Capetian dynasty

The Capetian dynasty (/kəˈpʃən/), 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.

Capetian dynasty

Capetian Armorial
Parent houseRobertians
CountryFrance
Founded987
FounderHugh Capet
Current headLouis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou
Titles
List
Cadet branchesSee below

The dynasty had a crucial role in the formation of the French state. Initially obeyed only in their own demesne, the Île-de-France, the Capetian kings slowly but steadily increased their power and influence until it grew to cover the entirety of their realm. For a detailed narration on the growth of French royal power, see Crown lands of France.

Members of the dynasty were traditionally Catholic, and the early Capetians had an alliance with the Church. The French were also the most active participants in the Crusades, culminating in a series of five Crusader kings – Louis VII, Philip Augustus, Louis VIII, Louis IX, and Philip III. The Capetian alliance with the papacy suffered a severe blow after the disaster of the Aragonese Crusade. Philip III's son and successor, Philip IV, humiliated Pope Boniface VIII and brought the papacy under French control. The later Valois, starting with Francis I, ignored religious differences and allied with the Ottoman sultan to counter the growing power of the Holy Roman Empire. Henry IV was a Protestant at the time of his accession, but realized the necessity of conversion after four years of religious warfare.

The Capetians generally enjoyed a harmonious family relationship. By tradition, younger sons and brothers of the King of France are given appanages for them to maintain their rank and to dissuade them from claiming the French crown itself. When Capetian cadets did aspire for kingship, their ambitions were directed not at the French throne, but at foreign thrones. As a result, the Capetians have reigned at different times in the kingdoms of Spain, Poland, Aragon, Portugal, Navarre, and as emperors of the Latin Empire.

In modern times, King Felipe VI of Spain is a member of this family, while Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg is of relation to the family by agnatic kinship; both through the Bourbon branch of the dynasty. Along with the House of Habsburg, arguably its greatest historic rival, it was one of the two oldest European royal dynasties. It was also one of the most powerful royal families in European history, having played a pre-eminent role in its politics for much of its existence.