François Villon (born François de Montcorbier, and using several other aliases during his short life) was born in 1431 in France. He was a poet, a murderer and a thief.

On graduation from the university of Paris in 1449 he looked set for a promising career - however, in 1455, he murdered a priest in a quarrel and was forced to go on the run. Eventually he was caught and thrown into the dungeons at Meung-sur-Loire, where he would probably have died. Luckily for François the king, Louis XI, happened to be passing, and in honor of his coronation freed all the prisoners. François returned to Paris, only to be locked up again - one of his friends had revealed his part in a burglary. He managed to get free again, but it did not last long. This time he was sentenced to hanging for his part in a street brawl. Somehow, he contrived to get the sentence commuted to ten years' banishment. He was 32 when he left Paris for the last time. His fate remains unknown.

In between spells in prison he wrote verse. His longer works Le petit testament and Le grand testament are sometimes comical mock wills, where he makes bequests to all sorts of things and people. His shorter poems (including several written while under sentence of death) became very popular in the 19th century and were translated by poets such as Swinburne and Rossetti. The most famous is probably Des Dames du Temps Jadis, which has the refrain 'Où sont les neiges d'antan?' or 'Where are the snows of yesteryear?', and laments the passing of famous heroines and beauties.