- a very brief history of the place, the people and their rulers.


The region now known as France was inhabited by people as far back as 30,000 years. Cave paintings of Lascaux in the Dordogne was the evidence left by them. Very little else is known about them.  Around 2000-1000 BCE,  groups of people what we call now as Celts moved into the region called Gaul (present day France and Belgium). Celts' origins might be from bronze age (c.2000 BCE) population of Urnfield culture of northern Alps and iron age (1200-450 BCE) peoples of Hallstatt culture. Celts spread out of central Europe in two waves. First wave (c.1000-700 BCE) spread them across western europe to present day Spain. Second wave of migration spread the Hallstatt culture across present day France and Germany

Around  450 BCE,  a new culture ( called by the modern archaeologists as La Tène )  emerged out of Celts of western Europe. It had distinctive style of art with abstract geometric designs and stylized bird and animal forms. It spread through trade contacts and migrations of celts across the european continent from Spain in the west to Danube river delta in the east and Po valley of Italy in south to British Isles in the north.

 Celts were exposed to Greek coins when Greek city states of Italy and Kingdom of Macedon employed celtic warriors as mercenaries in the fifth century BCE. These Celtic tribes of Gaul started issuing their own coins by the third century BCE. The early celtic coins were imitations of gold coins of King Philip II of Macedon or Greek city states of Tarentum and Syracuse. Abstract designs of celtic art were used on the later coins.

See Celtic Coins.

Roman Rule

In the second century BCE, Romans came to assist Massilians against Celtic incursions and occupied southern Gaul.  All of the Gaul was brought under Roman control by Julius Caesar by 50 BCE.  And, it became a provence  of Roman empire for next 400 years. Production of celtic coins gradually ceased and roman coins were minted in Gaul and circulated.

See Roman Coins


The Franks were a confederation of  ancient germanic tribes who occupied the right shore of the Rhine. In the third century  CE, Romans fought against Frankish tribes' expansion into the Belgic Gaul which was the territory of Roman Empire. However, Frankish tribes settled in Belgic Gaul and later submitted to the control of Roman Empire.

In 375 CE, the Huns from Mongolia invaded area of Goths (present day Ukraine) under their leader Attila.  Many Germanic tribes ( Franks, Goths and Burgundians) moved south and west to found Germanic Kingdoms on territory of Western Roman Empire. Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476 CE from the upheaval and freeing the Frankish Kingdoms from the hold of Rome.

Merovingian Dynasty

There were several Frankish tribes living in the northern and central regions of Gaul in the fifth century CE.  Clodion was the king of Salian Franks living in the Belgic Gaul (present day Belgium). He  gradually conquered all of northern Gaul starting in 430 CE. He was the first king of Merovingian dynasty named after Merovaeus, son of Clodion. Merovingian Kings were distinguished by their long hair that flowed over their shoulders. Clovis (481-511CE), the first of the Merovingian kings to conquer all of the Gaul.  Clovis converted to Christianity influenced by his wife Clotilda, a Burgundian princess. Even though power waned after Clovis' reign,  Merovingian dynasty lasted for next 300 years.

Earliest Merovingian coins were imitations of Roman (Byzantine) gold tremisses.  These were succeeded by coins with legends citing name of the city and the moneyer.  There was a gradual debasement of coins which led to the production of silver denarii near the end of the dynasty.

(Click on this hyperlink to see the coins of the Merovingian Kings)

Chronological List of Merovingian Kings
428 - 448CE - Clodian
448 - 456CE - Merovich
456 - 482CE - Childeric I
482 - 511CE - Clovis I
511 - 558CE - Childebert I
558 - 562CE - Clothaire I
562 - 566CE - Caribert
566 - 584CE - Chilperic
584 - 624CE - Clothaire II
625 - 628CE -Charisbert II
628 - 637CE - Dagobert I
637 - 655CE - Clovis II
655 - 668CE - Clothaire III
668 - 674CE - Childeric II
674 - 691CE - Thierry III
691 - 695CE - Clovis III
695 - 711CE - Childebert II
711 - 715CE - Dagobert III
716 - 721CE - Chilperic II
721 - 737CE - Thierry IV
737 - 741CE - Charles The Hammer
743 - 751CE - Childeric III
Alphabetical List of Merovingian Kings
Charisbert II
Charles The Hammer
Childebert I
Childebert II
Childeric I
Childeric III
Childeric II
Chilperic II
Clothaire I
Clothaire II
Clothaire III
Clovis I
Clovis II
Clovis III
Dagobert I
Dagobert III
Thierry III
Thierry IV

Carolingian Dynasty

As the power of the Merovingian Kings waned, the Carolingians rose to power gradually in the shadow of the Merovingians as Mayors of the Palace. Mayor Pepin III, the Short (752-68 CE) wrote to the Pope Zachary in Rome asking who should be King of the Franks. Pope replied "illum regem vocari, qui potestatem haberes, quam illum qui sine regali potestate maneret"  (he who held the power should be called the King than the one who remains King in name without the regal power). Then, Pepin had himself proclaimed the King of Franks at Soissons in 751CE and returned the favor by assisting Pope Stephen II against the Lombards. He won the Exarchate of Ravenna and the Pentapolis from the Lambards in a war and donated to the Pope. Charles (son of Pipin III) and better known as Charlemagne (742-814 CE) was the true founder of the Carolingian Empire. He became King of the Franks, King of the Lombards, then crowned as the Holy Roman Emperor of the West. Thus, Caroligian Frankish dynasty succeeded the Merovingians to rule the Gaul. The Frankish Kingdom expanded to include present day western Germany & northern Italy to form an Empire during the mid-eighth century. Charlemagne issued a few rare gold tremisses and silver deniers.

(Click on the hyper links below to see the coin images)

Chronological List of Carolingian Kings
751 - 768CE - Pepin The Short

768 - 771CE - Carloman

771 - 814CE - Charlemagne

814 - 840CE - Louis I

840 - 877CE - Charles I

877 - 879CE - Louis II

879 - 882CE - LouisIII

882 - 884CE - Carloman II

884 - 888CE - Charles II

888 - 898CE - Odo

898 - 929CE - Charles III

929 - 936CE - Raoul

936 - 954CE - Louis IV

954 - 986CE - Lothaire

986 - 987CE - Louis V

Alphabetical List of Carolingian Kings

Carloman II


Charles I

Charles II

Charles III


Louis  I

Louis II

Louis III

Louis IV

Louis V


Pepin The Short


Capetian Dynasty

Carolingian decline started during the period of Louis the Pious (814 - 40 CE). In 855 CE, Count of Paris Odo of Capet family was elected as the King of Franks by the council of Nobles to defend Paris from Viking siege. Next hundred years resulted in a fight for the Kingship by Carolingians and Capetians. Finally, Hugh Capet was elected as King of France in 987 CE by the powerful Nobles. Hugh Capet was elected as King because he was politically weak with little territory and Nobles can control him. Later, Capet Kings extended their rule to other regions. Even though different lines of Capets ruled France, it was uninterrupted for next eight hundred years. Capetian Dynasty rule came to an end with the French Revolution and establishment of Republic in 1793 CE.

(Click on the hyper links below to see the coin images)

Chronological List of Capetian Kings
House of Capet
0987 - 0996CE - Hugh Capet
0996 - 1031CE - Robert II
1031 - 1060CE - Henry I
1060 - 1108CE - Philip I
1108 - 1137CE - Louis VI
1137 - 1180CE - Louis VII
1180 - 1223CE - Philip II Augustus
1223 - 1226CE - Louis VIII
1226 - 1270CE - Louis IX
1270 - 1285CE - Philip III The Bold
1285 - 1314CE - Philip IV The Fair
1314 - 1316CE - Louis X
1316 - 1322CE - Philip V The Tall
1322 - 1328CE - Charles IV The Fair

House of Valois

1328 - 1350CE - Philip VI
1350 - 1364CE - John II The Good
1364 - 1380CE - Charles V The Wise
1380 - 1422CE - Charles VI The Fool
1422 - 1461CE - Charles VII The Victorious
1461 - 1483CE - Louis XI The Spider
1483 - 1498CE - Charles VIII
1498 - 1515CE - Louis XII
1515 - 1547CE - François I
1547 - 1559CE - Henry II
1559 - 1560CE - François II
1560 - 1574CE - Charles IX
1574 - 1589CE - Henry III

House of Bourbon

1589 - 1610CE - Henry IV
1610 - 1643CE - Louis XIII
1643 - 1715CE - Louix XIV
1715 - 1774CE - Louis XV
1774 - 1792CE - Louis XVI
Alphabetical List of Capetian Kings
Charles IV The Fair
Charles V The Wise
Charles VI The Fool
Charles VII The Victorious
Charles VIII
Charles IX
Charles X
François I
François II
Hugh Capet
Henry I
Henry II
Henry III
Henry IV
John II The Good
Louis VI
Louis VII The Victorious
Louis VIII
Louis IX
Louis XI The Spider
Louis XII
Louis X
Louis XIII
Louix XIV
Louis XV
Louis XVI
Louis Philippe
Napoleon I
Napoleon III
Philip III The Bold
Philip IV The Fair
Philip I
Philip II Augustus
Philip V The Tall
Philip VI
Robert II


(Click on the hyper links below to see coin images of the time)

First Republic

1792 - 1795CE - National Convention

1795 - 1799CE - Directory

1799 - 1804CE - Consul Napoleon Bonaparte

First Empire

1804 - 1814CE - Napoleon I

Bourbons (restored)

1814 - 1824CE - Louis XVIII

1824 - 1830CE - Charles X

House of Orleans

1830 - 1848CE - Louis Philippe

Second Republic

1848 - 1852CE - Louis Napoleon

Second Empire

1852 - 1870CE - Napoleon III

Third Republic

1871 - 1940 CE - Third Republic

Etat Français

1940 - 1944CE - Etat Français

Fourth Republic

1947 - 1959CE - Fourth Republic

Fifth Republic

1960 - 1987CE - Fifth Republic

1988 - 2002CE



Country List



RK. January 25, 2002