France 1215 CE

Several able kings have gradually expanded royal authority within France, at the expense of the regional lords.

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What is happening in France in 1215CE

The line of Charlemagne died out in 987, and the nobles elected Hugh Capet, count of Paris, to the throne. Hugh’s authority, however, was severely limited. In the chaos of the 10th century the regional counts had become virtually independent princes within their own territories.

For all their weakness, the position of the early French kings was recognised and sanctified by the Church, and in a religious age this gave them a prestige not enjoyed by any other prince or lord. This enabled Hugh and his successors to gradually build up their power within their kingdom.

Recent decades have been testing times for royal authority. One of the king of France’s vassals, the count of Anjou, inherited a huge stretch of land in France, and in 1158 even became king of England (Henry II, reigned 1158-89). Fortunately for France, she has one of her most able kings sitting on the throne, Philip Augustus (1180-1223). Taking advantage of the mistakes of king John, Henry II’s son, he has seized most of John’s French possessions, and brought them under tight royal control. This has greatly strengthened royal power in relation to the regional princes in the rest of France, and the king’s authority on the south is being further increased by a successful royal crusade being waged there against a heretical religious sect called the Albigensians (1208-13, 1223-6).

Next map, France in 1453

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