Francis II, Duke of Brittany

(d. 1488)
   After 1471, Francis II, ruler of the French Duchy of BRITTANY, held custody of Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond (see Henry VII, King of England), the surviving Lancastrian claimant to the English throne.
   Becoming duke of Brittany in 1458, Francis’s goal was to maintain Breton independence, which was threatened by the growing power of his feudal overlord, the king of FRANCE. To achieve this end, Francis, a weak and irresolute man, conducted a complex foreign policy that sought to preserve the friendship of England and BURGUNDY without unduly alienating France. Personally favorable to the house of LANCASTER, Francis allowed Jasper TUDOR, earl of Pembroke, to hire Breton men and ships for an invasion of WALES in 1464. However, the expedition never sailed, in part because Francis withdrew his support when LOUIS XI of France became less friendly to the Lancastrian cause. Nonetheless, Francis remained cool to diplomatic overtures from Yorkist England until 1468, when the growing threat of French invasion and Brittany’s thriving English trade forced the duke to conclude formal treaties of commerce and alliance with EDWARD IV.
   After 1471, Francis had custody of Pembroke and his nephew Richmond, who had been driven ashore in Brittany after the restoration of the house of YORK forced them to flee Wales (see Edward IV, Restoration of). Francis used his possession of Richmond, the remaining Lancastrian heir, to pressure Edward IV into supporting Brittany against France. In 1472, a force of 1,000 English ARCHERS under Anthony WOODVILLE, Earl Rivers, helped the Bretons repel a French invasion. In 1476, after persistent lobbying by Bishop Robert STILLINGTON, the English envoy, and by the pro-English faction at his own COURT, Francis agreed to surrender Richmond to Edward. However, before the English could sail, Richmond’s friends among the duke’s advisors persuaded Francis to change his mind, and Richmond eventually returned safely to the Breton court. In 1480, Francis betrothed his only child, Anne, to Edward IV’s heir, the future EDWARD V. When RICHARD III usurped the throne in 1483, he ended the marriage and so damaged the duke’s hopes for the future independence of Brittany. After failing in an attempt to use his continued possession of Richmond to extort military assistance from Richard, Francis supplied Richmond with ships and men and allowed him to participate in BUCKINGHAM’S REBELLION in October 1483. After the failure of that uprising, a growing band of English exiles formed around Richmond in Brittany. In 1484, Richard, working through Francis’s treasurer, Pierre LANDAIS, who had temporary direction of the Breton government while the duke was ill, secured an agreement to hand Richmond over to the king’s agents.Warned of the plot by Bishop John MORTON, Richmond fled to France. Francis died in 1488, three years before his daughter’s marriage to CHARLES VIII of France effectively ended Breton independence.
   Further Reading: Griffiths, Ralph A., and Roger S. Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1985); Jones, Michael, The Creation of Brittany: A Late Medieval State (London: Hambledon, 1988).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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