Claude de Lorraine was born on October 20, 1496 in the Chateau de Conde, he died on April 12, 1550 in Joinville. He was the son of René II, Duke of Lorraine, and his second wife, Philippa de Guelders. Ambitious from the start Claude desired the Duchy of Lorraine, and to his elder brother's misfortune, Claude had Antoine declared illegitimate. Antoine was born to Rene II and Marguerite d'Harcourt, whom Rene Divorced so this declaration was ignored. Claude was forced to be content with the Countships of Guise and Aumale, the Barony of Joinville, and the Seigniories of Mayenne and Elbeuf, which Rene possessed in France.
Claude de Guise married Antoinette de Bourbon in 1513. Antoinette was noted for her simple life, her renunciation of all rich materials in dress, and her great charity toward hospitals, the poor, and orphans. Claude and Antoinette had eight sons and four daughters. If the memoirs of François de Guise, Claude's son, are to be credited, his father died of poison.
Claude proved himself to have the ability to please with his appearances in the French court. He followed Francis I to Italy and recieved twenty-two wounds at the battle of Marignano in 1515. He was also rewarded by Francis I by being made the master of the hounds and first chamberlain, and by the erection of the countship of Guise to a ducal peerage for his courageous part in the campaigns against Charles V. The honour of the becoming a duke was reserved only for princes of the blood, and thus Claude became the first Duc de Guise.
Claude also gained the gratitude of the Catholic party when he exterminated the bands of Anabaptists who attempted to invade Lorraine at Lupstein near Saverne on May 16, 1525. Claude's campaign of Luxembourg in 1542, the services he made in 1543 by his defence of Landrecies, and his success in quieting the Parisians, alarming them by the approach of the imperial forces, justified the favour of the king. Francis I finally confided to Claude the government of Burgundy. The Duke's ambition, however, including his large fortune, and powerful relatives gave offense to Francis I. It was said that Francis I counseled Henry II (his son) never to allow the Guises to have a share in the government, and a popular quatrain current in Paris ran:
François premier prédit ce point
Que ceux de la maison de Guise
Mettraient ses enfants en purpoint
Et son pauvre peuple en chemise.