Knowing French history is a must if you want to master the French language. France arose from the Frankish kingdoms that succeeded the Roman Empire, and more precisely, from the declining Carolingian Empire. The great Charlemagne founded the latter, but it began to split soon after his death. One of these pieces became the heart of France, and French monarchs struggled to construct a new state around it. They eventually succeeded.

List the French kings in order

Opinions differ on who the ‘first’ French king was, and the following list includes all transitional monarchs, including the Carolingian rather than French Louis I. Although Louis was not the first king of the modern entity we call France, all subsequent French Louis (including Louis XVIII in 1824) were numbered chronologically, beginning with him, and it’s important to remember that Hugh Capet did not invent France; there was a long, confusing history before him.

Chronological list of leaders who ruled France

This is a chronological list of France’s rulers and the dates corresponding to their rule periods.

Later Carolingian Transition

Although the royal numbering begins with Louis, he was not a king of France, but rather the heir to an empire encompassing much of central Europe. His descendants would eventually split the empire.

  • 814–840 Louis I (not a king of ‘France’)
  • 840–877 Charles II (the Bald)
  • 877–879 Louis II (the Stammerer)
  • 879–882 Louis III (joint with Carloman below)
  • 879–884 Carloman (joint with Louis III above, until 882)
  •  884–888 Charles the Fat
  •  888–898 Eudes (also Odo) of Paris (non-Carolingian)
  • 898–922 Charles III (the Simple)
  • 922–923 Robert I (non-Carolingian)
  •  923–936 Raoul (also Rudolf, non-Carolingian)
  • 936–954 Louis IV (d’Outremer or The Foreigner)
  • 954–986 Lothar (also Lothaire)
  • 986–987 Louis V (the Do-Nothing)

Capetian Dynasty

Hugh Capet is widely regarded as France’s first king, but it took him and his descendants to fight, expand, and survive to transform a small kingdom into a great nation.

  • 987–996 Hugh Capet
  • 996–1031 Robert II (the Pious)
  • 1031–1060 Henry I
  • 1060–1108 Philip I
  • 1108–1137 Louis VI (the Fat)
  • 1137–1180 Louis VII (the Young)
  • 1180–1223 Philip II Augustus
  • 1223–1226 Louis VIII (the Lion)
  •  1226–1270 Louis IX (St. Louis)
  • 1270–1285 Philip III (the Bold)
  • 1285–1314 Philip IV (the Fair)
  • 1314–1316 Louis X (the Stubborn)
  • 1316–John I
  • 1316–1322 Philip V (the Tall)
  • 1322–1328 Charles IV (the Fair)
Capetian Dynasty

Valois Dynasty

The Valois dynasty would fight the Hundred Years War with England and, at times, appeared to be losing their thrones, before facing religious division.

  • 1328–1350 Philip VI
  • 1350–1364 John II (the Good)
  • 1364–1380 Charles V (the Wise)
  • 1380–1422 Charles VI (the Mad, Well-Beloved, or Foolish)
  • 1422–1461 Charles VII (the Well-Served or Victorious)
  • 1461–1483 Louis XI (the Spider)
  • 1483–1498 Charles VIII (Father of his People)
  • 1498–1515 Louis XII
  • 1515–1547 Francis I
  • 1547–1559 Henry II
  • 1559–1560 Francis II
  • 1560–1574 Charles IX
  • 1574–1589 Henry III

Bourbon Dynasty  

The Bourbon kings of France included the absolute pinnacle of a European monarch, the Sun King Louis XIV, as well as the king who was beheaded by a revolution only two years later.

  • 1589–1610 Henry IV
  • 1610–1643 Louis XIII
  • 1643–1715 Louis XIV (the Sun King)
  • 1715–1774 Louis XV
  • 1774–1792 Louis XVI

First Republic (Emperors)

The French Revolution removed the monarchy and killed their king and queen; the Terror that followed the twisting of revolutionary ideals was in no way an improvement.

  • 1792–1795 National Convention
  • 1795–1799 Directory (Directors)
  • 1795–1799 Paul François Jean Nicolas de Barras
  • 1795–1799 Jean-François Reubell
  • 1795–1799 Louis Marie La Revellíere-Lépeaux
  • 1795–1797 Lazare Nicolas Marguerite Carnot
  • 1795–1797 Etienne Le Tourneur
  • 1797 François Marquis de Barthélemy
  • 1797–1799 Philippe Antoine Merlin de Douai
  • 1797–1798 François de Neufchâteau
  • 1798–1799 Jean Baptiste Comte de Teilhard
  • 1799 Emmanuel Joseph Comte de Sieyés
  • 1799 Roger Comte de Ducos
  • 1799 Jean François Auguste Moulins
  • 1799 Louis Gohier
  • 1799–1804 – Consulate
  •  1st Consul: 1799–1804 Napoleon Bonaparte
  • 2nd Consul: 1799 Emmanuel Joseph Comte de Sieyés
  • 1799–1804 Jean-Jacques Régis Cambacérès
  • 3rd Consul: 1799 Pierre-Roger Ducos
  • 1799–1804 Charles François Lebrun

First Empire

Napoleon, the conquering soldier-politician, put an end to the revolution, but he did not establish a lasting dynasty.

  • 1804–1814 Napoleon I
  • 1814–1815 Louis XVIII (king)
  • 1815 Napoleon I (2nd time)

Bourbons (Restored)

The restoration of the royal family was a compromise, but France remained in social and political turmoil, necessitating yet another change of residence.

  • 1814–1824 Louis XVIII
  • 1824–1830 Charles X


Louis Philippe became king largely due to the efforts of his sister; he would fall from grace shortly after she was no longer available to assist.

  • 1830–1848 Louis Philippe

Second Republic (Presidents)

The Second Republic was short-lived, owing primarily to a certain Louis Napoleon’s imperial ambitions.

  • 1848 Louis Eugéne Cavaignac
  • 1848–1852 Louis Napoleon (later Napoleon III)

Second Empire (Emperors)

Napoleon III was related to Napoleon I and relied on family prestige, but he was defeated by Bismarck and the Franco-Prussian War.

  • 1852–1870 (Louis) Napoleon III

Third Republic (Presidents)

The Third Republic provided stability in terms of government structure and successfully adapted to the First World War.

  • 1870–1871 Louis Jules Trochu (provisional)
  • 1871–1873 Adolphe Thiers
  • 1873–1879 Patrice de MacMahon
  • 1879–1887 Jules Grévy
  • 1887–1894 Sadi Carnot
  • 1894–1895 Jean Casimir-Périer
  • 1895–1899 Félix Faure
  • 1899–1906 Emile Loubet
  • 1906–1913 Armand Fallières
  • 1913–1920 Raymond Poincaré
  • 1920 Paul Deschanel
  •  1920–1924 Alexandre Millerand
  • 1924–1931 Gaston Doumergue
  •  1931–1932 Paul Doumer
  • 1932–1940 Albert Lebrun

Vichy Government (Chief of State)

The Third Republic was destroyed by World War II, and a conquered France attempted to regain independence under WWI hero Petain. Nobody came out well.

  • 1940–1944 Henri Philippe Petain
Vichy Government

Provisional Government (Presidents)

France needed to be rebuilt after the war, which began with deciding on a new government.

  • 1944–1946 Charles de Gaulle
  • 1946 Félix Gouin
  • 1946 Georges Bidault
  • 1946 Leon Blum

Fourth Republic (Presidents)

  • 1947–1954 Vincent Auriol
  • 1954–1959 René Coty

Fifth Republic (Presidents)

Charles de Gaulle returned to try to suppress social unrest and established the Fifth Republic, which remains the government structure of modern France.

  • 1959–1969 Charles de Gaulle
  • 1969–1974 Georges Pompidou
  • 1974–1981 Valéry Giscard d’Estaing
  • 1981–1995 François Mitterand
  • 1995–2007 Jacques Chirac
  • 2007–2012 Nicolas Sarkozy
  • 2012–2017 Francois Hollande
  • 2017–present Emmanuel Macron

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Frequently asked questions

Who was the first King of France?

The first King of France was Hugh Capet, who ascended to the throne in 987 AD.

Who was the longest-reigning King of France?

Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King, holds the record for the longest reign, ruling for 72 years and 110 days from 1643 to 1715.

Who was the last King of France?

Louis-Philippe was the last King of France, who reigned from 1830 to 1848.

How many kings named Louis ruled France?

There were a total of 18 kings named Louis who ruled France, spanning from Louis I (also known as Louis the Pious) in the 9th century to Louis-Philippe in the 19th century.

Who was the only female monarch of France?

The only female monarch of France was Queen Regnant of France Maria Theresa of Spain, who ruled from 1660 to 1683.


The history of French kings spans over a thousand years. The monarchy in France evolved significantly during this period, with some kings leaving lasting legacies and others facing wild ends. The list of French kings includes notable figures such as Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, and Louis XVI, who was executed during the French Revolution.

The history of French kings reflects the political, social, and cultural changes that France experienced over the centuries, making it a fascinating subject for study and exploration. You may find difficulties in learning French, but hiring a private French tutor via italki will help you minimize all learning difficulties and become a fluent French speaker within a few months.

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