So, Just Who Was Francis II of France?

We take a closer look at Francis II of France, the first husband of Mary Queen of Scots, his story, life and impact on history.

Whereas the British monarchy often steals the show in terms of drama, turmoil, betrayal, infidelity, and just downright entertainment, those with an interest in royalty will also be familiar with the monarchy in France (beyond Marrie Antoinette and Louis XVI of course).

France’s monarchy can be traced back many centuries and many consider the history behind it to be equally as interesting as the British monarchy, and anywhere else for that matter.

So, we decided to take a closer look at Francis II of France, the first husband of Mary Queen of Scots.

Here’s a brief look at the life and times of Francis II of France.

The Boy Who Would Be King

Born on the 19th of January, 1544, Francis II of France was the first husband of Mary Queen of Scots and the eldest son of Henry II of France. He was named after his grandfather, King Francis I.

In July of 1548, France and the Scots signed the Treaty of Haddington which arranged the engagement of Francis and Mary Queen of Scots, in exchange for French assistance in ridding Scotland of the invading English.

Mary sailed to France at just five years of age and spent the remainder of her childhood at the court of Henry II, her father-in-law to be.

Henry noticed that Mary and Francis got on well together from the moment they met and noted how it was as if they had known each other for a very long time.

So, Just Who Was Francis II of France?
Francis II of France and his wife Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots in 1558 | Bibliothèque Nationale de France

In 1558, Francis and Mary married in the Notre Dame cathedral, Paris. Because of this marriage, Francis actually became King consort in Scotland up until his death. The couple had no children together, which could potentially be due to the fact that he was plagued by illnesses, or that many believe his testicles had not yet descended due to his age.

Becoming A King

One year after marrying Mary, Francis II became king aged just 15 after his father, Henry II, was killed in a jousting accident.

Because he was in poor health, young, and inexperienced, he delegated his royal duties to his wife’s uncles. In fact, it is believed that Francis found the crown so heavy that he required the nobles to place it upon his head and hold it in place for him.

So, Just Who Was Francis II of France?
Francois II by François Clouet

Francis became a pawn for Mary’s maternal relations, the Guise family who wanted to be in power and crush their rivals, the Huguenots in France, who had conspired to kidnap the king. The Guise’s foiled this plot, which helped them become stronger and more powerful. This worried Francis’ mother.

How Did Francis II of France Die?

Francis II, who had always been weak and plagued by illness, found his health deteriorating in November 1560, after passing out without warning and suffering seizures.

In December, on the 5th, 1560, King Francis II of France passed away due to complications from what is believed to be an ear infection, though some historians believe it to be other illnesses and diseases that killed him, such as meningitis, or an aggressive abscess.

He was just 16 years of age and had reigned for just seventeen months as king.

After his death, his brother, Charles IX of France took to the throne, and his widow set sail back to her home country of Scotland.