Obv.:  ♣:FRANCISCVS DEI GRA·FRANCORVM:REX  -  crowned bust, point secret at the 12th letter.
Rev.:   ♣NOn NOBIS DomiNE SED NOminI TVO DA GLORIAm*
"Not unto us, o Lord, but unto thy name give glory."
Arms between crowned initial F. A hollow point at the 12th letter of the legend (an E).
The legend begins on both sides with a cloverleaf ♣, a mark for the mint of Lyon.


Teston (1540), Turin.     Ø 29 mm, 9,42 g.   Duplessy 807; CNI II p.412,n.1.
Obv.:   + FRANCISCVS◗D◗G◗FRANCOR◗REX
Rev.:   + XPS◗VIN◗XPS◗ - RE◗XPS◗IMP◗G◗T   (G T : sign for the mintmaster Gabriele Tatti)
Arms between crowned initial F.   Under the arms the mintmark ·T· for Turin.
After Francesco Sforza's death in 1535, François I renewed his claim on Milan. He was able to conquer Turin but not Milan (3rd war Charles V against François I, 1536-1538). When the truce of Nice (1538) allowed François I to hold on to Piedmont, a French mintage in Turin came about between 1538 and 1542.


Teston (1540-47), Lyon. (25th type)     Ø 29 mm, 9,52 g.   Duplessy 904; Hoffmann 81.
Obv.:   + FRANCISCVS:D:GRA:FRANCORum·REX ♣
The circular point under the 12th letter stands for the mint of Lyon.
Rev.:   + NOn NOBIS DNE:SED:NOmI TVO:DA:GLORIAm·F ♣
"Not unto us, o Lord, but unto thy name give glory."     F = mintmaster François Guilhen.
A circular point under the 12th letter of the legend.
Since 1540, a letter is added to the "point secret", here D below the arms for the mint of Lyon.


1/2 Teston, Tours. (27th type)     Ø 22 mm.   Duplessy 909.
Obv.:   FRANCISCVS:D:GRAC:FRANCOR:·REX ♜   (♜ = mintmark for Tours)
Rev.:   + NO NOBIS DNE:SED:NOI·TVO DA GLORIA   (E = mintmark for Tours)


Teston de Bretagne n.d. (1515-1540), 4th type, Rennes.    Ø ca.29 mm, ca.9 g.  Duplessy 833.
Obv.:   +FRANCISCVS:D:G:FRANCOR:REX·BRITN.DVX  "... duke of Brittany"
bust looking to the right, draped and crowned with basque beret.

Rev.:  ⁑+⁑DEVS:IN:ADIVTORVM:MEVM:INTENDE:R   "O God, come to my assistance",  R = Rennes.
Crowned arms of France, flanked by crowned ermines (symbol of Bretagne).
François I was the son-in-law of Anne, Duchess of Brittany (1477-1514), and succeeded to her numerous properties, in particular to Brittany. Anne was the last independent ruler of Brittany. She was also Countess of Nantes, Montfort, and Richmond, and Viscountess of Limoges. She first married Maximilian of Austria by proxy (19 Dec 1490), hoping that this alliance would keep Brittany independent. However, when King Charles VIII of France attacked the duchy, Anne was forced to break with Maximilian and marry Charles instead (6 Dec 1491). When Charles died without issue, Anne married his successor Louis XII. The union of Brittany with the French crown became irreversible, when Anne's daughter Claude married François d'Angoulême, who was to become François I de France.


Cast bronze medal (1537) designed by Benvenuto Cellini.     Ø 41 mm.
Attwood 768; Börner 452; Armand I, 147, 3; Pollard Bargello 341 = Vannel & Toderi 663.

Obv.:   FRANCISCVS·I·FR - ANCORVM·REX·  -   Bust of François I facing left, bearded,
wearing a cuirass, a mantle, and a laurel wreath; to left, a sceptre.
Rev.:   FORTVNAM·VIRTVTE·DEVICIT   "He has overcome Fortune by Virtue"
A horseman galloping to right, holding a club aloft in his right hand. Below to right, a reclining female figure, nude, and, to left, a globe and a ruder. Signature in the exergue: ·BENVENV·F·
The original medal was struck from dies by Cellini. The occasion for its production was probably Cellini's first visit to Paris in 1537 and there is mention in an inventory of the artist's goods made in the following year of "una testa del Re de Francia de piombo" which may refer to a trial striking of the medal in lead. In fact, the Fitzwilliam Museum possess a lead striking of the obverse (Attwood 769) which shows a die crack behind the head of the king which is reproduced on the present cast medal as well as on other examples. Perhaps the dies broke at an early stage - which would explain why most surviving examples of the medal are casts. The reverse represents Fortune as the fallen female figure, her rudder and globe beside her, defeated by Virtue as the horseman, a design borrowed from Roman coinage.   [Morton & Eden]
Compare the medal in the exhibition at the Bode-Museum in Berlin.

Henri II ,   King of France 1547-1559
As a child, Henri II was kept hostage in Spain for four years in place of his father, until François I and Charles V came to an agreement in 1526. When Henri followed his father on the French throne in 1547, he continued his father's warfare against the Emperor. Although he vigorously suppressed protestants within his own kingdom, Henri promised troops and subsidies to Maurice of Saxony and the German Protestant princes who were fighting the Emperor in 1552. In return, they agreed to France's taking possession of Toul, Verdun and Metz. Charles tried in vain to recapture Metz.
Henri introduced the rule that the date of mintage was to be printed on all coins.


Teston 1549 D, Lyon.     9,44 g.   Ciani 1264; Duplessy 981.
Obv.:   +HENRICVS·2·DEI·GRAtia·FRANCORum·REX·F
Rev.:   +XPS(Christus)·VINCIT·XPS REGNAT·XPS·IMPErat·1549F
The "Point secret" under the 12th letter and the D under the arms indicate the mint of Lyon.
Hammered coinage.   Both sides have a central dot.


Teston du moulin n. d. A, Paris.       Ciani 1264; Duplessy 987A.
Obv.:   +HENRICVS II DEI G FRANNCOR REX   -   Laureate head right.
Rev.:   +CHRS VINCIT CHRS REGNAT CHRS IMP   -   Crowned lily shield, A (Paris) below.


Teston du moulin 1554 A, Paris.     Ø 28 mm, 9,57 g.   Ciani 1285; Duplessy 990.
Obv.:   HENRICVS·II·DEI·G·FRANCORum·REX
Rev.:   + CHRistuS·VINCIT CHRistuS REGNAT CHRistuS IMPerat (monogram EB) 1554
crowned arms of France with an A below indicating the mint of Paris.
Milled coinage ("du moulin") using perhaps a collar(*). This piece seems to be perfectly circular.
Touch the picture with the cursor to appreciate this.
In 1551, the mechanised mint "Monnaie du Moulin des Étuves" opened in Paris. The name refers to the water wheel "moulin" which was installed on a ship anchored in the river Seine. The water wheel drove the rolling mill designed to produce even gauge strips. The mint used the recently invented screw press or "balancier" for minting. It produced coins of improved quality since 1552. However, the moneyers' resistance shipwrecked the mint in 1558, and it took another century until the screw press was adopted for coinage in France.
(*)   D.R.Cooper, The Art and Craft of COINMAKING, 1988, page 54.


Henri d'or, 1551 C, Saint-Lô.     Ø 25mm, 3,60g.   Ciani 1244; Duplessy 972; Fr.368.
Obv.:   HENRICVS·II·D·G·FRANCO·REX·
Rev.:   ¤DVM·TOTVM·COMPLEAT·ORBEM(mm.)1551
"Might he fill the universe"   in French: "Pour qu'il remplisse l'universe" or "jusque à sa plénitude"
Four crowned "H" form a cross, in the angles two lilies and two crescent moons.
In the middle: C for the mint of Saint-Lô.   Hammered coinage.

Compare the drawing in profile [Musée Condé in Chantilly]
as well as the oil on panel [Louvre], both made ca.1547 by François Clouet.

Ref.:
• Duplessy, Jean: Les Monnaies Françaises Royales de Hugues Capet à Louis XVI (987-1793),
    2º édition 1999. vol.1: up to Louis XII; vol.2: since Franz I.
• Ciani, Louis: Les monnaies royales francaises de Hugues Capet a Louis XVI, Paris 1926

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