Historical and Commemorative Medals
Collection of Benjamin Weiss


FRANCIS I (Francois de Valois)

POMEDELLO, Giovanni Maria; France, ca.1515, Bronze (cast), 51 mm
Obv: Bust of Francis I, his head turned in profile to the left, wearing flat cap, robes, and Collar and Badge of the Order of Saint Michael. FRANCISCVS. I. CHRISTIANIS[S]IMVS. REX. FRANCOR[UM]  (Francis I, Most Christian King of the French).
Rev: Crown over burning salamander in tazza    NVTRISCO. EXTINGO.  (I Nourish, I Extinguish)
Signed: Pomedellos monogram
Possible after cast, although it is larger than the example pictured in Forrer. The original was made between 1515 and 1518.
Ref: Kress 179; Hill 592; Forrer IV 644 (Illustrated); Armand II, 127,5;  Pollard II, 219/203;  Weiss BW187

Francis I of Valois (1494-1547), king of France (1515-1547), was the successor of Louis XII. He resumed the Italian Wars (1494-1559), regaining the duchy of Milan at the Battle of Marignano (1515). Francis increased royal control over the church but began a bitter rivalry with Charles V when Charles was preferred to Francis as ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. He fought several wars against Charles, most ending in defeat, in part because he could not gain the support of Henry VIII of England. After concluding a treaty with the Turkish Sultan Suleiman (The Magnificent), he once again declared war against Charles V. Peace was finally concluded in 1544.

Francis was a leader of the Renaissance in France and is best remembered for his patronage of the arts and his palace at Fontainebleau. Among the artists he supported were Andrea del Sarto, Benvenuto Cellini and Leonardo da Vinci, from whom he obtained the Mona Lisa.

Francis was succeeded by his son, Henry II.

The salamander in flames was a favorite device of Francis I.  Also used by his father and grandfather, the salamander (erroneously) was thought to be able to go through fire unscathed and extinguish it at the same time, suggesting that Francis had great endurance, being able to live through fire.  The inscription on the reverse (NVTRISCO. EXTINGO.) has been interpreted as "I feed upon the good (fire) and put out the evil one (i.e., I am burning with lawful zeal, faith and a desire for love and peace, and I put out guilty zeal, harmful and destructive passions, unjust war and lust) ".  (Francis I by R.J. Knecht).

The design of the medal is thought to have been taken from Giovanni da Candida.

LINK to Biography of Francis I (from Wikipedia)
LINK to Portrait of Francis I by Jean Clouet (from Wikipedia)
LINK to the Mona Lisa (Lisa del Giocondo) by Leonardo da Vinci (from Wikipedia)