Louise of Savoy was a French noblewoman, Duchess suo jure of Auvergne and Bourbon, Duchess of Nemours, and the mother of King Francis I of France. She served as the Regent of France in 1515, in 1525–1526 and in 1529.
Louise of Savoy was born at Pont-d'Ain, the eldest daughter of Philip II, Duke of Savoy and his first wife, Margaret of Bourbon. Her brother, Philibert II, Duke of Savoy, succeeded her father as ruler of the duchy and head of the House of Savoy. He was, in turn, succeeded by their half-brother Charles III, Duke of Savoy.
Because her mother died when she was only seven, she was brought up by Anne de Beaujeu, who was regent of France for her brother Charles VIII. At Amboise, she met Margaret of Austria, who was betrothed to the young king.
At age eleven, Louise married Charles of Orléans, Count of Angoulême, on 16 February 1488 in Paris, she did not live with him until she was fifteen.
She was widowed at the age of 19, and two years later Louise moved her family to court at the ascension of King Louis XII, her husband's cousin.
She educated her children in the spirit of the Italian Renaissance, also helped by her Italian confessor, Cristoforo Numai from Forlì.
When Louis XII became ill in 1505, he determined that Francis should succeed him and both Louise and his wife Anne of Brittany should be part of the regency council. He recovered and Francis became a favourite of the king, who eventually gave him his daughter Claude of France in marriage on 8 May 1514. Following the marriage, Louis XII designated Francis as his heir.
With the death of Louis XII on 1 January 1515, Francis became king of France. On 4 February 1515, Louise was named Duchess of Angoulême, and on 15 April 1524, Duchess of Anjou.
Her mother having been one of the sisters of the last dukes of the main branch of Bourbon, after the death of Suzanne, Duchess of Bourbon, in 1521, Louise, because of proximity of blood, advanced claims to the Duchy of Auvergne and other possessions of the Bourbons. This led her ,supported by Francis, in rivalry against Charles III, Duke of Bourbon, Suzanne's widower, whom she proposed to marry in order to settle the Bourbon inheritance issue. When her suit was rejected by Charles, Louise instigated efforts to undermine him.
Charles went into exile and his attempt to regain his lost status by waging war against the King. He died in 1527 having failed to regain his lost lands and titles. Louise recovered Auvergne from confiscations and became duchess in the name of her son.
During Francis’s absences, Louise acted as regent, she served as the Regent of France in 1515, during the king's war in Italy, and again from 1525 to 1526, when Francis was at war and during his time as prisoner in Spain.
In 1524, she sent one of her servants, Jean-Joachim de Passano, to London to open unofficial negotiations with Cardinal Wolsey for a peace treaty which prepared the ground for the Treaty of the More the following year.
She was the principal negotiator for the Treaty of Cambrai between France and the Holy Roman Empire, concluded on 3 August 1529. That treaty, called "the Ladies' Peace", put an end to the second Italian war between the head of the Valois dynasty, Francis I of France, and the head of the Habsburg dynasty, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. The treaty was signed by Louise of Savoy for France and her sister-in-law, Margaret of Austria, for the Holy Roman Empire.
Louise of Savoy died on 22 September 1531, in Grez-sur-Loing. Her remains were entombed at Saint-Denis in Paris. After her death, her lands, including Auvergne, merged in the crown. Through her daughter, Margaret of Angoulême and her granddaughter Jeanne d'Albret, she is the ancestress of the Bourbon kings of France, as her great-grandson, Henry of Navarre, succeeded as Henry IV of France.