This is part of the Medieval European History Metanode.

The Capetian Dynasty ruled over France from 987 to 1328 CE. It began with Hugh Capet, who ruled from 987 to 996. Previously, kingship had not been hereditary. Nobles had elected the king since the end of the Carolingian Dynasty. Capet re-established hereditary right to the throne by making his son, Robert II, his "co-king" for several years. The nobles were used to Robert, and so they elected him king. Capet's descendants used this practice to make their sons kings after them until the monarchy became truly hereditary.

Following Capet were Robert II ("the Pious", who ruled from 996 to 1031), Henry I (1031 - 1060), and Philip I (1060 - 1080). The long rules of these monarchs display their strength as rulers. However, as time went on, the monarchs' authority decreased, and soon they ruled only the Ile-de-France. The dynasty achieved greater strength in the 12th century. Louis VI (aka "Louis the Fat", 1108-1137) increased royal power appreciably. One of his major accomplishments was a conquest against all of the rebellious nobles in the Ile-de-France, creating a strong base from which later Capetians could expand. He had a strong alliance with the Church, as evidenced by the Bishop Suger's chronicle of The Deeds of Louis the Fat. He also allied with the towns, a super-smart move that gave him and later Capetians an excellent source of money.

Louis VII (1137-1180), son of Louis the Fat, was known for his justice and gentleness. He carried on his father's politices of good relations to the Church and the towns. His greatest failure was his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine; although the marriage gave him the additional territory of Aquitaine, he divorced her for unfaithfulness and lost Aquitaine, and her subsequent marriage to Henry II of England gave Louis VII a formidable enemy.

Philip Augustus (1180-1223) was one of the most successful of the Capetians. He prevented Henry II from making any substantial advances into French territory. Philip took advantage of the next two English monarchs - Richard I, who was away on the Crusades, and John, who was a real wuss. He expanded his territory into Normandy, Maine, and Anjou. This made the French monarchy stronger than the German monarchy. In 1208, when Pope Innocent III called the Crusade against Albigensian heretics in southern France, Philip used the Crusade as an excuse to annex the southern territories. He used the new territory to create apanages - fiefs that he granted to members of the royal family to keep them appeased. Philip's development of the government was also revolutionary; he reorganized the national archives, introduced a financial court of audit, created a group of traveling justices, and instituted the office of the justicier.

Philip IV ("the Fair", 1285-1314) further strengthened the monarchy and increased royal revenues. He was called "Fair" for his blonde hair and light skin, not for any just policies. He feared neither God nor man. Philip attempted to tax the clergy permanently against the wishes of Pope Boniface VIII. The conflict escalated until 1302, when Philip actually kidnapped Boniface; Boniface was freed, but he died soon thereafter. Philip was the first to call the "Estates General", a meeting of the ecclesiastical and lay vassals and town representatives, in order to secure their support against the Pope. He persecuted the Knights Templar and the Jews so he could seize their assets.

The dynasty continued its strong reign until Charles IV ("the Fair"), died without an heir in 1328. His cousin, Philip IV of Valois, took the throne and began the Valois Dynasty.

The Line of the Capetian Dynasty
Hugh Capet (987-996), married to Adelaide of Aquitaine
Robert II the Pious (996-1031), married to Bertha of Burgandy and Constance of Arles
Henry I (1031-1075), married to Anne of Kiev
Philip I (1060-1108), married to Bertha of Holland
Louis IV the Fat (1108-1137), married to Adelaide of Savoy
Louis VII the Younger (1137-1180), married to Eleanor of Aquitaine, Constance of Castile, and Alix of Champagne
Philip II Augustus (1180-1223), married to Isabella of Hainaut, Ingeborg of Denmark, and Agnes of Meran
Louis VIII the Lion (1223-1226), married to Blanche of Castile
Louis IX or St. Louis (1226-1270), married to Margaret of Provence
Philip III the Bold (1270-1285), married to Isabella of Aragon and Marie de Brabant
Philip IV the Fair (1285-1314), married to Joan of Navarre
Louis X the Stubborn (1314-1316), married to Margaret of Burgandy and Clemence of Hungary
John I the Posthumous (1316-1316)
Philip V the Tall (1316-1322), married to Joan of Burgandy
Charles IV the Fair (1322-1328), married to Blanche of Burgandy, Mary of Luxemburg, and Joan of Evreux

Technically speaking, the Capetian dynasty reigned in France from the accession of Hugues Capet in 987 until the deposition of Louis-Philippe in 1848. All the monarchs between these years were legitimate descendants in the male line of Hugues Capet. This is not the case concerning English monarchs, some of whom are descended through female lines (James I, George I, Edward VII, for example). For convenience, the French dynasty is broken into sub-dynasties such as Valois and Bourbon.

The Valois dynasty is said to have come to the throne in 1328 when Charles VI died without direct male heirs, and the throne passed to Philippe, comte de Valois, grandson of Philippe III, and he ascended the throne as Philippe VI. The Valois continued until 1498, when Charles VIII died without heirs. The crown passed to the late king's second cousin once removed, Louis, duc d'Orléans, who became Louis XII of the house of Valois-Orléans. Unfortunately, he died without heirs as well, and the throne passed to his first cousin once removed, François d'Orléans, duc d'Angoulême, who became François Ier of the house of Valois-Angoulême or Valois-Orléans-Angoulême.

The Valois house came to a definitive end with the death of Henri III in 1589. He was succeeded by Henri de Bourbon, king of Navarre (and direct descendant of Louis IX) who became Henri IV of France. All subsequent French kings were his direct male descendants. The current king of Spain is in fact head of the house of Bourbon.

Despite all these divisions into Capet, Valois, Bourbon, all French kings since 987 have all been members of one family traceable through the male line back to Hugues Capet himself.

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