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European Kingdoms

The Franks

 

 

 

MapMerovingian Duchy & Kingdom of Aquitaine
AD 555 - 781

When the great empire-builder of the Franks, Clovis, conquered the Roman domain of Soissons in 486, he opened the way for expansion deep into Gaul. By around 500 Clovis had reached the Loire and inflicted a defeat on the Burgundians. In 507 he defeated the Visigoths. Their kingdom of Toulouse had governed southern France since being established in 418, shortly after the defeat of the Vandali host that had devastated Aquitaine in 406-409. Clovis' victory pushed the Visigoths into Spain, but although the Franks secured Bordeaux and Auvergne, Aquitaine's situation was much less clear. The Visigoths may have retained portions of it, and probably battled against Frankish vassals to see who could secure the region. In the end it was the Franks who won, and Aquitaine was first confirmed as a possession in 555, when a duke was appointed to govern it.

The capital of the new duchy was Toulouse, the former Visigoth capital. Despite Visigoth and Frankish rule, the region was probably still heavily Romanised after more than four centuries of inclusion for the Aquitani tribes within the empire as the province of Aquitania. Aquitaine's kings are shown in red.

555 - 560

Chramn / Chram

Son of Chlothar I of the Franks. First duke of Aquitaine.

560

Chramn has several times risen in rebellion against his father, but during his final rebellion he has to flee to Brittany and the court of Canao of Bro Erech. Chlothar pursues him, defeats the combined forces of Chramn and Canao, and Chramn is strangled and placed in a cottage which is then burned down.

561 - 583

When Chlothar I of the Franks dies in 561 his domains are partitioned between his sons. One of them, Charibert I, gains Neustria, which also includes Aquitaine, Bordeaux and Toulouse. Charibert dies in 567 without a surviving male heir, so Neustria is reunited with Soissons under Chilperic I. It is he who assigns his greatest general, Desiderius, to co-rule Aquitaine with another general, Bladast.

Roman bridge at Toulouse
Toulouse was a Roman city until AD 418, but even a century and-a-half of barbarian rule would not have erased the very strong Roman appearance of the city

583 - 587

Desiderius

General under Chilperic I of the Franks.

583 - 587

Bladast

Co-ruler.

584 - 585

Following the death of Chilperic I, Desiderius makes peace with the king's brother in Burgundy, Guntramn. However, either in the same year or in 585, the rule of Desiderius and Bladast is challenged by Gundoald. This usurper is backed by the Eastern Roman emperor, Maurice, and he manages to capture Poitiers and Toulouse, which are at least partially the domains of Guntramn. A Burgundian army marches against Gundoald and he flees to Comminges (now Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges) and is besieged. The followers of Gundoald hand him over for execution.

584/585

Gundoald / Gundowald / Gombaud

Illegitimate son of Chlothar I? Pretender. Executed.

587 - 589

Astrobald / Austrovald

Probably count of Toulouse until 587, then duke of Aquitaine.

587

Astrobald is appointed as the successor to Desiderius in Aquitaine and Bordeaux by Guntramn of Burgundy, and is immediately sent into the Basque country to pacify its people. The mission is hardly a success as the duke loses many of his men and the Basques are still to be found as far as the Garonne by 602.

589 - 592

Sereus / Severus

Identity and existence is uncertain.

602

A separate duchy is created in Gascony, probably out of Aquitaine's territory.

629

Dagobert I swiftly secures Neustria from his base in Austrasia on his father's death, preventing his half-brother Charibert II from gaining it. Instead, Charibert is given Aquitaine, which includes Agen, Cahors, Perigueux, and Saintes. In addition to this he already holds possessions in Gascony. Charibert is the first known ruler in Aquitaine since 592, and the region's first king, shown in red.

629 - 632

Charibert / Caribert II

Son of Chlothar II, king of the Franks. Assassinated?

632

Charibert's forces subdue the Basque people to the north of the Pyrenees before the end of his reign, placing the region under the control of Aquitaine. The king's early death, possibly an assassination, prevents further expansion. The death of his infant son soon afterwards makes assassination by one of his brothers look even more likely.

632

Chilperic

Infant son. Never crowned. Assassinated.

632

With the death of the only heir, the kingdom passes to Dagobert I of Austrasia, the person most likely to be behind the assassinations. His hold on Aquitaine is short-lived, as the people rebel and elect Boggis as their duke. The Gascons rebel in the same year. The Gascons are defeated, but Boggis remains in Aquitaine, ruling semi-autonomously.

632 - c.660

Boggis / Bodogisel

Possible son of Charibert II? First duke of Aquitaine since 592?

632

Arimbert

Gascon rebel leader.

660

The situation in the south of Francia is uncertain at this time. Felix becomes duke in 660, but it is not certain that he succeeds the previous duke or whether there is a break. Felix may be in the service of the Franks, but he may also be independent. The Basques may be his subjects, but they may equally be his allies. His territory encompasses Bordeaux, Narbonensis (including Toulouse), Novempopulania, and Vasconia, but does not reach as far north as the Loire.

660 - 670

Felix of Aquitaine

Patrician of Toulouse and then duke of Aquitaine.

670 - 676/688

Lupus / Lupo / Otsoa I of Aquitaine

Length of reign uncertain.

688

The date at which the reign of Lupus ends and that of Odo begins is highly unclear. The possible candidates include 688, 692, or 700. Records for this period in Aquitaine are poor, and even Odo's parentage is uncertain. Lupus is considered to be the probable ancestor of the Gascon dynasty of Lupus II and of the Eudonian dynasty of Aquitaine.

688 - 735

Odo / Eudes the Great

Abdicated.

715 - 718

While a state of civil war exists in Francia, Odo declares himself to be independent in 715, which suggests that he has been a Frankish vassal up to this point. He takes part in that civil war by allying himself to Daniel Chilperich against Charles Martel, the mayor of the palace. When Chilperich loses, Odo makes peace with Charles by handing over Chilperich and his Neustrian power base.

River Garonne in France
The Garonne in south-western France had once provided a defining line between the lands of the Gauls to the north and those of the Aquitani to the south, but now it was an important trading route in eighth century France

721

A greater threat appears after Visigoth Spain is overrun by the Umayyad Islamic empire. In this year Odo inflicts a major defeat on the invaders at the Battle of Toulouse.

732

With Odo forced to fight alongside him, the Carolingian mayor of the Merovingian palace, Charles Martel, defeats an army of 90,000 Saracens at Tours, ending the northwards expansion of the Islamic empire from Spain.

735 - 748

Hunald / Chunoald I

Son. Abdicated and entered a monastery.

c.735

Hunald refuses to acknowledge the authority of Charles Martel, so the latter marches against him. Bordeaux is taken, as is Blaye, but Hunald is allowed to remain in Aquitaine after swearing to remain loyal.

748 - 767

Waifer / Waiffre

Son? Struggled to defend Aquitaine's independence. Murdered.

767 - 769

Hunald (II)

Possibly the same Hunald as in 735?

768 - 769

After leading an abortive uprising against increasingly powerful Carolingian rule in Francia, Hunald II flees to Gascony and seeks protection from Lupus II. Although Lupus is opposed to the young Frankish kings, Charlemagne and Carloman, he is also opposed to Hunald's family, so Lupus hands him over.

768 - 781?

Lupus II

Duke of Gascony.

778 - 781

It is unclear whether Lupus II is able to extend his authority from Gascony to also govern Aquitaine, but he certainly opposes the direct Carolingian rule by Charlemagne that commences in 778. Possibly against the wishes of Lupus, the duchy is governed by minor members of the Carolingian dynasty as a sub-kingdom.

Carolingian Kingdom of Aquitaine
AD 778 - 887

Following the role played by Lupus II in Aquitaine, French Emperor Charlemagne appointed no more dukes. Instead, he assumed direct rule of the region himself as part of the slow and steady creation of his Carolingian empire, although the date at which this occurred is unclear. Charlemagne is included in the list of rulers as Charles I of Aquitaine, but in 781 he appointed his son, Louis, as a sub-king of Aquitaine to rule in his name. Louis was succeeded as ruler of Aquitaine by several other lesser members of the Carolingian dynasty until the division of the empire forced the West Franks to consolidate their territory, and Aquitaine was reduced to the status of a duchy.

FeatureThe former capital of Aquitaine, at Toulouse, was generally abandoned by the Carolingians. They used various capitals in the north, such as Limoges, Poitiers, and Bourges, which is where Charles the Child was buried. This was probably so that they could be closer to the seat of Frankish power in Paris.

778 - 781

Charles the Great / Charlemagne

King of the Franks (768-771). Frankish Emperor (771-814).

781

Pepin (born Carloman but renamed in this year by his father, Charlemagne), is given command of the Italian portion of the Carolingian empire after the successful conquest of the Lombards. Charlemagne's youngest son, Louis the Pious, is given Aquitaine.

Saint-Etienne Cathedral, Limoges
Under the Carolingian kings of Aquitaine, Limoges became much more important, serving as one of several capitals in the north of Aquitaine

781 - 814

Louis the Pious

Became Louis I of France (814-840).

806 - 814

By the Act of Thionville in 806, Charlemagne announces the division of his vast Carolingian empire between his three sons. By 814, Pepin in Italy has already predeceased his father (810), as has Charles (813), so Louis the Pious is crowned Frankish emperor at Aix-la-Chapelle.

814 - 838

Pepin I

Son. Predeceased his father.

838 - 855

Charles the Bald

Brother. Became Charles II of West Francia (840-877).

838 - 864

Pepin II

Son of Pepin I. Claimant who contested Charles' hold on Aquitaine.

840 - 843

Before his death, Louis the Pious, who is also duke of the Alemanni, promulgates the Ordinatio Imperii in 817, proclaiming, despite the ancient Frankish custom of dividing territory between surviving sons, that his eldest son, Lothar, will be sole beneficiary of the imperial dignity and sole inheritor of the empire. By means of this he hopes to avoid the fragmentation of territory that so weakened the Merovingians. The new idea proves too much, provoking rebellions and rivalries between all four of Louis' sons which last until after the king's death. One of the sons, Pepin of Aquitaine, has already predeceased his father.

Lothar initially claims overlordship over all three regions and Louis and Charles have to go to war to convince him to relent. He does so in 843, and the Treaty of Verdun confirms the official division of the empire between Charlemagne's surviving three grandsons, with rule over the empire as a whole being nominal. Lothar receives Middle Francia (the Rhine corridor, the kingdom of Burgundy, and Italy); Charles the Bald receives Western Francia (France and the duchy of Burgundy), as well as holding onto Aquitaine; and Louis the German receives Eastern Francia (Germany).

852

Charles the Bald, king of West Francia and of Aquitaine, appoints Ranulph I as duke of Aquitaine to govern the region in his name.

855 - 866

Charles III the Child

Son of Charles the Bald. Nominal overlord of duchy of Aquitaine.

866 - 879

Louis the Stammerer

Brother. King of West Francia (877-879).

875 - 877

Charles II the Bald is crowned emperor of the Romans by Pope John VIII and thereafter nominally rules the empire. His son, Louis II the Stammerer, after revolting against his father, succeeds him with difficulty and proves a weak king. During his reign, the kingdom itself weakens, with local lords gaining much more power at the expense of the throne. Aquitaine remains part of West Francia but is reduced to the status of duchy.

880 - 884

Carloman II

Son. Joint king of West Francia (879-884).

884 - 887

The succession following the death of Carloman is disputed. Charles III the Simple is supposed to succeed him, but his right is contested by Charles the Fat, otherwise known as Charles III of the Eastern Franks. It is the latter who wins the throne and Aquitaine would seem to be ruled directly by him until 887, when a fresh duke is appointed to govern in his name. The kingdom is effectively subsumed within West Francia from that point onwards, falling under the authority of dukes from the houses of Poitou and Auvergne.

Duchy of Aquitaine / Guyenne
AD 852 - 1429

The period during the collapse of the Frankish empire of Charlemagne is a confusing and convoluted one in terms of the politics and dynastic machinations of the time. Aquitaine remained in the hands of the kings of West Francia, and was generally governed directly by them, except for the period between 852-866, when Ranulph I of Poitiers was appointed duke of Aquitaine. The houses of Poitou and Auvergne accounted for the first seven dukes, and a further ten after a short break. The duchy's capital remained at Limoges, in the north, which was emphasised by the later ceremony of ducal coronation. The duchy also seems to have been known as called Guyenne in later years.

(Additional information by Geoffrey Tobin.)

852 - 866

Ranulph I

House of Poitiers (Ramnulfids). Count of Poitiers.

866 - 887

The death of Charles the Child, king of Aquitaine, and of Ranulph himself of wounds sustained at the Battle of Brissarthe against Vikings, brings Louis the Stammerer to the throne. He takes direct control rather than appointing a duke to govern in his name.

Saint-Etienne Cathedral, Limoges
Limoges remained the capital of the duchy of Aquitaine, and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint-Etienne remained the city's religious seat

887 - 890

Ranulph II

Son. Count of Poitiers. Claimed the title of king from 888.

887 - 888

The rule of the Frankish empire (the former Eastern Franks) falls to non-Frankish rulers when the weak Charles the Bald is deposed by the Germans at the Diet of Tribur (November 887). The Frankish empire is officially divided between East and West. The western section becomes France, the eastern section, the Holy Roman empire (modern Germany). In Aquitaine, Duke Ranulph II takes the opportunity of the instability and uncertainty to proclaim himself king.

890

Upon the death of Ranulph II by poisoning, his legitimate son, Ranulph II, succeeds him as count of Poitiers & Auvergne, while Ebalus the Bastard succeeds him as duke of Aquitaine. It seems that Ebalus embraces his sobriquet, just as William the Bastard of Normandy does, probably using it as a source of strength.

890 - 893

Ebalus the Bastard / Manzer

Illegitimate son. Count of Poitiers & Auvergne.

893 - 918

William I the Pious

House of Auvergne. Count of Auvergne.

918 - 926

William II the Younger

Nephew. Count of Auvergne.

926 - 927

Acfred

Brother. Count of Auvergne.

927 - 932

Ebalus the Bastard / Manzer

House of Poitiers. Restored. Count of Auvergne, Berry & Velay.

932 - 936

Raymond I Pons

House of Rouergue. Count of Auvergne & Toulouse.

936 - 942

Having already encouraged a failed Breton rebellion against the Vikings, the monk Yann de Landévennec now calls on Alan to return to Brittany, which he does with the blessing and support of Ćthelstan of Wessex. Meanwhile, the future Hugh the Great of Aquitaine is organising the return of Louis to France. Alan's campaign against the Loire Vikings is successful and he is declared Duke Alan II. Then he allies himself with his cousin, Judicael of Nantes (called 'Berenger' by the Franks) and Count Hugh II of Maine to attack the Seine Vikings (the Normans). Louis also takes the opportunity to attack Normandy.

936 - 955

Raymond II

955 - 962

Hugh the Great

Son of King Robert I of West Francia.

962 - 963

William III Towhead

House of Poitiers. Son of Ebalus. Count of Poitiers & Auvergne.

963 - 995

William IV Iron Arm

Son. Count of Poitiers.

986

In a prestigious coup for the duchy, Louis V of France chooses to be crowned king at Brioude, within the duchy. Unfortunately the king proves to be indolent and weak, and his reign signals the end of the Carolingian dynasty.

987

By this time the Carolingian kings and those drawn from the House of Paris have so weakened the effectiveness of the monarchy in France that it owns little land outside Paris. The Carolingian son of Louis V, Charles of Lower Lorraine, is ignored in favour of passing the crown permanently to the House of Paris in the form of the Capetians.

995 - 1030

William V the Great

Son. Count of Poitiers.

1030 - 1038

William VI the Fat

Son. Count of Poitiers.

1038 - 1039

Odo

Brother. Duke of Gascony. Count of Poitiers.

1039 - 1058

William VII the Eagle

Brother. Count of Poitiers.

1058 - 1086

William VIII

Brother. Duke of Gascony. Count of Poitiers.

1061

Despite reigning for nearly thirty years, Henry is unable to achieve anything more than the preservation of the Capetian dynasty in France after facing incessant conflict with rebel lords. Many of them have shown pretensions for independence, including Henry's brother, Robert I, duke of Burgundy, the count of Blois, William, duke of Normandy, the duke of Brittany, and William VIII, duke of Aquitaine.

1086 - 1127

William IX the Troubadour / the Younger

Son. Duke of Gascony. Count of Poitiers.

1127 - 1137

William X the Saint

Son. Duke of Gascony. Count of Poitiers.

1137 - 1189

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Daughter. Duchess of Gascony. Countess of Poitiers.

1137 - 1152

Louis VII the Young

Husband and co-ruler. King of France.

1147 - 1149

Louis departs France for two years as he takes part in the Second Crusade against the enemies of the kingdom of Jerusalem.

1152 - 1189

Henry II Plantagenet

House of Plantagenet. Second husband of Eleanor.

1154

The Lady of England, Matilda, had married Prince Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou in 1127, uniting the French house with the very powerful Norman one. Their son, Henry Anjou, inherited the crown of England from his uncle, having already married Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152. Following the reaching of an agreement with King Stephen of England that Henry would succeed him, Henry comes to the throne not only as the ruler of England, Anjou, and Normandy, but also of most of the rest of France through his wife. The duchy of Aquitaine remains the property of the Plantagenets for over two centuries, with the Plantagenet king of England ruling it directly. The Plantagenets are often more powerful than the kings of France, and their reluctance to pay homage to the French kings as their overlord in France is a major source of conflict.

Henry II Plantagenet
Henry II of England and Normandy died having added half of France to his possessions, making him one of the most powerful rulers in Western Europe

1189 - 1199

Richard I Coeur de Lion (the Lionheart)

Son. King of England.

1199 - 1216

John Lackland

Brother. King of England.

1202 - 1214

John becomes involved in the 'War' of Bouvines. Defeat at the Battle of Bouvines on 27 July 1214 loses John the duchy of Normandy and his other French possessions to the French crown. His return to England sees him forced to sign Magna Carta by the disaffected barons and the archbishop of Canterbury on 15 June 1215.

1216 - 1272

Henry III

Son. King of England.

1272 - 1307

Edward I Longshanks

Son. King of England.

1307 - 1325

Edward II

Son. King of England.

1325 - 1362

Edward III

Son. King of England.

1337 - 1346

The Hundred Years War between England and France begins when the relatively new French king, Philip VI, confiscates Gascony from Edward III. Edward invades France to press his own claim to the French throne. In 1345, Philip appoints his son, John, as duke of Aquitaine, although without any foundation or true control, but the following year, 1346, Edward crushes Philip's army at the Battle of Crecy.

1345 - 1350

John II the Good

Later king of France (1350-1364).

1360

Both sides in the war for dominion of France sign the Treaty of Bretigny, in which Edward renounces the French crown but remains sovereign 'Lord of Aquitaine' (rather than holding the mere title of duke). Unfortunately, the French break the terms of the treaty in 1369, so the English renew their claims and the war restarts.

1362

As Lord of Aquitaine, Edward III of England grants his eldest son, Edward, Prince of Wales, the title of 'Prince of Aquitaine'.

1362 - 1376

Edward 'The Black Prince'

Son of Edward III. Prince of Aquitaine. Prince of Wales.

1376 - 1390

Following the untimely death of the Black prince, the principality is held by the English crown. In 1390, King Richard II, Edward's son, appoints his uncle, John of Gaunt, as duke of Aquitaine.

1390 - 1399

John of Gaunt

Son of Edward III. Regent to Richard II of England (1377-1386).

1392? - 1401

Charles

Son of Charles VI of France. Dauphin.

1399

Henry IV

Son of John of Gaunt. Duke of Lancaster. King of England.

1399

Henry IV of England inherits the duchy from his father, but cedes it to his own son as soon as he succeeds to the English throne. That son, Henry V, succeeds in conquering France completely.

1399 - 1422

Henry V

Son. King of England. Lord of Aquitaine.

1401 - 1415

Louis

Son of Charles VI of France. Dauphin.

1415 - 1420

After winning the siege of Harfleur in 1414, the much smaller army of Henry V of England wins a startling victory at Agincourt in 1415, despite being outnumbered by the 'flower of French chivalry'. In 1420, Charles VI cedes France to Henry in the Treaty of Troyes, and following Charles' death in 1422, much of France becomes an English possession. Henry continues to rule over Aquitaine as king of England and lord of Aquitaine, but he dies in 1422. His son, Henry VI, inherits the French throne at less than a year of age.

Battle of Agincourt
The victory of Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt destroyed the flower of French chivalry

1422 - 1429

Henry VI

Son. King of England. Lord of Aquitaine.

1422 - 1429

England effectively rules France through Henry's brother, John of Lancaster. Elements of the French nobility refuse to accept an English king, however, and support a fight with Charles VI's son as their figurehead. The French victory at Orleans in 1429 turns the tide of the war. John, and his younger brother Humphrey, remain Henry VI's regents in England as most of the French territory is subsequently lost.

1429 - 1469

The Hundred Years War is over and in 1429, Aquitaine is returned to the direct rule of the French king, Charles VII the Victorious. It also remains the direct possession of his successors. Only on two subsequent occasions is the duchy granted to another member of the French dynasties of kings.

1469 - 1472

Henry VI

Son of Charles VII of France. Duc de Berry.

1753 - 1754

Xavier

Son of Louis, dauphin France.

1972

The Infante Jaime, duke of Segovia, is the son of Alfonso XIII of Spain. He is also one of the Legitimist pretenders to the French throne and as such he grants his son, Gonzalo, the title of duke of Aquitaine.

1972 - 2000

Gonzalo

Son of Jaime, duke of Segovia.

2000

Gonzalo dies without issue and the claim to this ancient French title dies with him.