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LOUIS XI, KING OF FRANCE - A Contemporary of Joan of Arc
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LOUIS XI, KING OF FRANCE - A Contemporary of Joan of Arc

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LOUIS XI, KING OF FRANCE. (1423-1483). Valois King of France from 1461-1483. LS. (“Louis”). ½p. Oblong 4to. N.p., N.d. To the Duke of Milan. Written on vellum in old French with translation (and punctuation added).


“Dear and beloved kinsman, We are sending to you Our dear and faithful advisors the bishop ofValence; the lord of Myolans, our chamberlain; and master Pierre Poignant, The Master of Requests of the Royal Household [“maître des requètes ordinaires de l’hôtel du roi”].  We have charged them to speak wisely and agreeably [?] of what seems to Us to be to your benefit, and that of your house, whose maintenance and prosperity We have as much at heart as Our own. Thus We ask you that to all they will say to you from Us, you will give your full faith and respect as you would to Us personally; and that furthermore you will make known to Us your tidings, which would give Us great pleasure and consolation.” 


The son and heir of King Charles VII, Louis XI openly rebelled against his father while still Dauphin, disregarding his father’s objection to marrying nine-year-old Charlotte of Savoy when he was 27 and taking up residence with the king’s enemy the Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy. His political intrigues earned him the nicknames “the cunning” and “the universal spider.”


Louis succeeded his father as King of France in 1461. Despite his marital alliance with the less powerful Duchy of Savoy, a traditional enemy of Milan, Louis made efforts to strengthen his alliance with Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan from 1450-1466. In 1465, Sforza sent his sonGaleazzo Maria Sforza, who would succeed him as duke in 1466, to aid Louis in his war against the League of Public Weal. In 1475, Louis signed the treaty ending the Hundred Years War and, without the pressure of foreign threats, was able to consolidate his power within France, adding Burgundy and Picardy to his dominions. By 1477, Louis had focused on the Italian peninsula, then dominated by the five city states of Venice, Milan, Florence, the Vatican, and the Kingdom of Naples. Louis began courting improved relations with the Papal States and the Republic of Venice, prompting Milan to seek closer relations with Louis. Our undated letter was written to the Duke of Milan, a post held during Louis XI’s reign by Francesco Sforza from 1450-1466, Galeazzo Maria Sforza from 1466-1476 and Gian Galeazzo Sforza from 1476, upon the assassination of his father, until 1494. The Sforza were condottieri who married into Milan’s ruling Visconti family and, after the death of the last Visconti Duke and the short-lived Golden Ambrosian Republic, used their military power to gain control of Milan.


Following Louis’ death, Francesco’s younger son Ludovico (Duke of Milan from 1494-1499) encouraged Louis’ successor Charles VIII to invade Italy and press the Angevin claim to the throne of Naples so that Milan would have an ally against Venice. The resulting Italian War of 1494 saw French aggression against her former allies, including Milan and was the beginning of more than a half century of war between France and the Italian powers.



During Louis’ reign, the bishopric of Valence, located directly west of Milan, was held by Louis of Poitiers (1447-1468), Gerard de Crussol (1468-1472), Jacques de Bathernay (1472–1474), and Antoine de Balzac (1474–1491).


Walloon noble Pierre Poignant (?-sometime after 1489) was the lord of Athis and the king’s counsellor. Various secondary sources state that he was made maître des requètes ordinaires de l’hôtel du roi in 1484 but our document indicates that he was serving in that role prior to the king’s death.


On vellum and folded into thirds. Faint wax seal remnants on the verso as well as several dispatch slits not affecting any text. In fine condition and very rare.




Item #19435




This autograph will be auctioned live on October 25, 2017. For more information and to place your bid click the "BID NOW!" button above.
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