Merovingian Dynasty (interregnum)

Carolingian Dynasty


Capetian Dynasty

Valois Dynasty

Bourbon Dynasty


Napoleonic Dynasty

Bourbon Dynasty (redux)

Orleans Dynasty


Napoleonic Dynasty (redux)

As the poet Jacques Prévert said:

        Louis I
        Louis II
        Louis III
        Louis IV
        Louis V
        Louis VI
        Louis VII
        Louis VIII
        Louis IX
        Louis X (dit le Hutin) (called le Hutin)
        Louis XI
        Louis XII
        Louis XIII
        Louis XIV
        Louis XV
        Louis XVI
        Louis XVII
        Louis XVIII
        et plus personne plus rien...
        qu'est-ce que c'est que ces gens-là
        qui ne sont pas foutus 
        de compter jusqu'à vingt ?
                and nobody any more, nothing...
                who are these guys
                who ain't able
                to count until twenty?

What is remarkable about the French monarchs is that, between 987 and 1848, the same family ruled France. During the French Revolution, Louis XVI was called "Louis Capet" during his trial because Hugues Capet, 800 years before, was his direct ancestor.

No king ever came from another country. Many countries invaded France, but for a short period, and the legitimate king always regained his throne eventually. It may explain many things about France, including its strong feeling of being a nation (as opposed to a race) and its so-called arrogance.

From 987 to 1792, i.e during more than 800 years, the succession rules were strictly followed. Sometimes (but quite rarely) a king died without a legitimate heir, i.e a son, so that a brother, an uncle or a cousin had to become king. In three occasions, three brothers were kings one after the other:

  1. Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV between 1314 and 1328. The fact that during more than three centuries (987 - 1314), every king of France had a son who outlived him and became a king is very important, because it helped them to build a nation. While most of Europe was subject to instability and wars whenever a king died without a heir, in France the legitimacy of the new king was rarely questioned.
  2. François II, Charles IX and Henri III between 1559 and 1589. Note that one of the rare succession crisis in French history occurred when Henri III died without a heir. Henri IV had to fight to take the crown. He was a protestant, and had to become catholic: "Paris is worth a mass", as he allegedly said.
  3. Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X between 1774 and 1830, who ended the Bourbon Dynasty.

Louis-Philippe (1830-1848) was a distant cousin, and his accession to the throne was not legitimate. His father was a "régicide", i.e he had voted for the death penalty when Louis XVI was put to trial in 1793.

Other short facts:

  • Louis XIV was king during 72 years (more than Queen Victoria), and outlived his sons and grand-sons. Louis XV was his great grand son, and he outlived his sons too, so that France had only two kings in 131 years.
  • There is no Louis XVII, because the son of Louis XVI died in a jail during the Revolution. Louis XVIII considered that, according to the succession rules, Louis XVII had been king after Louis XVI died, so he decided he would be #18 and not #17.
  • In the same way, Napoleon III decided that Napoleon I's son had been emperor after his father abdicated in 1815, although the king (Louis XVIII) had regained the throne.
  • Since mauler has used English names in his list of French kings above, here is how English names map to French names:
Henry       -> Henri
Hugh Capet  -> Hugues Capet
John        -> Jean
Merovich    -> Mérovée
Odo         -> Eudes
Philip      -> Philippe

Oh, yeah, there are still pretenders to the throne in France. One of them is Louis XX, a descendent of Louis XIV and the most legitimate of all with regard to succession rules. Another one is the Count of Paris, a descendent of Louis-Philippe. And I'm not speaking about those who claim that Louis XVII, just like Elvis, did not die in jail during the Revolution and had children afterwards...

Thanks LeoDV for a correction about Capet, which was not Hugues Capet's family name because family names did not exist then...

As with many nations it is hard to pinpoint an exact date for France's formation - most historians would argue that it can be put at the Treaty of Verdun of 843, by which the Kingdom of West Francia was established (East Francia became the Holy Roman Empire). Many Frenchmen in Medieval times traced their Kingdom back to the Merovingian Frankish Kings who ruled parts of present-day France and Germany between the 5th and 8th centuries. This tactic was especially employed by the Capetian Kings in their search for a soundly-based constitutional government, particularly under Philip IV the Fair.

The predecessors to the Capetians were the Carolingians, who took their name from Charlemagne (in Latin, Carolus Magnus). The Carolingians ruled all parts of the old Frankish Empire after the Treaty of Verdun, but their rule in the Holy Roman Empire ended with the death of Louis the Child in 911. Here they were succeeded by the Ottonians. The Capetians, a minor branch of the family, take their name from their first, elected, King - Hugh Capet. The Capetian dynasty continued to rule until 1328, when Charles IV died. Because of the Salic Law, inherited from the Salian Franks, inheritance could not take place through the female line, and Charles IV died without a direct male heir. This is the origin of the English claim to the French throne - Edward III's mother was King Charles' sister. The French, though, chose to elect their next King, who was Philip VI of Valois.

The Valois Kings reigned until 1589, when the homosexual Henry III (who liked to dress in women's clothes) died childless. Henry of Navarre, a direct descendent of Louis IX, was recognised as King of France, the first of the Bourbon dynasty. They took their name from the marriage of Louis IX to Beatrice, heiress to the lordship of Bourbon. Their son became Duke of Bourbon in 1327, and the title stuck, despite their dispossession. The Bourbon dynasty was the last dynasty to rule France. They were overthrown in 1793 during the French Revolution, then restored in 1814. They came to an end in 1848 with the advent of the Second Republic. From 987 to 1792 the same family had ruled France.

Carolingian Dynasty (843 to 987).

Charles the Bald (Charles II) 843-877
Louis the Stammerer (Louis II) 877-879
Louis III 879-882
Carloman 882-884
Charles the Fat 884-887
Odo 888-898
Charles the Simple (Charles III) 898-922
Robert I 922-923
Raoul 923-936
Louis IV 936-954
Lothair 954-986
Louis V, the Indolent 986-987

Capetian Dynasty (987 to 1328).

Hugh Capet, Count of Paris, crowned King of France 987 - 996
Robert II the Pious 996 - 1031
Henry I 1031 - 1060
Philip I the Fair 1060 - 1108
Louis VI the Fat 1108 - 1137
Louis VII the Younger 1137 - 1180
Philip II Augustus 1180 - 1223
Louis VIII the Lion 1223 - 1226
Louis IX (St. Louis) 1226 - 1270
Blanche of Castile (regent for Louis IX) 1226 - 1234
Philip III the Bold 1271 - 1285
Philip IV the Fair 1285 - 1314
Louis X the Stubborn (1314 - 1316]
(Philip the Tall, brother of Louis X (served as regent before John's birth and while John lived - is suspected of killing John) 1316 - 1316)
John I the Posthumous 1316
Philip V the Tall 1316 - 1322
Charles IV the Fair 1322-1328

Valois Dynasty (1328-1589)

Main Branch (1328-1498)

Philip VI the Fortunate 1328-1350
John II the Good 1350-1364
Charles V the Wise 1364-1380
Charles VI the Well-Beloved 1380-1422
Louis of Anjou (regent for Charles VI) 1380-1382
Charles VII the Victorious 1422-1461 (by treaty right the throne beloged to King Henry VI of England, Charles only crowned in 1429)
Louis XI ("the Spider King") 1461-1483
Charles VIII the Affable 1483-1498
Anne de Beaujeu (regent for Charles VIII) 1483-1484

Valois-Orleans Branch (1498-1515)

Louis XII, the Father of His People 1498-1515

Valois-Angoulême Branch (1515-1589)

Francis I 1515-1547
Henry II 1547-1559
Francis II 1559-1560
(Catherine de Medici (served as regent for Charles IX) 1560-1563)
Charles IX 1560-1574
Henry III (King of Poland, 1573-1574) 1574-1589

Bourbon Dynasty (1589-1792)

Henry IV (King Henry III of Navarre, 1572-1610) 1589-1610
(Marie de Medici (served as regent for Louis XIII) 1610-1614)
Louis XIII the Well-Beloved 1610-1643
(Anne of Austria (served as regent for Louis XIV) 1643-1651)
Louis XIV the Sun King 1643-1715
(Philippe of Orleans (served as regent for Louis XV) 1715-1723)
Louis XV the Well-Beloved 1715-1774
Louis XVI the Beloved 1774-1792

First Republic (1792-1804)

Convention (1792-1795)

Directory (1795-1799)

Consulate (1799-1804)

Napoleon Bonaparte -- First Consul (1799-1804)

Bonaparte Dynasty -- First Empire (1804-1814)

Napoleon I, Emperor (1804-1814, The Hundred Days 1815)

Bourbon Dynasty, Restored (1814-1848)

Louis XVIII (1814-1824)
Charles X (1824-1830)

Bourbon-Orleans, The Monarchy of July

Louis-Philippe the Citizen King (1830-1848)

Second Republic (1848-1852)

Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, President (1848-1852)

Bonaparte Dynasty -- Second Empire (1852-1870)

Napoleon III of France, Emperor (1852-1870)

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