The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






List of French monarchs

(Redirected from King of France)

Kings ruled in France from the Middle Ages to 1848. They appointed the Great officers of the crown.

The following list of French monarchs is one of several Wikipedia lists of incumbents.

Most medieval historians would argue that the existence of France proper did not begin until the advent of the Capetian Dynasty in 987, or, at the very earliest, with the establishment of the Kingdom of Western Francia at the Treaty of Verdun in 843. This view is somewhat problematic in layman's terms, however, in part due to the existence of centuries-old tradition that considers the beginnings of France to lie in the Merovingian Frankish kingdom established under Clovis I. This kingdom was founded in the 5th century, and its rulers deposed in the 8th century. This tradition itself is based in part on the need of the post-Carolingian Capetian kings to strengthen their claims to the throne. Thus, the foundation of France is often traditionally dated to its unification by Clovis in 486.

However, the relevance of such traditional outlooks on the origins of modern nations is historically dubious (see below for recent studies). In light of these recent trends, this list begins with the creation in 843 of Charles the Bald's Kingdom of Western Francia, the state which would directly evolve into modern France. For earlier Frankish monarchs, see List of Frankish Kings.

After the July Revolution in 1830, the style "King of the French" was used instead of "King of France". It was a constitutional innovation known as popular monarchy which linked the monarch's title to the people, not to the state of France.

(Names of regents are included for convenience's sake, though they are of course not actually French monarchs. Note that Charlemagne (768-814) is usually considered to be "Charles I of France", and his son Louis the Pious is numbered as Louis I.)


Carolingian Dynasty (843 to 987)

Capetian Dynasty (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.

Valois Dynasty (1328-1589)

Main Branch (1328-1498)

Valois-Orléans Branch (1498-1515)

Valois-Angoulême Branch (1515-1589)

Bourbon Dynasty (1589-1792)

First Republic (1792-1804)

Many monarchists at the time and subsequently refused to recognise the overthrowal of the monarchy, and considered Louis XVI's reign to have continued until his death in 1793, then his son Louis XVII to have reigned until his death in 1795, with Louis XVIII's reign then commencing, hence the numbering.

The governments of the First Republic were not formally structured in such a way as to be driven by a single individual (until Napoleon was named First Consul in 1799). As such the "rulers" of France during this time are best identified through the following commitees:

National Convention (1792-1795)

The Directory (1795-1799)

The Consulate (1799-1804)

Bonaparte Dynasty - First Empire (1804-1814)

Bourbon Dynasty, Restored (1814-1848)

Bourbon-Orléans, The Monarchy of July

Second Republic (1848-1852)

Bonaparte Dynasty - Second Empire (1852-1870)

The chronology continues on Presidents of France.


For a study of France and its rulers, see also:

  • Edward James , "." ISBN 0333270525
  • Edward James, The Franks. Blackwell: 1991. ISBN 0631179364
  • 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 0719047919
  • Patrick Geary, Before France and Germany: The Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World. Oxford: Oxford U. Press, 1988. ISBN 0195044584
  • Patrick Geary, The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe. Princeton U. Press, 2001. ISBN 0691114811

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Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04