Culturally, the Italian intervention was far less sterile. The Renaissance had been flowering in Italy for some time before the Italian wars. Humanism, a Renaissance movement that focused on the study of ancient texts, had already appeared in southern France during the early 15th century. But the Italian wars exposed many more French people to Renaissance styles of art, architecture, literature, and scholarship.
Francis I became one of Europe’s leading patrons of the arts. He supported the humanistic endeavors of major classicists, such as Guillaume Budé. Under the influence of his sister, Margaret of Navarre, he protected scholars, such as Lefèvre d’Étaples, who were attacked because their work was associated with new currents of Protestant religious reform. Francis also brought to France artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Benvenuto Cellini. The result was a fusion of Renaissance and late French Gothic styles, as exemplified in the jewel-like royal residences Francis built along the Loire.
Francis and Henry II also patronized the group of French poets called the Pléiade, whose members used and defended French as a literary language (see Pleiad). The crown cared little about the linguistic practices of most French subjects. However, it did not want European elites to view French regard for Italian classicism as a sign that France was culturally or politically inferior. Partly for this reason, the crown stipulated in 1539 that henceforth French was the sole legal language of the state and kingdom. By this time, high culture had clearly become the business of the state. Also notable in this period was the growing use of the printing press. The effects of the print revolution were slow to reach the nonliterate classes. However, printing did contribute to the outbreak of the Reformation, a religious revolution that challenged the supremacy of the pope and resulted in the creation of Protestant churches. "France" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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