The kings of france are inseparable from the history of our country. Originally feudal, becoming absolute and then constitutional, the monarchy in France has indeed experienced exceptional longevity and relative continuity. Its hereditary and sacred character made the king in France the central figure in political life and the pivot of society. Thus, for fifteen centuries, a long line of Merovingian, Carolingian, Capetian, Valois and Bourbons rulers succeeded one another on the throne and shaped the history of France in a lasting way, from Clovis to Louis-Philippe.
Chronological list of the kings of France
The Merovingians (458-751)
Founding dynasty of the French monarchy, it draws its origins from a tribe in northern Roman Gaul, the Franks known as Saliens, descendants of a mythical chief, Mérovée. The collapse of the Western Roman Empire gave the most famous of the Merovingians, Clovis, the opportunity to carve out a vast kingdom for himself, covering present-day France, Belgium and the Rhineland. His baptism is the basis of a lasting alliance with the Roman Catholic Church which will strengthen the prestige of the new dynasty and ensure its sustainability.
- Childeric I (458-481)
- Clovis I (481-511)
- Clothaire I (511-561)
- Chilperic I (561-584)
- Clothaire II (584-628)
- Dagobert I(623-639)
- Clovis II (639-657)
- Childeric II (662-675)
- Dagobert III (711-715)
- Chilperic II (715-721)
- Thierry iv (721-737)
- Childeric III (743-751)
The Carolingians (751-986)
Divided, discredited and having lost all authority in favor of the "mayors of the palace", the Merovingians gave way in the middle of the 8th century to a new dynasty, the Carolingians, named after the most famous of them, Charlemagne. This considerably increases his domain by conquests in Germany and Italy. His prestige was such that he was crowned by the pope emperor of the West in 800. Weakened by internal quarrels and Norman raids, the Carolingian dynasty would subsequently experience a slow decline.
- Pepin the Brief (751-768)
- Charlemagne (768-814) - Western Emperor (800-814)
- Louis I the Debonnaire (or Le Pieux, 814-840) - Western Emperor (814-840)
- Charles II the Bald (840-877) – Western Emperor (875-877)
- Louis II the Stutterer (877-879)
- Louis III (879-882)
- Carloman (879-884)
- Charles II the Fat (884-887) - Western Emperor (881-887)
- Eudes (888-898) - Count of Paris
- Charles III the Simple (898-922)
- Robert I (922-923) - Count of Paris
- Raoul (or Rodolphe, 923-936)
- Louis IV d'Outremer (936-954)
- Lothaire (954-986)
- Louis V (986)
The direct Capetians (987-1328)
At the dawn of the new millennium, the remnants of Charlemagne's empire have split into a multitude of feudal lords. In 987, the Great of the kingdom elected one of them, Hugues Capet, to occupy the throne in place of the last Carolingian pretender. Its domain covers little more than the Ile de France and it is surrounded by powerful vassals who occupy vast and rich regions. It was under the Capetians that the principle of the inheritance of the monarchy gradually imposed itself. This durability, combined with patience and skill will enable the Capetians to consolidate their power and expand the royal domain.
- Hugues Capet (987-996)
- Robert II the Pious (996-1031)
- Henry I (1031-1060)
- Philip I (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 (Saint Louis,1226-1270)
- Philip III the Bold (1270-1285)
- Philip IV the Fair(1285-1314)
- Louis X the Hutin (1314-1316)
- John I the Posthumous (1316)
- Philip V the Long (1316-1322)
- Charles IV the Fair (1322-1328)
The Valois (1328-1589)
The absence of a direct heir to the breasts of the Capetians in 1328 opened up a dynastic crisis. The great of the kingdom refused the throne to Edward III of England, grandson of Philip the Fair, and preferred Philippe of Valois to him, in the name of an obscure and opportune Salic law which excludes women from the order of succession. The Hundred Years War following this event will put the monarchy in jeopardy until Charles VII reunites the kingdom under his scepter, contributing to the emergence of the idea of belonging to a nation. Subsequently, recurring campaigns of the Valois in Italy will contribute to the propagation of the Renaissance in France.
- Philip VI (1328-1350)
- John II the Good (1350-1364)
- Charles V the Wise (1364-1380)
- Charles VI the Mad (1380-1422)
- Charles VII the Victorious (1422-1461)
- Louis XI(1461-1483)
- Charles VIII The affable (1483-1498)
- Louis XII (1498-1515)
- Francis I (1515-1547)
- Henry II (1547-1559)
- Francois II (1559-1560)
- Charles IX (1560-1574)
- Henry III (1574-1589)
The Bourbons (1589-1792)
In the midst of the War of Religion, an absence of a direct heir created uncertainty. It is as far as Saint Louis that you have to go back to find a successor to Henry III, victim of an assassination. Henri de Bourbon, King of Navarre and future Henri IV gave his name to the new dynasty. The Bourbons will not cease to strengthen their power to the detriment of the Great of the kingdom, until leading under Louis XIV to absolute monarchy. A reign without division, which will end up becoming unacceptable and will lead to the Revolution. Unable to adapt to changes in French society, the Bourbons and the monarchy disappeared in the middle of the 19th century, Louis-Philippe I closing this chronology of the kings of France.
- Henry IV (1589-1610)
- Louis XIII the Just (1610-1643)
- Louis XIV the Great (1643-1715)
- Louis XV (1715-1774)
- Louis XVI (1774-1792)
Republic and Empire (1792-1814)
The last kings of France (1814-1848)
Thanks to the defeat of Waterloo and the final fall of Napoleon, the monarchy is reestablished in France. Louis XVIII, brother of Louis XVI, ascended the throne and attempted a policy of reconciliation to promote the establishment of a peaceful climate after the turmoil of the Revolution. The physically helpless monarch could not long resist the ultra-royalists led by his brother the Comte d'Artois, the future Charles X. The latter was carried away by the “Trois Glorieuses” revolution in 1830, and the liberal bourgeoisie installed Louis-Philippe d 'Orleans, of the younger branch of the Bourbons, as king of the French. The revolution of 1848 will put a definitive end to the monarchy in France.
- Louis XVIII (1814/1815-1824)
- Charles X (1824-1830)
- Louis-Philippe I (Maison d'Orléans, last king of the French, 1830-1848)
- The Kings of France: From Clovis to the Bourbons by Patrick Weber. Hachette, 2008.
- Sovereigns and kings of France by Joël Cornette. Oak, 2008.
- Chronology of the kings of France: From Clovis to Louis-Philippe, from Pierre Valaud. Archipoche, 2011.
See also our Chronology of the History of France.