Francis I was the first French king to insist that he should be called your majesty. By the time Francis I became king the state was quite centralized something the kings before him had worked very hard for but that was always under attack of the French nobility. Francis I was crowned King of France in the Cathedral of Rheims on 25 January 1515 with Claude of France, Louis XII daughter as his queen.
I was very happy to finally find a drawing of the coronation of Francis I even if its black and white.
I also found this painting of Francis I in full coronation attire:
There are many royal symbols here: first there is the frame of the painting itself. The framing is much like the frames of other drawings in the same book about Franch kings by Jean Du Tillet showing the kings of France. It’s in trompe de l’oeil style that means that it looks 3D but it’s not. It also shows the coat of arms of Ile-de-France which was the area around Paris and used to be the personal domain of the French king.
Other symbols we notice on the drawings are: a baldachin which is a canopy of state over a throne. In this case it is blue with gold fleur-de-lis which again refer to the coat of arms of Il-de-France and red which is always been a royal color. This blue with golden fleur-de-lis is known as azure semé-de-lis Or (blue sewn with golden fleur-de-lis). A baldachin was a sign of authority. The reason that the French kings used the Fleur-de-Lis which is a stylised lily is that Frankish King Clovis had the Fleur-de-Lis as his symbol. Supposedly this was because one day the crescents on his shield had magically chaged from crescents to Lilies but that is quite unlikely :). The French kings probably adopted the Fleur-de-Lis to commemorate this Christian Frankish king and as a reminder of the Fleur-de-lis ampulla used to atoin kings during their coronation. Legend had it that King Clovis was atoined with this Fleur-de-Lis ampulla brought by an angel. A French historian Georges Duby think that the three petals represent the medieval social classes: those who worked, those who fought, and those who prayed. Others say that the three petals of the flower were represented faith, wisdom and chivalry, and were a sign of divine favour bestowed on France. At his feet their lay two small lion couchant (lions lying down but with their head raised). The lions are lying on expensive woven carpets that probably came from the middle east and must have been rare and expensive in Europe at the time.
This is the ampulla used to atoin kings during their coronation.
If we watch closer to the king himself we see that he wears a golden crown which also have the fleur-de-lis in its design. The king wears a dress that is also blue with golden fleur-de-lis and ermine a fur that was meant for royalty and other persons of high status. He has two golden scepters, the Scepter of Charleslemagne and the “Main the Jusitice” (hand of justice) and he wears a heavy golden chain around his neck.
The Main the Justice is a unique French scepter which has as its finial (top end) an ivory Hand of God in a blessing gesture. It would appear that only the hand is from medieval times and the golden rod is from Napoleon or Charles X time and the addition of cameos and other medieval gemstones like the 12th-century ring of Saint Denis which surround the junction of the finial and the replaced rod are 19th century.
The Scepter of Charles V.
One of the few surviving pieces of the medieval French crown jewels is the Sceptre Charles V had made for the future coronation of his son, Charles VI, currently on display in the Louvre. It is over five feet long and at the top is a lily supporting a small statuette of Charlemagne. This evocation of Charlemagne may also explain why this sceptre was included in the imperial regalia of Napoleon I.
Most of the French Crown Jewels are gone though :(. They were either sold, stolen or even melted down during or after the several revolutions France faced.
Francis I crown is one of those lost items as well unfortunately. The items that look closest to his crowns are these crowns:
Here we’re see Francis I clearly posing as the king as well. He has an expensive looking mantle, a shiny armour, a crown, a scepter a cloth of honour hanging on the wall next to the France Modern coats of arms. We also see that he wears a sword. This could be Charlemagnes sword “joyeuse”, one of the few royal swords that the French state still has in its possession. On this coats of arms we see only three fleur-de-lis on a blue background instead of fleur-de-lis scattered all over. This change came about in 1376 by Charles V of France. The designs are called France Ancient and France Modern respectively.
Bonjour mon amis, Hilde