List of heads of state of France

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The coat of arms of the King of France since the 13th century (France ancien): The French lily banner ( Fleur-de-Lys )
Three lilies (France modern): variant from 1376

The head of state is at the top of the state hierarchy of offices . It represents the state internally and externally. In France , the head of state is the president . His predecessors as the highest authority included kings and emperors . The French monarchs and presidents are included in the list of heads of state of France . Also listed are the kings of western Franconia, from which France arose, although it is incorrect to refer to the western Franconian kings of the 9th and 10th centuries as "kings of France". The West Franconia came into being through the division of the Franconian Empire in the Treaty of Verdun of 843. The transition from West Franconia to France was fluid and extended over a long period, so that no specific point in time can be set for the creation of France.

Louis XIV , who ruled France for 72 years

Demarcation issues

A clear demarcation between the Frankish Empire, which emerged in late antiquity as part of the migration of peoples , and the French state is not possible. The French understanding of history emphasizes the continuity back to the time of the Merovingians . The first de facto official work of French historiography, the Grandes Chroniques de France from the late 13th century, divides the history of the Franks and France into the successive dynasties of the Merovingians, the Carolingians and the Capetians . To this day, Chlodio (5th century) is named first in French rulers' lists as the oldest historically tangible Frankish king. In older historical works, his legendary father Faramund appeared at this point, and some medieval lists of kings go back to the mythical Trojan king Priam .

An older approach, no longer represented today, sees Hugo Capet (987–996) as the first king of France, since with him a French national dynasty took over rule. This view is no longer upheld in research today, as the change of dynasty of 987 was not viewed by contemporaries as such a turning point.

The following list begins with the division of Verdun in 843. For the kings who ruled before that, see the list of Frankish rulers .

Titles and official titles

According to the Carolingian self-image, after the division of the empire in 843, the West Frankish king was still “King of the Franks” (Latin: Francorum rex, French: roi des Francs ). This is how the kings were called by contemporary authors, while in official documents they mostly only used the simple designation "King" ( rex ), following the example of Louis the Pious , who since his coronation as imperator exclusively called himself imperator augustus without a national or national name . Only from Charles III. The simple- minded (893–923) was linked to a political agenda by deliberately including the title “King of the Franks” in his documents from 911 onwards. In that year, Ludwig the child, the last Carolingian of the Eastern Empire died and Charles III. the simple-minded, as the senior of the Carolingian dynasty, now also claimed rule in the Eastern Empire. With the recognition of Charles the Fat in East Franconia as King of the West Franconians in 884, he could even invoke a precedent. In the Treaty of Bonn 921 , however, Karl had to give up his claim to rule over the Eastern Empire. Regardless of this, he retained the title of "King of the Franks", to which his successors also held on.

In addition to the western part of the old Franconian settlement area between Loire and Scheldt , the former Neustrian Francia (translated into German as " Franzien "), the West Franconian Empire also included settlement areas of other peoples, such as the Gallic Aquitaine, Burgundy, Bretons and since the 10th Century also Normans. After the kingship of the last Carolingians and the first Capetians was characterized by a persistent phase of weakness and feudal disintegration and, from the 12th century, came back to a universal concept of monarchy, this was also reflected in the title of its kings. Philip II August (1179–1223) was the first to use the title rex Franciæ in his documents , initially alongside the traditional title Francorum rex , until it disappeared from royal correspondence at the end of the 13th century. In Old French, however, the new title as roi de France was still derived from Francia and appears in this form for the first time in a document from King Louis IX. from the year 1241. Translated into German, the title was literally "King of Franconia", although "France" was the common name of the country. In this case, too, the title was program, because it no longer identified its bearer as the ruler of an ethnic group, but of a geographically defined area of ​​rulership: "France" as the scope of its legislative and ruling power, precisely its kingdom, including all subjects who are independent of them ethnic origin in the French colloquial language were soon only known as Français ( French ). At the same time, a new concept of the state manifested itself in this title, in which the feudal union state was replaced by a transpersonal and universal monarchy . The continuity to the old empire of the Franks could be preserved in the new title by changing the (ethnographic) name of the people into the (geographical) name of the kingdom. It should be noted that the term Francia was used in the narrative chronicles as a paraphrase for the western empire before the 13th century and that the title Francorum rex , subordinate to the title rex Franciæ , continued to be used, especially on seals, until the end of the monarchy stayed.

Until the French Revolution in 1789, the official title of the rulers of France was “King of France”, between the years 1284 and 1323 and 1572 and 1791 with the addition “and of Navarre” (Latin: rex Franciæ et Navarræ, French: roi de France et de Navarre ), as they also served as kings of Navarre in those periods . After the elimination of the Ancien Régime by the Revolution, the constitution passed on September 3, 1791 changed the title of head of state to “King of the French” ( roi des Français ), since the kingship is no longer through the divine right , but through the will of the people should be legitimized. The two empires from 1804 to 1815 and 1852 to 1870 ( empereur des Français ) as well as the bourgeois kingship from 1830 to 1848 followed the same principle . Only during the restoration phase between 1814 and 1830, in which the aim was to restore pre-revolutionary conditions, was action taken back once more to the traditional royal constitution.

While the constitution of the First French Republic (1792-1804) did not provide for a formal head of state, the executive power of the republican France was taken by an elected president from the Second Republic (1848-1852). His official title was always "President of the French Republic" ( président de la République française ). The head of state of the short-lived “ Vichy regime ” (1940 to 1944), which collaborated with Nazi Germany , carried the simple official title of “head of state” ( chef de l'État or chef d'État ). In the period from 1944 to 1947, the French state had no formal head. During this time, the presidents of the Provisional Government are listed. Only with the proclamation of the Fourth Republic in 1947 did the country get a president again.

Since King Henry IV ascended the throne in 1589, every French head of state has also been a prince of the Pyrenees state of Andorra ( prince d'Andorre ), which he presides over in co-lordship ( cosuzeraineté ) with the Bishop of Urgell .

West Franconian Empire / Kingdom of France

The West Franconian Empire was founded on August 10, 843 by the partition treaty of Verdun .

Carolingians and Robertians

King of the Franks
name in French
(life dates)
Reign relationship Remarks
Bible Carolingienne (Charles le Chauve) .jpg Charles II the Bald
Charles le Chauve
(born June 13, 823 - † October 6, 877)
832-877 Son of Ludwig I the Pious Already installed as a sub-king in Aquitaine and Neustria by the father in 832. In the Treaty of Verdun 843, the entire western part of the empire was awarded to him. Later he was able to bring Aquitaine and large parts of Lotharingen under his rule. The Quierzy capitularies that he issued sealed the already advanced feudalization of the country and contributed to the weakening of the kingdom. Was also crowned Roman emperor in Rome in 875.
Karl the child
Charles l'Enfant
(* around 849, † September 29, 866)
second son of Charles the Bald 855 used as sub-king in Aquitaine.
LudvikKokta.jpg Ludwig II the regular
Louis le Bègue
(* 846; † 879)
877-879 first son of Charles the Bald In 867 he was appointed as sub-king in Aquitaine, from 877 sole ruler in the western empire.
Ludwig III.
(* about 864; † August 5, 882)
Karlmann II.
(* 866; † December 6/12, 884)
879-882 first son of the predecessor Both brothers followed their father on an equal footing and in 880 agreed a division of the empire in which Ludwig III. the land north of the Loire ( Neustrian Francia ) and Karlmann Aquitaine and Burgundy took over. Both fought checkered battles against the Normans and Boso of Vienne . When Ludwig III. died, Karlmann also took over his domain.
879-884 second son of the predecessor
Emperor Charles III the Fat.jpg Charlemagne
Charles le Gros
(* 839 - 13 February 888)
885-888 Grandson of Ludwig the Pious King of Eastern Franconia since 876 and King of Italy since 879. Was recognized as king by the West Franconian greats after the death of Karlmann, with which Charlemagne's territory was reunited for a short time. Deposed again after an unsuccessful fight against the Normans.
Coronation of King Odo.jpg Odo
(before 866--1 January 898)
888-898 Son of Robert the Brave First non-Carolingian on the West Frankish throne. Raised king by the West Franconian greats, he led a successful battle against the Normans.
Guy de Spolète
(*? - † December 894)
888 In March 888 in Langres elected and crowned by the Burgundian greats as a counter-pretender to Odo. Without being able to gain a larger following, he retired to Italy in the same year.
Charles the Simple 02.jpg Charles III the simple-minded
Charles le Simple
(born September 17, 879, † October 7, 929)
893-923 third son of Ludwig the Stammler As the last living Carolingian, elected as a counter-pretender to Odo in 893 and generally recognized after his death. Entrusted the Normans in the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte 911 with the area around Rouen, from which Normandy was born. Unsuccessfully undertook the conquest of Lotharingen and came into conflict with the Robertinians. In 923 he was deposed and spent the rest of his life in captivity.
Robert I.
(* 866- † June 15, 923)
922-923 Brother of Odo He was crowned king in 922 and fell the following year fighting against the supporters of Charles III.
Rudolph of France.jpg Rudolf
Raoul de Bourgogne
(before 890 - January 15, 936)
923-936 Son-in-law of the predecessor Recognized as king by the supporters of Robert I.
Sacre Louis4 France 02.jpg Louis IV the overseas
Louis d'Outremer
(born September 10, 921; † October 10, 954)
936-954 Son of Charles III. In return for the crown, he had to give Hugo the Great , a son of Robert I, a powerful special position in the empire.
Lothar1.jpg Lothar
(* 941; † March 2, 986)
954-986 Son of the predecessor Waged war against the eastern Regnum around Lotharingia.
Ludvik5frrr.jpg Louis V the Lazy
Louis le Fainéant
(* 966/967 - † May 21, 987)
986-987 Son of the predecessor He ruled for only 14 months and left no descendants.

Capetian (direct line)

King of the Franks / King of France
Name in French
(life dates)
Reign relationship Remarks
HugoKapet kronika.jpg Hugo Capet
Hugues Capet
(* 941; † October 24, 996)
987-996 Grandson of Robert I. Elected king as the son of Hugo the Great. Had little authority over the country's feudal nobility.
Robert II of France kronika.jpg Robert II the Pious
Robert le Pieux
(* March 27, 972 - † July 20, 1031)
987-1031 Son of the predecessor Elevated to co-king of his father in 987 , sole ruler from 996. The first recorded cremation of heretics took place under his rule . Was in conflict with Odo I./II. from Champagne-Blois .
(* 1007; † September 17, 1025)
first son Roberts II. Raised his father's co-king in 1017, died before him.
Henry1 head.jpg Heinrich I
(* 1008 - † August 4, 1060)
1027-1060 second son Roberts II. Elevated to co-king of his father in 1027, sole ruler from 1031. Had to fight for the throne in a power struggle with his brother Robert and his mother. Was by Count Fulko III. supported by Anjou against Count Odo von Blois. First supported Wilhelm the bastard in the battle for Normandy to later fight it unsuccessfully.
Filipus1.jpg Philip I
(23 May 1052 - 30 July 1108)
1059-1108 Son of the predecessor Elevated to his father's co-king in 1059, sole ruler from 1060. His mother Anna of Kiev and Baldwin V of Flanders ruled for him until 1067 . During this time William invaded England and founded the "Anglo-Norman Empire", which Philip fought in league with Flanders and Anjou. He lost all prestige through the kidnapping of Bertrada von Montfort and was excommunicated by Pope Urban II . The first crusade was proclaimed at the Council of Clermont in 1095 .
Louis6 fr head.jpg Louis VI. the fat
Louis le Gros
(* 1081; † August 1, 1137)
1108-1137 Son of the predecessor He fought successfully against the rebellious lords of the Île-de-France, which he developed into an economically and administratively well-organized crown land. Fought unsuccessfully against the Anglo-Normans and Flemings.
(August 29, 1116 - October 13, 1131)
first son of Ludwig VI. He was raised to the rank of co-king of his father in 1130, before he died.
Louis7 head.jpg Louis VII the Younger
Louis le Jeune
(* 1120; † September 18, 1180)
1131-1180 second son of Louis VI. Raised his father's co-king in 1131, sole ruler from 1137. Through his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine , he expanded the crown domain considerably. Was one of the leaders of the Second Crusade from 1147 to 1149 , which ended unsuccessfully. Regents at this time were Suger von Saint-Denis and Count Rudolf I von Vermandois . After his divorce from Eleanor, he lost Aquitaine to her second husband Heinrich II. Plantagenet , which resulted in the “ Angevin Empire ”.
Philip2 fr head.jpg Philip II August
Philippe Auguste
(* August 21, 1165 - † July 14, 1223)
1179-1223 Son of the predecessor Elevated to co-king of his father in 1179, sole ruler from 1180. Stirring the conflicts in the Plantagenet house to his advantage. Was one of the leaders of the Third Crusade (1190–1191). Triumphed over the Plantagenets, brought about the collapse of the Angevin Empire by 1204 and made the crown domain the largest territory in France. At the same time he extended the royal power through the Albigensian Crusade to the Mediterranean. Supported the Hohenstaufen Frederick II in the German throne dispute and raised him up in 1214 through the victory at Bouvines over Emperor Otto IV. With Philip II August, the rise of the central state idea (monarchy) with simultaneous suppression of sovereign power (feudalism) is set.
Louis8 fr head.jpg Louis VIII the lion
Louis le Lion
(* September 5, 1187 - † November 8, 1226)
1223-1226 Son of the predecessor From 1225 the succession took place via the primogeniture , the choice of the heir as co-king was thus dispensable. Successfully continued the Albigensian Crusade and conquered large parts of Aquitaine for the crown domain.
Saintlouis.jpg Louis IX the Holy
Saint Louis
(* April 25, 1214; † August 25, 1270)
1226-1270 Son of the predecessor His mother Blanka of Castile first ruled for him . Continued to consolidate royal administration and the judiciary across France. Under him the written fixation of French customary law began. Made peace with the Plantagenets and ended the Albigensian Crusade, established the ecclesiastical inquisition to persecute Jews and Cathars . 1248-1254 led the unsuccessful Sixth Crusade to Egypt and 1270 the Seventh Crusade , on which he died. Was canonized by Pope Boniface VIII in 1297 .
Philip3 fr head.jpg Philip III the brave
Philippe le Hardi
(April 3, 1245 - October 5, 1285)
1270-1285 Son of the predecessor Candidate for the Roman-German crown. After the Sicilian Vespers he supported his uncle Charles of Anjou in the fight against Aragón (Aragonese Crusade).
Philip4 fr head.jpg Philip IV the Handsome
Philippe le Bel
(* 1268 - 29 November 1314)
1285-1314 Son of the predecessor Was in conflict with Edward I of England and waged an ongoing war against Flanders. Claimed full sovereignty over the French state and church ( Gallicanism ) and got into a bitter dispute with Pope Boniface VIII about the relationship between spiritual and secular power. In the end made the papacy dependent on itself in its “Babylonian exile” in Avignon. Still smashed the Knights Templar .
Louis10 fr head.jpg Louis X. the brawler
Louis le Hutin
(* October 4, 1289 - † June 5, 1316)
1314-1316 Son of the predecessor He had to contend with resistance from the nobles who demanded tax breaks and extended rights.
Jean I roi de France.jpg John I the Posthume
Jean le Posthume
(born November 15, 1316 - † November 19, 1316)
1316 Son of the predecessor He was born after the death of his father and died just a few days after his birth. The reign for him led Philip the Long .
Sacre Philippe5 France 01.jpg Philip V the Tall
Philippe le Long
(November 17, 1293 - January 3, 1322)
1316-1322 Uncle of the predecessor Recognized by the Estates-General, he had the Lex Salica declared binding for the succession to the throne in order to legitimize his succession in order to prevent female succession. He had Cathars and Jews persecuted.
Charles4 fr head.jpg Charles IV the Handsome
Charles le Bel
(December 11, 1295 - February 1, 1328)
1322-1328 Brother of the predecessor Was in conflict with Edward II of England. Conducted a very despotic domestic policy and left no male offspring.

Capetians (House Valois)

King of France
name in French
(life dates)
Reign relationship Remarks
Phil6france.jpg Philip VI
Philippe de Valois
(* 1293; † August 22, 1350)
1328-1350 Grandson of Philip III. Recognized by the Estates General as the successor to Charles IV. Successfully waged war against Flanders. Got with Edward III. of England in conflict over sovereignty rights in the Guyenne , whereupon the Hundred Years War broke out.
JeanIIdFrance.jpg John II the Good
Jean le Bon
(April 16, 1319 - April 8, 1364)
1350-1364 Son of the predecessor He continued the war against England. After the Battle of Maupertuis he was in English captivity from 1356 to 1360 and 1364, where he eventually died. During this time France was under the rule of the Dauphin , who put down the revolt of Étienne Marcel and the peasant uprising of the Jacquerie .
Karel V van Frankrijk.jpg Charles V the Wise
Charles le Sage
(January 21, 1338 - September 16, 1380)
1364-1380 Son of the predecessor Thanks to his general, Bertrand du Guesclin , he succeeded in winning Castile as an ally against England and in conquering almost all the territories that his father had had to cede. He was a great patron of the arts and sciences and strove for greater centralization of France.
Charles6lefou.jpg Charles VI the madman
Charles le Fou
(born December 3, 1368 - † October 21, 1422)
1380-1422 Son of the predecessor 1380–1388 due to being a minor under the reign of the Dukes Ludwig von Anjou , Johann von Berry and Philipp von Burgund ( government of the dukes ). Since Charles VI. was apparently deranged, even after he came of age, the real power lay with the nobility under the leadership of his wife Isabeau . Disputes between various aristocratic factions led to open civil war in 1410 . Henry V of England took advantage of the resulting weakness of France, won the Battle of Azincourt and occupied large parts of the country, including Paris .
KarlVII.jpg Charles VII the Victorious
Charles le Victorieux
(February 22, 1403 - July 22, 1461)
1422-1461 Son of the predecessor During his reign the work of Joan of Arc falls , with whose help Orléans and Reims are liberated. The attempt to retake Paris initially failed. After Burgundy had switched sides, however, Charles managed to recapture all of the English possessions in France. Only Calais remained in English hands until 1559. The Hundred Years War was over.
Heinrich VI. of England
(6 December 1421 - 21 May 1471)
1431 crowned the anti-king in northern France. The Hundred Years War and the English occupation of France came to an end after the Battle of Castillon in 1453.
Louis XI of France.jpg Louis XI. the clever
Louis le Prudent
(July 3, 1423 - August 30, 1483)
1461-1483 Son of the predecessor He occupied Burgundy, which had allied itself with England against France. After the death of Charles the Bold , he recaptured large parts of Burgundy, from which the Habsburg-French antagonism developed. Louis XI. is considered a promoter of science and a pioneer of French centralism and absolutism.
Charles VIII de france.jpg Charles VIII the Friendly
Charles l'Affable
(born June 30, 1470 - April 7, 1498)
1483-1498 Son of the predecessor 1483–1491 for being a minor under the reign of Anne de Beaujeu . He acquired Brittany as land for the crown and briefly conquered Naples , but could not hold it. Charles VIII left no heir to the throne.
Louis XII.  of France.jpg Louis XII. the father of the people
Louis le Père du peuple
(June 27, 1462 - January 1, 1515)
1498-1515 Great-grandson of Charles V. He waged war in Italy and was able to conquer Milan . Left no male offspring.
Francis1-1.jpg Franz I the Knight King
François le Roi-Chevalier
(September 12, 1494 - March 31, 1547)
1515-1547 Great-great-grandson of Charles V. He tried in vain to be crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire . After several campaigns during the Italian Wars , he gave up claims to Milan and Naples. He pursued the sustainable centralization of the country and established the French state church through the Bologna Concordat . Franz I is considered one of the most important Renaissance princes in Europe and was a great patron of art. With the purchase of numerous Italian works, he laid the foundation stone for the Louvre's collection of paintings .
Henry II of France..jpg Henry II
(March 31, 1519 - July 10, 1559)
1547-1559 Son of the predecessor He drove the English out of Calais and concluded the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis with the Habsburgs . Domestically, the conflict with the Huguenots began .
Francesco II.jpg Francis II
(January 19, 1544 - December 5, 1560)
1559-1560 Son of the predecessor Married to Maria Stuart , Queen of Scots . He died at the age of 16 after only 17 months in reign.
Bemberg Fondation Toulouse - Portrait de Charles IX - François Clouet - Inv.1012.jpg Charles IX
(June 27, 1550 - May 30, 1574)
1560-1574 Brother of the predecessor 1560–1563 under the reign of Catherine de Medici . The first four Huguenot Wars and Bartholomew's Night fall during his reign .
Anjou 1570louvre.jpg Henry III.
(September 19, 1551 - August 2, 1589)
1574-1589 Brother of the predecessor Temporary King of Poland-Lithuania from 1573 to 1574 . Four more Huguenot Wars took place during his reign. Since his marriage remained childless, he appointed Henry of Navarre as his successor.

Capetians (House Bourbon)

King of France
name in French
(life dates)
Reign relationship Remarks
Henry IV of france by pourbous younger.jpg Henry IV the Good
Henri le Bon
(* December 13, 1553 - † May 14, 1610)
1589-1610 Descendant of Louis IX. in 11th generation Was king of Navarre since 1572 . 1589 to 1593 the only Calvinist king in France (only partially recognized). Fully recognized in 1593. He rebuilt the country after the Huguenot Wars and granted the Huguenots religious freedom in the Edict of Tolerance of Nantes . In particular, he strengthened France's position as a great power in Europe. Was murdered by François Ravaillac .
Louis XIIIval grace.jpg Louis XIII the righteous
Louis le Juste
(27 September 1601 - 14 May 1643)
1610-1643 Son of the predecessor Until 1614 under the reign of Maria de Medici . Cardinal Richelieu was ruling minister under him . The privileges of the Huguenots were curtailed and their fortresses were destroyed. France initially intervened indirectly in the Thirty Years' War by subsidizing Gustav II Adolf . In 1635 France officially declared war on the House of Habsburg.
Louis XIV of France.jpg Louis XIV. The Sun King
Louis le Roi-Soleil
Louis le Grand
(* September 5, 1638 - † September 1, 1715)
1643-1715 Son of the predecessor Until 1651 under the reign of Anna of Austria , until 1661 Cardinal Mazarin was its ruling minister. France was the main winner of the war in 1648 after the Peace of Westphalia . Louis XIV completed the absolutism of his predecessors and reformed the central state. He waged many costly wars and thus enlarged France considerably. He had the Huguenots persecuted and was an outstanding patron of the arts and sciences. The Palace of Versailles is regarded as the highlight of his work . The Sun King is considered to be the most important monarch in French history. Since his rule was a heyday of France, it has become famous as the Grand Siècle .
LouisXV-Rigaud1.jpg Louis XV the much-loved
Louis le Bien-Aimé
(born February 15, 1710 - † May 10, 1774)
1715-1774 Great-grandson of the predecessor Until 1723 under the reign of Philippe II. D'Orléans , until 1743 Cardinal Fleury was ruling minister. Under Louis XV. The economic and cultural prosperity of France continued in the Siècle des Lumières . The enlightenment began to unfold. In 1763 he lost a large part of the French colonies to Great Britain.
Ludvig XVI av Frankrike portraitterad av AF Callet.jpg Louis XVI
(23 August 1754 - 21 January 1793)
1774-1792 Grandson of the predecessor He intervened in the American War of Independence and inflicted a heavy defeat on Great Britain. The resulting national debt led to the national crisis that erupted in the French Revolution in 1789. By the constitutional constitution of 1791 Louis XVI. renounce his divine right and accept the title "King of the French". After the assault on the Tuileries resulting from the Duke of Brunswick's manifesto , he was deposed in September 1792, convicted of treason and guillotined.

First republic

The first republic was proclaimed on September 21, 1792 after the king had been deposed. She did not have a formal head of state, but was represented in the succession of three executive bodies, the chairmen of which can be regarded as the "first men of the state".

Executive body
Chairperson Remarks
National Convention
September 21, 1792 - October 26, 1795
In its three-year existence, the National Convention had a total of 75 presidents in 77 terms of office. The term of office was 14 days. Those elected to office included personalities such as Danton , Robespierre , Barras , Carnot , Saint-Just and Sieyès . As a constituent assembly, the National Convention abolished the monarchy on its second day and assumed the provisional government for the next three years. He successfully defended the young republic in the first coalition war against the monarchies of Europe, expanded the state territory to the Rhine and founded subsidiary republics in the Netherlands and Italy. Domestically, the welfare committee under Robespierre exercised a reign of terror from April 1793 until his overthrow in July 1794, the royalist uprising in the Vendée was suppressed. On August 22, 1795, the constitution was passed, which came into force on October 26, 1795 after a referendum.
October 26, 1795 - November 9, 1799
First Directory (October 31, 1795 - May 21, 1797)
Jean-François Reubell
Lazare Nicolas Marguerite Carnot
Paul de Barras
Louis-Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux
Étienne-François Le Tourneur
Second Directory (May 21, 1797 - September 4, 1797)
Jean-François Reubell
Lazare Nicolas Marguerite Carnot
Paul de Barras
Louis-Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux
François Barthélemy
Third Directory (September 4, 1797 - June 18, 1798)
Jean-François Reubell
Paul de Barras
Louis-Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux
Philippe-Antoine Merlin de Douai
Nicolas-Louis François de Neufchâteau
Fourth Directory (June 18, 1798 - May 17, 1799)
Jean-François Reubell
Paul de Barras
Louis-Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux
Philippe-Antoine Merlin de Douai
Jean-Baptiste Treilhard
Fifth Directory (May 17, 1799 - June 17, 1799)
Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès
Paul de Barras
Louis-Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux
Philippe-Antoine Merlin de Douai
Jean-Baptiste Treilhard
Sixth Directory (June 17, 1799 - June 20, 1799)
Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès
Paul de Barras
Roger Ducos
Jean-François Moulin
Louis Gohier
After Carnot held the opinion leadership in the directorate, it was taken over by Barras in the coup d'état of the 18th Fructidor V. Meanwhile, the republic steered into an economic and political crisis that favored the rise of General Napoléon Bonaparte , who was successfully fighting in Italy and Egypt . After the formation of the second coalition at the beginning of 1799, Bonaparte, supported by Sieyès, overthrew the directorate in the coup d'état of 18th Brumaire VIII and forced the Council of Five Hundred to set up a provisional consulate.
November 10, 1799 - May 18, 1804
First Consulate (November 10, 1799 - December 12, 1799)
Napoléon Bonaparte
Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès
Roger Ducos
Second Consulate (December 12, 1799 - May 18, 1804)
Napoléon Bonaparte
Jean-Jacques Régis de Cambacérès
Charles-François Lebrun
The consulate constitution was adopted by referendum on December 24, 1799. After the second coalition war had been victoriously ended, Bonaparte had himself appointed consul for life in a new referendum in 1802, paving his way to empire.

First empire

The first empire was established on May 18, 1804 when the senate conferred the title of imperial on the consul Napoléon Bonaparte .

House Bonaparte

Emperor of the French
name in French
(dates of life)
Term of office relationship
Ingres, Napoleon on his Imperial throne.jpg Napoléon I.
Napoleone Buonaparte
Napoléon Bonaparte
(born August 15, 1769 - † May 5, 1821)
May 18, 1804 - April 11, 1814
Born in Corsica and an officer in the French army. Became the first consul of the republic through the coup of the 18th Brumaire and was consul for life from August 1802. The Senate finally appointed him emperor, and France owes him the Civil Code . In numerous wars he conquered large parts of Europe, which ultimately led to a defeat for France. After the occupation of Paris, Napoleon was forced to abdicate by the victorious powers in the Treaty of Fontainebleau (April 11, 1814).

Kingdom of France

On April 1, 1814, the French Senate proposed the leadership of a provisional government to Talleyrand , which in turn offered the kingship to the Bourbons, who were returning from exile. In the Charte constitutionnelle passed on June 14, 1814 , the restoration of the monarchy was enshrined in the constitution.

Capetians (House Bourbon)

King of France
(life dates)
Term of office relationship
Lefèvre - Louis XVIII of France in Coronation Robes.jpg Louis XVIII
(November 17, 1755 - September 16, 1824)
April 11, 1814 - March 20, 1815 Brother of Louis XVI.
Since the death of the Dauphin Louis Charles de Bourbon (Louis XVII.) In 1795, Louis XVIII. recognized by the exiled royalists as a king under Salian inheritance law. He could only exercise his rule after Napoleon's abdication and, to the annoyance of ultra-royalist forces, took into account the revolutionary upheavals of recent years. He signed the first Treaty of Paris (May 1814), which kept France within the borders of 1792. Had to give way to the returning Napoléon in 1815.

French Empire (First Empire)

Restoration of the empire after Napoleon's return from exile on March 20, 1815.

House Bonaparte

Emperor of the French
name in French
(dates of life)
Term of office relationship
Ingres, Napoleon on his Imperial throne.jpg Napoléon I.
Napoleone Buonaparte
Napoléon Bonaparte
(born August 15, 1769 - † May 5, 1821)
March 20, 1815 - June 22, 1815
His renewed takeover ended after a short time ( rule of the hundred days ) with the defeat at Waterloo , as a result of which he was exiled to St. Helena.

Kingdom of France

Capetians (House Bourbon)

King of France
(life dates)
Term of office relationship
Lefèvre - Louis XVIII of France in Coronation Robes.jpg Louis XVIII
(November 17, 1755 - September 16, 1824)
July 8, 1815 - September 16, 1824
After his return, Louis XVIII. a compensatory liberal policy and granted a far-reaching amnesty. Had to accept the Second Treaty of Paris (November 1815) that pushed France back within the 1790 borders. He was a representative of the constitutional monarchy, in foreign policy he joined France in the Holy Alliance in 1818 . He left no heir to the throne.
Charles X of France by François Pascal Simon Gérard.jpg Charles X
(October 9, 1757 - November 6, 1836)
September 16, 1824 - August 2, 1830 Brother of the predecessor
A spokesman for the ultra-royalists as a prince in exile, as king he strove to remove all revolutionary innovations in favor of the restoration of absolute monarchy. His actions, branded as tyrannical, provoked the July Revolution in 1830 , which forced him to abdicate.

July Monarchy

The constitutional monarchy, which is generally known as the “ July Monarchy” because of its founding in the Revolution of 1830, was established on August 6, 1830 when the Chamber of Deputies applied for royal dignity to the Duke of Orléans and enshrined it in a new constitution the next day.

Capetians (House Orléans)

King of the French
name in French
(life dates)
Term of office relationship
Louis-Philippe, King of the French - Winterhalter 1845.jpg Ludwig Philipp I the citizen king
Louis Philippe le Roi Citoyen
(* October 6, 1773, † August 26, 1850)
August 9, 1830 - February 24, 1848 Descendant of Louis XIII. in the 6th generation
Supported by the liberal upper middle class ( bourgeoisie ), he brought the country new economic prosperity with the onset of industrialization . In the process, however, there were social conflicts with circles of the peasantry and the young proletariat. Having become unpopular through his stance on census voting and his turn to reactionary circles (holy alliance), he was overthrown again in the February Revolution .

Second republic

The second republic was proclaimed on February 25, 1848. In June, to put down the June uprising, the National Assembly handed over executive power to the Minister of War, Louis-Eugène Cavaignac (military dictatorship).

President of the Republic
(life dates)
Term of office Political party
Napoleon III, målning av Franz Xaver Winterhalter från 1857.jpg Louis Napoléon Bonaparte
(April 20, 1808 - January 9, 1873)
1 December 20, 1848 - December 2, 1852 Bonapartist
Won the presidential election against Cavaignac and became the first president of republican France. Before the end of his term in office, he carried out a successful coup in December 1851 to achieve dictatorship and after a plebiscite proclaimed himself Emperor of the French.

Second empire

House Bonaparte

(life dates)
Term of office relationship
Alexandre Cabanel 002.jpg Napoleon III
Louis Napoléon Bonaparte
(April 20, 1808 - January 9, 1873)
December 2, 1852 - September 4, 1870 Nephew of Napoleon I.
First established an authoritarian second empire, which he liberalized from 1860. Supported the Ottoman Empire in the Crimean War against Russia and ordered the first naval expeditions to Southeast Asia, which resulted in the establishment of the French Indochina colony . Gained Savoy and Nice by ceding to France. Under him, Baron Haussmann redesigned the capital Paris. Got into Prussian captivity during the Franco-Prussian War in the Battle of Sedan and was immediately declared deposed.

Third Republic

Governor of the Government of National Defense
(Vital Dates)
Term of office Political party
Général Louis Jules Trochu.png Louis Jules Trochu
(May 12, 1815 - October 7, 1896)
September 4, 1870 - February 19, 1871
Still from Napoleon III. appointed military governor on August 17th. Created the Trochu cabinet in Paris when the Republic was proclaimed on September 4th
President of the Republic
(life dates)
Term of office Political party
Thiers2.jpg Adolphe Thiers
(April 15, 1797 - September 3, 1877)
2 August 31, 1871 - May 24, 1873 Liberal Monarchist (Orléanist)
As a monarchist, was elected the first President of the Third Republic. Fought for a constitutional monarchy modeled on the July monarchy. Resigned from office in conflict with ultra-royalists. Re-elected in 1877, died during the election campaign.
Patrice de Mac Mahon.jpg Patrice Edme, comte de MacMahon
(born July 13, 1808 - † October 17, 1893)
3 May 24, 1873 - January 30, 1879 Ultra Monarchist (Legitimistic)
His attempt to reestablish the monarchy failed because of the stubbornness of the Comte de Chambord . As a result, the electoral successes of the Republicans increased, which forced him to form Republican cabinets. With no prospect of a royalist turnaround, MacMahon resigned from office.
Bonnat Portrait of Jules Grevy.jpg Jules Grévy
(August 15, 1807 - September 9, 1891)
4th January 30, 1879 - December 2, 1887 Left Republican
Marie Francois Sadi Carnot.jpg Marie François Sadi Carnot
(August 11, 1837 - June 25, 1894)
5 December 3, 1887 - June 25, 1894 Left Republican
Died in office after an assassination attempt.
Jean Casimir-Perier.jpg Jean Casimir-Périer
(8 November 1847 - 11 March 1907)
6th June 27, 1894 - January 16, 1895 Left Republican
Felix Faure.jpg Félix Faure
(January 30, 1841 - February 16, 1899)
7th January 17, 1895 - February 16, 1899 Republican
The Dreyfus affair fell during his term of office . Died in office.
Emile Loubet.jpg Émile Loubet
(December 30, 1838 - December 20, 1929)
8th February 18, 1899 - February 18, 1906 ARD (Liberal Democrat)
PRD (Liberal Democrat)
Armand Fallieres 2.jpg Armand Fallières
(born November 6, 1841 - † June 22, 1931)
9 February 18, 1906 - February 18, 1913 ARD (Liberal Democrat)
PRD (Liberal Democrat)
Raymond Poincaré 1914.jpg Raymond Poincaré
(born August 20, 1860 - † October 15, 1934)
10 February 18, 1913 - February 18, 1920 PRD (Liberal Democrat)
ARD (Liberal Democrat)
First World War
Paul Deschanel 02.jpg Paul Deschanel
(born February 13, 1855 - † April 28, 1922)
11 February 18, 1920 - September 21, 1920 ARD (Liberal Democrat)
PRDS (Social Democrat)
Alexandre Millerand 02.jpg Alexandre Millerand
(February 10, 1859 - April 6, 1943)
12 September 23, 1920 - June 11, 1924 Non-party
Gaston Doumergue.jpg Gaston Doumergue
(born August 1, 1863 - † June 18, 1937)
13 June 13, 1924 - June 13, 1931 Radical socialist
Paul Doumer.jpg Paul Doumer
(March 22, 1857 - May 7, 1932)
14th June 13, 1931 - May 7, 1932 Radical socialist
Died in office.
Albert Lebrun 1932 (2) .jpg Albert Lebrun
(born August 29, 1871 - † March 6, 1950)
15th May 10, 1932 - July 11, 1940 AD (Liberal Democrat)
Surrender of France in World War II ( Western campaign ) and dissolution of the third republic after the armistice of Compiègne on June 22, 1940. The National Assembly withdrew all executive powers from Lebrun and transferred them to Marshal Pétain.


French state

Chief of State
(life data)
Term of office
Philippe Pétain (en civil, autour de 1930) .jpg Philippe Pétain
(born April 24, 1856 - † July 23, 1951)
July 11, 1940 - August 20, 1944
Marshal of France. Vice-Prime Minister since May 1940, commissioned by the National Assembly in Vichy in June 1940 to draft a new constitution and appointed head of the French state ( État français ) in the unoccupied part of France. General Charles de Gaulle declares himself to be the leader of free France in exile in London against the authoritarian “Vichy regime” that collaborates with Nazi Germany . This was followed by the German occupation of Vichy France in November 1942 and the internment of the government in Germany on August 20, 1944.

Provisional government

The Provisional Government of the French Republic was formed on June 3, 1944 in Algiers with General Charles de Gaulle at its head. On August 25, 1944, they moved into Paris, which had been liberated by German troops.

Chairman of the Provisional Government
(life data)
Term of office Political party
Charles de Gaulle
(born November 22, 1890 - † November 9, 1970)
June 3, 1944 - January 20, 1946
Félix Gouin
(October 4, 1884 - October 25, 1977)
January 26, 1946 - June 12, 1946 SFIO (socialist)
Georges Bidault
(born October 5, 1899 - † January 27, 1983)
June 23, 1946 - November 28, 1946 MRP (Christian Democratic)
Léon Blum
(April 9, 1872 - March 30, 1950)
December 16, 1946 - January 16, 1947 SFIO (socialist)

Fourth republic

The Constitution of the Fourth Republic came into force on October 27, 1946.

President of the Republic
(life dates)
Term of office Political party
Vincent Auriol-1927.jpg Vincent Auriol
(born August 27, 1884 - † January 1, 1966)
16 January 16, 1947 - January 16, 1954 SFIO (socialist)
France approached the USA and Great Britain in the onset of the Cold War , but was against the rearmament of Germany, as well as against the independence movements in the colonies, which exacerbated the Indochina War .
René Coty-1929.jpg René Coty
(March 20, 1882 - November 22, 1962)
17th Jan. 16, 1954 - January 8, 1959 CNIP (conservative)
Liberated Morocco and Tunisia into independence and ended the Indochina War after the defeat of Điện Biên Phủ . The Suez Crisis and the escalating Algerian War destabilized the Fourth Republic, which was fought from both the left and the right. After the army leadership in Algeria under General Jacques Massu put on a coup (May 1958), Coty anticipated an impending coup d'etat with the suggestion that Charles de Gaulle should be elected Prime Minister with extensive emergency powers. De Gaulle brought the army in Algeria back under state authority in June 1958. In September 1958, a referendum passed a constitutional amendment that resulted in the Fifth Republic .

Fifth Republic

The constitution for the Fifth Republic came into force on October 5, 1958 and is still in force today.

President of the Republic
(life dates)
Term of office Political party choice
Charles de Gaulle-1963.jpg Charles de Gaulle
(born November 22, 1890 - † November 9, 1970)
18th Jan. 8, 1959 - April 28, 1969 UNR , UDR (Gaullist) 1958
First President of the Fifth Republic, which became a founding member of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957 . Ended the Algerian War in 1962 and granted Algeria independence. Established France as an independent nuclear power during the Cold War . Conducted a policy of rapprochement with Germany and founded by Konrad Adenauer , the German-French relations . Supported a "Europe of Fatherlands" and withdrew France from NATO's military command structure in 1966 . The pronounced conservative-authoritarian spirit of Gaullist France led to nationwide student unrest and general strikes in 1968 , as a result of which de Gaulle resigned.
Interim presidency of the President of the Senate, Alain Poher , from April 29 to June 19, 1969.
George Pompidou, May 1973.jpg Georges Pompidou
(born July 5, 1911 - † April 2, 1974)
19th June 20, 1969 - April 2, 1974 UDR (Gaullist) 1969
Advocated the expansion of the EEC to include Great Britain, among others, but continued the distanced relationship with the USA. Domestically, he pushed for a modernization of the economy, society and culture ( Center Georges Pompidou ). On August 15, 1971, US President Nixon announced that with immediate effect the US dollar would no longer be exchanged for gold at the fixed rate ( Nixon shock ). This was the end of the Bretton Woods system introduced in 1944/45 , which prescribed fixed exchange rates. The 1973 oil crisis rocked the French economy. Pompidou died in office.
Interim presidency of the President of the Senate, Alain Poher , from April 3 to May 26, 1974.
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing 1978.jpg Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
(born February 2, 1926)
20th May 27, 1974 - May 21, 1981 FNRI (liberal-republican)
PR (liberal-democratic)
UDF (liberal-conservative)
As a staunch European politician, he promoted the further political integration of the European Community , but continued to insist on France's sovereignty over the great powers. As a result of, among other things, the two oil crises (1973 and 1979/80) and rising inflation, the economic situation deteriorated (see stagflation ) and unemployment rose.
Reagan Mitterrand 1984 (cropped) .jpg François Mitterrand
(born October 26, 1916 - † January 8, 1996)
21st May 21, 1981 - May 17, 1995 PS (socialist) 1981
Initiated extensive social and labor market reforms as well as nationalizations , which, however, have been gradually withdrawn for economic reasons since 1983. Abolished the death penalty . In terms of domestic policy, he focused on moderate decentralization and foreign policy on intensifying European policy, which resulted in the establishment of the European Union with a common economic and monetary union .
ChiracUSA.jpg Jacques Chirac
(born November 29, 1932 - † September 26, 2019)
22nd May 17, 1995 - May 16, 2007 RPR , UMP (Gaullist) 1995
Ordered the last atomic bomb tests on Mururoa in 1995 . On May 2, 1998, the heads of state and government of the European Community decided in Brussels to introduce the euro. Supported the US in the war in Afghanistan in 2001 , but refused France's participation in the coalition of the willing to wage war on Iraq in 2003 . Social grievances and an unsuccessful integration policy triggered unrest in the banlieues of the big cities in 2005 .
Flickr - europeanpeoplesparty - EPP Summit October 2010 (105) .jpg Nicolas Sarkozy
(born January 28, 1955)
23 May 16, 2007 - May 15, 2012 UMP (Gaullist) 2007
Has faced the general financial crisis in the euro area since 2008 and returned France to the NATO command structure in 2009. In 2011 during the Arab Spring he was instrumental in promoting the international military operation in Libya .
Francois Hollande 2015.jpeg François Hollande
(born August 12, 1954)
24 May 15, 2012 - May 14, 2017 PS (socialist) 2012
Since taking office, he was confronted with the Europe-wide crisis, the excessive indebtedness of the state and social systems and the ongoing de-industrialization of France. His popularity ratings one year after taking office are the worst of all presidents of the Fifth Republic. In 2012/2013 ended the French involvement in the war in Afghanistan . Ordered the military intervention in Mali in January 2013 . Introduced same-sex marriage in spring 2013 against bitter and sometimes violent protests by conservative Catholic circles .
Emmanuel Macron during his meeting with Vladimir Putin, June 2017.jpg Emmanuel Macron
(born December 21, 1977)
25th in office since May 14, 2017 LaREM (centrist) 2017
He is the youngest President in the history of the French Republic since his inauguration and the youngest head of state in France since Napoleon . He wants to overcome the division in French society and "protect" the French. In addition, he advocates a more democratic and effective direction for the European Union .


  • King Louis XIV had the longest term of office or rule in France at the age of 72, followed by his great-grandson Louis XV. (59 years) and the medieval ancestor Philip I (49 years).
  • François Mitterrand held the longest term of office of a Republican head of state at 14 years, followed by Jacques Chirac (12 years) and Charles de Gaulle (10 years).
  • King John I the Posthumous had the shortest reign of four days. At the same time, he was the only one of all French heads of state to hold this position from his birth to his death.
  • Jean Casimir-Périer had the shortest term of office of a republican head of state at just under 7 months.
  • The "King Louis XVII." (Dauphin Louis Charles de Bourbon, duc de Normandie ) and the "Emperor Napoléon II" ( Napoléon-François Bonaparte ) never held office. The former was considered the rightful king by emigrated royalist circles during the revolutionary years according to the Salian succession regulation. This fiction was continued by his uncle, who had been the "successor" of his nephew Louis XVIII since 1795 . called. As such, he undertook the restoration of the kingdom from 1814. Louis Napoléon Bonaparte called himself Napoleon III following the same pattern when he was proclaimed imperial in 1852 . , as the “successor” of his cousin Napoléon-François, who never appeared as Emperor Napoléon II. The two pretenders to the throne are still counted as rulers among supporters of the monarchy and empire.
  • To date, France has not had a woman as sole ruler or elected head of state. The former was impossible because of Salic inheritance law, which excluded women from inheritance. However, some queens were able to exercise de facto and later de jure rule over the country on behalf of their underage royal sons . The first were Anna of Kiev , Adele of Champagne and especially Blanka of Castile . The last ruling woman in France was Anna of Austria , who led the government for the first eight years of her son Louis XIV. In 1974, Arlette Laguiller was the first woman to run for president, followed by Corinne Lepage , Christiane Taubira , Christine Boutin , Ségolène Royal , Marie-George Buffet , Dominique Voynet , Nathalie Arthaud , Eva Joly and Marine Le Pen . Only Ségolène Royal 2007 and Marine Le Pen 2017 made it into the second round of elections. Royal lost to Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007, Le Pen lost to Emmanuel Macron in 2017 .
  • The first president of the Fifth Republic, Charles de Gaulle, was elected indirectly by an electoral college in 1958. The popular election of the president was introduced by law in 1962 and was first carried out in 1965.
  • The last election took place on May 7, 2017 in the form of a runoff between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. Macron was elected as the youngest President of France to date.

See also


  • Percy Ernst Schramm : The King of France. The essence of the monarchy from the 9th to the 16th century. 1960.
  • Joachim Ehlers : Carolingian tradition and early national consciousness in France. In: Francia Volume 4, 1976, pp. 213-235.
  • Joachim Ehlers: The Beginnings of French History. In: Historical magazine . Volume 240, 1985, pp. 1-44.
  • Joachim Ehlers (ed.): The French kings of the Middle Ages. From Odo to Charles VIII. 888–1498. 1st edition Beck, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-406-40446-4 .
  • Peter Claus Hartmann (ed.): French kings and emperors of the modern age. From Louis XII. until Napoleon III. 1498-1870. 2nd edition Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-54740-0 .
  • Bernd Schneidmüller: Ruler of the country and its people? The Capetian title of ruler in the time of Philip II August and his successors (1180-1270). In: Herwig Wolfram, Anton Scharer (Ed.): Intitulatio. Volume 3: Latin titles and titles of rulers from the 7th to the 13th century (= MIÖG . Supplementary volume 29, 1988), pp. 131–162.

Individual evidence

  1. "Looys (Louis IX.) Par la grace de Dieu rois de France" published in August 1241 an agreement between Theobald I of Navarre and the Templars. French National Archives J 198, No. 82.
  2. Hinkmar von Reims , who wrote in the 9th century, described the West Franconian Regnum as "regni Franciae". See Annales Bertiniani , ed. by Georg Waitz in: Monumenta Germaniae Historica SS rerum Germanicarum 5 (1883), p. 135.
  3. Jens Peter Paul (dissertation, 2007): Balance of a failed communication. Case studies on the German history of the creation of the euro and its democratic theoretical quality.