List of French monarchs

2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Historical figures

Coronation of Louis VIII and Blanche of Castile at Reims in 1223; a miniature from the Grandes Chroniques de France, painted in the 1450s, kept at the National Library of France
Coronation of Louis VIII and Blanche of Castile at Reims in 1223; a miniature from the Grandes Chroniques de France, painted in the 1450s, kept at the National Library of France

The monarchs of France ruled, first as kings and later as emperors (Bonapartes only), from the Middle Ages to 1870. There is some disagreement as to when France came into existence. The earliest 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 recent 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 his son, Henry VI, succeeded his grandfather 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 monarchs continued to claim the title 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.

See also List of Frankish Kings

The name of France comes from the Germanic tribe known as the Franks. The Merovingian kings began as mere chieftains, the oldest known being Pharamond. 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, Orleans ( Burgundy), and Metz ( Austrasia). Various other kingdoms would continue to break apart and be formed as the various Merovingian kings warred with each other.

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, the legendary Charlemagne (Charles I), was split by Louis I (Louis the Pious). In 843, while Louis'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 (843 to 987)

Portrait Name King From King Until
Charles II the Bald
(Charles II le Chauve)
843 October 6, 877
Louis II the Stammerer
(Louis II le Bègue)
October 6, 877 April 10, 879
Louis III April 10, 879 August 5, 882
Carloman II April 10, 879 December 6, 884
Charles the Fat
(Charles le Gros)
885 January 13, 888
(Eudes de Paris)
February 29, 888 January 1, 898
Charles III the Simple
(Charles III le Simple)
January 1, 898 June 30, 922
Robert I June 30, 922 June 15, 923
(Raoul de France)
July 13, 923 January 14, 936
Louis IV from Overseas
(Louis IV d'Outremer)
June 19, 936 September 10, 954
(Lothaire de France)
November 12, 954 March 2, 986
Louis V the Lazy
(Louis V le Fainéant)
June 8, 986 May 22, 987

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
Hugh Capet
(Hugues Capet)
July 3, 987 October 24, 996
Robert II the Pious
(Robert II le Pieux)
October 24, 996 July 20, 1031
Henry I
(Henri Ier)
July 20, 1031 August 4, 1060
Philip I
(Philippe Ier)
August 4, 1060 July 29, 1108
Louis VI the Fat
(Louis VI le Gros)
July 29, 1108 August 1, 1137
Louis VII the Young
(Louis VII le Jeune)
August 1, 1137 September 18, 1180
Philip II Augustus
(Philippe II Auguste)
September 18, 1180 July 14, 1223
Louis VIII the Lion
(Louis VIII le Lion)
July 14, 1223 November 8, 1226
Louis IX the Saint
(Saint Louis)
November 8, 1226 August 25, 1270
Philip III the Bold
(Philippe III le Hardi)
August 25, 1270 October 5, 1285
Philip IV the Fair
(Philippe IV le Bel)
October 5, 1285 November 29, 1314
Louis X the Quarreller
(Louis X le Hutin)
November 29, 1314 June 5, 1316
John I the Posthumous
(Jean Ier le Posthume)
November 15, 1316 November 20, 1316
Philip V the Tall
(Philippe V le Long)
November 20, 1316 January 3, 1322
Charles IV the Fair
(Charles IV le Bel)
January 3, 1322 February 1, 1328

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)

Direct Valois (1328-1498)

Portrait Name King From King Until
Philip VI of Valois, the Fortunate
(Philippe VI de Valois, 'le Fortuné)
February 1, 1328 August 22, 1350
John II the Good
(Jean II le Bon)
August 22, 1350 April 8, 1364
Charles V the Wise
(Charles V le Sage)
April 8, 1364 September 16, 1380
Charles VI the Beloved, the Mad
(Charles VI le Bienaimé, le Fol)
September 16, 1380 October 21, 1422
Charles VII the Victorious, the Well-Served
(Charles VII le Victorieux, le Bien-Servi)
October 21, 1422 July 22, 1461
Louis XI the Prudent, the Spider
(Louis XI le Prudent, l'Araignée)
July 22, 1461 August 30, 1483
Charles VIII the Affable
(Charles VIII l'Affable)
August 30, 1483 April 7, 1498

From 1422 to 1453, Henry VI of England was King in northern France, although after the coronation of Charles VII in 1429 Henry's power was weakened, and much English held territory was lost. Henry was, however, crowned King of France in Paris in 1431. He is not generally listed as a genuine King of France, merely as a pretender.

Capetian Dynasty, Valois- Orléans Branch (1498-1515)

Portrait Name King From King Until
Louis XII Father of the People
(Louis XII le Père du Peuple)
April 7, 1498 January 1, 1515

Capetian Dynasty, Valois- Angoulême Branch (1515-1589)

Portrait Name King From King Until
Francis I the Father and Restorer of Letters
(François Ier le Père et Restaurateur des Lettres)
January 1, 1515 March 31, 1547
Henry II
(Henri II)
March 31, 1547 July 10, 1559
Francis II
(François II)
July 10, 1559 December 5, 1560
Charles IX December 5, 1560 May 30, 1574
Henry III
(Henri III)
May 30, 1574 August 2, 1589

Capetian Dynasty, House of Bourbon (1589-1792)

Portrait Name King From King Until
Henry IV, Good King Henry
(Henri IV, le Bon Roi Henri)
August 2, 1589 May 14, 1610
Louis XIII the Just
(Louis XIII le Juste)
May 14, 1610 May 14, 1643
Louis XIV, the Sun King
(Louis XIV, le Roi Soleil)
May 14, 1643 September 1, 1715
Louis XV the Beloved
(Louis XV, le Bien-Aimé)
September 1, 1715 May 10, 1774
Louis XVI May 10, 1774 August 10, 1792

From 21 January 1793 to 8 June 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' death, his uncle Louis-Stanislas claimed the throne, as Louis XVIII, but only became de facto King of France in 1814.

First Republic (1792-1804)

Many people were monarchists at the time and consequently refused to recognise the overthrow 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.

Bonaparte Dynasty, First Empire (1804-1814)

Portrait Name Emperor From Emperor Until
Napoleon I
(Napoléon Ier)
May 18, 1804 April 11, 1814

Capetian Dynasty, House of Bourbon, Restored (1814)

Portrait Name King From King Until
Louis XVIII May 2, 1814 March 13, 1815

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

Portrait Name Emperor From Emperor Until
Napoleon I
(Napoléon Ier)
March 20, 1815 June 22, 1815
Napoleon II the Eaglet
(Napoléon II, l'Aiglon)
June 22, 1815 July 7, 1815

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

Portrait Name King From King Until
Louis XVIII July 7, 1815 September 16, 1824
Charles X September 16, 1824 August 2, 1830

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 grandnephew, was considered by monarchists to be the titular King of France, as Henry V from 2 August 1830 to 9 August 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
Louis-Philippe I the Citizen King
(Louis Philippe, le Roi Citoyen)
August 9, 1830 February 24, 1848

Second Republic, Restored (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
Napoleon III
(Napoléon III)
December 2, 1852 September 4, 1870

Government of National Defense ( 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:

  • Legitimist claimants to the throne of France—descendants of the Bourbons, rejecting all heads of state since 1830. Some "fusionists" recognized the Orléanist claimant after 1883.
  • Orléanist claimants to the throne of France—descendants of Louis-Phillippe, rejecting all heads of state since 1848.
  • Bonapartist claimants to the throne of France—descendants of Napoleon I and his brothers, rejecting all heads of state 1815–52, and since 1870.
  • Jacobite claimants to the throne of France—descendants of King Edward III of England, also claiming Scotland, and Ireland.

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