Famous French Emperors & Kings

Sophistication, elegance and charm are words that you connote with while talking about French and France. France has been the epicentre of most cultural developments from centuries today. A mecca of litterateurs, scientists, artists and academicians, France is often revered to as one of the greatest talent-churning nations in the world. While this is the story of current-day France, the country has an old-world charm that dates back to days when France was ruled by emperors. Stately, magnificent and imperial, French emperors ruled the country from the Middle Ages until 1848. Clovis I was the first known ruler of France who ruled from 486 AD. Several dynasties ruled the nation during this time, starting from the Merovingia to Carolingian, Capetian, Bonaparte and Bourbon. While some emperors were crusaders who regained ground for France through wars, battles and accessions, there were others under whom the architecture, literature and culture of France prospered. King Louis XIV, the Grand Monarch or Sun King, was the longest lived monarch of France. It was under him that the country became the most powerful in entire Europe. Other prominent French emperors include King Louis VIII, King Charles V, King Philippe II Augustus and so on. With this segment, find out more about French emperors and kings, their rule, accession, life and monarchical period.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 
Napoleon Bonaparte
(Emperor of the French (1804-1814))

Napoleon Bonaparte
72
Birthdate: August 15, 1769
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ajaccio, France
Died: May 5, 1821
French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte ruled as the French emperor from 1804 to 1814 and again in 1815. He strengthened France’s position in Europe through the Napoleonic Wars and extended his kingdom. However, he was eventually defeated by the Seventh Coalition at the Battle of Waterloo and sent to exile. 

 2 
Louis XVI of France
(King of France)

Louis XVI of France
12
Birthdate: August 23, 1754
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Palace of Versailles, Versailles, France
Died: January 21, 1793

Louis XVI of France reigned as the last king of France from 1774 to 1792 before the French Revolution, which ended the monarchy in France. During his reign, Louis made attempts to remove land and labor tax, abolish serfdom, and improve tolerance toward non-Catholics. However, the proposed reforms were opposed by the French nobility.

 3 
Louis XV of France
(King of France)

Louis XV of France
7
Birthdate: February 15, 1710
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Palace of Versailles, Versailles, France
Died: May 10, 1774
After losing his parents and his brother to measles, Louis XV became the king of France at the tender age of 5. Known for his extravagances and his reliance on his mistresses, Louis XV was disliked by most. His reign also witnessed judicial reforms and the Seven Years’ War.

 4 
Charlemagne
(Holy Roman Emperor (800-814))

Charlemagne
43
Birthdate: April 2, 0747
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Aachen, Germany
Died: January 28, 0814

Also known as Charles the Great, Charlemagne ruled as the king of the Franks, king of the Lombards, and emperor of the Romans at different time periods. Not surprisingly, he had a major impact during the Early Middle Ages as he went about uniting the majority of central and western Europe, for which he is called the Father of Europe.

 5 
Napoleon III
(First President of France (1848-1852), Emperor of the French (1852-70))

Napoleon III
14
Birthdate: April 20, 1808
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 9, 1873
Napoleon III, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, was the first president of France, from 1848 to 1852, and the French emperor from 1852 to 1870. He rebuilt Paris and other French cities, apart from reforming the French banks, railways, and marines. He lost the Franco-Prussian War and eventually died in exile.

 6 
William the Conqueror
(King of England (1066-1087))

William the Conqueror
30
Birthdate: 1028 AD
Birthplace: Falaise, France
Died: September 9, 1087

William the Conqueror was the first Norman King of England who ruled from 1066 to 1087. William's conquest had a profound impact on England; his government merged elements of the Norman and English systems that laid the foundations of the medieval English kingdom. He is credited with building castles, mottes, and keeps, including the White Tower and Tower of London.

 7 
Louis XIII of France
(King of France)

Louis XIII of France
8
Birthdate: September 27, 1601
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Château de Fontainebleau, Fontainebleau, France
Died: May 14, 1643

Louis XIII of France reigned as the King of France between 1610 and 1643. He is best remembered for saving the kingdom from the mismanagement of his mother Marie de' Medici, who was exiled by a 16-year-old Louis XIII. He is also credited with popularizing wigs among men, which had not been fashionable since antiquity.

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 8 
Louis XIV of France
(King of France (1643-1715))

Louis XIV of France
20
Birthdate: September 5, 1638
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Died: September 1, 1715

Louis XIV of France reigned as the King of France from 1643 to 1715. Louis XIV is the longest-reigning monarch of a sovereign country in the history of Europe. Under his rule, France often asserted its military prowess and emerged as the most dominant European monarchy. His life inspired several films, such as The Taking of Power by Louis XIV.

 9 
Francis I of France
(King of France)

Francis I of France
12
Birthdate: September 12, 1494
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Royal Castle of Cognac, Cognac, France
Died: March 31, 1547

Francis I, son of Charles, Count of Angoulême, was the king of France from 1515 to 1547. He was an art connoisseur and invited Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci to his court. His contribution to the promotion of French language earned him the title Father and Restorer of Letters.

 10 
Philip IV of France
(King of France (1285-1314))

Philip IV of France
8
Birthdate: June 1, 1268
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Fontainebleau, France
Died: November 29, 1314

Philip IV, or Philip the Fair, was the king of France from 1285 to 1314. His marriage to Joan I of Navarre also made him the king of Navarre, as Philip I. He made France a centralized country. He clashed with English king Edward I, the Flemish, and the clergy.

 11 
Frederick The Great
(King of Prussia (1740-1786))

Frederick The Great
16
Birthdate: January 24, 1712
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: August 17, 1786
Prussian king Frederick II, also known as Frederick the Great and The Old Fritz, was the longest-reigning Hohenzollern king. He is known for his involvement in the Silesian Wars and the Partitions of Poland. He also supported art and culture, and reformed the judicial system of Prussia.

 12 
Charles VII of France
(King of France (1422-1461))

Charles VII of France
6
Birthdate: February 22, 1403
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 22, 1461
Charles VII, or the Victorious, reigned as the king of France from 1422 to 1461, as a result of the Armagnac-Burgundian Civil War. The heroics of Joan of Arc who helped defeat the English at Patay, led to the coronation of Charles, who was initially disinherited by his father.

 13 
Henry IV of France
(King of France (1589-1610))

Henry IV of France
18
Birthdate: December 13, 1553
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pau, France
Died: May 14, 1610

Henry IV of France reigned as the King of France from 2 August 1589 until his death on 14 May 1610. Remembered for his concern about the welfare of the people of France, Henry worked to eliminate corruption, promote agriculture, encourage education, and regularize state finance. The character of Ferdinand in Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost was loosely based on Henry.

 14 
Louis IX of France
(King of France (1226-1270))

Louis IX of France
13
Birthdate: April 25, 1214
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Poissy, France
Died: August 25, 1270
Louis IX, also known as Saint Louis, reigned as the king of France from 1226 to 1270. He remains the only French king who was canonized in the Catholic Church. He reformed the French justice system. His reign is remembered for its economic prosperity. He died fighting the Eighth crusade.

 15 
Henry II of France
(King of France (1547-1559))

Henry II of France
14
Birthdate: March 31, 1519
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Died: July 10, 1559
Henry II, son of Francis I, reigned as the king of France from 1547 to 1559. Though he achieved the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis, which ended the Italian Wars, he died as a result of a would inflicted by Gabriel de Montgomery during a jousting event to celebrate the same.

 16 
Francis II of France
(King of France (1559-1560))

Francis II of France
18
Birthdate: January 19, 1544
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Fontainebleau, France
Died: December 5, 1560
Francis II, son of Henry II and Catherine de' Medici, reigned as the king of France from 1559 to 1560. He took over the throne at age 15, after his father’s death. His reign witnessed conflicts between the Protestants and the Catholics, including coups such as the Amboise Conspiracy.

 17 
Rollo
(King)

Rollo
14
Birthdate: 0846 AD
Birthplace: Scandinavia
Died: 0930 AD

Rollo of Normandy, also known as Rolf, is part of Scandinavian lore. A Viking, he was known for his exploits as a pirate on the seas of France, England, and other lands. When he attacked France with his Danish army, he was given Neustria, or Normandy, as part of a truce.

 18 
Charles IX of France
(King of France (1560-1574))

Charles IX of France
12
Birthdate: June 27, 1550
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Died: May 30, 1574

Becoming the King of France at the age 10, Charles IX presided over a kingdom which was torn apart by the Wars of Religion between Protestants and Catholics. The infamous massacre of Huguenot leaders in Paris, instigated by his mother Catherine, left a traumatic effect on the mind of the ruler who succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of 23.

 19 
Vercingetorix
(King of Arveni Tribe)

Vercingetorix
7
Birthdate: 0082 BC
Birthplace: Gergovie, France
Died: 0046 BC

Vercingetorix, king of the Arverni tribe, is remembered for uniting the Gauls for a rebellion against the Romans during Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars. He surrendered to Caesar in the end but was eventually executed, after being held as a prisoner for 5 years and paraded through the Roman streets.

 20 
Philip V of Spain
(King of Spain (1700-1724))

Philip V of Spain
7
Birthdate: December 19, 1683
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Versailles, France
Died: July 9, 1746

Philip V reigned as the king of Spain from November 1700 to January 1724, and again from September 1724 to 1746. Philip introduced the centralization of monarchy and imposed the Nueva Planta decrees. Philip's accession initiated the 13-year War of the Spanish Succession. His final years were marred by depression.

 21 
Louis-Philippe I of France
(The Last King and Penultimate Monarch of France)

Louis-Philippe I of France
12
Birthdate: October 6, 1773
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Domaine National du Palais-Royal, Paris, France
Died: August 26, 1850

Louis-Philippe I of France reigned as the King of the French from 9 August 1830 to 24 February 1848. Although his rule was much loved at the beginning, his popularity suffered when the economic conditions in France declined in 1847. Subsequently, Louis Philippe I was forced to abdicate the throne when the French Revolution broke out in 1848.   

 22 
Henry III of France
(King of France (1574-1589))

Henry III of France
12
Birthdate: September 19, 1551
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Château de Fontainebleau, France
Died: August 2, 1589

Henry III of France was the King of France from 1574 to 1589. He also served as the Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland from 1573 to 1575. Henry was known for his alleged sexual relationships with men. Although certain reports have claimed that the allegations were false, he is sometimes depicted in popular culture as being effeminate.

 23 
Margaret of Anjou
(Queen of England)

Margaret of Anjou
6
Birthdate: March 23, 1430
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Pont-a-Mousson, France
Died: August 25, 1482

 24 
Louis The Pious
(King of Aquitaine, King of Franks & Co-Emperor (Holy Roman Empire))

Louis The Pious
6
Birthdate: April 16, 0778
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chasseneuil-du-Poitou
Died: June 20, 0840
Son of Charlemagne, Louis The Pious, became the king of Aquitaine at age 3. He crowned himself the emperor of the Franks immediately after his father’s death. His reign was riddled with three civil wars, while his death caused another civil war, which finally culminated in the Treaty of Verdun.

 25 
Napoleon II
(Emperor of the French (1815))

Napoleon II
9
Birthdate: March 20, 1811
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tuileries Palace, Paris
Died: July 22, 1832

Napoleon II was the son of Emperor Napoleon I and Empress Marie Louise. He was the titular Emperor of the French for a few weeks in 1815. He was just a small child when he became the disputed emperor following his father’s abdication. He died as a young man before getting the chance to serve his nation. 

 26 
Philip II of France
(King of France)

Philip II of France
5
Birthdate: August 21, 1165
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Gonesse, France
Died: July 14, 1223

Philip II of France reigned as the king of France from 1180 until his death in 1223. He is credited with transforming France into the most powerful and prosperous country in Europe. He is also credited with building the Wall of Philip Augustus and bringing financial stability to France.

 27 
Charles VIII of France
(King of France (1483-1498))

Charles VIII of France
5
Birthdate: June 30, 1470
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Amboise, France
Died: April 7, 1498
Charles VIII, the only son of Louis XI, was a sickly 13-year-old when he succeeded his father. He made a few initial conquests in the Italian Wars. He died rather unceremoniously, after striking his dead against a door lintel while on his way to watch a game of court tennis.

 28 
Hugh Capet
(King of the Franks from 987 to 996)

Hugh Capet
3
Birthdate: 0939 AD
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 14, 0996

 29 
Charles X of France
(King of France (1824-1830))

Charles X of France
3
Birthdate: October 9, 1757
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Palace of Versailles, Versailles, France
Died: November 6, 1836

Dauphin Louis had one of the most unpopular reigns as the king of France. Following the fall of Bastille, he became the first royal family member to go into exile. Decisions such as the imposition of the death penalty and press censorship led to the July Revolution and his abdication.

 30 
Clovis I
(First king of the Franks to unite all of the Frankish tribes under one ruler.)

Clovis I
7
Birthdate: 0466 AD
Birthplace: Tournai (present-day Belgium)
Died: November 27, 0511

Clovis I, regarded as the founder of the Merovingian dynasty, united the Frankish tribes under one leader and thus transformed the leadership system which had previously been based on leadership by a group of chieftains. His conversion to Catholicism led to widespread conversion among the Frankish people.

 31 
Louis XVIII of France
(King of France (1814-1824))

Louis XVIII of France
3
Birthdate: November 17, 1755
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Versailles, France
Died: September 16, 1824

Louis XVIII of France was the king of France from 1814 to 1824, except for the duration of the “Hundred Days” in 1815.  He was the son of Louis, Dauphin of France, and his wife Maria Josepha of Saxony. He ruled for slightly less than a decade. He was not popular as a king.

 32 
Louis XII of France
(King of France (1498-1515))

Louis XII of France
2
Birthdate: June 27, 1462
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Château Royal de Blois, Blois, France
Died: January 1, 1515
Louis XII, son of Charles, Duke of Orléans, was the king of France from 1498 to 1515 and the king of Naples from 1501 to 1504. Previously known as Louis of Orléans, he fought against the French monarchy in the Mad War and also succeeded in the Italian Wars.

 33 
Charles VI of France
(King of France (1380-1422))

Charles VI of France
6
Birthdate: December 3, 1368
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 21, 1422

Charles VI of France reigned as the king of France from 1380 to 1422. He is best remembered for his psychotic episodes and mental illness which troubled him throughout his life. Charles' defeat at the Battle of Agincourt led to the signing of the Treaty of Troyes, which eventually changed the course of history.

 34 
Louis VII of France
(King of France (1137-1180))

Louis VII of France
3
Birthdate: 1120 AD
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 18, 1180

Louis VII of France was the king of the Franks for over four decades from 1137 to 1180.  The second son of Louis VI of France and Adelaide of Maurienne, he unexpectedly became the heir to the throne following his elder brother’s death. He had a long but difficult reign and was succeeded by his son Philip II.

 35 
Charles V of France
(King of France (1364-1380))

Charles V of France
3
Birthdate: January 21, 1338
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Vincennes, France
Died: September 16, 1380

Charles V of France reigned as the king of France from 1364 until his death in 1380. Charles V was highly successful during the Hundred Years' War as his armies recovered almost all the territories held by the English. His reign also witnessed the construction of many significant buildings, including the Château du Louvre, Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and the Bastille.

 36 
Joseph Bonaparte
(King of Naples (1806-08), King of Spain (1808-13))

Joseph Bonaparte
6
Birthdate: January 7, 1768
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Corte, France
Died: July 28, 1844

Older brother of Napoleon, Joseph Bonaparte, had been the king of Naples and Spain. After Napoleon’s fall, he was exiled to New Jersey, U.S. Later, in Europe, he lived a lavish life at Point Breeze, surrounded by all the wealth he had inherited, along with a classy collection of paintings.

 37 
Charles the Bold
(Was the Duke of Burgundy from 1467 to 1477)

Charles the Bold
3
Birthdate: November 10, 1433
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dijon, France
Died: January 5, 1477

Louis Joseph, Dauphin of France
3
Birthdate: October 22, 1781
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Palace of Versailles, France
Died: June 4, 1789

 39 
Louis VIII of France
(King of France)

Louis VIII of France
3
Birthdate: September 5, 1187
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 8, 1226

Louis VIII of France, or The Lion, ruled France as its king for a little over 3 years. After being invited by the rebellious barons who went against King John of England, Louis invaded England and even gained control of much of it but was later defeated at sea.

 40 
Louis X of France
(King of France (1314-1316))

Louis X of France
3
Birthdate: October 4, 1289
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: June 5, 1316

Louis X of France was the king of France from 1314 to 1316. He was the eldest son of Philip IV of France and Joan I of Navarre. He reigned for a very short time marked by turbulence and tensions. He abolished slavery and allowed serfs to buy their freedom. He died under mysterious circumstances in 1316, aged just 26. 

 41 
Guy of Lusignan
(King of Jerusalem (1186-92))

Guy of Lusignan
3
Birthdate: 1150 AD
Birthplace: Lusignan, France
Died: July 18, 1194

Guy of Lusignan reigned as the king of Jerusalem, through his marriage to Sibylla of Jerusalem, but eventually lost the kingdom to Conrad of Montferrat. Guy later became the lord of Cyprus. He was later immortalized in fiction such as Italian Renaissance writer Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron.

 42 
Louis XI of France
(King of France (1461-1483))

Louis XI of France
2
Birthdate: July 3, 1423
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bourges, France
Died: August 30, 1483
Louis XI succeeded Charles VII as the king of France. His diplomatic skills earned him the nickname The Universal Spider. Legend has it that he had once told his vassals "I am France," and rightly so, as he had a major contribution in unifying France following the Hundred Years' War.

 43 
Philip VI of France
(King of the Valois Dynasty)

Philip VI of France
3
Birthdate: 1293 AD
Birthplace: France
Died: August 22, 1350

Philip VI of France was the first king of France from the House of Valois. He reigned from 1328 until his death in 1350. He was the nephew of King Philip IV of France and occupied the throne after his death, being his nearest male relative. His reign witnessed the beginning of the Hundred Years' War in 1337. 

Louis, Dauphin of France
3
Birthdate: September 4, 1729
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Palace of Versailles, Paris, France
Died: December 20, 1765

 45 

Raynald of Châtillon
3
Birthdate: 1120 AD
Birthplace: Champagne, France
Died: July 4, 1187

Philip III of France
3
Birthdate: April 30, 1245
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Poissy
Died: October 5, 1285

 47 
Louis Bonaparte
(Emperor of the French (1806-1810))

Louis Bonaparte
3
Birthdate: September 2, 1778
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ajaccio, France
Died: July 25, 1846

Louis Bonaparte reigned over the Kingdom of Holland from 1806 to 1810. The younger brother of Napoléon Bonaparte, Louis followed in the footsteps of his brother and served in the French Army. He was later made the new king of Holland by Napoleon. However, Louis' wilfulness forced Napoleon to annex Holland into the French Empire and Louis fled into exile.

Francis, Duke of Anjou
3
Birthdate: March 18, 1555
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Fontainebleau, France
Died: June 10, 1584

Louis, Prince of Conde
5
Birthdate: May 7, 1530
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vendôme, France
Died: March 13, 1569

Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême
4
Birthdate: August 6, 1775
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Palace of Versailles, Versailles, France
Died: June 3, 1844