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

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

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

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 Carcassonne. The castle with rectangular ...
Founded: c. 1130 | Location: Carcassonne, France

Chartres Cathedral

Partly built starting in 1145, and then reconstructed over a 26-year period after the fire of 1194, Chartres Cathedral marks the high point of French Gothic art. The vast nave, in pure ogival style, the porches adorned with fine sculptures from the middle of the 12th century, and the magnificent 12th and 13th century stained-glass windows, all in remarkable condition, combine to make it a masterpiece. The construction pr ...
Founded: 1145-1260 | Location: Chartres, France

St. Trophime Church

The Church of St. Trophime (Trophimus) is former cathedral built between the 12th century and the 15th century in the city centre of Arles. According to legend, Trophimus of Arles becomes the first bishop of Arles around 250 AD. The church was built upon the site of the 5th century basilica of Arles, named for St. Stephen. The apse and the transept were probably built first, in the late 11th century, and the nave and bel ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Arles, France

Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois

The Church of Saint-Germain-l"Auxerrois was originally founded in the 7th century, but it has been rebuilt many times over several centuries. It now has construction in Roman, Gothic and Renaissance styles. The most striking exterior feature is the porch, with a rose window and a balustrade above which encircles the whole church, a work of Jean Gaussel (1435–39). Among the treasures preserved inside are a 15th- ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Paris, France

Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés

The Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés was the burial place of Merovingian kings of Neustria. The Abbey was founded in the 6th century by Childebert I, the son of Clovis I (ruled 511–558). Under royal patronage the Abbey became one of the richest in France; it housed an important scriptorium in the 11th century and remained a center of intellectual life in the French Catholic church until it was disb ...
Founded: 1014 | Location: Paris, France

Bordeaux Cathedral

Bordeaux Cathedral, officially known as the Primatial Cathedral of St Andrew of Bordeaux, is is the seat of the Archbishop of Bordeaux. A church of Saint-André was first mentioned in Bordeaux in 814. It appears more officially in 1096 when it was formally consecrated by Pope Pope Urban II. In the 11th and 12th centuries, The Romanesque church was engaged in long competition with its neighbouring church, Saint Sevrinus o ...
Founded: 1096 | Location: Bordeaux, France

Monolithic Church of Saint-Emilion

The Monolithic Church of Saint-Emilion is an underground church dugged in the early 12th century of gigantic proportions (38 metres long and 12 metres high). At the heart of the city, the church reminds the religious activity of the city in the Middle Ages and intrigues by its unusual design. If it shows itself in the eyes of the visitor by the position of a 68-meter-high bell tower, then it hides itself behind the elegan ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Saint-Émilion, France

Saint-Martin-des-Champs Priory

The Priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs was an influential monastery established in what is now the city of Paris. Its surviving buildings are considered treasures of Medieval architecture in the city. The oldest known structure on the site was a chapel dedicated to St. Martin of Tours, founded during the Merovingian dynasty, which appears in a text of 710. At a date which remains unknown, a community of monks b ...
Founded: 1135 | Location: Paris, France

Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus

The Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus is a romanesque-gothic minor basilica, located in the citadel of Carcassonne. The original church is thought to have been constructed in the 6th century during the reign of Theodoric the Great, ruler of the Visigoths. On 12 June 1096, Pope Urban II visited the town and blessed the building materials for the construction of the cathedral. Construction was completed in the first h ...
Founded: 1096 | Location: Carcassonne, France

Fontevraud Abbey

Fontevraud Abbey is a religious building hosting a cultural centre since 1975, the Centre Culturel de l'Ouest. It was founded by the itinerant reforming preacher Robert of Arbrissel, who had just created a new order, the Order of Fontevrault. The first permanent structures were built between 1110 and 1119. Philippa of Toulouse persuaded her husband William IX, Duke of Aquitaine to grant Robert of Abrissel land in Norther ...
Founded: 1110 | Location: Fontevraud-l'Abbaye, France

Bayeux Cathedral

Bayeux Cathedral is a Norman-Romanesque style cathedral built originally in the 11th century. It was the original home of the Bayeux Tapestry and is a national monument of France. The site is an ancient one and was once occupied by Roman sanctuaries. The present cathedral was consecrated on 14 July 1077 in the presence of William, Duke of Normandy and King of England. It was here that William forced Harold Godwinson to ta ...
Founded: 1077 | Location: Bayeux, France

Basilica of St. Sernin

The Basilica of St. Sernin is a former abbey church in Toulouse. Apart from the church, none of the abbey buildings remain. The current church is located on the site of a previous basilica of the 4th century which contained the body of Saint Saturnin or Sernin, the first bishop of Toulouse in c. 250. Constructed in the Romanesque style between about 1080 and 1120, with construction continuing thereafter, Saint-Sernin is t ...
Founded: 1080-1120 | Location: Toulouse, 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

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

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 flooded. Eventually in ...
Founded: 1177-1185 | Location: Avignon, France

Basilica of St. Denis

The Basilica of Saint Denis is a large medieval abbey church in a northern suburb of Paris. The building is of unique importance historically and architecturally, as its choir completed in 1144 is considered to be the first Gothic church. 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 ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Seine-Saint-Denis, France

Laon Cathedral

Laon Cathedral is one of the most important and stylistically unified examples of early Gothic architecture. The Diocese of Laon was established by archbishop Remigius of Reims at the end of the fifth century. A later church building, dating from the tenth or eleventh centuries, was torched during the Easter Insurrection on 25 April 1112. The merchants and bourgeoisie of Laon had procured a communal charter, which was so ...
Founded: c. 1160 | Location: Laon, France

Musée Picasso

The Musée Picasso, formerly the Château Grimaldi at Antibes, is built upon the foundations of the ancient Greek town of Antipolis. The castle was a residence of the bishops in the Middle Ages (from 442 to 1385). The castle was moved in 1385 to the Monegasque family. In 1608 it became a stronghold of the Grimaldi family and has borne their name ever since. In 1702 it became the town hall of Antibes. From 19 ...
Founded: 11th century / 1966 (museum) | Location: Antibes, 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

Musée de la Castre

An attack by the Saracens in 891, who remained until the end of the 10th century, devastated the country around current Cannes. The insecurity of the Lérins islands forced the local monks to settle on the mainland, at the Suquet (today the old town). Construction of a castle in 1035 fortified the city by then known as Cannes. The castle was damaged in end of the 16th century and partially demolished in the 18th centu ...
Founded: 1035 | Location: Cannes, France

Saint Salvi Church

Dedicated to Saint Salvi, first Bishop of Albi from 574 to 584, the “Collégiale” of Saint Salvi associates elements of Romanesque (10th century) and Gothic (13th century) architecture, marked by the use of stone in the Romanesque elements and brick in the Gothic. The “Collégiale” is a collegiate church, a church where the daily office of worship is maintained by a college of canons; a non-monastic, or 'sec ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Albi, France

St. Sauveur Basilica

The construction of St. Sauveur Basilica was commissioned around 1120 by Sir Rivallon le Roux, Lord of Dinan, on his return from the first Crusade. The church was extensively rebuilt and extended during the 15th and 16th centuries and is a successful blend of architectural styles. The lower part of facade is part of the original 12th century building. The bell tower was built during the 18th century to replace the 17th ce ...
Founded: c. 1120 | Location: Dinan, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Varberg Fortress

Varberg Fortress was built in 1287-1300 by count Jacob Nielsen as protection against his Danish king, who had declared him an outlaw after the murder of King Eric V of Denmark. Jacob had close connections with king Eric II of Norway and as a result got substantial Norwegian assistance with the construction. The fortress, as well as half the county, became Norwegian in 1305.

King Eric's grand daughter, Ingeborg Håkansdotter, inherited the area from her father, King Haakon V of Norway. She and her husband, Eric, Duke of Södermanland, established a semi-independent state out of their Norwegian, Swedish and Danish counties until the death of Erik. They spent considerable time at the fortress. Their son, King Magnus IV of Sweden (Magnus VII of Norway), spent much time at the fortress as well.

The fortress was augmented during the late 16th and early 17th century on order by King Christian IV of Denmark. However, after the Treaty of Brömsebro in 1645 the fortress became Swedish. It was used as a military installation until 1830 and as a prison from the end of the 17th Century until 1931.

It is currently used as a museum and bed and breakfast as well as private accommodation. The moat of the fortress is said to be inhabited by a small lake monster. In August 2006, a couple of witnesses claimed to have seen the monster emerge from the dark water and devour a duck. The creature is described as brown, hairless and with a 40 cm long tail.