The Ladies' Peace: the Treaty of Cambrai (August 3, 1529)

Ladies' Peace, also called Treaty of Cambrai, puts an end to the Second Italian War. It is the final and happy outcome of a serious situation opposing two enemy cousins: François I and Charles V. Only two great ladies could resolve this conflict: Louise of Savoy, mother of the first and Margaret of Austria, the aunt of the second. Peace will however be short-lived, the conflict between the two sworn enemies of Europe resuming in 1536 ...

From the disaster of Pavia to the Treaty of Madrid

After the disaster in Pavia in February 1525, King Francis I was taken prisoner by his sworn enemy the Emperor Charles V. A first treaty was fiercely negotiated and signed in January 1526 in order to free the king. But Charles Quint not having confidence in himself, demands against his release, the imprisonment of his two sons. The terms of the treaty mentioned the donation of some French provinces (including Burgundy) in favor of the emperor, as well as the marriage of François I with Eleanor, the sister of Charles V. Finally, on March 17, 1526, the "exchange" between the king and his children took place on the Bidassoa.

François Ier will take his time, because he is not ready to cede Burgundy. For his part, Charles V, wanting to speed things up, attacked the two children by suppressing their servants and forbidding them all contact with the outside. The two little ones are locked in a tower without light, near Segovia, and sleep on simple mattresses. It seems that they no longer even understand their original language (French). European states are quite surprised by this resentment, even outraged and move away from the emperor. Even the Italian provinces and the Holy See condemn the Treaty of Madrid which was dissolved in December 1527.

The grave situation of children cannot last any longer. This is how two great ladies will take it upon themselves to solve this awful problem.

Louise of Savoy and Margaret of Austria enter the scene

On the one hand, Louise of Savoy, mother of François Ier, on the other Marguerite of Habsbourg, aunt of Charles V. These two ladies know each other well: Marguerite was betrothed to Charles VIII at the age of 3, and had been brought up at the court of Anne de Beaujeu. Married several times and also widowed each time, she raised the children of her nephew Charles V, her brothers and sisters, to replace their mother who had gone mad. Since then she has been regent of the Netherlands and Flanders, which she has administered perfectly for 20 years, just as her ex-sister-in-law Louise of Savoy rules France during the absences of François 1er.

The whole court therefore met in Cambrai in the summer of 1529. Louise of Savoy moved into the Hôtel Saint-Paul while Marguerite took up residence opposite the Abbey of Saint Aubert. They only have one street to cross, but soon a bridge is installed to facilitate their reunion. Louise meets Marguerite at her home, in a warm atmosphere surrounded by thick rugs, hangings, tapestries embroidered in gold, mirrors set in silver. Both were sensitive to painting, poetry and music.

For almost a month, they will discuss, refine, and finally come to a compromise. Neither can stand war, much less the incarceration of young children, even if they are future kings and must therefore learn the vagaries of their function. Point by point, they will "clean up" ... Until the essential term: France does not want in any case to cede Burgundy and on the other side, Austria must not lose face after so many battles that have dried up finances.

Breaking the deadlock: the peace of Cambrai

After a month, they establish an agreement signed in Cambrai on July 13, 1529 (some speak of August 3) with the following conditions: François I cedes Hesdin but keeps Burgundy, he renounces Artois, Flanders, Duchy of Milan and the Kingdom of Naples, he pays 1,000,000 ecus in exchange for his 2 sons (amount which currently represents 4 tons of gold)

To raise this sum, all the nobility put their hands in their pockets, Henry VIII also helps François Ier. The whole Court is jubilant, festivities are announced, the children will be released shortly ... yet these two ladies will soon disappear: Marguerite gives up soul at the end of November 1530 after a poorly treated foot injury; Louise of Savoy will disappear in September 1531 ... The ladies disappeared, the war resumed in 1536.

For further

- François Ier, by Didier le Fur. Perrin, 2015.

- Rivalry of Charles-Quint and François Ier, François-Auguste Mignet. FB Editions, 2015.

Video: Margaret MacMillan: Was World War I Inevitable? (January 2022).