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In 1506, Louis XII, who had married three times but had no son, betrothed his daughter Claude of France to Francis. Claude was heiress to the Duchy of Brittany through her mother, Anne of Brittany.
The marriage took place on 18 May 1514. Louis died shortly afterwards and Francis inherited the throne. He was crowned King of France in the Cathedral of Reims on 25 January 1515, with Claude as his queen consort.
Claude, the pawn of so much dynastic maneuvering, was short in stature and afflicted with scoliosis, which gave her a hunched back. She was eclipsed at court by her mother-in-law, Louise of Savoy, and her sister-in-law, the literary Marguerite, Queen consort of Navarre.
When Francis became King in 1515, two of Claude's ladies-in-waiting were the English sisters Mary and Anne Boleyn, and another was Diane de Poitiers. Mary became the king's mistress before returning home in about 1519. Anne served as Claude's official translator whenever there were English visitors, such as in 1520. Anne was also a temporary companion to Claude's younger sister, Renée. Anne Boleyn returned to England in 1521, where she eventually became Queen of England as the second wife of Henry VIII. Diane de Poitiers was a principal inspiration of the School of Fontainebleau of the French Renaissance, and became the lifelong mistress of Francis's son and successor, Henry II.
Claude's life was spent in an endless round of annual pregnancies. Her husband had many mistresses, but was usually relatively discreet. Claude imposed a strict moral code on her own household, which only a few chose to flout.
Claude died in 1524, when she was only twenty-four.