He was Francois de Montcorbier, known as Villon, born in 1431. His father died when he was quite young and he was brought up by a relative, Guillaume de Villon, whose name he adopted. He was educated at the University of Paris from where he graduated in 1449.
He soon fell into bad company and roistered through the seedy taverns of Paris with thieves and murderes. He was himself charged with murder when on June 5, 1455, he quarrelled with and mortally wounded a priest. He fled from Paris. Later he obtained a letter of remission due to the pleading of some more lawabiding friends.
He continued his wayward and dishonest life and was concerned in a serious theft of money from the College of Navarre. Guy Taberie, who was a member of the gang of thieves, betrayed Villon who promptly ran away from Paris yet again. He suffaced eventually in Blois in 1457, where he took part at the court of Duke Charles d’Orleans in a poetical competition. Next heard of in prison at Meung-sur-Loire, he only escaped hanging because a general amnesty was proclaimed when King Louis XI and his court passed through that town.
Back in Paris, he was accused once again of theft and thrown into prison but released. Soon, in further trouble, he was re-arrested and condemned to death. He appealed and the sentence was commuted to one of banishment for ten years. Nothing more is known of him.
It cannot be denied that Villon was certainly not the heroic figure he cuts in the musical play The Vagabond King but the bitter beauty of his verse in fact his output was quite small has been admired across the centuries. At the request of his mother, he wrote, in the form of a ballad, a prayer to the Virgin Mary which is touching and beautiful.