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Hugh Capet, the first monarch of France of the House of Capet

The monarchs of France ruled, first as kings and later as emperors (the Bonapartes only), from the Middle Ages to 1870. There is some disagreement as to when France came into existence. One possible date would be the establishment of the Merovingian Frankish kingdom by Clovis I in 486 with the defeat of Syagrius, the last Roman official in Gaul. That kingdom's rulers were deposed in the 8th century. The Treaty of Verdun established the Kingdom of Western Francia in 843.

In light of these trends, this list begins with Charles the Bald and the Kingdom of Western Francia, originating in 843, the state which would directly evolve into modern France. For earlier Frankish monarchs, see List of Frankish Kings.

In addition to the monarchs listed below, the Kings of England and Great Britain from 1340–1360 and 1369–1801 also claimed the title of King of France. For a short time, this had some basis in fact — under the terms of the 1420 Treaty of Troyes, Charles VI had recognized his son-in-law Henry V of England as regent and heir. Henry V predeceased Charles VI and so Henry V's son, Henry VI, succeeded his grandfather Charles VI as King of France. Most of Northern France was under English control until 1435, but by 1453, the English had been expelled from all of France save Calais (and the Channel Islands), and Calais itself fell in 1558. Nevertheless, English and then British monarchs continued to claim the title for themselves until the creation of the United Kingdom in 1801. Various English kings between 1337 and 1422 had also claimed the title of King of France, but only intermittently.

The title "King of the Franks" (Latin: Rex Francorum) remained in use until the reign of Philip IV. During the brief period when the French Constitution of 1791 was in effect (1791–1792) and after the July Revolution in 1830, the style "King of the French" was used instead of "King of France (and Navarre)". It was a constitutional innovation known as popular monarchy which linked the monarch's title to the people, not to the territory of France.


Early Frankish rulers: The Merovingians

The name of France comes from the Germanic tribe known as the Franks. The Merovingian kings began as mere chieftains, the oldest known being Chlodio. Clovis I was the first of these to rise to true kingship. After his death, his kingdom was split between his sons into Soissons (Neustria), Paris, Orléans (Burgundy), and Metz (Austrasia). Various other kingdoms would continue to break apart and be formed as the various Merovingian kings warred with each other.

Carolingian Dynasty

The Carolingians overpowered the Merovingian kings. First they became their majordomos (mayor of the palace) in Austrasia. Eventually, they united the entire Frankish kingdom for the first time since Clovis. With Mayor Pippin the Younger, the Merovingians were completely phased out. The Carolingian Dynasty would be the first true French monarchy. The great and extended kingdom of Pippin's son, Charlemagne (Charles I), was split by his son Louis I (Louis the Pious). In 843, while Louis I's son Lothair was in power, the great Frankish kingdom was split. The Eastern Kingdom became Germany, the Middle Kingdom became Lotharingia and later part of the Holy Roman Empire, and the Western Kingdom became France. Charles the Bald was the first ruler of the independent West Franks (France).

Carolingian Dynasty (840 to 987)

Three of the twelve kings during the 147 year Carolingian Dynasty, Odo, his brother Robert I and Robert's son in law Raoul/Rudolph, were not from the Carolingian Dynasty but from the rival Robertian Dynasty, named for Robert the Strong (father of Odo and Robert I). The Robertian Dynasty became the Capetian Dynasty with the ascent to the throne of Hugh Capet (son of Hugh the Great, son of Robert I) in 987. The rise and fall of Carolingian Charles III played out during the ascent of these Robertian kings.

Portrait Name King From Coronation King Until Relationship with Predecessor(s)
CharlesIItheBald.JPG Charles II the Bald
(Charles II le Chauve)
20 June 840 - 6 October 877  • Son of Louis the Pious or Louis I
 • Grandson of Charlemagne or Charles I
Louis II of France.JPG Louis II the Stammerer
(Louis II le Bègue)
6 October 877 8 December 877 at Compiègne
7 September 878 at Troyes
10 April 879  • Son of Charles II
King Louis III.gif Louis III 10 April 879 September 879 at Ferrières-en-Gâtinais 5 August 882  • Son of Louis II
Carloman II of France.jpg Carloman II 10 April 879 September 879 at Ferrières-en-Gâtinais 6 December 884  • Son of Louis II
Charles le Gros.PNG Charles the Fat
(Charles le Gros)
20 May 885 20 May 885 at Grand, Vosges 13 January 888  • Son of Louis the German
 • Grandson of Louis the Pious or Louis I
 • Great grandson of Charlemagne or Charles I
Odo of France.PNG Odo of Paris
(Eudes de Paris)
29 February 888 29 February 888 at Compiègne
13 November 888 at Rheims
1 January 898  • Son of Robert the Strong (Robertians)
 • Elected king against young Charles III.
Georges Rouget (1783-1869) - Charles III, dit le simple, roi de France en 896 (879-929).jpg Charles III the Simple
(Charles III le Simple)
28 January 893 28 January 893 at Rheims 30 June 922  • Posthumous son of Louis II
 • Younger half-brother of Louis III and Carloman II
Robert I de France.jpg Robert I
(Robert Ier)
30 June 922 29 June 922 at Rheims 15 June 923  • Son of Robert the Strong (Robertians)
 • Younger brother of Odo
Rudolph of France.PNG Rudolph
(Raoul de France)
13 July 923 29 June 922 at Soissons 14 January 936  • Son-in-law of Robert I
Louis IV of France.PNG Louis IV from overseas
(Louis IV d'Outremer)
19 June 936 19 June 936 at Laon 10 September 954  • Son of Charles III
Lothaire-Face.jpg Lothair
(Lothaire de France)
12 November 954 12 November 954 at Rheims 2 March 986  • Son of Louis IV
Louis V.jpg Louis V the Lazy
(Louis V le Fainéant)
8 June 986 8 June 979 at Compiègne 22 May 987  • Son of Lothair

Capetian Dynasty, Direct Capetians (987 to 1328)

The Capetian Dynasty, the male-line descendants of Hugh Capet, ruled France continuously from 987 to 1792 and again from 1814 to 1848. The branches of the dynasty which ruled after 1328, however, are generally given the specific branch names of Valois and Bourbon.

Portrait Name King From King Until Relationship with Predecessor(s)
Hugues capet.jpg Hugh Capet
(Hugues Capet)
July 3, 987 October 24, 996  • Grandson of Robert I
Seal of Robert II.jpg Robert II the Pious
(Robert II le Pieux)
October 24, 996 July 20, 1031  • Son of Hugh Capet
Henri I.jpg Henry I
(Henri Ier)
July 20, 1031 August 4, 1060  • Son of Robert II
Philip I of France · HHWXI28.svg Philip I
(Philippe Ier)
August 4, 1060 July 29, 1108  • Son of Henry I
Louis VI of France.gif Louis VI the Fat
(Louis VI le Gros)
July 29, 1108 August 1, 1137  • Son of Philip I
II Geza es VII Lajos KK.jpg Louis VII the Young
(Louis VII le Jeune)
August 1, 1137 September 18, 1180  • Son of Louis VI
Louis-Félix Amiel-Philippe II dit Philippe-Auguste Roi de France (1165-1223).jpg Philip II Augustus
(Philippe II Auguste)
September 18, 1180 July 14, 1223  • Son of Louis VII
Louis8lelion.jpg Louis VIII the Lion
(Louis VIII le Lion)
July 14, 1223 November 8, 1226  • Son of Philip II Augustus
Louis-ix.jpg Louis IX the Saint
(Saint Louis)
November 8, 1226 August 25, 1270  • Son of Louis VIII
Miniature Philippe III Courronement.jpg Philip III the Bold
(Philippe III le Hardi)
August 25, 1270 October 5, 1285  • Son of Louis IX
Philippe IV Le Bel.jpg Philip IV the Fair
(Philippe IV le Bel)
October 5, 1285 November 29, 1314  • Son of Philip III
Louis X Le Hutin.jpg Louis X the Quarreller
(Louis X le Hutin)
November 29, 1314 June 5, 1316  • Son of Philip IV
John I of France.jpg John I the Posthumous
(Jean Ier le Posthume)
November 15, 1316 November 20, 1316  • Son of Louis X
Philippe V Le Long.JPG Philip V the Tall
(Philippe V le Long)
November 20, 1316 January 3, 1322  • Son of Philip IV
 • Younger brother of Louis X
Charles IV Le Bel.jpg Charles IV the Fair
(Charles IV le Bel)
January 3, 1322 February 1, 1328  • Son of Philip IV
 • Younger brother of Philip V

Not listed above are Hugh Magnus, eldest son of Robert II, and Philip of France, eldest son of Louis VI; both were co-Kings with their fathers (in accordance with the early Capetian practice whereby Kings would crown their heirs in their own lifetimes and share power with the co-king), but predeceased them. Because neither Hugh nor Philip were sole or senior king in their own lifetimes, they are not traditionally listed as Kings of France, and are not given ordinals.

Capetian Dynasty, House of Valois (1328-1589)


Valois (1328-1498)

Portrait Name King From King Until Relationship with Predecessor(s)
Philippe6devalois.jpg Philip VI of Valois, the Fortunate
(Philippe VI de Valois, le Fortuné)
February 1, 1328 August 22, 1350  • Son of Charles of Valois, who was son of Philip III
JeanIIdFrance.jpg John II the Good
(Jean II le Bon)
August 22, 1350 April 8, 1364  • Son of Philip VI
Charles5lesage.jpg Charles V the Wise
(Charles V le Sage)
April 8, 1364 September 16, 1380  • Son of John II
Couronnement de Charles VI le Bien-Aimé.jpg Charles VI the Beloved, the Mad
(Charles VI le Bienaimé, le Fol)
September 16, 1380 October 21, 1422  • Son of Charles V
Charles VII de france.jpg Charles VII the Victorious, the Well-Served
(Charles VII le Victorieux, le Bien-Servi)
October 21, 1422 July 22, 1461  • Son of Charles VI
Louis XI of France.jpg Louis XI the Prudent, the Universal Spider
(Louis XI le Prudent, l'Universelle Aragne)
July 22, 1461 August 30, 1483  • Son of Charles VII
Charles VIII de france.jpg Charles VIII the Affable
(Charles VIII l'Affable)
August 30, 1483 April 7, 1498  • Son of Louis XI

House of Lancaster (1422-1453)

From 1422 Henry VI of England controlled much of northern France in accordance with the Plantagenet claim to the French crown, although Charles VII held sway over large areas south of the Loire River. Charles was crowned at Reims in 1429 and increasingly extended this dominion. By 1453, Henry had lost all French possessions except Calais, effectively putting an end to the Hundred Years' War. (See also main article:The Dual-Monarchy of England and France)

Portrait Name King From King Until Relationship with Predecessor(s)
HenryVIofEngland.JPG Henry VI of England
(Henri II de France [1][2][3][4][5][6])
October 21, 1422 October 19, 1453  • Grandson of Charles VI, succession according to the Treaty of Troyes

Capetian Dynasty, ValoisOrléans Branch (1498-1515)

Portrait Name King From King Until Relationship with Predecessor(s)
Ludvig XII av Frankrike på målning från 1500-talet.jpg Louis XII Father of the People
(Louis XII le Père du Peuple)
April 7, 1498 January 1, 1515  • Great-grandson of Charles V
 • Second cousin, and by first marriage son-in-law of Louis XI
 • By second marriage husband of Anne of Brittany, Queen of Charles VIII

Capetian Dynasty, ValoisAngoulême Branch (1515-1589)

Portrait Name King From King Until Relationship with Predecessor(s)
Francis1-1.jpg Francis I the Father and Restorer of Letters
(François Ier le Père et Restaurateur des Lettres)
January 1, 1515 March 31, 1547  • Great-great-grandson of Charles V
 • First cousin once removed, and by
first marriage son-in-law of Louis XII
Henry II of France..jpg Henry II
(Henri II)
March 31, 1547 July 10, 1559  • Son of Francis I
Francesco II.jpg Francis II
(François II)
July 10, 1559 December 5, 1560  • Son of Henry II
Charles IX by Francois Clouet.jpg Charles IX December 5, 1560 May 30, 1574  • Son of Henry II
 • Younger brother of Francis II
Anjou 1570louvre.jpg Henry III
(Henri III)
May 30, 1574 August 2, 1589  • Son of Henry II
 • Younger brother of Charles IX

Capetian Dynasty, House of Bourbon (1589-1792)

Portrait Name King From King Until Relationship with Predecessor(s)
Henry IV of france by pourbous younger.jpg Henry IV, Good King Henry, the Green Gallant
(Henri IV, le Bon Roi Henri, le Vert-Galant)
August 2, 1589 May 14, 1610  • Tenth generation descendant of Louis IX in the male line
 • Grandnephew of Francis I
 • Second cousin, and by first marriage brother-in-law of Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III
Louis XIIIval grace.jpg Louis XIII the Just
(Louis XIII le Juste)
May 14, 1610 May 14, 1643  • Son of Henry IV
Louis XIV of France.jpg Louis XIV the Great, the Sun King
(Louis XIV le Grand, le Roi Soleil)
May 14, 1643 September 1, 1715  • Son of Louis XIII
LouisXV-Rigaud1.jpg Louis XV the Beloved
(Louis XV le Bien-Aimé)
September 1, 1715 May 10, 1774  • Great-grandson of Louis XIV
Louis XVI2.jpg Louis XVI the Last
(Louis XVI le Dernier)
May 10, 1774 September 21, 1792  • Grandson of Louis XV

From January 21, 1793 to June 8, 1795, Louis XVI's son Louis-Charles was the titular King of France as Louis XVII; in reality, however, he was imprisoned in the Temple throughout this duration, and power was held by the leaders of the Republic. Upon Louis XVII's death, his uncle (Louis XVI's brother) Louis-Stanislas claimed the throne, as Louis XVIII, but only became de facto King of France in 1814.

First Republic (1792-1804)

The First French Republic lasted from 1792 to 1804, when its First Consul, Napoléon Bonaparte, declared himself Emperor of the French.

Bonaparte Dynasty, First Empire (1804-1814)

Portrait Name Emperor From Emperor Until
Ingres, Napoleon on his Imperial throne.jpg Napoleon I, the Great
(Napoléon Ier, le Grand)
May 18, 1804 April 11, 1814

Capetian Dynasty, House of Bourbon, Restored (1814-1815)

Portrait Name King From King Until Relationship with Predecessor(s)
Lodewijk XVIII.jpg Louis XVIII, the Desired
(Louis XVIII, le Désiré)
April 11, 1814 March 20, 1815  • Younger brother of Louis XVI/ uncle of Louis XVII

Bonaparte Dynasty, First Empire, Restored (The Hundred Days, 1815)

Portrait Name Emperor From Emperor Until Relationship with Predecessor(s)
Ingres, Napoleon on his Imperial throne.jpg Napoleon I
(Napoléon Ier)
March 20, 1815 June 22, 1815

From June 22 to July 7, 1815, Bonapartists considered Napoleon I's son Napoleon II as the legitimate heir to the throne, his father having abdicated in his favor. However, the young child's reign was entirely fictional, as he was residing in Austria with his mother. Louis XVIII was reinstalled as king on July 7.

Capetian Dynasty, House of Bourbon, Restored (1815-1830)

Portrait Name King From King Until Relationship with Predecessor(s)
Lodewijk XVIII.jpg Louis XVIII July 7, 1815 September 16, 1824  • Younger brother of Louis XVI/ uncle of Louis XVII
Charles X Roi de France et de Navarre.jpg Charles X September 16, 1824 August 2, 1830  • Younger brother of Louis XVIII

The elder son and heir of Charles X, the Dauphin Louis-Antoine, is occasionally considered to have legally been the King of France as Louis XIX in the 20 minutes that passed between Charles X's formal signature of abdication and the Dauphin's own signature.
Henri d'Artois, Charles X's grandson, was considered by monarchists to be the titular King of France, as Henry V from August 2, 1830 to August 9, 1830, but his reign remained largely fictional, as he acceeded in a revolutionary context and hence was never recognized by the French State. He is generally not accounted for in lists of official French monarchs.

Capetian Dynasty, House of Bourbon-Orléans (The Monarchy of July 1830-1848)

Portrait Name King From King Until Relationship with Predecessor(s)
Louis-Philippe de Bourbon.jpg Louis-Philippe I the Citizen King
(Louis Philippe, le Roi Citoyen)
August 9, 1830 February 24, 1848  • Sixth generation descendant of Louis XIII in the male line
 • Fifth cousin of Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X

Second Republic (1848 - 1852)

The Second French Republic lasted from 1848 to 1852, when its president, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, was declared Emperor of the French.

Bonaparte Dynasty, Second Empire, Restored (1852-1870)

Portrait Name Emperor From Emperor Until Relationship with Predecessor(s)
Franz Xaver Winterhalter Napoleon III.jpg Napoleon III
(Napoléon III)
December 2, 1852 September 4, 1870  • Nephew of Napoleon I

Government of National Defence (Paris Commune 1870 - 1871)

The transition period between the fall of the Second Empire after the capture of Napoleon III by the Prussians and the assumption of the Third Republic by General Louis Jules Trochu.

Heads of State following 1871

The chronology of Head of State of France continues with the Presidents of the French Republic and short term interim periods by the Chief of State of the French State (1940–1944), the Chairman of the Provisional Government of the French Republic (1944–1946) and the president of the French Senate (1969 and 1974) during the Fifth Republic.

Later pretenders

Various pretenders descended from the preceding monarchs have claimed to be the legitimate monarch of France, rejecting the claims of the President of France, and of each other. These groups are:

See also


  1. ^ Patrick, James, Renaissance and Reformation, (Marshall Cavendish, 2007), 601.
  2. ^ Neillands, Robin, The Hundred Years War, (Routledge, 1991), 263.
  3. ^ Morgan, Kenneth O., The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain, (Oxford University Press, 2000), 200.
  4. ^ Oman, Charles William Chadwick, The History of England, from the Accession of Richard II to the Death of Richard III (1377-1485), (Longmans, Green, and Co., 1906), 316-317.
  5. ^ Hare, Christopher and Mare Andrews, The life of Louis XI, (C. Scribner, 1907), 15-16.
  6. ^ Thackeray, Frank W., Events that changed the world through the sixteenth century, (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001), 57.


  • Edward James, The Origins of France: Clovis to the Capetians 500-1000. ISBN 0-333-27052-5.
  • Edward James, The Franks. Blackwell: 1991. ISBN 0-631-17936-4.
  • The history of France as recounted in the Grandes Chroniques de France, and particularly in the personal copy produced for King Charles V between 1370 and 1380 that is the saga of the three great dynasties, the Merovingians, Carolingians, and the Capetian Rulers of France, that shaped the institutions and the frontiers of the realm. It should be noted that this work was commissioned at a time that France was embroiled in the Hundred Years' War with England, a war fought over hereditary claims to the throne of France. It must therefore be read with a careful eye toward biases meant to justify the Capetian claims of continuity and inheritance.
  • The Cambridge Illustrated History of France. Cambridge University Press.
  • Paul Fouracre and Richard A. Gerberding, Late Merovingian France: History and Hagiography, 640-720. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-4791-9.
  • Patrick Geary, Before France and Germany: The Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World. Oxford: Oxford U. Press, 1988. ISBN 0-19-504458-4.
  • Patrick Geary, The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe. Princeton University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-691-11481-1.

Redirecting to List of French monarchs

Redirecting to List of French monarchs


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