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Christian Europe—Medieval France

1100 to 1485
University of Paris to Louis XI-Spider King

Era Summary       Characters       Timeline       Reading Assignments      


Characters—Medieval France


Character/Date Short Biography

Kings of France

Louis VI
1081–1137
Influential Capet King who centralized royal power and fought the Normans.

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Philip II Augustus
1165–1223
King of France who expanded his realm by retaking Normandy and Anjou from the Plantagenets.
Louis IX
1214–1270
Crusading king. Canonized as a saint for his concern and compassion for the poor.
Blanche
1188–1252
Queen of France and mother of St. Louis who served as regent when he was on crusades.
Philip the Fair
1268–1314
King of France best known for feuding with pope Boniface VIII and executing the Knights Templars.
Louis XI
1423–1483
Very wily and politically astute King who increased the influence of the throne.

Martial Heroes

Raymond VII of Toulouse
1197–1249
Count of Toulouse who sided with the Albigensian heretics against the King of France.
Bertrand du Guesclin
1320–1380
French commander during the Hundred Years war, who harassed the English rather than seeking pitched battles.
Chevalier Bayard
1476–1524
Renowned French knight who was thought to embody the ideals of chivalry.
Charles the Bold
1433–1477
Duke of Burgundy who fought France in the Burgundian Wars. At his death his domains passed to the Hapsburgs.

Scholars and Saints

Peter Abelard
1079–1142
Eminent Priest and Teacher, famed for his ill-fated affair with Heloise.
Abbot Suger
1081–1151
Trusted Counsellor of Louis VI. Remodeled St. Denis Abbey in Paris in Gothic style and popularized Gothic Architecture. .
Jean Froissart
1337–1405
Famous historian of mediaeval France, especially regarding the Hundred Years War. Served as secretary to Philippa of Hainault.
Joan of Arc
1412–1431
Led the French Army to Victory at the Siege of New Orleans. Burned at the stake by English.
Colette of Corbie
1381–1447
French Abbess and founder of the Poor Clares.

Timeline—Medieval France


AD YearEvent

Capet Kings

1120 St Denis Abbey rebuilt by Abbot Suger . Popularizes Gothic architecture.
1137 marries Eleanor of Aquitaine, begins reign of almost 40 years.
1147 Louis VII leads the disastrous 2nd Crusade.
1150 University of Paris Founded
1152 Marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine annulled. Soon after she marries Henry II.
1163 Begin construction of Notre Dame of Paris in Gothic style.
1180 Philip Augustus succeeds to throne, reigns for 43 years.
1189 Third Crusade led by Philip II Augustus and Richard I. Crusaders fail to recover Jerusalem.
1202 Fourth Crusade launched; crusaders allied with Venice sack Constantinople.
1209-29 Albigensian Crusade called by Innocent III, after years of civil war their protector, Raymond VII of Toulouse makes peace.
1214 Battle of Bouvines: French army defeated English-Flemish force, consolidating Philip's control over Anjou, Brittany, and Normandy.
1226 Louis IX begins 45 year reign. Mother Blanche acts as regent during minority.
1248 Louis IX leads 7th crusade to Egypt.
1270 Louis IX dies during failed 8th crusade to Tunisia.
1282 Sicilian Vespers. Rebels overthrough French king of Sicily, massacre thousands of Frenchmen.

Philip V and the Knights Templar

1285 Reign of Philip the Fair begins. Reigned 30 years, consolidated power, taxed clergy, feuded with Pope.
1291 Kingdom of Jerusalem, the last 'Crusader kingdom' falls to the Mamluks when the city of Acre was taken.
1296 Pope Boniface VIII's bull 'Ineffablis amor' excoriates French king when he attempts to tax the clergy.
1307 Philip expels Jews from French dominions, Knights Templars order disbanded.
1306-78 Avignon Papacy: Papal court of Clement V relocated from Rome to Avignon. Remains for 72 years.
1311 Battle of the Golden Spurs: Flemish victory in the Franco-Flemish War.
1314 Philip IV orders the execution of Jacques de Molay and Knights Templars for heresy. Philip IV and Clement V die soon thereafter.
1314-28 Within 14 years of the execution of Knights, Philip's three sons die suspiciously, bringing an end to the Capet dynasty.
1328 Philip Valois, a Capet cousin, succeeded to the throne, but it was disputed by Edward III, leading to the 100 years War.

Hundred Years War

1337-60 First Phase of the Hundred Years War: English victories in Normandy and Aquitaine.
1346 Battle of Crecy and Seige of Calais are English victories over France.
1356 The Black Prince princed defeats John II at the Battle of Poitiers. King and son taken prisoner.
1337-60 Second Phase of the Hundred Years War: French led by Bertrand du Guesclin reclaim territory from English.
1347 Black Plague in France kills thousands in coastal areas.
1380 Charles VI begins his long reign during Hundred years war. His insanity complicates things.
1415-53 Final Phase of Hundred Years War. Henry V wins victory, but his gains are overcome by Joan of Arc.
1415 Battle of Agincourt. Henry V lands in France and defeats the French, claims the throne.
1418 Duke of Burgundy captures Paris. The dauphin, the future , flees.
1422 Charles VII inherits the throne on the death of the mad king, but succession is disputed and he remains uncrowned.
1428 Joan of Arc lifts the siege of Orlean, Charles VII crowned at Rheims shortly thereafter.
1453 Castillon: Last Battle of the Hundred Year's War, all English possesions in France reclaimed except Calais.

Burgundian Wars

1461-83 Reign of Louis XI, the "Spider-king" spent consolidating power and building alliances.
1477 Louis XI adversary, the Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, killed at the Battle of Nancy.

Recommended Reading—Medieval France

Read chapters from "core" texts before reviewing study questions.


Book Title
Selected Chapters (# chapters)

Core Reading Assignments

Guerber - The Story of Old France   Battle of Bouvines to Achievements of Louis XI (23)
Finnemore - France: Peeps at History   House of Capet to House of Valois (cont.) (4)

Supplemental Recommendations

Harding - The Story of the Middle Ages   Life of the Castle to Close of the War (9)
Macgregor - The Story of France   The Oriflamme to Death of Charles the Bold (28)
Marshall - The Story of Europe   Captivity of the Popes to Reign of Louis XI (4)
Morris - Historical Tales: French   Bertrand du Guesclin to Charles the Bold and the Swiss (5)

Easy Reading Selections

Dalkeith - Stories from French History   St. Louis the Ninth, King of France to Jeanne D'Arc, the Maid of Orleans (2)
Haaren - Famous Men of the Middle Ages   Louis the Ninth to Joan of Arc (2)
Evans - Old Time Tales   Legend of the Strassburg Clock to Man with the Iron Mask (8)