Queen Claude of France emblems

Queen Claude of France, first wife of Francis I, had emblems just like her husband.

Her coat of arms looked like this:

Half of it are 2 groups of Azure, three Fleur-de-lis or, which were the modern emblem of the kings of France symbol for her dad Louis XII and the coat of arms of Brittany which were her mom’s Anna of Brittany.

So                                                      +

Coat of Arms of France for kings like Louis XII and Francis I.

Coat of Arms of France for kings like Louis XII and Francis I.

Coat of Arms of Bretagne.

Coat of Arms of Brittany.

=

Coat of Arms of Claude of France, Duchess of Brittany

Coat of Arms of Claude of France, Duchess of Brittany

The black and white symbols ermine fur.  But as was custom her coat of arms changed after her marriage with Francis I to incorporate his:

Coat of Arms of Queen Claude of France.

Coat of Arms of Queen Claude of France.

Queen Anne of Brittany had really tried to keep Brittany independent from France, but with the marriage between her daughter Claude and Francis I this failed. Francis I did give several privileges to Brittany like they didn’t have to pay taxes on salt which at the time was a very unpopular taxation. They tried in the beginning to rule their countries separated under the same crown, so Breton aristocrats would still be seen and addressed as foreign princes at the Royal Court of France. It would take a much longer time before France was one united country as we know it today.

Initials of  Francis I and Claude of France with Francis I salamander.

Initials of Francis I and Claude of France with Francis I salamander.

Arms of Louis XII and Anne and of Francis I and Claude of Brittany On the left base is the porcupine-emblem of Louis XII and on the right the salamander-emblem of Francis I. There are also the ermines of Anne of Brittany and Claude of France.

Arms of Louis XII and Anne and of Francis I and Claude of Brittany
On the left base is the porcupine-emblem of Louis XII and on the right the salamander-emblem of Francis I.
There are also the ermines of Anne of Brittany and Claude of France.

The motto of Queen Claude of France surprised me at first: “a ma vie” (to my life). It just didn’t really sound like her. It sounded way to independent for a woman that pretty much all her life did what was expected of her. Than I discovered that it was a motto that others in her mom’s family had used and than it made a lot more sense. It wasn’t a personal motto, but more the motto of her mom’s side of the family.

Achievement for the Duchy of Brittany By the french heraldist Robert Louis (1902-’65), 20th cent.

Achievement for the Duchy of Brittany
By the french heraldist Robert Louis (1902-’65), 20th cent.

The first to use the motto was the duke John IV who founded the order of the hermine: (He called together the prelates, abbots and clerics of all estates, lords, knights and squires who bore new collars of great beauty, and the new motto being on two brown beautiful little straps tied together with soft knots and below was the ermine of nice shape and color; on two scrolls was written : A ma vie, as I have said, one being white and the other black, to be sure, as you can see.)

The motto referred to the return ‘For Life ’ to Brittany of John IV, Brittany being symbolized by the ermine.

Soon after the creation of the order its motto and emblem were engraved on the signet of John IV.

The reason he picked the ermine was most likely that their fur was the most luxurious fur one could have in Europe and European monarchs used it to show their wealth and status.

Signet of duke John IV with ermine and a ma vie motto, 1385.

Signet of duke John IV with ermine and a ma vie motto, 1385.

After the death of John IV the ermine and mantlet became in fact an imprese or badge of the dukes of Brittany. No collar of the so-called order of the Ermine is known from their rule until the annexation of the duchy in 1532. In 1532 it is said, the order was abolished on the pretext that the kings of France had no need of an Order that would encourage Breton particularism. Nevertheless, the collar of the order of the spear was represented in the time of french rule even when the order did not exist officially. They did use another collar though the collar of the Ordre de l’Épis (Order of the Spike) founded by Francis I in 1447. This collar is represented around the arms of the duke of Brittany in the armorial of Conrad Grüneberg (1480).

The collar consists of plaited stalks of grain and spikes, a running ermine hanging from a little chain in base.

collar of the Ordre de l’Épis (Order of the Spike) founded by Francis I in 1447.

collar of the Ordre de l’Épis (Order of the Spike) founded by Francis I in 1447.

Even though the order of the ermine officially didn’t exist have ermines been used as motto by dukes and duchesses of Brittany including Claude of France and her mother Anne of Brittany.

Claude of France used the ermine symbol sometimes alone sometimes combined with Francis I salamander.

For example here in Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau.

Château d'Azay-le-Rideau - Façade with windows Francis I salamander and Claude of France ermine.

Château d’Azay-le-Rideau – Façade with windows Francis I salamander and Claude of France ermine.

Chateau Azay-le-Rideau, Azay-le-Rideau, France. Claude of France hermine.

Chateau Azay-le-Rideau, Azay-le-Rideau, France. Claude of France hermine.

Chateau Azay-le-Rideau, Azay-le-Rideau, France. Claude of France ermine.

Chateau Azay-le-Rideau, Azay-le-Rideau, France. Claude of France ermine.

Here on a fireplace in Chateau de la Loire:

 Queen Claude's symbol was the ermine while salamander was Francis I, King of France, emblem in Chateau de la Loire.

Queen Claude’s symbol was the ermine while salamander was Francis I, King of France, emblem
in Chateau de la Loire.

And here in chateau de Blois:

Fireplace with Francis I salamander and Claude of France ermine in Chateau de Blois.

Fireplace with Francis I salamander and Claude of France ermine in Chateau de Blois.

Ermine of Claude of France on a fireplace in Chateau de Blois.

Ermine of Claude of France on a fireplace in Chateau de Blois.

Claude of France ermine on a fireplace in Chateau de Blois.

Claude of France ermine on a fireplace in Chateau de Blois.

Heraldic glass detail in the Royal Château de Blois, Loire Valley, France - Badge of Princess Claude, daughter of Louis XII (later queen consort of France to Francis I)

Heraldic glass detail in the Royal Château de Blois, Loire Valley, France – Badge of Princess Claude, daughter of Louis XII (later queen consort of France to Francis I)

The one symbol I think was really personal for Claude of France was a pierced swan and the motto candidior candida which means something like fairest of the fair.

motto : The whitest of the white.  a wounded swan with the fleur de lys of the French kings.

motto : The fairest of the fair. a wounded swan with the fleur de lys of the French kings.

Francis I salamander, Lois XII porcupine, Claude of France pierced swan and Anne of Brittany's ermine. All in Chateau de la Loire.

Francis I salamander, Lois XII porcupine, Claude of France pierced swan and Anne of Brittany’s ermine. All in Chateau de la Loire.

It’s easy to see that Claude of France wasn’t very happy. I will write more about her fate later and why she was so unhappy.

We sometimes see a cord around other emblems of Claude of France. That is the cord that her mom Anne of Brittany also used. Anne of Brittany founded the Order of the Ladies of the Rope with the motto “J’ay le corps délié” (“I have the body untied“). It is unclear what the rope was supposed to symbolize. Some say it has to do with the rope of Francis of Assisi while others believe it symbolized being relieved of the involuntary marriage Anne of Brittany had with Charles VIII because she founded the order just after his death.

Last but not least. Claude of France was the first to use her Initials interlocking with each other. It is said that this inspired Catherine de Medici and Coco Chanel to do the same.

The C ladies: Queen Claude of France Catherine de Medici Coco Chanel.

The C ladies: Queen Claude of France Catherine de Medici Coco Chanel.

Hope you liked to learn a bit more about Queen Claude of France.

Bonsoir, mon amis! Hilde

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Queen Claude of France emblems

  1. Fascinating. May I add that Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henry II and rival for this French Renaissance king’s affections with his wife Catherine de Medici, wore black and white exclusively for most of her adult life. SOOOO chic a tradition dates back to the ermine device of Anne of Brittany, and before that her forefathers, the dukes of Brittany.

    Like

    • oo gush don’t get me started on Diane de poitiers! One day I’ll get around to write about her as well. The black and white is sometimes said to be a play on her name Diana (as in Diana goddess of the hunt/moon). It is not as improbable as it sounds because she has been portrayed with a moon and or as a goddess of hunting on several occasions.

      Like

  2. Claude, Queen of France, Duchess of Brittany should have been Queen within her own right. She was the daughter of Louis the Twelfth. It is sad Francois treated her so bad but then he treated his second Queen, Eleanor of Castile, the daughter of Juana of Castile and Philip of Flanders just as bad and Eleanor of Castile, having been wed to King Emmanuel of Portugal who was a kind to his wives, was not accoustumed to that neglect and yet she was Queen of France longer than she had been Queen of Portugal.

    Like

    • You’re right I think it’s sad that he took over so much on the other hand she seems to have been quite timid compared to her mother. You don’t get the feeling that she was very strong-willed and interested in politics like her mother. She seems to have been more into religion. Her sister Rene really cared about Brittany and should have inherited it, because that is what Anne wanted (to prevent the union between France and Brittany).

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s