Before being ruled by Presidents and Prime Ministers, France was once a country of the monarchy. For over 1,300 years, French people were ruled by monarchs who have centralized power over the government, and over time, they have experienced the growing and shrinking of their territories. Not all rulers were good. France had Kings with different personalities and varying kinds of handling of the people and the society. There were good Kings, but there were also bad. Some love war, and there were peace-loving Kings. Some Kings were also bursars, and some were spenders. France experienced everything. Many famous dignitaries have visited and been stationed in France including the likes of President John Quincy Adams.
It is not easy to list the names of notable French Kings who made exemplary deeds in France. But, here is the shortlist of the quality Kings of France people must remember.
- Clovis I– He reigned from 509 to 511. Before the rule of Clovis I, France was ruled by groups of chieftains. So during his ruling, Clovis I unify the Frankish tribes under one group. Clovis I consolidated power and ensured that the French monarchy becomes hereditary. Clovis was a pagan originally. However, he converted to Christianity in 498 as requested by his wife, Clotilde. Some of his people followed the King’s steps. It is when the allegiance of France to the Catholic Church and the Future Popes of Rome began.
- Charlemagne– Also known as “Charles the Great,” Charlemagne reigned from 742 to 814. He was known to be a warrior king, and he was also named “The Father of Modern Europe.” During Charlemagne’s rule, he united all the Germanic people and Western Europe in one kingdom and under the religion of Christianity. Charlemagne was also the first King of France to attain the Holy Roman Emperor title ever since the falling of the Western Roman Empire.
- Hugh Capet– He is a French King from the House of Capet who ruled from 987 to 996. Hugh Capet was also known to be a seventh-generation descendant of “Charles the Great.” Before his ruling, Hugh Capet’s father gave him a vast amount of land in Île-de-France that helped secure his election to the King’s throne. During his time, he made Paris the center of power in France, which is why historians consider Hugh Capet as The Father of Modern France.
- Louis IX– Reigned from 1226 to 1270, Louis IX (Saint Louis) is the only monarch from France canonized by the Catholic Church. King Louis IX participated in two crusades that happened in the holy land. He also paid a large amount of money for sacred relics from the King of Constantinople. After that, he built Sainte-Chapelle, a medieval gothic architecture, as a home for the holy relics. King Louis IX was a reformer and was behind the French royal justice. Aside from that, he banned trials by ordeal and limit private combat. Because of his Catholic devotion, Louis IX penalized blasphemy, prostitution, interest-bearing loans, and gambling.
- Louis XI– King Louis XI, who reigned from 1461 to 1483, was a brilliant tactician. King Louis was also one of the inventors of diplomacy. One of his notable accomplishments was ending the Hundred Years War. Louis XI was also known to be one of the frontiersmen of the Italian Rennaisance, promoted the use of printing among the French people, and established essential public services like the post office. He was also behind the modernization of the French army, inspired by the Swiss military model.
- Francis I– King Francis I was a patron of the arts that led the French Rennaisance. He was also named “The Rennaisance King.” He befriended artists from Italy and invited them to work on Château de Chambord. Among those artists was Leonardo da Vinci who gave him the Mona Lisa. King Francis brought about different cultural changes in France. He was the man behind the rise of absolute monarchy, humanism, and Protestantism in France. King Francis developed and standardized the French language. He then made French the official language of the kingdom, replacing Latin.
- Henry IV– King Henry was also known as “The Good King.” He was raised a Protestant but converted to Catholicism after he married Margot, a Princess of France. He guaranteed religious freedom with the Edict of Nantes. He was tolerant and cared deeply for the welfare of his people. His reign ended when he was assassinated on May 14, 1610.
- Louis XIV– He was also known as Louis the Great or the Sun King. Louis XIV reigned for 72 years (1643-1715), making him the longest-reigning French monarch. He created the Palace of Versailles, which allocated the seat of power from Paris into the countryside. Like other Kings who ruled France, Louis XIV was also a lover of war. He destroyed the Edict of Nantes, which made him arguably the most powerful ruler of France.