Birth of Capetian dynasty

History of France between 987 AD - 1179

The Capetian dynasty, also known as the House of France was founded by Hugh Capet. It is among the largest and oldest royal houses in Europe and the world and ruled the Kingdom of France from 987 to 1328. The dynasty had a crucial role in the formation of the French state. Hugh Capet’s rule was limited to his own domain around Paris, while the rest of the French kingdom was in the hands of powerful local lords. His direct successors gradually increased the territory over which they had control through conquest and inheritance and also by skillfully exploiting their rights as suzerains in areas not under their direct authority. Under the Capetians, many of the basic administrative institutions of the French monarchy, including Parlements (royal law courts), the States General (representative assembly), and the baillis (royal local officials), began to develop.

Capetian France
Kingdom of France in 987 AD

The history of medieval France starts with the election of Hugh Capet (940–996) by an assembly summoned in Reims in 987. He was recorded to be recognised king by the Gauls, Bretons, Danes, Aquitanians, Goths, Spanish and Gascons. The new dynasty was in immediate control of little beyond the middle Seine and adjacent territories, while powerful territorial lords such as the 10th- and 11th-century counts of Blois accumulated large domains of their own through marriage and through private arrangements with lesser nobles for protection and support.

Under King Philip I, the kingdom enjoyed a modest recovery during his extraordinarily long reign (1060–1108). His reign also saw the launch of the First Crusade to regain the Holy Land, which heavily involved his family although he personally did not support the expedition. An important part of the French aristocracy also involved itself in the crusades, and French knights founded and ruled the Crusader states. An example of the legacy left in the Middle East by these nobles is the Krak des Chevaliers' enlargement by the Counts of Tripoli and Toulouse.

By far the greatest threat to the royal dynasty came from the neighbouring counts of Anjou, who by judicious marriages become the Plantagenet rulers of England, Normandy and much of western France. The Norman conquest of England introduced a new situation in northwest Europe. Lands on both sides of the English Channel were from this time under the control of a single dynasty. The kings of England were also the dukes of Normandy. A Norman-French royal family crowned in Westminster seek to extend its territories on the French side of the water. At the same time a Frankish-French royal family strived to assert its authority over the whole geographical region of France. The result is a prolonged struggle, eventually spanning some four centuries, in which the identities of medieval Europe's two strongest kingdoms are gradually shaped.

The princes of the two houses married within the same limited circle, so western Europe became an interconnected web of French-speaking cousins - often with good claims to each other's territories. Louis VII and Henry II set a powerful example, as kings of France and England who married the same heiress from Aquitaine. But the point can be made almost equally well among their successors.

References: Wikipedia, History World

Popular sites founded between 987 AD and 1179 in France

Château de Portes

The Château de Portes overlooks the Regordane, an ancient avenue used by the pilgrims of Saint-Giles and the Croisés on their way towards the Holy Land for a distance of ten miles. The Anduze, Randon and Polignac families paid homage to the abbot of Saint-Pierre-de-Sauve for this castle between the 11th and the 14th centuries.  Raymond Guillaume de Budos, the nephew of Pope Clement V, bought the seigniory in 1322, and ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Portes, France

Pont d'Avignon

The Pont Saint-Bénézet, also known as the Pont d"Avignon, is a famous medieval bridge in the town of Avignon. It was built between 1177 and 1185. This early bridge was destroyed forty years later during the Albigensian Crusade when Louis VIII of France laid siege to Avignon. The bridge was rebuilt with 22 stone arches. It was very costly to maintain as the arches tended to collapse when the Rhône ...
Founded: 1177-1185 | Location: Avignon, France

Vienne Cathedral

Vienne Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Maurice, was the epicopal see of the primate of the ancient Septem Provinciae and of the Archdiocese of Vienne until its abolition confirmed by the Concordat of 1801. It today serves as co-cathedral of the Diocese of Grenoble-Vienne. The present-day building was erected from 1130 onwards. Mentioned as the burial place of the Burgundian king Boso of Provence in 887, no t ...
Founded: 1130 | Location: Vienne, France

Notre Dame de Paris

Construction history The Notre Dame de Paris stands on the site of Paris' first Christian church, Saint Etienne basilica, which was itself built on the site of a Roman temple to Jupiter. The first church was built by Childebert I, the king of the Franks, in 528, and was already the cathedral of the city of Paris in the 10th century. However, in 1160, having become the 'parish church of the kings of Europe,' Bishop Mauric ...
Founded: 1163 | Location: Paris, France

Nice Castle Hill

The Castle of Nice was a citadel used for military purposes. Built at the top of a hill, it stood overlooking the bay of Nice from the 11th century to the 18th century. It was besieged several times, especially in 1543 and in 1691, before it was taken by French troops in 1705 and finally destroyed in 1706 by command of Louis XIV. Nowadays, Castle Hill is used as a park. It"s the most famous public garden in ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Nice, France

Château de Luc

The Château de Luc was built in the 12th century on a previous Celtic site. The castle, as a strategic point between the two provinces of Gévaudan and Vivarais, guarded a link to the south of France of the Auvergne frequently used by pilgrims of Saint Gilles, also known as the Regordane Way, on which it was a toll-gate. For the first 100 years or so of its existence it was the home of the Luc family. In the 1 ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Luc, France

Château de Comper

The Château de Comper is medieval castle, which has been rebuilt as a château. The first owner of Comper is supposed have been Salomon, king of Brittany in the 9th century. However the castle has entered in recorded history with the baron Raoul de Gaël-Monfort, who was a companion of William of Normandy during the Battle of Hastings. During the 13th century, Comper was considered one of the strongest cas ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Concoret, France

Cháteau Comtal

The Château Comtal (Count’s Castle) is a medieval castle within the Cité of Carcassonne, the largest city in Europe with its city walls still intact. The Château Comtal has a strong claim to be called a 'Cathar Castle'. When the Catholic Crusader army arrived in 1209 they first attacked Raymond-Roger Trencavel"s castrum at Bèziers and then moved on to his main stronghold at C ...
Founded: c. 1130 | Location: Carcassonne, France

Saint-Malo Cathedral

Saint-Malo Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Vincent-de-Saragosse de Saint-Malo) is a Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa. It was formerly the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Malo. The cathedral was built in 1146 when Jean de Châtillon, Bishop of Aleth, transferred his bishopric to the growing town of Saint-Malo on a more secure site across the river. The Benedictine monastery of Saint Malo ...
Founded: 1146 | Location: Saint-Malo, France

St-André-le-Bas Church

The abbey of Saint-Andre-le-Bas was founded in the 8th century by Duke Ansemund. The church was originally a chapel of the palace of kings of Burgundy built in the end of the 9th century. The abbey flourished in the High Middle Ages.  The troubles of the Hundred Years" War and the competition of the new religious orders reduced the power of the convent and it was unable to recover from the Wars of religion. ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Vienne, France

Sainte-Mère-Église Church

Sainte-Mère-Église Church was built in the 12th century. It is most well-known for the events occured during the D-Day, 6th June 1944; The early landings, at about 01:40 directly on the town, resulted in heavy casualties for the Allied paratroopers. Some buildings in town were on fire that night, and they illuminated the sky, making easy targets of the descending men. Some were sucked into the fire. Many han ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Sainte-Mère-Église, France

Château d'Agel

Château d"Agel was first mentioned in 1100. In the early 12th century the area was rocked by the scandal of the Cathar Wars or Albigensian Crusade. A local form of Christianity was becoming ever more popular and according to some had already become the majority religion of the area. The Catholic Church regarded it as both a heresy and a threat. The 'heresy' was strongest in the county of Toulouse and ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Agel, France

Château de Fougères

The Château de Fougères is an impressive castle with curtain wall and 13 towers. It had three different enclosures, first for defensive purposes, second for day to day usages in peacetime and for safety of the surrounding populations in times of siege, the last enclosure was where the keep was situated. The first wooden fort was built by the House of Amboise in the 11th century. It was destroyed in 1166 after it was be ...
Founded: c. 1167 | Location: Fougères, France

Château de Vire Ruins

Château de Vire was built in the 11th and 12th centuries. Today only a keep, donjon, remains.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Vire, France

Château de Canet-en-Roussillon

Château de Canet-en-Roussillon was the castle of viscounts mentioned first time in the mid-11th century. Some parts of the original castle still remains, like the St. Martin"s chapel. The castle has been remodelled several times and it was finally abandoned after the French Revolution (it was then used as a stone quarry).
Founded: 11th century | Location: Canet-en-Roussillon, France

Château de Vitré

The first castle in Vitré was built of wood on a feudal motte around the year 1000 on the Sainte-Croix hill. The castle was burned down on several occasions, and eventually was bequeathed to the Benedictine monks of Marmoutier Abbey. The first stone castle was built by the baron Robert I of Vitré at the end of the 11th century. The defensive site chosen, a rocky promontory, dominated the valley of the Vilai ...
Founded: c. 1090 | Location: Vitré, France

Château de Beaumont-sur-Oise

The Château de Beaumont-sur-Oise is an ancient castle, one of the most important in the valley of the Oise. It has a rectangular Romanesque keep with buttresses 25m high and 5m wide. It was probably built by the count Mathieu (1090-1151) to replace a preceding timber structure of the castrum type which had existed from the 3rd century on this rocky outcrop. It was destroyed and rebuilt several times between the 10th ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Beaumont-sur-Oise, France

Tours Cathedral

Saint Gatien's Cathedral was built between 1170 and 1547. The first cathedral of Saint-Maurice was built by Litorius (Lidoire), bishop of Tours from 337 to 371 (preceding St Martin). Burnt in 561, it was restored by Gregory of Tours and rededicated in 590. Its location, at the south-west angle of the castrum, as well as its eastern orientation, resulted in the original access being through the late-Roman surrounding wall ...
Founded: 1170-1547 | Location: Tours, France

Église Notre-Dame

Église Notre-Dame ('The Church of Our Lady') dates from the 12th century, and chiefly from the 14th century. It is a sample of Tudor architecture due Calais was part of England for centuries. The church was damaged during the early wars between France and England, especially in 1346-47, after the Battle of Crécy. Many of the kings and queens of France and England prayed here; and John Bourchier, 2n ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Calais, France

Strasbourg Cathedral

Strasbourg Cathedral de Notre-Dame is known as one of the most beautiful gothic cathedrals in Europe. The Cathedral stands on the exact site of a roman temple built on a little hill above the muddy ground. The first version of the church was starting to be built during 1015 by proposal of Bishop Werner von Habsburg, but fire destroyed most of the original Romanesque building. By the time that cathedral was being renovated ...
Founded: 1015-1469 | Location: Strasbourg, France

La Roche-en-Ardenne Castle

La Roche-en-Ardenne Castle ruins lie on a rocky outcrop dominating the green valley which is nestled in a loop formed by the river Ourthe and the steep sides of the Deistermountain. The ruins, dating back to the 11th century, look gloomy but impressive, emphasized by the roughly piled slate walls. From the 12th century on the castle took a strategic place in the development and defence of trade and it got to be a haltin ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: La Roche-en-Ardenne, France

Château de Caen

The Norman Château de Caen was built in c. 1060 by William the Conqueror, who successfully conquered England in 1066. His son Henry I then built the Saint Georges church, a keep (1123) and a large hall for the Duke Court. At Christmas 1182, a royal court celebration for Christmas in the aula of Caen Castle brought together Henry II and his sons, Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland, receiving more than a thousand ...
Founded: c. 1060 | Location: Caen, France

Château de Fécamp

Château de Fécamp originates from the 10th century and the stone castle was built in the 11th century. It was the residence of the first dukes of Normandy. perhaps as early as William Longsword and probably with his successors Richard I and Richard II, who are buried to the near Fécamp Abbey. The castle was damaged in the 19th century during the construction work of raiway.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Fécamp, France

Château de Falaise

Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years" War. The castle was ...
Founded: 1123 | Location: Falaise, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Bouillon Castle

Bouillon Castle was mentioned first in 988, but there has been a castle on the same site for a much longer time. The castle is situated on a rocky spur of land within a sharp bend of the Semois River.

In 1082, Bouillon Castle was inherited by Godfrey of Bouillon, who sold it to Otbert, Bishop of Liège in order to finance the First Crusade. The castle was later fitted for heavy artillery by Vauban, Louis XIV's military architect in the late 17th century.

The castle is entered over three drawbridges. The main courtyard then leads to the ducal palace with its 13th century Salle Godefroy de Bouillon. From there visitors climb up to the top of the 16th century Tour d’Autriche for a breathtaking panorama of the town and river, before they way back via the torture chamber, citerns and dungeons, and past the 65m deep well Shaft.