Hugh Capet was the first King of the Franks of the House of Capet from his election in 987 until his death. He succeeded the last Carolingian king, Louis V, the son of Hugh the Great, Duke of the Franks, and Hedwige of Saxony, daughter of the German king Henry the Fowler, Hugh was born in 941. Hugh Capet was born into a well-connected and powerful family with ties to the royal houses of France. Through his mother, Hugh was the nephew to Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, Henry I, Duke of Bavaria, Bruno the Great, Archbishop of Cologne, and finally, Gerberga of Saxony, Queen of France. Gerberga was the wife of Louis IV, King of France and mother of Lothair of France and Charles and his paternal family, the Robertians, were powerful landowners in the Île-de-France. His grandfather had been King Robert I, King Odo was his granduncle and King Rudolph was his uncle by affinity. Hughs paternal grandmother was a descendant of Charlemagne, after the end of the ninth century, the descendants of Robert the Strong became indispensable in carrying out royal policies.
As Carolingian power failed, the nobles of West Francia began to assert that the monarchy was elective, not hereditary. Robert I, Hugh the Greats father, was succeeded as King of the Franks by his son-in-law, when Rudolph died in 936, Hugh the Great had to decide whether he ought to claim the throne for himself. To block his rivals, Hugh the Great brought Louis dOutremer and this maneuver allowed Hugh to become the most powerful person in France in the first half of the tenth century. Once in power, Louis IV granted him the title of dux Francorum, Louis officially declared Hugh the second after us in all our kingdoms. Hugh gained power when Herbert II of Vermandois died in 943, Hugh the Great came to dominate a wide swath of central France, from Orléans and Senlis to Auxerre and Sens, while the king was rather confined to the area northeast of Paris. The realm in which Hugh grew up, and of which he would one day be king, Hughs predecessors did not call themselves kings of France, and that title was not used by his successors until the time of his descendant, Philip II.
Kings ruled as rex Francorum, the remaining in use until 1190 The lands they ruled comprised only a small part of the former Carolingian Empire. The eastern Frankish lands, the Holy Roman Empire, were ruled by the Ottonian dynasty, represented by Hughs first cousin Otto II and by Ottos son, Otto III. The lands south of the river Loire had largely ceased to be part of the West Francia kingdom in the years after Charles the Simple was deposed in 922. Both the Duchy of Normandy and the Duchy of Burgundy were largely independent, in 956, when his father Hugh the Great died, the eldest son, was about fifteen years old and had two younger brothers. In 954, Otto I appointed his brother Bruno, Archbishop of Cologne and Duke of Lorraine, as guardian of Lothair, in 956, Otto gave him the same role over Hugh and the Robertian principality
History of France
The first written records for the history of France appear in the Iron Age. The Gauls, the largest and best attested group, were Celtic people speaking what is known as the Gaulish language, over the course of the 1st millennium BC the Greeks and Carthaginians established colonies on the Mediterranean coast and the offshore islands. Afterwards a Gallo-Roman culture emerged and Gaul was increasingly integrated into the Roman Empire, in the stages of the Roman Empire, Gaul was subject to barbarian raids and migration, most importantly by the Germanic Franks. The Frankish king Clovis I united most of Gaul under his rule in the late 5th century, Frankish power reached its fullest extent under Charlemagne. The war formally began in 1337 following Philip VIs attempt to seize the Duchy of Aquitaine from its holder, Edward III of England. Despite early Plantagenet victories, including the capture and ransom of John II of France, among the notable figures of the war was Joan of Arc, a French peasant girl who led French forces against the English, establishing herself as a national heroine.
The war ended with a Valois victory in 1453, victory in the Hundred Years War had the effect of strengthening French nationalism and vastly increasing the power and reach of the French monarchy. During the period known as the Ancien Régime, France transformed into an absolute monarchy. During the next centuries, France experienced the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation, King of Navarre, scion of the Bourbon family, would be victorious in the conflict and establish the French Bourbon dynasty. A burgeoning worldwide colonial empire was established in the 16th century, French political power reached a zenith under the rule of Louis XIV, The Sun King, builder of Versailles Palace. In the late 18th century the monarchy and associated institutions were overthrown in the French Revolution, the country was governed for a period as a Republic, until the French Empire was declared by Napoleon Bonaparte. France was one of the Triple Entente powers in World War I, fighting alongside the United Kingdom, Italy, the United States and smaller allies against Germany and the Central Powers.
France was one of the Allied Powers in World War II, the Third Republic was dismantled, and most of the country was controlled directly by Germany while the south was controlled until 1942 by the collaborationist Vichy government. Living conditions were harsh as Germany drained away food and manpower, Charles de Gaulle led the Free France movement that one-by-one took over the colonial empire, and coordinated the wartime Resistance. Following liberation in summer 1944, a Fourth Republic was established, France slowly recovered economically, and enjoyed a baby boom that reversed its very low fertility rate. Long wars in Indochina and Algeria drained French resources and ended in political defeat, in the wake of the Algerian Crisis of 1958, Charles de Gaulle set up the French Fifth Republic. Into the 1960s decolonization saw most of the French colonial empire become independent, while smaller parts were incorporated into the French state as overseas departments, since World War II France has been a permanent member in the UN Security Council and NATO.
It played a role in the unification process after 1945 that led to the European Union