Capetian dynasty

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Capetian dynasty
Heraldique blason France Gelde.svg
Capetian Armorial
Parent house Robertians
Country France
Founded987
Founder Hugh Capet
Current head Louis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou
Titles
Cadet branches See below

The Capetian dynasty ( /kəˈpʃən/ ), also known as the House of France, is a dynasty of Frankish origin, and a branch of the Robertians. It is among the largest and oldest royal houses in Europe and the world, and consists of Hugh Capet, the founder of the dynasty, and his male-line descendants, who ruled in France without interruption from 987 to 1792, and again from 1814 to 1848. The senior line ruled in France as the House of Capet from the election of Hugh Capet in 987 until the death of Charles IV in 1328. That line was succeeded by cadet branches, the Houses of Valois and then Bourbon, which ruled without interruption until the French Revolution abolished the monarchy in 1792. The Bourbons were restored in 1814 in the aftermath of Napoleon's defeat, but had to vacate the throne again in 1830 in favor of the last Capetian monarch of France, Louis Philippe I, who belonged to the House of Orléans.

Contents

The dynasty had a crucial role in the formation of the French state. Initially obeyed only in their own demesne, the Île-de-France, the Capetian kings slowly but steadily increased their power and influence until it grew to cover the entirety of their realm. For a detailed narration on the growth of French royal power, see Crown lands of France .

Members of the dynasty were traditionally Catholic, and the early Capetians had an alliance with the Church. The French were also the most active participants in the Crusades, culminating in a series of five Crusader Kings – Louis VII, Philip Augustus, Louis VIII, Saint Louis, and Philip III. The Capetian alliance with the papacy suffered a severe blow after the disaster of the Aragonese Crusade. Philip III's son and successor, Philip IV, humiliated a pope and brought the papacy under French control. The later Valois, starting with Francis I, ignored religious differences and allied with the Ottoman Sultan to counter the growing power of the Holy Roman Empire. Henry IV was a Protestant at the time of his accession, but realized the necessity of conversion after four years of religious warfare.

The Capetians generally enjoyed a harmonious family relationship. By tradition, younger sons and brothers of the King of France are given appanages for them to maintain their rank and to dissuade them from claiming the French crown itself. When Capetian cadets did aspire for kingship, their ambitions were directed not at the French throne, but at foreign thrones. As a result, the Capetians have reigned at different times in the kingdoms of Spain, Poland, Aragon, Portugal, Navarre, and as Emperors of the Latin Empire.

In modern times, King Felipe VI of Spain is a member of this family, while Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg is of relation to the family by agnatic kinship; both through the Bourbon branch of the dynasty. Along with the House of Habsburg, it was one of the two most powerful continental European royal families, dominating European politics for nearly five centuries.

Name origins and usage

The name of the dynasty derives from its founder, Hugh, who was known as "Hugh Capet". The meaning of "Capet" (a nickname rather than a surname of the modern sort) is unknown. While folk etymology identifies it with "cape", other suggestions suggest it to be connected to the Latin word caput ("head"), and explain it as meaning "chief" or "head".[ citation needed ]

Historians in the 19th century (see House of France) came to apply the name "Capetian" to both the ruling house of France and to the wider-spread male-line descendants of Hugh Capet. It was not a contemporary practice. The name "Capet" has also been used as a surname for French royalty, particularly but not exclusively those of the House of Capet. One notable use was during the French Revolution, when the dethroned King Louis XVI (a member of the House of Bourbon and a direct male-line descendant of Hugh Capet) and Queen Marie Antoinette (a member of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine) were referred to as "Louis and Antoinette Capet" (the queen being addressed as "the Widow Capet" after the execution of her husband).

Capetian miracle

12th-century portrait of Hugh Capet. His direct descendants ruled France for many centuries. HugoKapet kronika.jpg
12th-century portrait of Hugh Capet. His direct descendants ruled France for many centuries.

The Capetian Miracle (French : Miracle capétien) refers to the dynasty's ability to attain and hold onto the French crown. [1]

In 987, Hugh Capet was elected to succeed Louis V of the Carolingian dynasty that had ruled France for over three centuries. By a process of associating elder sons with them in the kingship, the early Capetians established the hereditary succession in their family and transformed a theoretically electoral kingship to a sacral one. By the time of Philip II Augustus, who became king in 1180, the Capetian hold on power was so strong that the practice of associate kingship was dropped. While the Capetian monarchy began as one of the weakest in Europe, drastically eclipsed by the new Anglo-Norman realm in England (who, as Dukes of Normandy, were technically their vassals) and even other great lords of France, the political value of orderly succession in the Middle Ages cannot be overstated. The orderly succession of power from father to son over such a long period of time meant that the French monarchs, who originally were essentially just the direct rulers of the Île-de-France, were able to preserve and extend their power, while over the course of centuries the great peers of the realm would eventually lose their power in one succession crisis or another.

By comparison, the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem was constantly beset with internal succession disputes because each generation only produced female heirs. Even the English monarchy encountered severe succession crises, such as The Anarchy of the 1120s between Stephen and Matilda, and the murder of Arthur I, Duke of Brittany, the primogeniture heir of Richard I of England. The latter case would deal a severe blow to the prestige of King John, leading to the eventual destruction of Angevin hegemony in France. In contrast, the French kings were able to maintain uncontested father-to-son succession from the time of Hugh Capet until the succession crisis which began the Hundred Years' War of the 14th century.

The Robertians and before

The dynastic surname now used to describe Hugh Capet's family prior to his election as King of France is "Robertians" or "Robertines." The name is derived from the family's first certain ancestor, Robert the Strong (b. 820), the count of Paris. Robert was probably son of Robert III of Worms (b. 800) and grandson of Robert of Hesbaye (b. 770). The Robertians probably originated in the county Hesbaye, around Tongeren in modern-day Belgium.

The sons of Robert the Strong were Odo and Robert, who both ruled as king of Western Francia. The family became Counts of Paris under Odo and Dukes of the Franks under Robert, possessing large parts of Neustria.

The Carolingian dynasty ceased to rule France upon the death of Louis V. After the death of Louis V, the son of Hugh the Great, Hugh Capet, was elected by the nobility as king of France. Hugh was crowned at Noyon on 3 July 987 with the full support from Holy Roman Emperor Otto III. With Hugh's coronation, a new era began for France, and his descendants came to be named the Capetians, with the Capetian dynasty and its cadet branches such as the House of Valois ruling France for more than 800 years (987–1848, with some interruptions [2] ).

Robertian family branches

Capetians through history

Over the succeeding centuries, Capetians spread throughout Europe, ruling every form of provincial unit from kingdoms to manors.

Salic law

Salic law, reestablished during the Hundred Years' War from an ancient Frankish tradition, caused the French monarchy to permit only male (agnatic) descendants of Hugh to succeed to the throne of France.

Without Salic law, upon the death of John I, the crown would have passed to his half-sister, Joan (later Joan II of Navarre). However, Joan's paternity was suspect due to her mother's adultery in the Tour de Nesle Affair; the French magnates adopted Salic law to avoid the succession of a possible bastard.

In 1328, King Charles IV of France died without male heirs, as his brothers did before him. Philip of Valois, the late king's first cousin acted as regent, pending the birth of the king's posthumous child, which proved to be a girl. Isabella of France, sister of Charles IV, claimed the throne for her son, Edward III of England. The English king did not find support among the French lords, who made Philip of Valois their king. From then on the French succession not only excluded females, but also rejected claims based on the female line of descent.

Thus the French crown passed from the House of Capet after the death of Charles IV to Philip VI of France of the House of Valois, a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty,

This did not affect monarchies not under that law such as Portugal, Spain, Navarre, and various smaller duchies and counties. Therefore, many royal families appear and disappear in the French succession or become cadet branches upon marriage. A complete list of the senior-most line of Capetians is available below.

Capetian cadet branches

The Capetian Dynasty has been broken many times into (sometimes rival) cadet branches. A cadet branch is a line of descent from another line than the senior-most. This list of cadet branches shows most of the Capetian cadet lines and designating their royal French progenitor, although some sub-branches are not shown.

Descendants of Philip III of France

Descendants of Louis IX of France

Descendants of Louis VIII of France

Descendants of Louis VI of France

Descendants of Henry I of France

Descendants of Robert II of France

Capetians and their domains

Illegitimate descent

Senior Capets

Throughout most of history, the Senior Capet and the King of France were synonymous terms. Only in the time before Hugh Capet took the crown for himself and after the reign of Charles X is the term necessary to identify which. However, since primogeniture and the Salic law provided for the succession of the French throne for most of French history, here is a list of all the predecessors of the French monarchy, all the French kings from Hugh until Charles, and all the Legitimist pretenders thereafter. All dates are for seniority, not reign. It is important to note that historians class the predecessors of Hugh Capet as Robertians, not Capetians.

Noblemen in Neustria and their descendants (dates uncertain):

Count in the Upper Rhine Valley and Wormgau:

King of France:

Count of Paris:

King of France:

Duke of Angoulême:

Count of Chambord:

Count of Montizón:

Duke of Madrid:

Duke of Anjou and Madrid:

Duke of San Jaime:

King of Spain:

Duke of Anjou and Segovia:

Duke of Anjou and Cádiz:

Duke of Anjou:

The Capetian dynasty today

Many years have passed since the Capetian monarchs ruled a large part of Europe; however, they still remain as kings, as well as other titles. Currently two Capetian monarchs still rule in Spain and Luxembourg. In addition, seven pretenders represent exiled dynastic monarchies in Brazil, France, Spain, Portugal, Parma and Two Sicilies. The current legitimate, senior family member is Louis-Alphonse de Bourbon, known by his supporters as Duke of Anjou, who also holds the Legitimist ( Blancs d'Espagne ) claim to the French throne. Overall, dozens of branches of the Capetian dynasty still exist throughout Europe.

Except for the House of Braganza (founded by an illegitimate son of King John I of Portugal, who was himself illegitimate), all current major Capetian branches are of the Bourbon cadet branch. Within the House of Bourbon, many of these lines are themselves well-defined cadet lines of the House.

Current Capetian rulers

Current Capetian pretenders

Current numbers

It is estimated that the agnatic (male line) descendants of the Capetian dynasty consists of 6,500 people (dead and alive)[ citation needed ].

The small number of agnatic descendants of the kings of France, compared with a theoretical number, is explained by the frequent marriages between Capetian cousins between the 12th and 20th centuries. Some examples of considerable inbreeding among descendants of the kings of France are:

Arms of cadet branches

Arms of branches founded before Philip Augustus
Arms of branches founded after Philip Augustus

See also

Related Research Articles

House of Valois cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty

The House of Valois was a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty. They succeeded the House of Capet to the French throne, and were the royal house of France from 1328 to 1589. Junior members of the family founded cadet branches in Orléans, Anjou, Burgundy, and Alençon.

Hugh Capet King of the Franks

Hugh Capet was the King of the Franks from 987 to 996. He is the founder and first king from the House of Capet. The son of the powerful duke Hugh the Great and his wife Hedwige of Saxony, he was elected as the successor of the last Carolingian king, Louis V. Hugh was descended from Charlemagne's sons Louis the Pious and Pepin of Italy through his mother and paternal grandmother, respectively, and was also a nephew of Otto the Great.

Philip III of France King of France

Philip III, called the Bold, was King of France from 1270 to 1285.

Hugh the Great Duke of the Franks, Count of Paris and ancestor of the Capetian dynasty

Hugh the Great was the Duke of the Franks and Count of Paris.

The Count of Anjou was the ruler of the county of Anjou, first granted by Charles the Bald in the 9th century to Robert the Strong. Ingelger and his son were viscounts of Angers until Ingelger's son Fulk the Red assumed the title of Count of Anjou. The Robertians and their Capetian successors were distracted by wars with the Vikings and other concerns and were unable to recover the county until the reign of Philip II Augustus, more than 270 years later.

Duke of Burgundy was a title used by the rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy, from its establishmemt in 843 to its annexation by France in 1477, and later by Habsburg sovereigns of the Low Countries (1482-1556).

France in the Middle Ages History of France during the Middle Ages

The Kingdom of France in the Middle Ages was marked by the fragmentation of the Carolingian Empire and West Francia (843–987); the expansion of royal control by the House of Capet (987–1328), including their struggles with the virtually independent principalities that had developed following the Viking invasions and through the piecemeal dismantling of the Carolingian Empire and the creation and extension of administrative/state control in the 13th century; and the rise of the House of Valois (1328–1589), including the protracted dynastic crisis of the Hundred Years' War with the Kingdom of England (1337–1453) compounded by the catastrophic Black Death epidemic (1348), which laid the seeds for a more centralized and expanded state in the early modern period and the creation of a sense of French identity.

Charles, Count of Valois Count of Valois

Charles of Valois, the third son of Philip III of France and Isabella of Aragon, was a member of the House of Capet and founder of the House of Valois, whose rule over France would start in 1328.

House of Capet Rulers of the Kingdom of France from 987 to 1328

The House of Capet or the Direct Capetians, also called the House of France, or simply the Capets, ruled the Kingdom of France from 987 to 1328. It was the most senior line of the Capetian dynasty – itself a derivative dynasty from the Robertians. Historians in the 19th century came to apply the name "Capetian" to both the ruling house of France and to the wider-spread male-line descendants of Hugh Capet. Contemporaries did not use the name "Capetian". The Capets were sometimes called "the third race of kings". The name "Capet" derives from the nickname given to Hugh, the first Capetian King, who became known as Hugh Capet.

House of Burgundy cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty, dukes of Burgundy

The House of Burgundy was a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty, descending from Robert I, Duke of Burgundy, a younger son of Robert II of France. The House ruled the Duchy of Burgundy from 1032–1361.

Joan the Lame Queen consort of France

Joan of Burgundy, also known as Joan the Lame, was Queen of France as the first wife of King Philip VI. Joan served as regent while her husband fought on military campaigns during the Hundred Years' War.

Genealogy of the Spanish Royal Family

The genealogy of the Spanish Royal Family runs through the House of Bourbon, the Capetian dynasty, and the House of Oldenburg. Specifically, King Felipe VI's father, King Juan Carlos is a member of the House of Bourbon, and his mother, Queen Sofia, is of the House of Oldenburg.

The Robertians, or Robertines, as they are known in modern scholarship, are the proposed Frankish family which was ancestral to the Capetian dynasty, and thus to the royal families of France and many other countries. The Capetians appear first in the records as powerful nobles serving under the Carolingian dynasty in West Francia, which later became France. As their power increased they came into conflict with the older royal family and attained the crown several times before the eventual start of the continuous rule of the descendants the Capetians, the descendants of Hugh Capet.

House of Valois-Burgundy noble family

The House of Valois-Burgundy, or the Younger House of Burgundy, was a noble French family deriving from the royal House of Valois. It is distinct from the Capetian House of Burgundy, descendants of King Robert II of France, though both houses stem from the Capetian dynasty. They ruled the Duchy of Burgundy from 1363 to 1482 and later came to rule vast lands including Artois, Flanders, Luxembourg, Hainault, the county palatine of Burgundy (Franche-Comté), and other lands through marriage.

House of France

The term House of France refers to the branch of the Capetian dynasty which provided the Kings of France following the election of Hugh Capet. The House of France consists of a number of branches and their sub-branches. Some of its branches have acceded to the Crown, while others remained cadets.

Diana Álvares Pereira de Melo, 11th Duchess of Cadaval Duchess of Anjou

DonaDiana Álvares Pereira de Melo, Princess of Orléans, 11th Duchess of Cadaval, Duchess of Anjou, more commonly known as Diana de Cadaval, is a Portuguese author and noblewoman. She is the eldest daughter of Dom Jaime Álvares Pereira de Melo, 10th Duke of Cadaval, and his second wife, Claudine Marguerite Marianne Tritz.

The crown lands, crown estate, royal domain or domaine royal of France refers to the lands, fiefs and rights directly possessed by the kings of France. While the term eventually came to refer to a territorial unit, the royal domain originally referred to the network of "castles, villages and estates, forests, towns, religious houses and bishoprics, and the rights of justice, tolls and taxes" effectively held by the king or under his domination. In terms of territory, before the reign of Henry IV, the domaine royal did not encompass the entirety of the territory of the kingdom of France and for much of the Middle Ages significant portions of the kingdom were the direct possessions of other feudal lords.

This article covers the mechanism by which the French throne passed from the establishment of the Frankish Kingdom in 486 to the fall of the Second French Empire in 1870.

References

  1. Naus, James (2016). Constructing kingship : the Capetian monarchs of France and the early Crusades. Manchester University Press. ISBN   9780719090974.
  2. Specific periods of reign are 888–898, 922–923, 987–1792, 1814–1815, and 1815–1848 – the more-than-800-year uninterrupted period 987–1792 forming the bulk.

Further reading