|House of Capet|
|Country||Kingdom of France Kingdom of England (claimant)|
|Final ruler||Charles IV of France|
|History of France|
The House of Capet (French : Maison capétienne) or the Direct Capetians (Capétiens directs), also called the House of France (la maison de 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 (c. 939 – 996). Contemporaries did not use the name "Capetian" (see House of France). The Capets were sometimes called "the third race of kings" (following the Merovingians and the Carolingians). The name "Capet" derives from the nickname (of uncertain meaning) given to Hugh, the first Capetian king.
The direct line of the House of Capet came to an end in 1328, when the three sons of Philip IV (reigned 1285–1314) all failed to produce surviving male heirs to the French throne. With the death of Charles IV (reigned 1322–1328), the throne passed to the House of Valois, descended from a younger brother of Philip IV. Royal power would later pass (1589) to another Capetian branch, the House of Bourbon, descended from the youngest son of Louis IX (reigned 1226–1270), and (from 1830) to a Bourbon cadet branch, the House of Orléans, always remaining in the hands of agnatic descendants of Hugh Capet.
The first Capetian monarch was Hugh Capet (c.939–996), a Frankish nobleman from the Île-de-France, who, following the death of Louis V (c.967–987) – the last Carolingian king – secured the throne of France by election. He then proceeded to make it hereditary in his family, by securing the election and coronation of his son, Robert II (972–1031), as co-King. The throne thus passed securely to Robert on his father's death, who followed the same custom – as did many of his early successors.
The Capetian kings were initially weak rulers of the kingdom – they directly ruled only small holdings in the Île-de-France and the Orléanais, all of which were plagued with disorder; the rest of France was controlled by potentates such as the duke of Normandy, the count of Blois, the duke of Burgundy (himself a Capetian after 1032) and the duke of Aquitaine (all of whom faced to a greater or lesser extent the same problems of controlling their subordinates). The House of Capet was, however, fortunate enough to have the support of the Church, and – with the exception of Philip I, Louis IX and the short-lived John I – were able to avoid the problems of underaged kingship.
Briefly, under Louis VII (1120–1180), the House of Capet rose in their power in France. Louis married Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122–1204) and so became duke – an advantage which had been eagerly grasped by his father, Louis VI (1081–1137), when Eleanor's father, William X, had asked of the king in his will to secure a good marriage for the young duchess. However, the marriage – and thus one avenue of Capetian aggrandisement – failed. The couple produced only two daughters, and suffered marital discord. Driven to secure the future of the house, Louis divorced Eleanor, who went on to marry Henry II of England (1133–1189). Louis married twice more before finally having a son, Philip II (1165–1223). Philip II started to break the power of the Plantagenets – the family of Eleanor and Henry II – in France.
Louis VIII (1187–1226) – the eldest son and heir of Philip Augustus – married Blanche of Castile (1188–1252), a granddaughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England. In her name, he claimed the crown of England, invading at the invitation of the English barons, and briefly being acclaimed – though, it would later be stressed, not crowned – as king of England. However, the Capetians failed to establish themselves in England – Louis was forced to sign the Treaty of Lambeth, which legally decreed that he had never been king of England, and the prince reluctantly returned to his wife and father in France. More importantly for his dynasty, he would during his brief reign (1223–1226) conquer Poitou, and some of the lands of the Pays d'Oc, declared forfeit from their former owners by the pope as part of the Albigensian Crusade. These lands were added to the French crown, further empowering the Capetian family.
Louis IX (1214–1270) – Saint Louis – succeeded Louis VIII as a child; unable to rule for several years, the government of the realm was undertaken by his mother, the formidable Queen Blanche. She had originally been chosen by her grandmother, Eleanor, to marry the French heir, considered a more suitable queen than her sister Urraca; as regent, she proved this to be so, being associated in the kingship not only during her son's minority, but even after he came into his own. Louis, too, proved a largely acclaimed King – though he expended much money and effort on the Crusades, only for it to go to waste, as a French king he was admired for his austerity, strength, bravery, justice, and his devotion to France. Dynastically, he established two notable Capetian houses: the House of Anjou (which he created by bestowing the County of Anjou upon his brother, Charles I (1227–1285)), and the House of Bourbon (which he established by bestowing Clermont on his son Robert (1256–1317) in 1268, before marrying the young man to the heiress of Bourbon, Beatrice (1257–1310)); the first house would go on to rule Sicily, Naples, and Hungary; the second would eventually succeed to the French throne, collecting Navarre along the way.
At the death of Louis IX (who shortly after was set upon the road to beatification), France under the Capetians stood as the pre-eminent power in Western Europe. This stance was largely continued, if not furthered, by his son Philip III (1245–1285), and his son Philip IV (1268–1314), both of whom ruled with the aid of advisors committed to the future of the House of Capet and of France, and both of whom made notable – for different reasons – dynastic marriages. Philip III married as his first wife Isabel (1247–1271), a daughter of King James I of Aragon (1208–1276); long after her death, he claimed the throne of Aragon for his second son, Charles (1270–1325), by virtue of Charles' descent via Isabel from the kings of Aragon. Unfortunately for the Capetians, the endeavour proved a failure, and the King himself died of dysentery at Perpignan, succeeded by his son, Philip IV.
Philip IV had married Joan I (1271–1305), the queen of Navarre and countess of Champagne. By this marriage, he added these domains to the French crown. He engaged in conflicts with the Papacy, eventually kidnapping Pope Boniface VIII (c.1235–1303), and securing the appointment of the more sympathetic Frenchman, Bertrand de Goth (1264–1314), as Pope Clement V; and he boosted the power and wealth of the crown by abolishing the Order of the Temple, seizing its assets in 1307. More importantly to French history, he summoned the first Estates General – in 1302 – and in 1295 established the so-called "Auld Alliance" with the Scots, at the time resisting English domination. He died in 1314, less than a year after the execution of the Templar leaders – it was said that he had been summoned to appear before God by Jacques de Molay (died 1314), the Grand Master of the Templars, as the latter was burnt at the stake as a heretic; it was also said that de Molay had cursed the King and his family.
It was Philip IV who presided over the beginning of his House's end. The first quarter of the century saw each of Philip's sons reign in rapid succession: Louis X (1314–1316), Philip V (1316–1322) and Charles IV (1322–1328).
Having been informed that his daughters-in-law were engaging in adultery with two knights – according to some sources, he was told this by his own daughter, Isabella – he allegedly caught two of them in the act in 1313, and had all three shut up in royal prisons. Margaret (1290–1315), the wife of his eldest son and heir apparent, Louis X and I (1289–1316), had borne her husband only a daughter at this time, and the paternity of this girl, Joan, was with her mother's adultery now suspect. Accordingly, Louis – unwilling to release his wife and return to their marriage – needed to remarry. He arranged a marriage with his cousin, Clementia of Hungary (1293–1328), and after Queen Margaret conveniently died in 1315 (strangled by order of the King, some claimed), he swiftly remarried to Clementia. She was pregnant when he died a year later, after an unremarkable reign; uncertain of how to arrange the succession (the two main claimants being Louis' daughter Joan – the suspected bastard – and Louis' younger brother Philip (1293–1322), Count of Poitiers), the French set up a regency under the Count of Poitiers, and hoped that the child would be a boy. This proved the case, but the boy – King John I (1316), known as the Posthumous – died after only 5 days, leaving a succession crisis. Eventually, it was decided based on several legal reasons (later reinterpreted as Salic Law) that Joan was ineligible to inherit the throne, which passed to the Count of Poitiers, who became Philip V. He, however, produced no surviving sons with his wife, Countess Joan II of Burgundy (1291–1330), who had been cleared of her charges of adultery; thus, when he died in 1322, the crown passed to his brother, Charles (1294–1328), Count of La Marche, who became Charles IV; the County of Burgundy, brought to the Capetians by the marriage of Joan and Philip V, remained with Joan, and ceased to be part of the royal domains.
Charles IV swiftly divorced his adulterous wife, Blanche of Burgundy (c.1296–1326) (sister of Countess Joan), who had given him no surviving children, and who had been locked up since 1313; in her place, he married Marie of Luxembourg (1304–1324), a daughter of Emperor Henry VII (c.1275–1313). Marie died in 1324, giving birth to a stillborn son. He then remarried to his cousin, Joan of Évreux (1310–1371), who however bore him only daughters; when he died in 1328, his only child was Marie, a daughter by Jeanne, and the unborn child his wife was pregnant with. Philip of Valois (1293–1350), Count of Anjou and Valois, Charles' cousin, was set up as regent; when the Queen produced a daughter, Blanche, Philip by assent of the great magnates became Philip VI, of the House of Valois, cadet branch of the Capetian Dynasty.
| Philip III |
King of France
| Philip I |
King of Navarre
King of France
| Charles of Valois |
| Louis I |
King of Navarre
King of France
| Philip V |
King of France
King of Navarre
| Charles IV |
King of France
King of Navarre
|Isabella of France|| Edward II |
King of England
| Philip VI |
King of France
| Joan II |
Queen of Navarre
| John I |
King of France
King of Navarre
| Joan III of Burgundy |
| Edward III |
King of England
| Charles II |
King of Navarre
| Philip of Burgundy |
The last of the direct Capetians were the daughters of Philip IV's three sons, and Philip IV's daughter, Isabella. The wife of Edward II of England (1284–1327), Isabella (c.1295–1358) overthrew her husband in favour of her son (Edward III, 1312–1377) ruling as regent with her cohort and lover (Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, 1287–1330). On the death of her brother, Charles IV, in 1328 she claimed to be her father's heiress, and demanded the throne pass to her son (who as a male, an heir to Philip IV, and of adult age, was considered to have a good claim to the throne); however, her claim was refused, eventually providing a cause for the Hundred Years' War.
Joan (1312–1349), the daughter of Louis X, succeeded on the death of Charles IV to the throne of Navarre, she now being – questions of paternity aside – the unquestioned heiress. She was the last direct Capetian ruler of that kingdom, being succeeded by her son, Charles II of Navarre (1332–1387); his father, Philip of Évreux (1306–1343) had been a member of the Capetian House of Évreux. Mother and son both claimed on several occasions the throne of France, and later the Duchy of Burgundy.
Of the daughters of Philip V and Joan II of Burgundy, the elder two had surviving issue. Joan III, Countess of Burgundy (1308–1349), married Odo IV, Duke of Burgundy (1295–1350), uniting the Duchy and County of Burgundy. Her line became extinct with the death of her sole grandchild, Philip I, Duke of Burgundy (1346–1361), whose death also served to break the union between the Burgundys once more. Her sister, Margaret (1310–1382), married Louis I, Count of Flanders (1304–1346), and inherited the County of Burgundy after the death of Philip I; their granddaughter and heiress, Margaret III, Countess of Flanders (1350–1405), married the son of John II of France (1319–1364), Philip II, Duke of Burgundy (1342–1404), uniting the two domains once more.
Of Charles IV's children, only Blanche (1328–1382) – the youngest, the baby whose birth marked the end of the House of Capet – survived childhood. She married Philip of Valois, Duke of Orléans (1336–1376), the son of Philip VI, but they produced no children. With her death in 1382, the House of Capet finally came to an end.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article " Capet ".|
The Capetian dynasty, 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.
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.
Philip IV, called Philip the Fair, was King of France from 1285 to 1314. By virtue of his marriage with Joan I of Navarre, he was also King of Navarre as Philip I from 1284 to 1305, as well as Count of Champagne. Although Philip was known to be handsome, hence the epithet le Bel, his rigid and inflexible personality gained him other nicknames, such as the Iron King. His fierce opponent Bernard Saisset, bishop of Pamiers, said of him: "he is neither man nor beast. He is a statue."
Louis X, called the Quarrelsome, the Headstrong, or the Stubborn, was King of France from 1314 to 1316 and King of Navarre as Louis I, from 1305 until his death in 1316. He abolished slavery, emancipated serfs who could pay their freedom, and readmitted Jews in the kingdom.
Philip III, called the Bold, was king of France from 1270 until his death in 1285. His father, Louis IX, died in Tunis during the Eighth Crusade. Philip, who was accompanying him, returned to France and was anointed king at Reims in 1271.
Philip V, known as the Tall, was Count of Poitiers and later King of France and Navarre. He reigned from 1316 to 1322.
Charles IV, called the Fair in France and the Bald in Navarre, was last king of the direct line of the House of Capet, King of France and King of Navarre from 1322 to 1328. Charles was the third son of Philip IV; like his father, he was known as "the fair" or "the handsome".
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 against the House of Plantagenet and their Angevin Empire, dominated by the Kingdom of England, cumulating in the Hundred Years' War (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.
Joan I was Queen of Navarre and Countess of Champagne from 1274 until 1305; she was also Queen of France by marriage to King Philip IV. She was the daughter of King Henry I of Navarre and Blanche of Artois.
Charles of Valois, the third son of King 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.
Joan II was Queen of Navarre from 1328 until her death. She was the only surviving child of Louis X of France, King of France and Navarre, and Margaret of Burgundy. Joan's paternity was dubious because her mother was involved in a scandal, but Louis X declared her his legitimate daughter before he died in 1316. However, the French lords were opposed to the idea of a female monarch and elected Louis X's brother, Philip V, king. The Navarrese noblemen also paid homage to Philip. Joan's maternal grandmother, Agnes of France, Duchess of Burgundy, and uncle, Odo IV of Burgundy, made attempts to secure the counties of Champagne and Brie to Joan, but the French royal troops defeated her supporters. After Philip V married his daughter to Odo and granted him two counties as her dowry, Odo renounced Joan's claim to Champagne and Brie in exchange for a compensation in March 1318. Joan married Philip of Évreux, who was also a member of the French royal family.
Margaret of Burgundy was Queen of France and Navarre as the first wife of King Louis X, although locked in prison during her whole French queenship.
Marie of Brabant was Queen of France from 1274 until 1285 as the second wife of King Philip III. Born in Leuven, Brabant, she was a daughter of Henry III, Duke of Brabant, and Adelaide of Burgundy.
Philip III, called the Noble or the Wise, was King of Navarre from 1328 until his death. He was born a minor member of the French royal family but gained prominence when the Capetian main line went extinct, as he and his wife and cousin, Joan II of Navarre, acquired the Iberian kingdom and a number of French fiefs.
Blanche of Burgundy was Queen of France and Navarre for a few months in 1322 through her marriage to King Charles IV the Fair. The daughter of Count Otto IV of Burgundy and Countess Mahaut of Artois, she was led to a disastrous marriage by her mother's ambition. Eight years before her husband's accession to the thrones, Blanche was arrested and found guilty of adultery with a Norman knight. Her sister-in-law, Margaret of Burgundy, suffered the same fate, while her sister Joan was acquitted. Blanche was imprisoned and not released even after becoming queen, until her marriage was annulled when she was moved to the coast of Normandy. The date and place of her death are unknown; the mere fact that she died was simply mentioned on the occasion of her husband's third marriage in April 1326.
Joan of Burgundy, also known as Joan the Lame, was Queen of France as the first wife of King Philip VI. Joan ruled as regent while her husband fought on military campaigns during the Hundred Years' War: 1340, 1345-1346 and 1347.
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.
The crown lands, crown estate, royal domain or domaine royal of France were 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.
The Tour de Nesle affair was a scandal amongst the French royal family in 1314, during which Margaret, Blanche, and Joan, the daughters-in-law of King Philip IV, were accused of adultery. The accusations were apparently started by Philip's daughter, Isabella. The Tour de Nesle was a tower in Paris where much of the adultery was said to have occurred. The scandal led to torture, executions and imprisonments for the princesses' lovers and the imprisonment of the princesses, with lasting consequences for the final years of the House of Capet.
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.