François I of France, the king who loved jewellery

 

 

Francis I of FranceIn France, François I (or Francis I) restored art and literature thanks to many artists such as Benvenuto Cellini or Leonardo da Vinci. The French Court became the place where luxury and extravagance were the impressive reflection of the country’s power. Although Spain had taken possession of the New World and all its sources of gems, François I remained the richest monarch in Europe in terms of precious stones and ornaments. He set the example by adorning himself with entire sets of jewellery. His court and other monarchs did the same. At the time, men were more bejewelled than women although the latter were allowed to wear jewellery. In England, Henry VIII wore more jewellery than his wives. It has to be said that men had priority although the role of women at Court had become more and more important. As François I said “A Court without women is like a garden without flowers.”

However, the jewels of the French crown remained under the ownership of monarchs thanks to the King François I. In 1525 he was made a prisoner at the battle of Pavia. He had to buy his freedom by paying Charles V - the Holy Roman Emperor - in jewels. When he returned to France, he decided to create the jewels of the French Crown so that nobody else would ever be able to lay claim to them again.

Other countries followed this example. Who has never heard of the British Crown Jewels? From that time, the national heritage became a useful security when the country needed to borrow. In those days, a country’s sovereigns or major financial leaders often engaged their personal fortunes in war or other events. This sometimes led to considerable losses. Happily, François I of France had the skills to reconsider this strategy, which had great consequences in the preservation of Royal Jewellery Collections. 

 

Text ©World Luxury Jewellers

 

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