Kings, Emperors and Presidents of France Part 4 : The Capetian dynasty and the Bourbons.

King Henry III of Navarre, distant cousin of Henri III of France ( the last Valois King of France ) is designated legitimate heir to the French throne. Under the name of Henry IV, he belongs to the Bourbon dynasty and thus became the first King of this Capetian branch.

Henry IV the Great ( 1589-1610 ), renounced to the Protestantism in order to be sacred King of France. During his reign, he proclaimed the Edict of Nantes, allowing the Protestants the freedom of cult in France. This Edict put an end to the two decades of religious troubles. The 14th of May 1610, Henry IV is murdered in Paris by a man named François Ravaillac.

Louis XIII the Just ( 1610-1643 ), became King at the age of nine after the murder of his father. He spent most his life fighting the Hapsburg dynasty and Spain with the help of the famous cardinal Armand Jean du Plessis, commonly known as Richelieu. He died of tuberculosis in 1643.

Louis XIV the Great or the Sun King ( 1643-1715 ) is certainly the most famous French King, le Roi Soleil. Crowned at the age of four, he is like his father and grand-father before him King of France and Navarre. During his 72 years reign, he started and created many reforms and political changes, participating in many great wars thus becoming the most powerful King in the history of France, changing almost every domain of France ( from arts to military and colonial matters ). At the time of his death in 1715, he outlived four heirs.

Louis XV the Beloved ( 1715-1774 ), was the second great-grandson of the Sun King. Crowned King of France and Navarre at the age of five, he vainly attempted to reform the Kingdom several times but his ministers prevented him to succeed. Loosing all interest in political or war matters, France started to show its first signs of a revolution. He died of smallpox in 1774.

Louis XVI ( 1774-1792 ), grandson of Louis XV, he spent the first part of reign trying to reform his Kingdom. He succeeded ( among other matters ) to abolished torture and serfdom, to give more freedom and rights to the Jews and Protestants. As a very scholar King, he made geography and sea expeditions some of the most important states matters. In 1789, the French Revolution started.

The 17th of July 1789, two days after the storming of the Bastille, Louis XVI surrendered to his opponents and swore an oath of fealty to the new Constitution ( abolition of privileges, Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen ). The 21st of September, he is dethroned by the National Assembly. Louis XVI is guillotined the 21st of January 1793. His son Louis XVII, imprisoned, is declared rightful heir by some French Nobles and European powers of the First Coalition.

The death of Louis XVI put an end to the Kingdom of France ( until the Restoration ) when in 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte is elected First Consul of the Revolutionary France. Through the Revolutionary France and the First Empire, almost for 25 years, the French Bourbon Kings will live in exile.

By Alister

Studying at the University of Besaçon, Burgundy Franche-Comté, France