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Hugh Capet of France

Hugh Capet (French Hugues Capet) (938 - October 24, 996) was King of France from 987 to 996.Capet is a nickname for "wearing a cape".

Born in 938, in Paris, France, from a wealthy and powerful family, the eldest son of Hugh the Great and Hedwige of Saxony (c.910-c.965). Hugh Capet wanted to become a lay abbot, and in 980 arranged to move the relics of St. Valery to Amiens Cathedral. He inherited his fathers vast estates and became the most powerful noble of his time. Hugh allied himself with the German emperors, marrying the daughter of Emperor Otto, and exercised greater influence than the weak Carolingian king, Lothair. After Lothair and his son died in early 987, the archbishop of Reims convinced an assembly of nobles to elect Hugh Capet as their king. He was crowned King of France at Noyon, Picardie on July 3, 987, the first of the Capetian dynasty to rule France.

King Hugh possessed minor properties near Chartres and Anjou. Between Paris and Orléans he possessed towns and estates amounting to approximately 400 square miles. His authority ended there and if he dared travel outside his small area, he risked being ransomed or even murdered. Beyond this power base, in the rest of France, there were still as many codes of law as there were fiefdoms. The country operated with 150 different forms of currency and at least a dozen languages. Uniting all this into one cohesive unit was a formidable task and a constant struggle between those who wore the crown of France and its feudal lords. As such, Hugh Capet's reign was marked by numerous power struggles, both with the Roman Catholic Church and the vassals on the borders of the Seine and the Loire.

While King Hugh's military power was limited, and he had to seek military aid from the Duke of Normandy, his unanimous election as king gave him great moral authority and influence.

Hugh Capet married Adelaide of Aquitaine (952-1004). Their children were:

  1. Avoise (970-1013)
  2. Robert II (March 27, 972 - July 20, 1031)
  3. Alice (974-1079)
  4. Gilette (c.976 - ukn)
  5. Gisele (c.978 - ukn)

King Hugh Capet died on October 24, 996 in Paris, and was interred in the Saint Denis Basilica. He was succeeded by his son, Robert II.

Preceded by:
Louis V
List of French monarchs Succeeded by:
Robert II