House of Valois

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The House of Valois[1] (French pronunciation: ​[valwa]) was a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty, succeeding the House of Capet (or "Direct Capetians") as kings of France from 1328 to 1589. A cadet branch of the family reigned as dukes of Burgundy from 1363 to 1482.

The Valois descended from Charles, Count of Valois (1270-1325), the fourth son of King Philip III of France (reigned 1270-1285). They based their claim on the Salic law, which excluded females (Joan II of Navarre) as well as male descendants through the distaff line (Edward III of England), from the succession to the French throne.

Unexpected inheritance[edit]

The Capetian dynasty seemed secure both during and after the reign of Philip IV from 1285 to 1313. Philip had left three surviving sons (Louis, Philip and Charles) and a daughter (Isabella). Each son became king in turn but died young without male heirs, leaving only daughters who could not inherit the throne. When Charles IV died in 1328, the French succession became more problematic.

In 1328 three candidates had plausible claims to the throne:

  1. Philip, Count of Valois, son of Charles of Valois, who was the closest heir in male line and a grandson of Philip III. Because his father was the brother of the late Philip IV, he was therefore a nephew of Philip IV and the cousin of Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV. Further, Charles IV had chosen him as the regent before his death.
  2. Philip, Count of Évreux, another nephew of Philip IV and cousin of the three most recent Capetian kings. He strengthened his position by marrying Joan of France, daughter of Louis X.
  3. Edward III of England, son of Isabella of France, daughter and only surviving child of Philip IV. Edward claimed to be the heir as a male descendant of Philip IV.


Philip III of France
r. 1270-1285
Philip IV of France
r. 1285-1314
Charles of Valois
1270-1325
Louis of Évreux
1276-1319
Louis X of France
r. 1314-1316
Philip V of France
r. 1316-1322
Charles IV of France
r. 1322-1328
Isabella of France
Edward II of England
Philip of Valois
b. 1293
Philip of Évreux
b. 1306
Joan of France
b. 1312
Edward III of England
b. 1312


The claimants to the French throne in 1328

In England, Isabella of France claimed the throne on behalf of her son. Similarly to French conventions, the English law of succession did not allow the succession of females,[2] but allowed the succession through the female line (as occurred de facto with Henry II of England). The French rejected Isabella's claims, arguing that since she herself, as a woman, could not succeed, then she could not transmit any such right to her son. Thus the French authorities chose Philip of Valois, who became Philip VI of France. The throne of Navarre went its separate way, to Joan of France, daughter of Louis X, who became Joan II of Navarre.

Because diplomacy and negotiation had failed, Edward III would have to back his claims with force to obtain the French throne. For a few years, England and France maintained an uneasy peace. Eventually, an escalation of conflict between the two kings led to the confiscation of the duchy of Aquitaine (1337). Instead of paying homage to the French king, as his ancestors had done, Edward claimed that he was the rightful King of France. These events helped launch the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) between England and France.

List of Valois kings of France[edit]

French Monarchy
Capetian Dynasty
(House of Valois)
Arms of the Kingdom of France (Ancien).svg

Philip VI
Children
   John II
John II
Children
   Charles V
   Louis I of Anjou
   John, Duke of Berry
   Philip the Bold
Charles V
Children
   Charles VI
   Louis, Duke of Orléans
Charles VI
Children
   Isabella of Valois
   Michelle of Valois
   Catherine of Valois
   Charles VII
Charles VII
Children
   Louis XI
   Charles, Duke of Berry
Louis XI
Children
   Charles VIII
Charles VIII
French Monarchy-
Capetian Dynasty, House of Valois
(Valois-Orléans branch)
Arms of the Kingdom of France (Moderne).svg

Louis XII
Children
   Claude of France         
   Renée of France         
French Monarchy-
Capetian Dynasty, House of Valois
(Valois-Angoulême branch)
Arms of the Kingdom of France (Moderne).svg

Francis I
Children
   Francis, Dauphin of Viennois
   Henry II
   Magdalene, Queen of Scots
   Charles of Valois
   Margaret, Duchess of Savoy
Henry II
Children
   Francis II
   Elizabeth, Queen of Spain
   Claude, Duchess of Lorraine
   Louis, Duke of Orléans
   Charles IX
   Henry III
   Margaret, Queen of Navarre
   Francis, Duke of Anjou
   Joan of Valois
   Victoria of Valois
Francis II
Charles IX
Henry III

Valois (direct)[edit]

  • Philip VI, the Fortunate 1328–1350, son of Charles of Valois
  • John II, the Good 1350–1364
  • Charles V, the Wise 1364–1380
  • Charles VI, the Well-Beloved, later known as the Mad 1380–1422
  • Charles VII, the Victorious or the Well-Served 1422–1461
  • Louis XI, the Universal Spider 1461–1483
  • Charles VIII, the Affable 1483–1498

Valois-Orléans[edit]

  • Louis XII, the Father of His People 1498–1515, great-grandson of Charles V of France

Valois-Angoulême[edit]

The application of the Salic Law meant that with the extinction of the Valois line on the male side, the Bourbon Dynasty followed as descendants of Louis IX.

Valois king of Poland[edit]

Other significant titles held by the House of Valois[edit]

Counts and Dukes of Alençon[edit]

House of Valois-Alençon

Counts and Dukes of Anjou[edit]

House of Valois-Anjou

  • Louis I, duke (1360–1383) (also king of Jerusalem and Naples as Louis I), second son of John II of France
  • Louis II (1377–1417), son of (also king of Naples as Louis II)
  • Louis III (1403–1434), son of (also king of Naples as Louis III)
  • René I (1409–1480), brother of (also king of Jerusalem and Naples as René I)
  • Charles IV (1436–1481),

Dukes of Burgundy[edit]

House of Valois-Burgundy

Dukes of Brabant[edit]

House of Valois-Burgundy-Brabant

Counts of Nevers[edit]

House of Valois-Burgundy-Nevers

Dukes of Orléans[edit]

House of Valois-Orléans

Counts of Angoulême[edit]

House of Valois-Orléans-Angoulême

Illegitimate family branches[edit]

Forms of address[edit]

Forms of address for Valois kings included "Most Christian Majesty".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Valois meaning, literally, "of the valley" or "from the valley"
  2. ^ The contested reign in the early 12th century of Mathilda, Lady of the English, had not set a good precedent, occasioning lengthy civil war.[clarification needed].
House of Valois
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Preceded by
House of Capet
Ruling House of France
1328–1589
Succeeded by
House of Bourbon
Preceded by
Capetian House of Burgundy
Ruling House of the Duchy of Burgundy
1363–1482
Succeeded by
House of Habsburg