Thomas Smith was twice named ambassador to France. His second embassy (1571-2) was the most successful, concluding with the signing of the Treaty of Blois between Elizabeth I of England and Catherine de Medici of France that allied their two countries against Spain. The presence of Emili’s history of French kings in Smith’s library indicates that Smith sought current humanist literature as well as classical texts. De rebus gestis Francorum is considered to be the first historiographical work of the modern era where the author’s discourse is critical and factual. Extensively annotated, the volume contains fascinating portraits of monarchs alongside important historical and religious figures from across Europe.
Here are depicted key protagonists involved in the signing of the Treaty of Cambrai. This treaty ended one phase of the wars between Francis I of France and the Holy Roman emperor Charles V in 1529. Also called Paix des Dames or Peace of the Ladies, this treaty was negotiated by Margaret of Austria, aunt of Charles and regent of the Netherlands and Louise of Savoy, mother of Francis, who had acted as regent during his absences. Margaret of Austria and Louise of Savoy's portraits are both drawn here. Below are the ones of Pope Clemens VII and Francis I of France. Both men met in Marseille in 1533 for the marriage of Francis’ son, Henry, Duke of Orleans, to the Pope’s niece, Catherine de’ Medici. Smith’s doodling symbolises their marriage with the inclusion of a ring beneath their two names.
Author: Paolo Emili
Title: De rebus gestis Francorum [History of French kings]
Shelfmark: G.3.19 (catalogue record)
Digital copy: Cambridge Digital Library