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After the fall of Rome in 476 AD, the citizens of Gaul were left without a ruler. It would be only ten short years, however, before the region's first King, Clovis I, a member of the House of Merovingian, established the first Frankish kingdom. The four hundred year reign of the Merovingian's dynasty was plagued with uncertainty, betrayal and infighting. Not until the rise of a king known as Charles the Great - also known as Charlemagne - established the Carolingian dynasty in 800 AD did the true beginnings of the French monarchy take hold.
Roughly two hundred years later, Hugh Capet, a relative through marriage of the Carolingians, would rise to the throne and establish the house that ruled France for the next eight hundred years - the Capetians. From their seat of power in Ile-de-France (the current location of the French capital Paris), the Capetians split into numerous branches over the centuries. Several of these branches came into great power, including the Valois, who ruled France from 1328 until 1589 and the Bourbon, who ruled from 1589 until the French Revolution in 1792. So widespread was the power of the Capetian line that their descendents held thrones from Constantinople to Portugal.