Christian Europe—Medieval France

1200 to 1380
Saint Louis to Bernard du Guesclin

Era Summary       Characters       Timeline       Reading Assignments      

Characters—Medieval France

Character/Date Short Biography

Late Capet Kings

Louis IX
Crusading king. Canonized as a saint for his concern and compassion for the poor.
Queen of France and mother of St. Louis who served as regent when he was on crusades.
Philip III
(the Bold) King during 'Sicilian Vespers'. Died while campaigning against Aragon, whose king was blamed for the massacre.
Philip the Fair
King of France best known for feuding with pope Boniface VIII and executing the Knights Templars.
Louis X
First of three sons of Philip the Fair who became king of France and died mysteriously. Ordered all slaves and serfs in France be freed or allowed to buy their freedom.

Popes and Knights Templars

Jacques de Molay
Last Grandmaster of the Knights Templar. Convicted of heresy and satanism, and executed on Friday the 13th, 1314.
Pope Boniface VIII
Pope who advocated of papal supremacy against king Philip IV of France, and was ultimately defeated.
Clement V
French Pope who moved the Papal court to Avignon. Dissolved the order of Knights Templars and died shortly after their execution.

Early Valois Kings (Hundred Years War)

Philip VI
(the Fortunate) First king of the Valois line. Had to deal with a rebellion in Flanders and early losses to Edward III in the Hundred Years War.
John II
(the Good) Second king of the Valois line. Quarrel with Charles the Bad led to further English incursions. Taken prisoner by Black Prince at battle of Poitiers.
Charles V
(the Wise) As regent during captivity of John II, dealt with civil war led by king's enemies. As king, won back much French territory from England with du Guesclin.

Opponents of the Valois Kings

Edward III
Reigned for nearly 50 years. Invaded France, and won the Battles of Crecy and Calias.
The Black Prince
Excellent general and leader who ruled alongside his father, Edward III. Victor at the Battle of Poitiers.
Jacob Van Artevelde
Wealthy Flemish merchant, known as "Brewer of Ghent." Led a rebellion against Philip VI, but was killed by his own countrymen for corruption.
Charles II of Navarre
(Charles the Bad) Treacherous enemy of the Valois kings, who claimed the crown through his mother, Joan of Navarre.
Etienne Marcel
(a.k.a. Stephen) Powerful leader of the merchants of Paris, allied with Charles the Bad, attempted to betray Paris. Provoked 'Jacquerie' peasant riots, funded 'Great Companies'.
Philippa of Hainault
Wife of Edward III and mother of 13. Intervened at siege of Calias in favor of citizens.

Martial Heroes

Bertrand du Guesclin
French commander during the Hundred Years war, who harassed the English rather than seeking pitched battles.

Saints and Scholars

Thomas Aquinas
Foremost theologian and philosopher of the Catholic Church. Doctor of the Chruch.
Francisican Theologian and Philospher. Doctor of the Church.
Nicole Oresme
Medieval monk and scholar who served as an advisor to Charles V.
Jean Froissart
Famous historian of mediaeval France, especially regarding the Hundred Years War. Served as secretary to Philippa of Hainault.

Timeline—Medieval France

AD YearEvent

St. Louis IX and sons: Princes of the Blood

1226-70 Louis IX begins 45 year reign. Mother Blanche acts as regent during minority.
1248 Louis IX leads 7th crusade to Egypt.
1248 Sainte-Chapelle royal chapel completed in Paris. Later, held relics of the crown of thorns
1266 Charles of Anjou (youngest son of Louis IX), with aid of Pope, usurps kingdom of Sicily.
1270 Louis IX dies during failed 8th crusade to Tunisia.
1282 Sicilian Vespers. Rebels overthrow governor of Sicily, massacre thousands of Frenchmen.

Philip IV and sons: Fall of the Capets

1285-1315 Reign of Philip the Fair begins. Reigned 30 years, consolidated power, taxed clergy, feuded with Pope.
1296 Pope Boniface VIII's bull 'Unam Sanctam' excoriates French king when he attempts to tax the clergy.
1302 Rebellion in Flanders, 'Matins of Bruges', Battle of the Golden Spurs was Flemish victory.
1303 'Outrage of Anagni, death of Pope Boniface VIII
1306-78 Avignon Papacy: Papal court of Clement V relocated from Rome to Avignon. Remains for 72 years.
1307 Philip expels Jews from French dominions, Knights Templars order disbanded, leaders arrested.
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.
1316 Louis X decreed that slaves should be freed, or allowed to purchase their freedom.
1317 Salic law used to excluded infant daughter of Louis X from throne. Philip V crowned instead.

End of Capet Dynasty—Beginning of Valois Dynasty

Philip VI 'the Fortunate' and Hundred Years War Begins

1328-50 Philip VI (the fortunate) succeeds to the throne as first Valois King, but claim disputed (by Edward III.
1328 Flanders rebels against Philip VI but defeated at the 'Battle of Cassell'.
1339 Cities of Bruges, Ghent, Ypres rebel against Philip VI, encourage Edward III to claim throne.
1341 Institution of "Gabelle" permanent salt tax to pay for Wars, based on government monopoly of salt.
1346 Hundred Years War begins: English Victory at Crecy; Siege of Calais ends in another English Victory.
1349 French king adds County of Dauphine to his domain. Heir apparent designated 'Dauphin'.
1350 Black Plague strikes France. Hundreds lost.

John II 'the Good': Battle of Poitiers and the Captive King

1350-64 Reign of John II, second Valois king. Rivals were Charles the Bad, the Black Prince, and Etienne (Stephen) Marcel.
1356 Charles II of Navarre (the Bad) imprisoned by John II after a quarrel and series of murders.
1356 Battle of Poitiers: John II and his son taken prisoner by the Black Prince. Begin 'Seven Years of Misery'.
1358 Jacquerie: Peasant Riots in Paris, Stephen Marcel attempts to open city gates to Charles the Bad, and is murdered.
1360 Treaty of Bretigny end imprisonment of King. Southwest France granted to English.
1364 John II voluntarily returns to captivity in England and dies.

Charles V 'the Wise': France Recovers, Bertrand du Guesclin

1364-80 Reign of John II, Second Valois king.
1364 Du Guesclin wins decisive victory over Charles the Bad on coronation day of Charles V.
1366 Du Guesclin leads 'Great Companies' in Castilian Civil War (to get them out of France).
1369-70 Charles V fortifies/provisions French towns and wins back much territory from English.
1370s Charles V builds the Bastille, expands the Louvre, and other building projects in Paris.
1376 Death of the Black Prince. Many French nobles had drop allegiance to England.
1378 Western Schism in Church. 'French Pope' elected and continues to govern from Avignon.

Recommended Reading—Medieval France

Book Title
Selected Chapters (# chapters)

Core Reading Assignments

Guerber - The Story of Old France   Blanche of Castile to Achievements of Charles V (12)
Marshall - A History of France   Hugh De La Marche to Duguesclin Fights for France (14)

Supplemental Recommendations

Macgregor - The Story of France   The Vow of St. Louis to Sir Bertrand du Guesclin (12)
Morris - Historical Tales: French   The Franco-Prussian War to Bertrand du Guesclin (2)
Tappan - When Knights Were Bold    entire book

Easy Reading Selections

Finnemore - France: Peeps at History   House of Capet (cont.) to House of Valois (2)
Evans - Old Time Tales   William Tell, Swiss Patriot to TArnold Winkelried (7)
Haaren - Famous Men of the Middle Ages   Louis the Ninth (1)
Dalkeith - Stories from French History    entire book