François I de Clèves, duc de Nevers

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François I. de Clèves, portrait from about 1540

François I. de Clèves ( German  Franz I. von Kleve ; born September 2, 1516 in Cussy-sur-Loire, † February 13, 1562 in Nevers ) was Count of Nevers and Eu since 1521 and Count of Beaufort since 1553 .


Childhood and youth

François was the only child Charles' de Clèves and his wife Marie d'Albret were born in Cussy-sur-Loire. On his father's side he came from the French branch of the Klevian secondary school of the German aristocratic family of those von der Mark , and on his mother's side from the Gascognischen house Albret . When his father died in 1521, he was followed by François, who was still a minor, as Count of Nevers and Eu and as French governor général des Nivernais , but was still under the tutelage of his mother in the first few years . She fought on behalf of her son with her own sister over the inheritance of her ancestor John of Burgundy . In July 1525 she finally had to cede, among other things, the County of Rethel and the Lordship of Donzy to the family of her sister Charlotte. The county of Nevers was able to secure them for themselves and their son.

Military and political career

Portrait of François I de Clèves when he was older

In 1537 François took part in a campaign by the Maréchal de Montmorency against the Duchy of Savoy . Two years later, in January 1539, Nevers was raised to a duchy with peerage for him . The survey was confirmed by the Paris Parliament on February 17th . In 1540 his cousin Wilhelm V, Duke of Jülich-Kleve-Berg, probably with his support, married the 13-year-old niece of the French king, Jeanne d'Albret . In October 1545, François was appointed governor of Champagne and the county of Brie . After the death of his cousin Claude de Foix in 1553, he also owned her property, which included the counties of Beaufort and Rethel, as well as the lords of Orval, Donzy and Rosoy.

He played an important military role in 1551 after the conflict between France and Habsburg resulted in another war. François took over a command in the French army, which, according to the Treaty of Chambord , should give military support to the revolting Protestant princes of the Holy Roman Empire in their fight against the emperor. After fighting in the Dutch provinces, François took part in the conquest of the fortress of Metz on April 10, 1552 by King Henry II . The subsequent successful defense of the city in 1553 against the army of Emperor Charles V was not least thanks to François, who prevented the enemy's supplies. In the further course of the war, the episcopal city of Toul , which together with Metz and the also conquered Verdun from then on formed the province of Trois-Évêchés , was captured. Over the next few years, François and the Marshal of Saint-André defended the Champagne border against encroachments by Imperial Spanish troops. In 1557 François was a member of the French army, which was defeated on August 10 at the Battle of Saint-Quentin by a Spanish-English army under the Duke of Savoy. François was one of the few high French military men who escaped capture by the enemy. He then led an army against Luxembourg , where he took Thionville , while at the same time the Duc de Guise conquered Calais , held by England . On April 3, 1559, the war ended in the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis, which was unfavorable for France . In March 1560, François I was one of the first to uncover the Amboise conspiracy and to help persecute the ringleaders. In the last year of his life he converted to the Calvinist faith . He died in Nevers at the age of 45.

Marriages and offspring

François' first wife, Marguerite de Bourbon

François was first married to his second cousin, Marguerite de Bourbon . She was a daughter of Duke Charles de Bourbon and thus an aunt of the future King Henry IV of France . The wedding took place on January 19, 1538 in the Louvre after the necessary papal dispensation had been granted .

Both children were:

  • François II (July 31, 1540 - December 19, 1562), Duke of Nevers and Count of Retehl
  • Henriette (born October 31, 1542; † June 24, 1601), heiress of Nevers-Rethel
⚭ on March 4, 1565 with Luigi Gonzaga
  • Jacques (October 1, 1544 - September 6, 1564), Prince de Nevers , Lord of Orval, Duke of Nevers and Count of Rethel
⚭ since 1558 Diane de La Marck , daughter of Robert IV. De La Marck, Duke of Bouillon
  • Henri († died young)
  • Catherine (1548 - May 11, 1633), Countess of Eu and Beaufort
1. ⚭ on October 4, 1560 Antoine III. de Croÿ , Prince de Porcéan
October 2, 1570 Henri I de Lorraine , third Duke of Guise
  • Marie (* 1553; † 1574)
⚭ 1572 Henri I de Bourbon-Condé

In his second marriage, François was married to Marie de Bourbon († 1601), Duchess of Estouteville and Countess of St-Pol , from 1560 . Marie was a first cousin of François' first wife. The marriage remained childless.


Web links

Commons : François I. de Clèves, duc de Nevers  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b NV de Saint-Allais: L'art de verifier les dates , p. 242.
  2. JBPJ de Courcelles: Dictionnaire historique et biographique des généraux français , p. 335.
  3. ^ Louis Moreri: Le grand dictionnaire historique ou Le mélange curieux de l'histoire sacrée et profane. Volume 5. Jacques Vincent, Paris 1732, p. 255 ( online ).
predecessor Office successor
Charles de Clèves Count, from 1539 Duke of Nevers
François II de Clèves
Charles de Clèves Count of Eu
François II de Clèves
Claude de Foix Count of Rethel
François II de Clèves