The House of Capet was the royal house of France from 987CE to 1328. When the family came to the French throne power was decentralised, and there seemed little likelihood that the throne would pass from father to son. By the time the line died out in 1328 France had become a centralised government, with a dynastic monarchy firmly entrenched.
It was founded by Hugh Capet, grandson of Robert I of France. He was elected king in 987, in succession to Lothair.
He was married to Adelaide of Aquitaine; his son succeeded him; of his daughters 3 are recorded as marrying other French nobility.
On his accession Hugh had caused his nobles to crown his son, Robert II, born in 972CE, as his successor and on High's death in 996, Robert took the throne. He ruled until his death in 1031. He married three times:
- in circa. 989, at his father's arrangment, to Susanne (also known as Rosala), Princess of Italy and widow of Count Arnulf II of Flanders. They were divorced a year later
- in circa 996, to Bertha, Princess of Burgundy and widow of Count Theobald of Blois. The marriage was denounced by Pope Gregory V on the grounds of consanguinity, and after his death Sylvester II annulled it.
- in 1001 to Constance of Arles, daughter of the Count of Provence, who gave him several children, among them a king of France, a Duke of Burgundy, and a Countess of Flanders, Adela, who was mother-in-law to William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy and King of England.
On Robert's death, his son Henry succeeded him (as Henry I of France and he ruled until 1060. He also married three times: two Matildas, one the daughter of Emperor Conrad II, the other the daughter of the Margrave of Frisia, but both died, he then married Anne of Kiev and they had three sons and a daughter.
Henry's son, Philip I, carried on the Capetian rule, taking the throne in 1060, until his death in 1108. He was 7 when he took the throne, and for the first time in French history his mother, the dowager queen, ruled as his regent. He married Bertha, daughter of the Count of Holland, in 1072. Twenty years, and several children, later he put her aside in favour of Bertrade de Montfort. She was, unfortunately, the wife of the Count of Anjou and Philip's refusal to abandon her and return to Bertha cost him a series of excommunications, but not the Count's friendship.
In 1108 Philip died and his son Louis (VI; Louis le Gros) came to the throne. He reigned until 1137, and among his children were an archbishop of Reims, a bishop of Paris, a king of France, a Count of Dreux, and the wife, successively, of counts of Boulogne and Toulouse.
He was succeeded by Louis VII, who reigned until 1180. In the year of his coronation, he married Eleanor of Aquitaine.
They had 2 daughters, no sons, and separated after she went with him on Crusade in 1147-8 and was implicated in a possible affair with her uncle, Raymond of Antioch. Their marriage was anulled (whereupon she promptly married the English king's son, Henry, then Count of Anjou. Louis remarried, to Constance, princess of Castile, and she bore him 2 further daughters. His elder daughters married counts of Champagne and of Blois; one of his younger married the son of Henry II and on his death, King Bela of Hungary; and the other, having long been bethrothed to Richard I (and rejected by him because he believed she had been seduced by his father), eventually married the Count of Ponthieu.
After the death of Constance, Louis remaried again, marrying Adele of Champagne who finally gave him the son and successor he had sought, Philip II (Philip Augustus), as well as a daughter who was betrothed to one Byzantine emperor and married to his successor, the lover of one of his generals, and eventually, widowed, his wife also.
King Louis died in 1180: Philip, his son, succeeded him, and married as his queen Isabelle of Hainault, thereby bringing the County of Artois into the French royal lands. He went on the Third Crusade, with Richard I of England and the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, but ill-health meant he had to leave the Holy Land early. His queen died, and he remarried, to Ingeborg of Denmark, but he refused to allow her the title of queen, confined her to a convent, and sought to have the marriage annulled by the Pope. He sought a new bride, found Marguerite of Geneva , but she was waylaid en route to him, by Thomas of Savoy, and married to him, on the basis that Philip was already wed. Finally Philip married Agnes of Merania, but this marriage was held bigamous by the Pope, who excommunicated Philip, and eventually Philip took back Ingeborg, and made her his queen.
He incurred the dislike of the Pope (Innocent III) when he failed to support the crusade against the Cathars of the Languedoc, but he avoided any formal sanction because he also did noting to impede it. In 1223 he died, being succeeded by his son by Isabelle, Louis VIII
Louis (known as "the Lion") was married at the age of 12 to Blanche, princess of Castile (neice of John of England. In 1216 the English barons, tired of John, rose and offered the throne to Louis and, with his father's covert approval, Louis invaded and was proclaimed king. He entered London, and was accepted as ruler, and then captured over half the kingdom. Before he could be crowned, however, John died, and was succeeded by the 9-year-old Prince Henry (Henry III). The baronage switched allegiances to the young heir, and Louis was obliged to abandon his campaign and to return to France.
Louis succeeded his father in France but three years later he died, succeeded by his son, Louis, one of his 5 surviving children (a 6th was born posthumously).
Louis IX was 11 when he succeeded to the throne. His mother ruled as Regent during his minority, and around 1234 he took over governance in his own right. At the same time he married, to the sister-in-law of the English Henry III, Marguerite of Provence. He created his younger brother Charles count of Anjou; when Charles later also became King of Sicily, he established the second Angevin dynasty. Louis went on crusade twice, in 1248 and in 1270 and was noted for his piety. It was during the second of these crusades (the Eighth Crusade overall historically), that Louis died and the thone passed to his eldest surviving son, Philippe.
As Philippe III, he ended the crusade by a truce and returned home. He was 25 when he succeeded to the throne, and was married to Isabella of Aragon. During his reign the counties of Poitou, Toulouse and Auvergne were added to the crown on the death of Philippe's uncle, Alfonso, and of Perche and Alencon, on the death of his own brother Pierre. In 1284 he attacked Peter III of Aragon, on a Papal Crusade; he was still on the camaign when, in September 1285, he contracted dysentery and died. After the death of Isabella, he had remarried, to Marie of Brabant.
Philip IV was his father's eldest surviving son, and he succeeded to the throne. The previous year he had married Jeanne of Navarre, thereby adding Champagne and Brie to the royal demesne. Philip's main claim to fame was his decision to eliminate the Knights Templar from France (because he coveted their wealth). In 1307 he had every available Knight seized, and imprisoned, and then tried on charges of heresy. When the Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, was burned as an heretic he called both king and Pope (Clement V) to attend God's Tribunal within a year. Within that period both men died, and the deaths of both the temporal power of the Popes and of the Capetian dynasty were begun.
Philip was suceeded by his son Louis X, who reigned from 1314 to 1316. He had inheriated the kingship of Navarre from his mother in 1305 and in that year he married Marguerite of Burgundy, who was a cousin once removed. In 1313 he accused her of adultery and she was imprisoned for life. She technically became queen consort on his succession, but died, in what may have been suspicious circumstances, in prison in the Chateau Gaillard, in 1315. Shortly thereafter Louis remarried, to Clemence of Anjou, but he died next year, after an energentic game of palm tennis. Clemence was pregnant, and Louis' brother, Philip V, was appointed regent in case the child were a boy. In the event it was, and Jean I of France ruled, with his uncle's help, for all of 5 days, during November 1316, leaving Philip to ascend the throne in his own right.
Despite rumours that he had effected the child-king's death, Philip V took the throne. He had three daughters by his wife Jeanne, Countess of Burgundy; their only son died shortly after Philip took the throne, but by that time Jeanne was in priosn, for adultery, second of the three successive queens to be implicated in the same business. Accordingly when, in 1322, Philip died, it was to his brother, Charles that the throne fell.
Charles IV, third son of Philip IV, was crowned king of France in 1322. He had been married to Blanche of Bourgogne, daughter of the Count of Burgundy, but in the quest for an heir and because, since 1314, she had been imprisoned for adultery, he had their marriage dissolved and married Marie of Luxembourg, daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry VII. By her he had a son, Louis, but both Queen and prince were to die within weeks. The king married again, to Jeanne d'Evreux, who gave him two daughters before his death in 1328. She was pregannt at his death, but the issue proved to be another daughter, and the line of the Capetians failed, being replaced by the House of Valois.