Francis, French prince, duke of Alençon and Anjou

Francis, 1554–84, French prince, duke of Alençon and Anjou; youngest son of King Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici. Although ill-shapen, pockmarked, and endowed with a curiously formed nose, he was considered (1572–73) as a possible husband for Queen Elizabeth I of England. During the Wars of Religion (see Religion, Wars of), he opposed the anti-Protestant policy of his mother and conspired with Huguenots and moderate Catholics against his mother and his brother, King Charles IX. By the peace of 1576, which ended the fifth war of religion, he obtained the appanages of Anjou, Touraine, and Berry. He led (1578) an expedition into the Netherlands, which was then in rebellion against Spain. In the same year, he was again prominent as Elizabeth's suitor. Offered (1580) the rule of the Low Countries by William the Silent, leader of the rebellious states, he led a new invasion and was for a time the ruler of several provinces, but in 1583 was compelled to withdraw. His death opened the French succession to Henry of Navarre (later King Henry IV).

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