The Capetians

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The Capetians, called the Robertinians in earlier generations, ruled medieval France from 987 to 1328. A powerful family in the West Frankish Kingdom, the Capetians were likely of Saxon origin, migrating from the Rhine-Meuse region some time in the early 8th century. For several generations the Robertinians, descendants of Count Robert I, ruled as counts in Upper Lorraine. In the 840’s, Robert IV’s (the Strong) holdings in the Rhineland were withheld from him due to his support of Louis I the Pious and Charles I the Bald in their fight against Charles’s brothers.

Robert the Strong developed marriage connections within Charles the Bald’s kingdom, and by 852, he became the Count of Angers and the lay abbot of Marmoutier. He further added to those titles by gaining the distinction of Count of Blois and Abbot of St. Martin at Tours in the 860s.

Throughout the 10th century, the family was able to maintain its wealth and status through inheritance. Hugh Capet the Great died in 956, and his son, also Hugh Capet, took over as duke of the Franks, and after the death of the last Carolingian king, Louis the Sluggard (987), Hugh was chosen to be king. The Capetians, who were un-related to the Carolingian family, ruled medieval France until 1328. Philip II Augustus was one of the most successful French monarchs in the Capetian line, extending his influence and the royal demesne outside of Paris.

The Valois dynasty succeeded the Capetians when the last male in the Capetian line died.

Additional Reading:

Elizabeth A. R. Brown, The Monarchy of Capetian France and Royal Ceremonial (London: Variorum, 1991); Robert Fawtier, The Capetian Kings of France: Monarchy and Nation, 987–1328, trans. Lionel Butler and R. J. Adam (London: Macmillan, 1960); Andrew W. Lewis, Royal Succession in Capetian France: Studies on Familial Order and the State (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981).


English, Edward D. “Capetian dynasty.” Encyclopedia of the Medieval World, vol. 1. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2005. Ancient and Medieval History Online. Facts On File, Inc.
ItemID=WE49&iPin=EMW0282&SingleRecord=True (accessed January 27, 2009).

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