Francis I was King of France from 1515 to 1547. He was the younger brother of Marguerite, Queen of Navarre, famous as author of the Heptameron. He allied with Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, mainly against Emperor Charles V. By doing so he became the first European monarch to establish diplomatic relations with the Ottoman Empire, which caused quite some scandal. After initial tolerance he persecuted protestants, culminating in a massacre of Waldensians in 1545. He was a man of letters and patron of the arts. Baccio Bandinelli’s Laocoon copy was originally intended as a present for him.
Jean Clouet painted this portrait of Francis around 1530.