End of the Capetian Line

Forward to 4 – The Hundred Years’ War – Back to Philip III and IV
Back to 1789 and all that!
© Bob Denton 2014

He lasted just two years on the throne. A great fan of jeu de paume, real tennis, he was the first to design and build indoor courts to play the game. In 1316 he played an arduous game and then drank a copious amount of cooled wine and died. Pneumonia and pleurisy were postulated but poisoning was also suspected.

Louis X had no son, but the court decided to wait for the outcome of his wife’s pregnancy.  His successor, John I, was born five months late and declared as king. He was rather obviously granted the epithet, John the Posthumous. He lived just five days with his uncle Philip acting as Regent.

The uncle succeeded John as Philippe V le Long (Philip V the Tall) and was crowned at Reims. But Louis X’s daughter Joan argued that she should rule, but her mother had been involved in the Tour de Nesle Affair, it was concluded that women should be excluded from succession under Salic Law.

The 1321 Lepers’ plot – a rumour spreaad in the south of France that lepers were poisoning well water. When some lepers were rounded up and tortured they confirmed they were doing this, but that this was under the orders of the Jews, who in turn had been paid by the Muslim Moors of Spain. The whole conspiracy was said to be a plan to kill Christians.

The rumour had been started by surviving members of the previous year’s Shepherds’ Crusade, an agricultural group that set out to attack Jews in south-west France and across into Aragon. They had found barrels of rotten bread in a leper colony and drawn the assumption that this was how they would create the poisons for their plot.

The whole event served to underline existing prejudice against Lepers, Jews and Muslims, all three communities were abused and as the ‘crime’ was judged to be lèse-majesté (injured majesty) this meant that their possessions and lands were therefore forfeit.

Philip died from dysentery in 1322 without heir. His younger brother Charles succeeded him as Charles IV le Bel (Charles IV the Fair).

Charles was to be the last Capetian when he died in 1328 without heir, there were no senior Capetians to continue the line. Though his wife was pregnant at the time of his death, so there was some hope this might be a son.

Philip of Valois was a first cousin to Charles and the eldest grandson of Philip III, so he became the preferred successor. He was the first in a new branch of the Capetians, the House of Valois.

However the most directly related male to Charles IV was through his sister Isabella, this was her son Edward III, the king of England.

A French assembly met and upheld the interpretation of the old Salic Law that discounted any descent through a female line. Edward was just fifteen and his mother had laid claim for the French throne but they seemed to agree the assembly’s approach. Philip was announced as the Regent while they awaited the outcome of the pregnancy.

When the baby arrived, it was a daughter they named Blanche. Philip was crowned in May 1328 as Philippe VI le Fortuné (Philip VI the Fortunate).

He was crowned as Philippe VI le Fortuné (Philip VI the Fortunate). The succession was still not yet resolved because Charles IV had also been king of Navarre, which had no Salic Law provisions. Thus Navarre plus Brie, Champagne, Meaux and Troyes would not pass to Philip of Valois. Yet these counties had long been subsumed in to the French royal and administrative structures.

These were passed to Joan II of Navarre, but Philip struck a deal with her so that he retained Champagne and its counties, she was recompensed by large tracts of Normandy. The fact that these abutted her husband’s lands around Évreux.

Forward to 4 – The Hundred Years’ War – Back to Philip III and IV
Back to 1789 and all that!
© Bob Denton 2014