Hugh Capet, the great grandson of Robert the Strong, was declared king of France in 987 after the death of the last Carolingian king Louis V. That was the beginning of the House of Capet era that continued for over 400 years. The Capetians had chosen ГЋle de la CitГ© as their royal seat, where a royal castle had been subsequently built. Its mighty towers of Conciergerie can be seen on the bank of Seine to this day. Construction of churches had picked up the pace: a surviving Romanesque nave of the oldest one can be seen at Saint-Germain-des-PrГ©s.
Hugh Capet's grandson, kind Henry I, was married to the daughter of Yaroslav (Grand Prince of Rus'), Anne of Kiev, whose sister had been the queen of Norway at the time. Thanks to these slightly complicated yet politically significant ties, William the Conqueror, the Norman duke, had finally left Paris in peace and opted to conquer England in 1066 instead. During the reign of Anne's son, Philip I, the first Crusades took place that opened many doors to Frankish knights. Wealth and treasures from the East started flowing to Europe.
Anne's grandson Louis VI, along with his friend and confidant Abbot Suger, initiated construction of the first Gothic cathedral in Paris in Saint-Denis. Louis VII's reign saw the foundations of Notre Dame de Paris being laid in 1163. Relics from the Holy Land and treasures of Byzantine Empire were being brought home by the Frankish crusaders, transforming Paris into an influential Christian capital.
King Philip II Augustus (1165-1223) started rigorous construction outside the boundaries of the ГЋle de la CitГ© by building the Louvre fortress and encircling the city with defensive walls. In the meantime, the most powerful order of Knights Templar began to drain the marshes close to Le Louvre and building their most impressive temple - the residence of Grand Masters of the Templars. However, by decree of Napoleon I the temple had been demolished and the Templars later forgotten, save for the modern metro station and the name of the neighbourhood where Temple once stood.
After acquiring some of the Passion of Christ relics, in 1239 king Louis IX, the Saintly King, built a new church in the royal palace on the ГЋle de la CitГ© that replaced the older royal chapel. The magnificent Sainte-Chapelle, designed by the Medieval architect and mason Pierre de Montreuil, became one of the most beautiful churches in Paris. Louis IX the Saintly's reign also saw the completion of the main facade of Notre Dame de Paris and the opening of the most famous French university, Sorbonne University, named after the royal chaplain Robert de Sorbon.
King Philip IV the Fair turned his royal court into the most sumptuous in Europe, which was partly done by destroying the Knights Templar, the wealthiest organization in Medieval France at the time. Burning the knights Templar at the stake under Pont Neuf made an end to the Crusades as well. Jacques de Molay was the last Master of the Templars burned among the knights of the order; before dying, he cursed kind Philip for the destruction of the Templars. In fourteen years, the Capetian line had been extinguished.
After Philip IV 's death in 1314, France had no male heirs to ascend the throne, as Philip's son Charles IV died childless. Philip's daughter Isabelle married King of England, and so her son Edward laid claim to the French throne, while aristocracy in France had chosen the nephew of Philip IV the Fair, Philip Valois, as their new king. In 1328 began the era of the House of Valois.
The article by Irina Sukharnikova, translation by Ekaterina Ryabova; specially for Sweet Home Abroad