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

Napoleon Bonaparte.
42
Famous As: Emperor of the French
Birthdate: August 15, 1769
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ajaccio
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 William the Conqueror

William the Conqueror.
17
Famous As: King of England
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.

 3 Louis XIV of France

Louis XIV of France.
10
Famous As: King of France
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.

 4 Napoleon III

Napoleon III.
8
Famous As: Emperor of the Second French Empire
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.

 5 Francis II of France

Francis II of France.
12
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: January 19, 1544
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Fontainebleau
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.

 6 Henry II of France

Henry II of France.
8
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: March 31, 1519
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris
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.

 7 Henry II of England

Henry II of England.
10
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: March 5, 1133
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Le Mans, France
Died: July 6, 1189

Henry II of England reigned as the king of England from 1154 to 1189. During his long rule, Henry introduced many changes that had severe long-term consequences. Some of his legal changes are believed to have laid the foundation for English Common Law. Henry is often portrayed in films and plays; he has been played by actors like Peter O'Toole.

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 8 Rollo

Rollo
9
Famous As: King
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.

 9 Henry IV of France

Henry IV of France.
10
Famous As: King of France, King of Navarre
Birthdate: December 13, 1553
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques
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.

 10 Louis IX of France

Louis IX of France.
6
Famous As: King of France
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.

 11 Richard II of England

Richard II of England.
10
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: January 6, 1367
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bordeaux
Died: February 14, 1400

Richard II of England was King of England from 1377 to 1399. Also known as Richard of Bordeaux, he was a firm believer in the royal prerogative. He was not popular as a king and was deposed in 1399 and is believed to have been starved to death in captivity. Modern historians believe he may have had a personality disorder.

 12 Albert II, Prince of Monaco

Albert II, Prince of Monaco.
12
Famous As: Monach of Monaco
Birthdate: March 14, 1958
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Prince's Palace of Monaco
Albert II, Prince of Monaco, one of the world’s richest royals, is the son of Rainier III and famed actor Grace Kelly. Albert is a former Olympic bobsleigh finalist and an avid environmentalist who works for ocean conservation. He is also associated with many philanthropic organizations, such as Orphans International.

 13 Louis-Philippe I of France

Louis-Philippe I of France
10
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: October 6, 1773
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Domaine National du Palais-Royal, Paris, France
Died: August 26, 1850

 14 Philip IV of France

Philip IV of France.
6
Famous As: King
Birthdate: March 31, 1268
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, 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.

 15 Mansa Musa

Mansa Musa.
9
Famous As: Emperor
Birthdate: 1280 AD
Birthplace: Mali
Died: 1337 AD

Mansa Musa was the tenth Mansa, or emperor, of the Mali Empire in West Africa and ruled from c.1312 to c.1337. Nicknamed the Emir of Melle, he was one of the richest people of his time, due to Mali’s gold reserves. He also patronized science, arts, and literature.

 16 Henry III of France

Henry III of France.
10
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: September 19, 1551
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Palace of Fontainebleau, Fontainebleau
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.

 17 Vercingetorix

Vercingetorix.
6
Famous As: King of Arveni Tribe
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.

 18 Philippe I, Duke of Orléans

Philippe I, Duke of Orléans.
11
Famous As: Son of Louis XIII of France
Birthdate: September 21, 1640
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Died: June 9, 1701

Philippe I, Duke of Orléans received the dukedoms of Chartres and Valois in 1661 as the younger son of Louis XIII of France. Unlike most royal persons of his generation, Philippe was open about his homosexuality and did not think twice before acting effeminately in public. However, he fathered several children and earned the nickname the grandfather of Europe.

 19 Charles IX of France

Charles IX of France.
11
Famous As: King of France
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.

 20 Louis XV of France

Louis XV of France.
4
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: February 15, 1710
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Palace of Versailles, Versailles, Yvelines
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.

 21 Louis XVI of France

Louis XVI of France.
7
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: August 23, 1754
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Palace of 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.

 22 Francis I of France

Francis I of France.
11
Famous As: King of France
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.

 23 Charles VI of France

Charles VI of France.
6
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: December 3, 1368
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, Île-de-France, 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.

 24 Philip V of Spain

Philip V of Spain.
6
Famous As: King of Spain
Birthdate: December 19, 1683
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Palace of 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.

 25 Charles VII of France

Charles VII of France.
6
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: February 22, 1403
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris
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.

 26 Louis The Pious

Louis The Pious.
6
Famous As: King of Aquitaine, King of Franks & Co-Emperor (Holy Roman Empire)
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.

 27 Philip II of France

Philip II of France.
5
Famous As: King of France
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.

 28 Napoleon II

Napoleon II.
8
Famous As: Emperor of France
Birthdate: March 20, 1811
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tuileries Palace, Paris, French Empire
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. 

 29 Charles VIII of France

Charles VIII of France.
5
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: June 30, 1470
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Château Royal d'Amboise, 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.

 30 Louis XIII of France

Louis XIII of France.
5
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: September 27, 1601
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Fontainebleau
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.

 31 Charles the Bald, Holy Roman Emperor

Charles the Bald, Holy Roman Emperor
5
Famous As: Holy Roman Emperor
Birthdate: June 13, 0823
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: October 6, 0877

 32 Jean-Christophe, Prince Napoleon

Jean-Christophe, Prince Napoleon
5
Famous As: Prince Napoléon
Birthdate: July 11, 1986
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Saint-Raphaël, Var, France

 33 Philippe II, Duke of Orléans

Philippe II, Duke of Orléans.
3
Famous As: Regent
Birthdate: August 2, 1674
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Château de Saint-Cloud, Saint-Cloud, France
Died: December 2, 1723

Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, was the regent of the Kingdom of France from 1715 to 1723. He was the son of Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, and Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate. He was named the regent of France for Louis XV, who succeeded to the throne at the age of five. Philippe died months after Louis attained majority.

 34 Joseph Bonaparte

Joseph Bonaparte.
5
Famous As: King of Naples and Sicily
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.

 35 Louis VII of France

Louis VII of France.
3
Famous As: King
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.

 36 Hugh Capet

Hugh Capet
3
Famous As: King
Birthdate: 0939 AD
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 24, 0996

 37 Louis Joseph, Dauphin of France

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

 38 Louis XVIII of France

Louis XVIII of France.
3
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: November 17, 1755
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris
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.

 39 Margaret of Anjou

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

 40 Guy of Lusignan

Guy of Lusignan.
3
Famous As: King
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.

 41 Charles V of France

Charles V of France.
3
Famous As: King of France
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.

 42 Louis X of France

Louis X of France.
3
Famous As: King
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. 

 43 Charles the Bold

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

 44 Louis VIII of France

Louis VIII of France.
3
Famous As: King of France
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.

 45 Philip VI of France

Philip VI of France.
3
Famous As: King of the Valois Dynasty
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. 

 46 Francis, Duke of Anjou

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

 47 Raynald of Châtillon

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

 48 Louis, Dauphin of France

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

 49 Louis Bonaparte

Louis Bonaparte.
3
Famous As: King of Holland from 1806 to 1810
Birthdate: September 2, 1778
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ajaccio
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.

 50 Louis, Prince of Conde

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