House of Valois

The House of Valois[1] (French pronunciation: ​[valwa]) was a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty. They succeeded the House of Capet (or "Direct Capetians") 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.

The Valois descended from Charles, Count of Valois (1270–1325), the second surviving son of King Philip III of France (reigned 1270–1285). Their title to the throne was based on a precedent in 1316 (later retroactively attributed to the Merovingian Salic law) which excluded females (Joan II of Navarre), as well as male descendants through the distaff line (Edward III of England), from the succession to the French throne.

After holding the throne for several centuries the Valois male line failed and the House of Bourbon succeeded the Valois to the throne as the senior-surviving branch of the Capetian dynasty.

House of Valois
Royal Coat of Arms of Valois France

Arms of the King of France since 1376
Parent houseCapetian dynasty
FounderCharles, Count of Valois
Final rulerHenry III of France
Cadet branches

Unexpected inheritance

The Capetian dynasty seemed secure both during and after the reign of Philip IV from 1285 to 1313. Philip had left three surviving sons (Louis, Philip and Charles) and a daughter (Isabella). Each son became king in turn but died young without male heirs, leaving only daughters who could not inherit the throne. When Charles IV died in 1328, the French succession became more problematic.

In 1328 three candidates had plausible claims to the throne:

  1. Philip, Count of Valois, son of Charles of Valois, who was the closest heir in male line and a grandson of Philip III. Because his father was the brother of the late Philip IV, he was therefore a nephew of Philip IV and the cousin of Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV. Further, Charles IV had chosen him as the regent before his death.
  2. Joan of Navarre, daughter of Louis X. Although Philip V had used his position relative to his niece to take the throne in 1316, Joan nevertheless had a strong claim as the heir-general of Philip IV and had been initially supported by her maternal family upon the death of Louis X. She ultimately received the Kingdom of Navarre, which could pass to and through females.
  3. Edward III of England, son of Isabella of France, daughter and only surviving child of Philip IV. Edward claimed to be the heir as a grandson of Philip IV.

In England, Isabella of France claimed the throne on behalf of her son. Like the French, the English law of succession did not allow the succession of females,[2] but allowed the succession through the female line (as exemplified by Henry II of England). The French rejected Isabella's claims, arguing that since she herself, as a woman, could not succeed, then she could not transmit any such right to her son. Thus the French magnates chose Philip of Valois, who became Philip VI of France. The throne of Navarre went its separate way, to Joan of France, daughter of Louis X, who became Joan II of Navarre.

Because diplomacy and negotiation had failed, Edward III would have to back his claims with force to obtain the French throne. For a few years, England and France maintained an uneasy peace. Eventually, an escalation of conflict between the two kings led to the confiscation of the duchy of Aquitaine (1337). Instead of paying homage to the French king, as his ancestors had done, Edward claimed that he was the rightful King of France. These events helped launch the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) between England and France. Though England failed to win that prolonged conflict, English and British Monarchs until the late 18th Century continued to maintain, at least formally, a claim to the French throne.

Hundred Years' War

The Hundred Years' War could be considered a lengthy war of succession between the houses of Valois and Plantagenet. The early reign of Philip VI was a promising one for France. The new king fought the Flemings on behalf of his vassal, the count of Flanders, and restored that count to power. Edward III's aggression against Scotland, a French ally, prompted Philip VI to confiscate Guyenne. In the past the English kings would have to submit to the King of France. But Edward, having descended from the French kings, claimed the throne for himself. France was then at the height of its power. No one believed that the English king could make good his claim to France.

Edward's initial strategy was to ally with Flanders and the princes of the Empire. The alliances were costly and not very productive. While on a truce the French and English kings intervened in the War of the Breton Succession. In 1346, Edward invaded France and pillaged the countryside rather than attempt to hold territory. French forces led by Philip VI confronted Edward III at the Battle of Crécy, which resulted in a devastating and humiliating defeat for the French. Despite this, the most that Edward could make out of his victory was the capture of Calais.

John II succeeded his father Philip VI in 1350. He was menaced by Charles II of Navarre, of the Évreux branch of the Capetian family, who aspired to the French throne by the right of his mother, the senior descendant of Philip IV of France. Charles' character eventually alienated both the French and English monarchs, because he readily switched sides whenever it suited his interest. In 1356, Edward, the Black Prince, eldest son and heir of Edward III, led an army to a chevauchée in France. John pursued the Black Prince, who tried to avoid battling the French king's superior force. Negotiations broke down. In the Battle of Poitiers, the French suffered another humiliating defeat, and their king was captured. Edward hoped to capitalize on the victory by invading France and having himself crowned at Reims. But the new leader, the Dauphin Charles, avoided another pitched battle, and the city of Reims withstood siege. In the Treaty of Brétigny, the English king gained an enlarged Aquitaine in full sovereignty, gave up the duchy of Touraine, the counties of Anjou and Maine, the suzerainty of Brittany and of Flanders, and his claim to the French throne.

Charles V became king in 1364. He supported Henry of Trastámara in the Castilian Civil War, while the Black Prince supported the reigning king, Peter of Castile. The Black Prince won, but Peter refused to pay for his expenses. The Black Prince tried to recover his losses by raising taxes in Aquitaine, which prompted them to appeal to the King of France. War was renewed. The French recovered their territories place after place. When Charles died in 1380, only Calais, Bordeaux and Bayonne were left to the English.

The ancient, great families of the feudal nobility had largely been replaced by an equally powerful class — the princes of the royal blood. With the confiscation of Guyenne, the only remaining non-Capetian peer was the Count of Flanders. The Montfort dukes of Brittany, the houses of Évreux and Bourbon, and the princes of the House of Valois, constituted the great nobility of the kingdom.

Succeeding to the throne at the age of 11, the reign of Charles VI of France was the first minority since that of Saint Louis' in 1226. Power devolved into the hands of his uncles, the dukes of Anjou, Berry and Burgundy. The dukes squandered the resources of the monarchy to pursue their own ends. Anjou pursued his claim in the Kingdom of Naples; Berry governed his large estates in Languedoc; and Burgundy, having married the heiress of Flanders, found it more convenient to rule his vast dominions from Paris. Charles terminated his uncles' regency at the age of 21, even though he would have been entitled to it as early as the age of 14. His early reign was promising, but the onset of madness, which he may have inherited from the Bourbon dukes through his mother, would prove to be disastrous for France. Burgundy, the most powerful of the princes and peers, naturally took power in his hands. But his nephew, Louis I, Duke of Orléans, the king's brother, contested his authority. Rivalry between the two princes and their descendants led to the Armagnac–Burgundian Civil War.

In 1415 Henry V of England, great-grandson of Edward III, invaded France. In the Battle of Agincourt, the Armagnac faction fought the English and were decimated. The dukes of Orléans and Bourbon were captured, and the Burgundian party gained ascendancy in Paris. Henry proceeded to conquer Normandy. The Armagnacs assassinated John the Fearless, duke of Burgundy, a belated revenge for the assassination of Louis I, Duke of Orléans. The new duke, Philip the Good, allied himself with the English. In the Treaty of Troyes, Henry V of England became regent of France and heir to that throne; he also married Catherine of Valois, the French king's daughter. The Dauphin Charles was effectively disinherited. To assume a greater appearance of legality, it was ratified by the Estates General later that year.

To accept the Treaty of Troyes would be a denial of the legitimacy of the Valois. While England was accustomed to change her kings, the French largely adhered to theirs. The treaty was recognized only in English-controlled territories in northern France, and by the allied dukes of Burgundy and Brittany. Henry V died before his sickly father-in-law, Charles VI, leaving the future of the Lancastrian Kingdom of France in the hands of his infant son Henry VI of England, and his brother, John, Duke of Bedford.

The able leadership of Bedford prevented Charles VII from retaking control of northern France. In 1429, Joan of Arc successfully raised the siege of Orléans and had the king crowned at Reims, an important French propaganda victory. Power struggles between Bedford, his brother Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and their uncle Cardinal Beaufort hampered the English war effort. The Duke of Burgundy, alienated by the blunders of Gloucester, reconciled with the King of France in the Treaty of Arras, 1435. Bedford had died that same year.

The warring parties arranged long truces, during which the French king prepared for the renewal of war, while the English relaxed and took a break from fresh taxes. By 1450, the French had reconquered Normandy, and Guyenne the next year. A final English attempt to recover their losses ended in defeat at the Battle of Castillon, 1453. With this victory, the English had been expelled in all of France except Calais. The Valois succession was upheld and confirmed.

Centralization of power

With the expulsion of the English, Charles VII had reestablished his kingdom as the foremost power of Western Europe. He created France's first standing army since Roman times, and limited papal power in the Gallican Church by the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges. But his later years were marred by quarrels with his eldest son and heir, the Dauphin Louis, who refused to obey him. The dauphin was banished from court for his intrigues, and did not return to France until his father's death.

Louis XI succeeded his father in 1461. At the beginning of his reign Louis reversed his father's policies, abolishing the Pragmatic Sanction to please the pope and the standing armies, which he distrusted, in favor of Swiss mercenaries. As a prince he had leagued with the nobility against his father, but as a king he found that his power could only be maintained by subduing them. He was the lifelong enemy of Charles the Bold, Count of Charolais, and later Duke of Burgundy. In 1465 the League of the Public Weal, an alliance of the feudal princes, which consisted of Charles, Duke of Berry, the king's brother, the Count of Charolais, the Dukes of Brittany, Bourbon, Lorraine (then a member of the House of Anjou), and several others, attempted to restore their feudal prerogatives. Louis feared a further escalation of the conflict against this formidable coalition. To obtain peace he conceded all their demands, including the Duchy of Normandy to his brother, which carried with it one-third of the offices of state.

Louis seldom relied on the fortunes of war, but on intrigue and diplomacy. He maintained his power by paying pensions to well-placed people in the courts of his vassals and in neighboring states. He retook Normandy from his brother at the first opportunity. He bought off Edward IV of England to desist from attacking France. He fomented rebellions in the Burgundian dominions. At the death of Charles the Bold in 1477, he seized the duchy of Burgundy, which he claimed as a reverted fief, even though the original grant did not specify the exclusion of female heirs. But the marriage of Mary of Burgundy, heiress of Charles the Bold, to Maximilian of Austria, would prove problematic for later generations. In 1481, the last male of the House of Anjou died, willing all the Angevin possessions to the king. At the end of his reign royal power had become absolute in France.

Italian Wars

Charles VIII succeeded his father in 1483, at the age of 13. During his minority the nobles again attempted to seize power, but they were defeated by Charles' sister Anne of France. Charles' marriage to Anne of Brittany prevented a future total Habsburg encirclement of France.

As the heir of the House of Anjou, Charles VIII decided to press his claim to the Kingdom of Naples. It was the beginning of the Italian Wars. In September 1494 Charles invaded Italy with 25,000 men, and attained his object by 22 February 1495, virtually unopposed. But the speed and power of the French advance frightened the powers of Italy. The League of Venice, which consisted of the Republics of Venice and Florence, the Duchies of Milan and Mantua, the Kings of Spain and Naples, the Emperor and the Pope, united against the French. Charles, who did not wish to be trapped in Naples, had to fight against them in the Battle of Fornovo. Charles succeeded in returning to France, but all his conquests and booty were lost. The debts he incurred for the campaign prevented him from resuming the war, and he died in an accident in 1498. With his death the senior line of the House of Valois became extinct. He was succeeded by his cousin, the Duke of Orleans, who became Louis XII of France.

Louis XII married his predecessor's widow, Anne of Brittany, in order to retain that province for France. The new king also continued his predecessor's policy in Italy. The Dukes of Orleans were descended from Valentina Visconti, and through her claimed the Duchy of Milan. From 1499 to 1512, excepting a brief period in 1500, Louis XII was Duke of Milan. French military activity continued in Italy, with various leagues formed to counter the dominant power. Louis died without a son, and was succeeded by his cousin and son-in-law, Francis of Angoulême, who became Francis I of France in 1515.

Francis I belonged to a cadet branch of the House of Orleans. In the Battle of Marignano, Francis defeated the Swiss, who had ousted his predecessor from Milan, and took control of the duchy. In the Imperial Election of 1519, the Kings of Spain, France, and England fought for the imperial title. The King of Spain was a grandson of the deceased emperor, but the electors thought him to be a foreigner as much as the French king. The kings resorted to bribes, and the Spanish king became Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.

The election of the Spanish king to the imperial throne made him the first monarch in Europe, both in title and in reality. Annoyed, the French king demanded that the emperor pay homage for Flanders and Artois; the emperor responded by reasserting his claim to the duchy of Burgundy. The rivalry of the French royal house with the Habsburgs dominated the rest of the sixteenth century. The emperor took Milan from the French in 1521. The King of England and the pope supported the emperor. France was surrounded by enemies on all sides. Domestic troubles led to the defection of Charles III, Duke of Bourbon and Constable of France, to the emperor. In 1525, at the Battle of Pavia, the French were defeated and the king himself was captured. Francis obtained his release through the Treaty of Madrid, in which he renounced claims in Naples and Milan, surrendered Burgundy to Spain, abandoned sovereignty over Flanders and Artois, and gave up two of his sons as hostages. Francis repudiated the treaty. Having often found himself alone in his struggle against the emperor, Francis formed the Franco-Ottoman alliance with the sultan, to the scandal of Christian Europe. Francis supported the conversion of the German princes to Protestantism, as it increased his potential allies against the emperor. In his own dominions, the Protestants were suppressed.

Henry II succeeded to the throne in 1547. He continued his father's policies, as did his successors. He persecuted Protestants in his kingdom, while Protestants abroad were his allies. Henry captured the three bishoprics of Metz, Toul, and Verdun. French offensives failed in Italy. In 1556, Charles V abdicated, splitting the Habsburg dominions between his son, Philip II of Spain, who gained Spain and the Low Countries, and his brother Ferdinand I, who became emperor. The French retook Calais after England allied with Spain. The Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559) ended the Italian Wars. The French lost all their Italian territories except Saluzzo, and were confirmed in the possession of Calais and the three bishoprics. It was a diplomatic victory for Philip II, who gave up nothing which belonged to himself. The Spanish king retained Franche-Comté and was confirmed in his possession of Milan, Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, and the State of Presidi, making him the most powerful ruler in Italy.

French Wars of Religion

The last phase of Valois rule in France was marked by the French Wars of Religion. Henry II died in a jousting accident in 1559. His eldest son and heir, Francis II, succeeded him. The new king was already King of Scotland by right of his wife, Mary, Queen of Scots. The queen's maternal relatives, the House of Guise, gained an ascendancy over the young king.

The House of Guise was a cadet branch of the ducal House of Lorraine. They claimed descent from Charlemagne and had designs on the French throne. They considered the House of Bourbon, princes of the blood, as their natural enemies. The leading Bourbons, the brothers Antoine, King of Navarre, and Louis, Prince of Condé, were Protestants. The House of Guise identified themselves as champions of the Catholic cause. They were on the point of executing Condé when the young king died.

With the succession of her minor son Charles IX in 1560, Catherine de' Medici maneuvered for a balance of power. She released Condé, hoping to use the Bourbons as a counterweight against the Guises. Antoine of Navarre converted to Catholicism and became Lieutenant-General of the Kingdom. The Massacre of Vassy sparked the "first" religious war between the Catholics and the Huguenots. Navarre and Guise died in this war. Anne de Montmorency, Constable of France, was the notable casualty of the second war. Condé died in the third war. The Huguenots were unable to win a substantive victory, but were able to keep an army in the field.

Henry, King of Navarre, married Margaret of France, sister of Charles IX, in 1572. The marriage, which had been expected to reconcile the Protestants and Catholics, proved to be a disappointment. The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre ensued; the Huguenots who flocked in Paris for the wedding were massacred en masse. Navarre and Condé were spared, forced to convert, and detained. The guilt of having permitted the massacre would haunt Charles for the rest of his life. In 1573, the king's brother, Henry, Duke of Anjou, was elected King of Poland.

In 1574, only three months after Henry's coronation as King of Poland, he succeeded to the French throne as Henry III. The next year the king's only remaining brother, the Duke of Alençon, fled the court and joined with Condé and Navarre. This combined threat forced the new king to grant the demands of the rebels. Alençon was made Duke of Anjou. The concessions to the Huguenots disquieted the Catholics, who formed the Catholic League. The League was led by the princes of the House of Lorraine — the dukes of Guise, Mayenne, Aumale, Elboeuf, Mercœur and Lorraine, supported by Spain. The Huguenots held the southwest and were allied to England and the princes of Germany. The death of the king's brother, in 1584, meant that the Huguenot King of Navarre had become heir presumptive to the throne of France. Pressured by the Catholic League, the king issued the Treaty of Nemours, which outlawed Protestantism and made Protestants incapable of holding royal office.

In the resulting War of the Three Henrys, the royalists led by the king, the Huguenots led by Henry of Navarre, and the Catholic League led by Henry of Guise, fought a three-way contest for the control of France. After the humiliation of the Day of the Barricades, Henry III fled from Paris. Guise had entered Paris against his express prohibition; he resolved to assassinate the audacious duke. The assassination of Guise drew the odium of the Catholic League. Henry III sought the alliance of Navarre. The two kings were on the point of taking Paris with their great army, when the French king fell by the hands of an assassin. With his death the male line of the House of Valois had been completely extinguished, after reigning for 261 years in France.


The royal Bourbons originated in 1272, when the youngest son of King Louis IX married the heiress of the lordship of Bourbon.[3] The house continued for three centuries as a cadet branch, serving as nobles under the Direct Capetian and Valois kings.

In 1589, at the death of Henry III of France, the House of Valois became extinct in the male line. Under the Salic law, the Head of the House of Bourbon, as the senior representative of the senior-surviving branch of the Capetian dynasty, became King of France as Henry IV.[3]

List of Valois kings of France

Valois (direct)


  • Louis XII, the Father of the People 1498–1515, great-grandson of Charles V of France


The application of the Salic Law meant that with the extinction of the Valois in the male line, the Bourbons succeeded to the throne as descendants of Louis IX.

Valois king of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

Other significant titles held by the House of Valois

Counts and Dukes of Alençon

House of Valois-Alençon

Counts and Dukes of Anjou

House of Valois-Anjou

  • Louis I, duke (1360–1383) (also king of Jerusalem and Naples as Louis I), second son of John II of France
  • Louis II (1377–1417), son of (also king of Naples as Louis II)
  • Louis III (1403–1434), son of (also king of Naples as Louis III)
  • René I (1409–1480), brother of (also king of Jerusalem and Naples as René I)
  • Charles IV (1436–1481),

Dukes of Burgundy

House of Valois-Burgundy

Dukes of Brabant

House of Valois-Burgundy-Brabant

Counts of Nevers

House of Valois-Burgundy-Nevers

Dukes of Orléans

House of Valois-Orléans

Counts of Angoulême

House of Valois-Orléans-Angoulême

Illegitimate branches

Forms of address

Forms of address for Valois kings and princes included "Most Christian Majesty"." Dauphin" . "your Grace" . "Your Majesty" . "Most regal Majesty " .

See also


  1. ^ Valois meaning, literally, "of the valley" or "from the valley"
  2. ^ Empress Matilda had claimed the English throne in the early 12th century. However her claim was contested by Stephen of Blois, occasioning a lengthy civil war, and Mathilda was not usually regarded as a legitimate monarch.
  3. ^ a b Anselme, Père. ‘’Histoire de la Maison Royale de France’’, tome 4. Editions du Palais-Royal, 1967, Paris. pp. 144–146, 151–153, 175, 178, 180, 185, 187–189, 191, 295–298, 318–319, 322–329. (French).
House of Valois
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Preceded by
House of Capet
Ruling House of France
Succeeded by
House of Bourbon
Preceded by
Capetian House of Burgundy
Ruling House of the Duchy of Burgundy
Succeeded by
House of Habsburg
Anthony, Duke of Brabant

Anthony, Duke of Brabant, also known as Antoine de Brabant, Antoine de Bourgogne and Anthony of Burgundy (August 1384 – 25 October 1415, at the battle of Agincourt), was Count of Rethel (1402–1406), Duke of Brabant, Lothier and Limburg (1406–1415), and Co-Duke of Luxemburg (1411-1415).

Basilica of Saint-Denis

The Basilica of Saint-Denis (French: Basilique royale de Saint-Denis, or simply Basilique Saint-Denis) is a large medieval abbey church in the city of Saint-Denis, now a northern suburb of Paris. The building is of singular importance historically and architecturally as its choir, completed in 1144, shows the first use of all of the elements of Gothic architecture.

The site originated as a Gallo-Roman cemetery in late Roman times. The archeological remains still lie beneath the cathedral; the people buried there seem to have had a faith that was a mix of Christian and pre-Christian beliefs and practices. Around 475 St. Genevieve purchased some land and built Saint-Denys de la Chapelle. In 636 on the orders of Dagobert I the relics of Saint Denis, a patron saint of France, were reinterred in the basilica. The relics of St-Denis, which had been transferred to the parish church of the town in 1795, were brought back again to the abbey in 1819.The basilica became a place of pilgrimage and the burial place of the French Kings with nearly every king from the 10th to the 18th centuries being buried there, as well as many from previous centuries. (It was not used for the coronations of kings, that function being reserved for the Cathedral of Reims; however, French Queens were commonly crowned there.) "Saint-Denis" soon became the abbey church of a growing monastic complex.

In the 12th century the Abbot Suger rebuilt portions of the abbey church using innovative structural and decorative features. In doing so, he is said to have created the first truly Gothic building. The basilica's 13th-century nave is the prototype for the Rayonnant Gothic style, and provided an architectural model for many medieval cathedrals and abbeys of northern France, Germany, England and a great many other countries.

The abbey church became a cathedral in 1966 and is the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Denis, Pascal Michel Ghislain Delannoy. Although known as the "Basilica of St Denis", the cathedral has not been granted the title of Minor Basilica by the Vatican.The 86m high spire, dismantled in the nineteenth century will be rebuilt. The project, initiated more than thirty years ago, will begin in May 2020. It should take about eleven years and cost 28 million euros.

Charles, Count of Valois

Charles of Valois (12 March 1270 – 16 December 1325), 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.

Charles ruled several principalities. He held in appanage the counties of Valois, Alençon and Perche. Through his marriage to Margaret of Anjou, he became Count of Anjou and Maine. Through his marriage to Catherine I, titular empress of the Latin Empire, he was titular Latin Emperor of Constantinople from 1301–1307, although he ruled from exile and only had authority over Crusader States in Greece.

Grandson of Saint Louis, Charles of Valois is a son, brother, brother-in-law and son-in-law of kings or queens (of France, Navarre, England and Naples). His descendants, the House of Valois, would become the royal house of France three years after his death, beginning with his son Philip VI of France.

Charles IX of France

Charles IX (27 June 1550 – 30 May 1574) was King of France from 1560 until his death in 1574 from tuberculosis. He ascended the throne of France upon the death of his brother Francis II in 1560. Charles was the twelfth king from the House of Valois, the fifth from the Valois-Orléans branch, and the fourth from the Valois-Orléans-Angoulême branch.

After decades of tension, war broke out between Protestants and Catholics after the massacre of Vassy in 1562. In 1572, after several unsuccessful peace attempts, Charles ordered the marriage of his sister Margaret of Valois to Henry of Navarre (the future King Henry IV of France), a major Protestant nobleman who was in the line of succession to the French throne, in a last desperate bid to reconcile his people. Facing popular hostility against this policy of appeasement, Charles allowed the massacre of all Huguenot leaders who gathered in Paris for the royal wedding at the instigation of his mother Catherine de' Medici. This event, known as the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, was a significant blow to the Huguenot movement, though religious civil warfare soon began anew. Charles sought to take advantage of the disarray of the Huguenots by ordering the Siege of La Rochelle, but was unable to take the Protestant stronghold.

Much of his decision making was influenced by his mother Catherine de' Medici, a fervent Roman Catholic who initially sought peace between Catholics and Protestants, but after the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre supported the persecution of Huguenots.

Charles died of tuberculosis without legitimate male issue in 1574 and was succeeded by his brother Henry III.

Charles VIII of France

Charles VIII, called the Affable (French: l'Affable; 30 June 1470 – 7 April 1498), was King of France from 1483 to his death in 1498, the seventh from the House of Valois. He succeeded his father Louis XI at the age of 13. His elder sister Anne acted as regent jointly with her husband Peter II, Duke of Bourbon until 1491 when the young king turned 21 years of age. During Anne's regency, the great lords rebelled against royal centralisation efforts in a conflict known as the Mad War (1485–1488), which resulted in a victory for the royal government.

In a remarkable stroke of audacity, Charles married Anne of Brittany in 1491 after she had already been married by proxy to the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I in a ceremony of questionable validity. Preoccupied by the problematic succession in the Kingdom of Hungary, Maximilian failed to press his claim. Upon his marriage, Charles became administrator of Brittany and established a personal union that enabled France to avoid total encirclement by Habsburg territories.

To secure his rights to the Neapolitan throne that René of Anjou had left to his father, Charles made a series of concessions to neighbouring monarchs and conquered the Italian peninsula without much opposition. A coalition formed against the French invasion of 1494-98 finally drove out Charles' army, but Italian Wars would dominate Western European politics for over 50 years.

Charles died in 1498 after accidentally striking his head on the lintel of a door at the Château d'Amboise, his place of birth. Since he had no male heir, he was succeeded by his cousin Louis XII of France from the Orléans cadet branch of the House of Valois.

Charles VII of France

Charles VII (22 February 1403 – 22 July 1461), called the Victorious (French: le Victorieux) or the Well-Served (French: le Bien-Servi), was King of France from 1422 to his death in 1461, the fifth from the House of Valois.

In the midst of the Hundred Years' War, Charles VII inherited the throne of France under desperate circumstances. Forces of the Kingdom of England and the Duchy of Burgundy occupied Guyenne and northern France, including Paris, the most populous city, and Reims, the city in which the French kings were traditionally crowned. In addition, his father Charles VI had disinherited him in 1420 and recognized Henry V of England and his heirs as the legitimate successors to the French crown instead. At the same time, a civil war raged in France between the Armagnacs (supporters of the House of Valois) and the Burgundian party (supporters of the House of Valois-Burgundy allied to the English).

With his court removed to Bourges, south of the Loire River, Charles was disparagingly called the “King of Bourges”, because the area around this city was one of the few remaining regions left to him. However, his political and military position improved dramatically with the emergence of Joan of Arc as a spiritual leader in France. Joan of Arc and other charismatic figures led French troops to lift the siege of Orléans, as well as other strategic cities on the Loire river, and to crush the English at the battle of Patay. With the local English troops dispersed, the people of Reims switched allegiance and opened their gates, which enabled the coronation of Charles VII in 1429 at Reims Cathedral. This long-awaited event boosted French morale as hostilities with England resumed. Following the battle of Castillon in 1453, the French expelled the English from all their continental possessions except for the Pale of Calais.

The last years of Charles VII were marked by conflicts with his turbulent son, the future Louis XI of France.

Counts and dukes of Anjou

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.

Ingelger's male line ended with Geoffrey II, Count of Anjou. Subsequent counts of Anjou were descended from Geoffrey's sister Ermengarde of Anjou and Geoffrey II, Count of Gâtinais. Their agnatic descendants, who included the Angevin kings of England, continued to hold these titles and property until the French monarchy gained control of the area. Thereafter the titles Count of Anjou and, after 1360, Duke of Anjou were granted several times, usually to members of the French ruling houses of Valois and Bourbon.

Similar to the title of Duke of York in England, none of those who received the title Duke of Anjou (except the first creation), were able to transmit it; they either died without a male heir, returned it to the royal domain, or succeeded to the throne.

The title was held by Philippe, a grandson of King Louis XIV, until he ascended the Spanish throne as Philip V of Spain in 1700. Since then, some Spanish legitimist claimants to the French throne have borne the title even to the present day, as does a nephew of the Orléanist pretender.

Duke of Longueville

Duke of Longueville (Longueville-sur-Scie) was a title of French nobility, though not a peerage of France.

Duke of Orléans

Duke of Orléans (French: Duc d'Orléans) was a title reserved for French royalty, first created in 1344 by Philip VI in favor of his son Philip of Valois. Known as princes of the blood (princes du sang), the title of Duke of Orléans was given, when available, to the King of France's eldest brother. Thus, until 1830, they formed a collateral line of the French royal family, with an eventual right to succeed to the throne should more senior princes of the blood die out. In this way, the title of Duke of Orléans may be considered analogous to the Duke of York, which is traditionally granted to the reigning English (and later British) monarch's second son.

During the period of the ancien régime the holder of the title often assumed a political role. The Orléans branch of the House of Valois came to the throne with Louis XII (15th century). Louis Philippe II, fifth Duke of Orléans, contributed to the destruction of the ancien régime. At the head of a retrospectively named 'Orleanist' faction centred on the Palais Royal, he contested the authority of his cousin Louis XVI in the adjacent Louvre. His son would eventually ascend the throne in 1830 following the July Revolution as Louis-Philippe I, King of the French. The descendants of the family are the Orléanist pretenders to the French throne, and the title has been used by several members of the House. The holder of the title held the style of Serene Highness.

Île d'Orléans is named after in honor of Henri II and New Orleans after Philippe II.

Françoise d'Alençon

Françoise d'Alençon (1490 – September 14, 1550) was the eldest daughter of René of Alençon and Margaret of Lorraine, and the younger sister and despoiled heiress of Charles IV, Duke of Alençon.

The sister and heiress of Charles IV of Alençon, she was despoiled of her heritage by her sister-in-law Marguerite of Angoulême, sister of King Francis I of France.

Her son Antoine, however, went on to marry Jeanne III of Navarre, born of the second marriage of Marguerite with Henry II of Navarre. The grandson of Françoise and Marguerite, Henry de Bourbon, would become King of France and Navarre.

Henry II of France

Henry II (French: Henri II; 31 March 1519 – 10 July 1559) was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559. The second son of Francis I, he became Dauphin of France upon the death of his elder brother Francis III, Duke of Brittany, in 1536. Henry was the tenth king from the House of Valois, the third from the Valois-Orléans branch, and the second from the Valois-Orléans-Angoulême branch.

As a child, Henry and his elder brother spent over four years in captivity in Spain as hostages in exchange for their father. Henry pursued his father's policies in matter of arts, wars and religion. He persevered in the Italian Wars against the House of Habsburg and tried to suppress the Protestant Reformation, even as the Huguenot numbers were increasing drastically in France during his reign.

The Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559), which put an end to the Italian Wars, had mixed results: France renounced its claims to territories in Italy, but gained certain other territories, including the Pale of Calais and the Three Bishoprics. France failed to change the balance of power in Europe, as Spain remained the sole dominant power, but it did benefit from the division of the holdings of its ruler, Charles V, and from the weakening of the Holy Roman Empire, which Charles also ruled.

Henry suffered an untimely death in a jousting tournament held to celebrate the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis at the conclusion of the Eighth Italian War. The king's surgeon, Ambroise Paré, was unable to cure the infected wound inflicted by Gabriel de Montgomery, the captain of his Scottish Guard. He was succeeded in turn by three of his sons, whose ineffective reigns helped to spark the French Wars of Religion between Protestants and Catholics.

House of Valois-Anjou

The House of Valois-Anjou (French: Maison de Valois-Anjou, Italian: Casa Valois-Angiò) was a noble French family, deriving from the royal family, the House of Valois. They were monarchs of Naples, as well as various other territories.

House of Valois-Burgundy

The House of Valois-Burgundy (French: Maison de Valois-Bourgogne), 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.

The term "Valois Dukes of Burgundy" is employed to refer to the dynasty which began after King John II of France granted the French Duchy of Burgundy to his youngest son, Philip the Bold in 1363.

During the Hundred Years' War, the dukes rivalled with their royal cousins uniting a great number of French and Imperial fiefs under their rule. However, their plans to establish an autonomous kingdom ultimately failed when the last duke, Charles the Bold, sparked the Burgundian Wars and was killed in the Battle of Nancy in 1477. The final ruler of the dynasty, Mary, Duchess of Burgundy, attempted to assert her authority within her domains, but failed. Her lands outside of France passed to her eldest son, Philip, to become the Habsburg Netherlands, while the Duchy of Burgundy itself returned to the kingdom of France. Mary died in 1482, thus ending the House of Valois-Burgundy.

John II of France

John II (French: Jean II; 26 April 1319 – 8 April 1364), called John the Good (French: Jean le Bon), was King of France from 1350 until his death. He was the second monarch from the House of Valois.

When John II came to power, France was facing several disasters: the Black Death, which killed nearly half of its population; popular revolts known as Jacqueries; free companies (Grandes Compagnies) of routiers who plundered the country; and English aggression that resulted in disastrous military losses, including the Battle of Poitiers of 1356, in which John was captured.

While John was a prisoner in London, his son Charles became regent and faced several rebellions, which he overcame. To liberate his father, he concluded the Treaty of Brétigny (1360), by which France lost many territories and paid an enormous ransom. In an exchange of hostages, which included his second son Louis, Duke of Anjou, John was released from captivity to raise funds for his ransom. Upon his return to France, he created the franc to stabilize the currency and tried to get rid of the free companies by sending them to a crusade, but Pope Innocent VI died shortly before their meeting in Avignon. When John was informed that Louis had escaped from captivity, he voluntarily returned to England, where he died in 1364. He was succeeded by his son Charles V.

List of French consorts

This is a list of the women who have been queens consort or empresses consort of the French monarchy. All monarchs of France were male, although some women have governed France as regents.

53 women were married to French monarchs: 49 queens and three empresses. Ingeborg of Denmark and Anne of Brittany were each queen more than once. Marie Josephine Louise of Savoy was queen de jure during the Republican and Imperial periods, but never wife of the de facto head of the French state.

From 1285 to 1328, the crowns of Navarre and France were united by virtue of the marriage of Joan I of Navarre to Philip IV of France, and by the succession of their three sons, Louis X, Philip V, and Charles IV. Thus, the wives of these three kings were queens consort of Navarre as well as of France. With the death of Charles IV, however, Navarre passed out of the hands of the French kings until 1589, when Henry III of Navarre became Henry IV of France.

Upon Henry IV's succession, his wife, Margaret of Valois, who was already queen consort of Navarre, also became queen consort of France. Thereafter, until 1791, queens of France were also queens of Navarre. The crown of Navarre merged with the French crown in 1620, but the French kings continued to call themselves King of Navarre until 1791. The title of King of Navarre was reassumed with the Restoration of 1814–15, but dropped with the Revolution of 1830; the Bonaparte and Orléans consorts did not use it.

Louis II of Naples

Louis II (5 October 1377 – 29 April 1417) was King of Naples from 1389 until 1399, and Duke of Anjou from 1384 until 1417. He was a member of the House of Valois-Anjou.

Margaret of Bavaria

Margaret of Bavaria, (1363 – January 1424, Dijon), was Duchess of Burgundy by marriage to John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy. She was the regent of the Burgundian Low countries during the absence of her spouse in 1404–1419 and the regent in French Burgundy during the absence of her son in 1419–1423. She became most known for her successful defense of French Burgundy against John IV, Count of Armagnac in 1419.

Philip the Bold

Philip the Bold (French: Philippe le Hardi, Dutch: Filips de Stoute; 17 January 1342 – 27 April 1404, Halle) was Duke of Burgundy (as Philip II) and jure uxoris Count of Flanders (as Philip II), Artois and Burgundy (as Philip IV). The fourth and youngest son of King John II of France and his wife, Bonne of Luxembourg, Philip was the founder of the Burgundian branch of the House of Valois. His vast collection of territories made him the undisputed premier peer of the kingdom of France and made his successors formidable subjects, and sometimes rivals, of the kings of France.

Merovingians (486–751)
Robertians and Bosonids (751–987)
House of Capet (987–1328)
House of Valois (1328–1589)
House of Lancaster (1422–1453)
House of Bourbon (1589–1792)
First Republic (1792–1804)
First Empire (1804–1815)
Bourbon Restoration (1815–1830)
July Monarchy (1830–1848)
Second Republic (1848–1852)
Second Empire (1852–1870)
Government of National Defense (1870–1871)
Third Republic (1871–1940)
Vichy France (1940–1944)
Provisional Government (1944–1947)
Fourth Republic (1947–1958)
Fifth Republic (1958–present)
Royal houses of Europe

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