List of French monarchs

The monarchs of the Kingdom of France ruled from the establishment of the Kingdom of the West Franks in 843 until the fall of the Second French Empire in 1870, with several interruptions. Between the period from Charles the Bald in 843 to Louis XVI in 1792, France had 45 kings. Adding the 3 kings and 2 emperors after the French Revolution, this comes to a total of 50 monarchs of France spread over 1027 years.

Division of the Frankish Empire at the Treaty of Verdun (843)

Classical French historiography usually regards Clovis I (r. 481–511) as the first king of "France" (in its earliest phase), but technically speaking such a kingdom didn't begin until the establishment of West Francia.[1][2] In August 843 the Treaty of Verdun divided the Frankish realm into three kingdoms, one of which (Middle Francia) was short-lived; the other two evolved into France (West Francia) and, eventually, Germany (East Francia). By this time, the eastern and western parts of the land had already developed different languages and cultures.[3][4]

Initially, the kingdom was ruled primarily by two dynasties, the Carolingians and the Robertians, who alternated rule from 843 until 987, when Hugh Capet, the progenitor of the Capetian dynasty, took the throne. The kings used the title "King of the Franks" (Rex Francorum in Latin) until the late twelfth century; the first to adopt the title of "King of France" (Rex Francie in Latin) was Philip II (r. 1180–1223). The Capetians ruled 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 (until 1589), Bourbon (from 1589 until 1792 and from 1814 until 1830), and the Orléans (from 1830 until 1848).[5]

During the brief period when the French Constitution of 1791 was in effect (1791–92) and after the July Revolution in 1830, the style of "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 French people rather than to the possession of the territory of France.[6] With the House of Bonaparte, the "emperors of the French" ruled in 19th-century France between 1804 and 1814, again in 1815, and between 1852 and 1870.

From the 14th century down to 1801, the English (and later British) monarch claimed the throne of France, though such claim was purely nominal excepting a short period during the Hundred Years' War when Henry VI of England had control over most of Northern France, including Paris. By 1453, the English had been mostly expelled from France and Henry's claim has since been considered illegitimate; French historiography commonly does not recognize Henry among the kings of France.

Family tree of Frankish and French monarchs (509–1870)

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