Sovereigns of France


May 25, 2022

The following is a list of the French monarchs who ruled France from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. A separate article is dedicated to the heads of state of France from the 19th century to the present.

Title Complications

The very beginning of the French monarchy is controversial. Much of the matter stems from the birth of France as a distinct kingdom in the Middle Ages, several centuries after the Roman Empire lost control over the territory that now makes up much of western and central Europe. Many medievalists argue that the existence of France as such did not begin until the advent of the Capetian dynasty in 987, when it was possible to establish a regular and unitary royal succession, or, wanting to anticipate the date, with the establishment of the Kingdom of the Western Franks. after the Treaty of Verdun of 843. However, this view is problematic, partly due to the existence of secular traditions that place the birth of France in the Franco-Merovingian Kingdom founded by Clovis. This kingdom was born in the 5th century, and its rulers were deposed in the 8th. This tradition is partly based on the need of the Capetian (post-Carolingian) kings to strengthen their claim to the throne. Over time, these claims became part of the French national identity. Since the 1990s, the question of nationality, especially for nations considering their foundation in the period between the 5th and 9th centuries, has been the subject of a re-examination which has already produced several interesting studies, some of which will surely lead to a 'further redefinition of the meaning of nation and of how, consequently, the concept of nationality can be defined. Moreover, after the progressive degradation of the Latin concept of Gaul in the early Middle Ages, the title of King of France itself, the elaboration of a lexical core of the French language and, ultimately, the very notion of France, must be added. they did not arise at a precise historical moment, but gradually emerged after 987, in the early stages of the Capetian dynasty. It was only in the thirteenth century that the title of Rex Franciae definitively supplanted that of Rex Francorum Occidentaleum assumed by Charles the Bald in 843 with the creation of the Kingdom of the Western Franks. In light of all these historiographical considerations, the following list conventionally begins with the accession to the throne of Pepin the Short, son of Carlo Martello and first ruler of the Carolingian dynasty, which took place in November 751 following the deposition of the last ruler of the previous dynasty, the Merovingian Childeric III. The same list continues with the coronation of his son Charlemagne as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, which took place on Christmas Eve in the 19th century, an event which, according to a posthumous tradition, began the enumeration of French sovereigns, and therefore with the creation, in 843, of the Kingdom that would evolve in modern France. For previous Frankish monarchs, see Frankish Sovereigns.

King of the Franks (751-840)

King of the West Franks (840-987)

On the death of Louis V, who left no descendants, the Carolingian dynasty died out.

King of France (987-1314)

The Capetian dynasty ascended to the throne with the election of Ugo Capeto as king by the French clergy and nobility. The Capetian dynasty, Ugo Capeto's line of male descent, ruled France continuously from 987 to 1792 and from 1815 to 1848. The branches of the dynasty that ruled after 1328, however, are generally given the specific name of the branch: Valois , Bourbon and Orléans. Hugh II, first son of Robert II, and Philip, eldest son of Louis VI, are not included in the list; both, in line with the tradition of the first Capetians, were associated with the throne and crowned during the reign of their fathers, but pre-died them. Since none of them reigned autonomously