It is from Louis VI (reigned 1108–1137) onward that royal authority became more accepted. Louis VI was more a soldier and warmongering king than a scholar. The way the king raised money from his vassals made him quite unpopular; he was described as greedy and ambitious and that is corroborated by records of the time.
The reign of Philip II Augustus (junior king 1179–1180, senior king 1180–1223) marked an important step in the history of French monarchy. His reign saw the French royal domain and influence greatly expanded. He set the context for the rise of power to much more powerful monarchs like Saint Louis and Philip the Fair
Saint Louis (1226–1270)
France became a truly centralised kingdom under Louis IX (reigned 1226–1270). Saint Louis has often been portrayed as a one dimensional character, a flawless representant of the faith and an administrative reformer who cared for the governed ones. However, his reign was far from perfect for everyone: he made unsuccessful crusades, his expanding administrations raised opposition, and he burned Jewish books at the Pope's urging..
(Saint Louis. He saw France's cultural expansion in the Western Christian world.)
Louis IX was only twelve years old when he became King of France. His mother — Blanche of Castile — was the effective power as regent (although she did not formally use the title). Blanche's authority was strongly opposed by the French barons yet she maintained her position until Louis was old enough to rule by himself.
Philip III and Philip IV (1270–1314)
Philip III became king when Saint Louis died in 1270 during the Eighth Crusade. Philip III was called "the Bold" on the basis of his abilities in combat and on horseback, and not because of his character or ruling abilities. Philip III took part in another crusading disaster: the Aragonese Crusade, which cost him his life in 1285.
More administrative reforms were made by Philip IV, also called Philip the Fair (reigned 1285–1314). This king was responsible for the end of the Knights Templar, signed the Auld Alliance, and established theParlement of Paris. Philip IV was so powerful that he could name popes and emperors, unlike the early Capetians. The papacy was moved to Avignon and all the contemporary popes were French, such as Philip IV's puppet Bertrand de Goth, Pope Clement V..
The early Valois Kings and the Hundred Years' War (1328–1453)
The tensions between the Houses of Plantagenet and Capetclimaxed during the so-called Hundred Years' War (actually several distinct wars over the period 1337 to 1453) when the Plantagenets claimed the throne of France from the Valois. This was also the time of the Black Death, as well as several civil wars. The French population suffered much from these wars. In 1420 by the Treaty of Troyes Henry V was made heir to Charles VI. Henry V failed to outlive Charles so it was Henry VI of England and France who consolidated the Dual-Monarchy of England and France.
It has been argued that the difficult conditions the French population suffered during the Hundred Years' War awakened French nationalism, a nationalism represented by Joan of Arc(1412–1431). Although this is debatable, the Hundred Years' War is remembered more as a Franco-English war than as a succession of feudal struggles. During this war, France evolved politically and militarily.
Early Modern France (1453–1789)
Kings during this period
The Early Modern period in French history spans the following reigns, from 1461 to the Revolution, breaking in 1789:
- House of Valois
- House of Bourbon
- Henry IV the Great, 1589–1610
- the Regency of Marie de Medici, 1610–1617
- Louis XIII the Just and his minister Cardinal Richelieu, 1610–1643
- the Regency of Anne of Austria and her minister Cardinal Mazarin, 1643–1651
- Louis XIV the Sun King and his minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert, 1643–1715
- the Régence, a period of regency under Philip II of Orléans, 1715–1723
- Louis XV the Beloved and his minister Cardinal André-Hercule de Fleury, 1715–1774
- Louis XVI, 1774–1792..