Renée of France

Renée of France
Duchess of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio
Clouet Renee Duchess of Ferrara.jpg
Portrait by Jean Clouet, c. 1520
Born25 October 1510
Château de Blois
Died12 June 1574(1574-06-12) (aged 63)
Château de Montargis
SpouseErcole II d'Este
IssueAnna d'Este
Alfonso II of Ferrara
Lucrezia Maria d'Este
Eleonora d'Este
Luigi d'Este
FatherLouis XII of France
MotherAnne of Brittany
prev. Roman Catholicism

Renée of France (25 October 1510[1] – 12 June 1574[a]), was the Duchess of Ferrara due to her marriage to Ercole II d'Este, grandson of Pope Alexander VI.[2] She was the younger surviving child of Louis XII of France and Anne of Brittany. In her later life she became an important supporter of the Protestant Reformation and ally of John Calvin.


Renée was born on 25 October 1510 at the Château de Blois, Blois, Touraine and was the second daughter of Louis XII of France and Anne of Brittany.[3] Anne, who had always fought fiercely to keep Brittany independent of the French crown, tried to will the duchy to Renée, but Louis disagreed, so the Duchy passed to her elder sister, Claude.

Her early education was undertaken by her governess, Michelle de Saubonne, Madame de Soubise. Saubonne was a partisan of Anne of Brittany and opposed to Anne's enemy, Louise of Savoy; so, after the death of Renée's parents, Louise and her son, Francis I of France, had Saubonne sacked. Renée never forgot this, and when she married, she took Saubonne with her.[4]

In return for renouncing her claims to the duchy of Brittany, Renée was granted the duchy of Chartres by Francis. As a child, one of her companions was the young Anne Boleyn, whom Renée always remembered with kindness and affection. She was considered as a possible bride for King Henry VIII.[5]