When Louis V., king of the Franks, died in 987, the Franks, setting aside the Carolingians, passed over his brother Charles, and elected Hugh Capet, son of Hugh the Great, as their king, and crowned him at Reims. Avoiding the pretensions which had been made by the Carolingian kings, the Capetian kings were content, for a time, with a more modest position, and the story of the growth of their power belongs to the history of France.
The Capetian-Valois dynasty lasted until 1498, when Louis, duke of Orleans, became king as Louis XII., on the death of King Charles VIII.
In 1589 (see Angouleme), when the last great Capetian family, the Bourbons (q.v.) mounted the throne.
For two years the duchy was in the hands of the crown, but in 1363, the second ducal house, also Capetian, was founded by Philip the Bold, son of John II., king of France.
He had not those rights of sovereign which the Norman kings of England inherited from their AngloSaxon predecessors, or the Capetian kings of France from the Carolings; nor was he able therefore to come into direct touch with each of his subjects, which William I., in virtue of his sovereign rights, was able to attain by the Salisbury oath of 1086.
Robert has been compared to the Maccabees, and the fact that he was the ancestor of the Capetian kings of France has invested him with historical importance.
It is from this time that we find the popes in moments of crisis transporting themselves to Capetian territory, installing their governments and convening their councils there, and from that place of refuge fulminating with impunity against the internal and external foe.
Alexander's diplomatic skill and moral authority, reinforced by the Capetian alliance and the revulsion of feeling caused by the murder of Becket, enabled him to force the despotic Henry to yield, and even to do penance at the tomb of the martyr.
There is not a word, in the documents concerning the relations of Philip Augustus with Rome, from which we may conclude that the Capetian crown submitted, or that the papacy wished to impose upon it the effective suzerainty of the Holy See.
And legitimated and extended by the policy and moral influence of the crowned saint, Louis IX., the French monarchy enjoyed undisputed supremacy at the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th; and this hegemony of France was manifested, not only by the extension of the direct power exercised by the French kings over all the neighbouring nationalities, but also by the establishment of Capetian dynasties in the kingdom of the Two Sicilies and in Hungary.
He opposed the aggrandizing projects of the Angevins, intervened in Germany with a view to terminating the Great Interregnum, and sought a necessary counterpoise to Capetian predominance in an alliance with Rudolph of Habsburg, who had become an emperor without imperilling the papacy.
By rejecting the Capetian sovereign that Rome wished to thrust upon it to deliver it from the dynasty of Aragon, the little island of Sicily arrested the progress of French imperialism, ruined the vast projects of Charles of Anjou, and liberated the papacy in its own despite from a subjection that perverted and shook its power.
The great Capetian house, which, like all his prede- 1294-13030 cessors, he at first countenanced.
First Avignon pope, Clement V., marks the final subjection of the papal power to the Capetian government, the inevitable result of the European situation created in the preceding century.
After Martin's death the last popes of the 13th century, and notably Boniface VIII., in vain thought to find in another Capetian, Charles of Valois, the man who was to re-establish the Latin dominion at Byzantium.
In 1904 appeared the third volume, La Renaissance de Petal, in which the author describes the efforts of the Capetian kings to reconstruct the power of the Frankish kings over the whole of Gaul; and goes on to show how the clergy, the heirs of the imperial tradition, encouraged this ambition; how the great lords of the kingdom (the "princes," as Flach calls them), whether as allies or foes, pursued the same end; and how, before the close of the 12th century, the Capetian kings were in possession of the organs and the means of action which were to render them so powerful and bring about the early downfall of feudalism.
Philip's predecessors had consolidated the Capetian power within these narrow limits, but he himself was overshadowed by the power of his uncles, William, archbishop of Reims; Henry I., count of Champagne; and Theobald V., count of Blois and Chartres.
Philip had reduced to a mere remnant the formidable continental empire of the Angevins, which had threatened the existence of the Capetian monarchy.
Nothing shows the progress of the Capetian monarchy more than the enthusiasm and joy of the people of France, as described by William the Breton, over this crowning victory.
The later German empire of Otto and the Frederics; the French Capetian monarchy and, in a somewhat different sphere, the medieval Italian and German cities show the same movement.
These were few in number during the early days of the Capetian dynasty; for though the king always maintained the principle that he was judge, and even that his competence in this respect was general and unlimited, this competence was at the same time undefined and it was not compulsory to submit cases to the king.