French History

French History
  • Prehistory
  • Ancient History
  • The Middle Ages
  • Hundred Years' War
  • The Black Death
  • Joan of Arc
  • The Renaissance
  • The 17th century
  • The French Revolution
  • The Era of Napoleon
  • The late 19th century
  • The early 20th century
  • The Fifth Republic

The Middle Ages

The growing breach between the Franks created a favorable situation for the Vikings who began raiding French seaports, river towns and other settlements close to waterways. These Viking advances along the northern and western perimeter of France continued increasing until in 911 a large company of Vikings (French Normands), led by Rollo, forced the West Frankish king Charles III (the Simple) to give them the territory in the lower Seine Valley that became known as Normandy.

This marked the dwindling era of the Carolingian dynasty, which was superceded by the Capetians, who ruled for over three centuries, from 987 until 1328. In 1066, William, Duke of Normandy invaded England and was crowned as the English king on Christmas Day, 1066. He made himself the French king’s equal, when in actual fact in French territory he was still subject to the crown.

England's power increased when Henry, Count of Anjou and Duke of Normandy married Eleanor of Aquitaine, the newly-divorced former Queen of France. As heiress to the Aquitaine, she brought Henry control over a considerable part of the south-western French region until his possessions and control greatly exceeded those of his feudal lord, Louis VII, King of France. When the last Capetian king, Charles IV died, the French throne was claimed by Edward III of England. This eventually led to the Hundred Years' War which began in 1337.