Charles VI: details below
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(The Caroligian descritpions are partially in French. All
French text is courtesy of CGB, Monnaies VIII, 2000.
Capetians and thereafter in English)


Third issue - after 793-4 to 812

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AR denier, 20mm, 1.67gr. Obv: +CARLVS REX FR, central cross in a circle of dots, one dot in two quadrants diagonally opposed. Rev: +DORESTADO, central (very vague) KRLS monogram. Mint is Dorstadt (Netherlands). Charlemagne's coinage goes through several distinct phases. The CARLVS REX is third in a series of four distinct types. It is also a type that became very popular with subsequent Emperor Charles', leading to some identity confusion for collectors. There are a number of Charles the Bald coins below in this style. R966v; MG100v (cites a variation with diagonally opposing dots); Depeyrot 4A (793-812), 411 (42 examples), "dans quelques cas, seuls deux globes semblent figurer sur certaines tres rare monnaies;" Belaubre 36v; not in Nouchy. This coin was damaged and was very well repaired.

Louis the Pious (814-840)
Second Issue - after 818-9

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AR denier, 21mm, 1.67gr. Obv: +HLVDOVVICVS IMP, central cross in a solid circle. Rev: META/./LLVM. Mint is Melle. R1111v (does not show the  '.' separating the lines on the reverse);MG 398; Dep 6B1, 609 (11 examples); Bel 47v; Prou 715. From Roberts, "Louis the Pious redesigned the coinage in 819 and 822. Both changes involved a recall of all earlier coins and the introduction of a conspicuously different design." This coin replaced a portrait coin. Recalling previous coinage for a re-mint necessarily decreases examples of earlier coinage. This type itself was recalled  in 822.

"Louis, qui était roi d'Aquitaine depuis 781, devint empereur sans problème à la mort de son père en 814, seul fils légitime survivant. Dans la première partie de son règne, jusqu'à l'année 829, il continua l'œuvre de son père et son monnayage. La naissance de Charles d'un second mariage en 823 avec Judith de Bavière va amener ses autres fils, Lothaire, Pépin et Louis à se révolter contre lui. Il fut détrôné deux fois en 830 et 833 et le royaume resta divisé jusqu'à sa mort en 840."

Louis was a son of Charlemagne. Louis sought to maintain stability in France, which which was complicated by problems of succession and ultimately led to the partition of the country. His efforts to maintain unity failed. Lothaire (first son by his first wife and co-emperor) took control of lands from Flanders to Italy, Louis (son by his first wife) lands in Germany and Charles (son by Judith, his second wife) in western France. Charles, known as the Bald, controlled the territory through which is traced the royal French lineage. He also assumed the territory (Aquitaine) of his half brother Pepin after Pepin's death. Louis ended a broken man and was 'detrone' (dethroned). Louis was a strong supporter of the Benedictine monastic movement and the partition of the country ran counter to the interests of the increasingly political papacy, which saw itself losing influence since rule in France was spread among a number of heirs. Pierre Riche' in The Carolingians offers a good discussion of the times. For a fuller exploration of the life and times of Louis the Pious, including genealogical notes and maps of his kindom, please visit the accompanying Louis the Pious Home Page.

Third Issue

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AR denier à la légende chrétienne, c. 822-840, 20.5mm, 1.65gr. Obv: + HLVDOVVICVS IMP. (Louis empereur). Croix cantonnée de quatre besants.  Rev: XPISTIANA RELIGIO. (Religion chrétienne). Temple tétrastyle avec un fronton triangulaire sommé d'une croisette, une croix au centre posée sur deux degrés. Flan large et régulier. Monnaie bien centrée." Description from CGB catalogue Monnaies VIII item 1055. Roberts 1208v; MG 472 (the most common type. The R/MG concordance matches to R1216.) Depeyrot 8 A1 (p.41) and 1179 (sans atelier),  (794 examples); Belaubre 58-60.
    "La légende de revers (la religion chrétienne), inaugurée par Charlemagne, s'accompagne de la représentation d'un temple. C'est une nouvelle preuve de l'union du pouvoir politique et de l'Église inaugurée en 754 par le premier carolingien, Pépin le Bref. Un changement de taille dans les deniers intervient vers 822. Il est alors fabriqué 20 sous ou 240 deniers dans une livre de 18 onces, ce qui donne un poids théorique de 2,039 g. Ce type va être frappé pendant plus de deux siècles dans l'Occident médiéval. Le denier au temple est normalement une monnaie anonyme, sans lieu d'émission. Néanmoins, certains ateliers caractéristiques ont pu être isolés : c'est le cas de Dax, Orléans, Dorestadt, Maastricht, Trèves, Milan et Venise. Nous avons certainement affaire à un exemplaire posthume mais de bon poids (1,65 g), antérieur à la fin du IXe siècle. Ces monnaies ont été imitées par Louis le Germanique (840-876), Louis II le Bègue (877-879) ou Louis III de Saxe (876-882) ou enfin Louis III de France (879-882), sans oublier Louis III l'Aveugle (901-905)." For addition deniers of the same type, see the Carolingians page.

After Louis' death his kingdom was fought over and divided among his sons. For an overview of the battle of Fontenoy, the Treay of Verdun (843) and the Partition of Mersen (870) please visit the Fontenoy page.

AR denier, 21mm, 1.64gr. Obv: +IOTAIIVSIPIEIPAT,  central cross with four besants. Rev: +DORESTATVSMON, central temple. Mint is Dorstadt. R 1906v; MG 526v (..VSIPIIIEPAT); Dep 9-b1, 419 (921 for the entire range of Dorstadt). This is cross linked to MG 525-30. MG 525 is the most common. MG 526 cites 2 examples. Prou 75; not in Bel. While there are many variants of this coin, this appears to a scarcer version.

Lothar II (855-869)

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AR denier, 20mm, 1.24gr. Obv: HLOTHARIVS REX, central cross with four besants. Rev: VIRIDVN[VM] CIVIS, central temple. R1942; MG 1189; Dep 9B1, 1125 (11 examples); not in Bel. The latter two sources identify this as a scarce coin. The mint is Verdun and after the Treaty of 843 went to Lothaire (a son of Louis the Pious). After 855 it passed to his son Lothaire II. After 869 it reverted to Charles the Bald. The coin is from the Lotharingia, a territory stretching from the Low Countries to northern Burgundy.

Louis II of Italy (855-875)

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AR denier, 17mm, 1.1gr. Obv: +LVDOVVICVS INP, central cross over lines. Rev: +ANGILBERGA NP, central cross with eight rays. Mint is Benevent (It). R2013; MG 1178; Dep 10-F1, 141M (8 examples); MEC 1116; not in Prou.

Charles of Provence (855-863)

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AR denier, 22mm, 1.47gr. Obv: +CARLVS REX, central cross. Rev: +ARELA CIVIS, central monogram. Mint is Arles. Dep 13-01, 69 (14 examples). Depeyrot gives the dates as 876-880. MG 1423 as Charles III; Prou 862 as Charles le Gros (roi) same years; R lists 1269 as Charles of Provence but there is no coin image matching this number. Not in MEC, Bel and Nouchy. The more common Charles le Gros from Arles is CARLVS IMP. This is clearly a coin with variable attribution.

Boso (879-887

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AR denier, 20mm, 1.46gr. Obv: +BOSO CRATIA DEI, central REX. Rev: +VIENNA CIVIS, central cross. Mint is Vienne. R1881; Dep 1142 (6 examples): MG 1262; MEC -; Bel -; Nouchy -.

Louis the Infant (899-911)

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AR denier, 20mm, 1.25gr. Obv retrograde: +SVIISVCIVVODVIII, central cross. Rev: blundered mint name in two lines. Mint is Strasbourg. R1993; MG 1555v. MG cites Prou 52, 53, which are not close matches. Not in Dep

Conrad the Pacific (937-993)

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AR denier, 21mm, 1.15gr. Obv: +CONRADVS, central cross. Rev: +LVGDVNVS, triangle surmounted by a cross. Mint - Lyon. R 1892; MG 1683 (last entry in the catalogue); Dep 23 937-993 A1, 531 (1513 examples); not in Bel.

Conrad was descended from the line of Guelf, Count of Bavaria. His father, Rudolf II (912-37) was responsible for the reunification of Burgundy. Conrad was succeeded by his son who ruled as Rudolf III.

From Cope, " 954 he gained a victory over the Saracens and the Magyars in a coup that might be unique in military history. When he learned that both the Magyars and Saracens were on the warpath, he sent envoys to tell the Magyars that the Saracens lay in wait for them and if they would join forces with the Burgundians they would together destroy the Saracens." He told the Saracens about a Magyar ambush and offered an alliance with the Saracens against the Magyars. When both met in battle, Conrad told both sides he would soon join them. "When he judged the that the two hostile forces had sufficiently weakened each other, the Burgundians were launched against them and both were brilliantly destroyed." (67) Abd al-Rahman was the (a?) Islamic ruler in Spain at this time and his general (?) was on the wrong side of this agreement.

For addition rulers see Lotharingian Burgundy.

The South: Aquitaine and Provence
Pippin I (814-838) or Pippin II (840-52)

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Obole of Aquitane, 16mm, .83gr. Obv: PIPPINVS REX, central small cross. Rev: AQVI/TANIA, text on two lines. Roberts 1863. (Seller - Jean Venton, Paris - id'd as Pepin I with notations A666, g.p189, but in Roberts it is Pepin II (R1863). MG 601 as either Pippin I or II; Dep 7-B2, 184 (43 examples); Belaubre 67 as I or II. Either Pepin was king of Aquitaine and not in the royal French line, but offspring of Charlemagne and a Carolingian. MEC 813. MEC (1:218-9) notes "Probably most of these coins date from between 845, when he (Pippin II) was recognized by Charles at the treaty of Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire, and 848, when Charles was crowned at Limoges and occupied the whole of the north."

Pippin II d'Aquitaine (823-865) est le fils aîné de Pépin Ier (797-838) et le petit-fils de Louis le Pieux. Il succède à son père Pépin Ier, mort le 13 décembre 838, en s'emparant illégalement du trône et en prenant Toulouse en 843. Charles II le Chauve essaye de l'en déloger mais est obligé de reconnaître sa souveraineté sur l'Aquitaine en échange du serment de vassalité. En revanche, Pépin perd le comté de Poitiers. Les années suivantes ne sont qu'une suite ininterrompue de guerres et de trahisons. Toulouse et Poitiers sont pillées par les Normands. En 852, Pépin est livré à Charles le Chauve qui le fait enfermer à Saint-Médard de Soissons. Il s'en échappe et se révolte à nouveau contre son oncle. Les dix dernières années de sa vie, Pépin essaye vainement de reprendre possession de son royaume et meurt captif à Senlis en 865." Source: CGB Monnaies VIII 2000. See also MEC 1:219.

Pippin II (840-52)

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AR denier, 21mm, 1.61gr. Obv: +PIPINVS REX EQ, central cross in solid circle. Rev: +METVLLO, central Pipin monogram P-IN-S-R. Mint is Melle. R1872, MG 606 as Pippin I or II; Dep 9F1, 615 (33 examples), "les tres grande majorite des monnaies de Pipin II fut frappe entre 845-848 ... Melle fut un atelier tres important." This coin is conservative in design, following Charlemagne's lead with the ruler's name on the obverse and a personal monogram on the reverse. MEC 814. Not in Bel. Seller (Claude Silberstein) id Prou 689.

Louis l'Avengle (the Blind), 901-934

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AR denier, 21 mm, 1.30gr. Obv: +IVDOVVICVS, central cross. Rev: central VI, obscured but evident legend. Mint is Vienne. R1886; MG 1575 (which lists 8 catalogued coins); Dep 16-B1, 1145v (16 examples) which actually matches to LVDVVICVS with a monogram. Not in Bel, Nouchy. This is a rare coin.

Louis of Provence was son of Boso of Provence and Ermengard. He was able to trace his Carolingian lineage through his grandfather, Louis II, who in turn was son of Lothar, in turn son of Louis the Pious.

After the death of Charles the Bald (877) the empire fragmented, beset by internal struggles among Charles' heirs, rebellious nobles and invasions on several fronts. Separate kingdoms emerged in Burgundy and Provence. Louis' father forged a Provencial kingdom after 879 and while he died an unsuccessful ruler, his son Louis was elected king in 890. Louis had political ambitions in northern Italy and succeeded in being crowned emperor in 901. However, subsequent fighting in Italy led to his capture by Berengar, a local king, who gouged out his eyes, hence the title 'Louis the Blind.' He ruled Provence for another 20 years. Source: Riche' 221-25.

West Francia
Charles the Bald  (840-877)
Monogram type

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AR obole, 17mm, .79gr. Obv: monogram with K - S left to right, R - L top to bottom. Rev: METVLLO, central cross. Mint is Melle. R1344 (later similar coins are C Bald or C III but this is just C Bald); MG 1060; Dep 9 H2, 622 (61 examples); Bel 97. Slight crack on 'S' of monogram.

"Charles le Chauve est devenu roi à la mort de son père, Louis le Pieux, le 20 juin 840. Au traité de Verdun en 843, l'empire carolingien est partagé entre les trois fils de Louis. Lothaire reçoit la Lotharingie, Louis le Germanique, la Francia Orientalis et Charles la Francia Occidentalis."  Source: CGB Monnaies VIII, 2000.  Charles was the son of Judith of Bavaria (second wife of) and Louis the Pius. He married Ermentrude, daughter of Count Odo of Orleans, in an effort to secure his position in contention with his half brothers Lothaire and Louis. A formal division of the lands of Louis was recognized by the Treaty of Verdun in 843.

During this period his territory was invaded by Norsemen, Huns and Saracens. He also had to deal with an Islamic invasion which penetrated as far as Narbonne. For coins of these invaders, see Carolingian era Islamic coins. France was wracked by civil war and Charles was unable to exert strong control over the French imperium. He died in 877 and is buried at St. Denis. He is described by Pierre Riche' as the last of the great Carolingian rulers. The division of the kingdom at this time, some have argued, lays the foundation for the Germanic national state, as well as the French state. The division of the empire has the further impact of complicating the ability of the papacy to maintain some type of ecclesiastical hegemony over western Europe.


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AR denier 19mm, 1.69gr., class 1, 840-65. Obv: +CARLVS REX FR, central cross in a circle, besants in each quadrant. Rev: +AVRELIANIS, central gate. Orleans mint. The gate motif is one that goes back to Roman times (see the campgate page), picked up by early Carolingians. It also occurs in the coinage of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious. The alignment of the gate places the + at the bottom of the coin and starts the legend in the lower left, as per later coins. R1267; MGv 944 (they identify a variation with only a + beneath the gate rather than .+. This weight is heavy compared to their citations.) Dep 9D1, 725 (71 examples); MEC 835; Bel 77; Prou 511. For additional coins of Charles the Bald, from several different mints, including Charles the Bald or Charles the Simple, see the Carolingians page. The CARLVS REX FR type was ultimately superseded by the GRATIA D-I REX coin after the Edit of Pitres in 864.

Louis II (877-79) and Louis III (879-82)

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AR denier, 21mm, 1.4 gr. Obv: +MISERICORDIA DI REX, central Lvdovicvs monogram. Rev: +TVRONES CIVITAS, central cross. Mint is Tours. R1608 as Louis II or III; MG 1255 as Louis II or III; Dep 13 F1, 1041v (cites DEI, 121 examples) as Louis III; Prou 453-58 as Louis II or III; MEC 967 as L III; Nouchy Louis III #4.

Carloman (879 – 884)

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AR denier, 22mm, 1.72gr. Obv: +CARLEIIAIIVSPE RE, central cross. Rev: +AR_LA CIVIS+, central KRLS monogram. Mint is Arles. R1621v; MG 1208 (cites 8 examples); Dep 13-01, 64v (24 examples); Prou 866; not in Bel.

Charles the Bald (875-77) or Charles the Fat (884-87)

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AR denier, 21mm, 1.50gr. Obv: +CARLVS IMP AVG, central cross. Rev: +BITVRICESCIVI, central monogram. Mint is Bourges. R 1564. Roberts says "coins inscribed CARLVS IMP Rex can be attributed" to either. He notes Grierson assigns most to Charles the Bald, Crinon gives the southern mints to Charles the Fat. MG 1485 classifies this as a 'late 9th coin of an emperor Charles," arguing for indeterminancy. Dep 198 (801 examples) notes "Les monnaies de Charles le Chauve de tresor de Rennes ont ete attribuees a Charles le Gros par J. Lafaurie, en raison de leur faible poids. Grierson (MEC p.235) refuse cette hypothese, attribuant ces monnaies a un imitatuer local. (p.120)" MEC 917; Belaubre 176 attributes this to Charles le Gros.
    CGB Monnaies VIII #1065  (June 2000) says  of a similar coin "Ce type de denier a souvent été donné à Charles III dit 'le Gros' (883-888) mais celui-ci n'a jamais possédé Bourges. Ces deniers ont été frappés par Charles II le Chauve qui fut empereur en 876 et 877. Ce monnayage a pu se prolonger après sa mort car il est trop fréquemment attesté pour avoir été fabriqué sur une durée aussi courte.
    Les premières monnaies carolingiennes de Bourges ont été frappées au nom de Charlemagne. L'atelier fut actif sous Louis le Pieux, Pépin Ier, roi d'Aquitaine, Charles le Chauve, Eudes, Louis IV et enfin Lothaire qui laissèrent tous leur nom sur les monnaies de Bourges. Les monnaies de cet atelier et au nom de Charles le Chauve portant le titre d'empereur (876-877) semblent avoir été frappées au moins dix ans après sa mort. Nous connaissons en effet des monnaies de Bourges au nom d'Eudes qui commença à régner en 888."

Charles the Fat was son of Louis the German and grandson of Louis the Pious. Louis the German was a brother of Charles the Bald, so Charles le Chauve was his uncle. When Louis the Pius divided his kingdom, Charles' father got Germany. Before he became emperor he ruled as king of Alemannia.

After the death of Charles the Bald (and subsequently of his son Louis II - the Stammerer and grandson Carloman), Charles the Fat came to rule as king of Italy and Germany, as well as of France. He was crowned emperor in 881, but did not give the pope the satisfaction (protection of the papal territories) the pope wanted. He accepted fealty of the French lords in 884 and ruled there until 887. Charles was confronted with invasions of the Northmen and first sought to confront and finally to withdraw from confrontation. He was deposed in favor of Arnulf, descendent from Carloman of Bavaria. This opened the way for a series of regional kings throughout the (defunct) empire.

Charles the Bald (840-877) or Charles III (893-923) Reissue

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AR denier, 20mm, 1.23gr. Obv: +GRATIA D-I REX, central monogram. Rev: +H REDONIS CIVITAS, central cross.Mint is Rennes. R 1423 (who indicates a reissue by Charles III); MG 1045 as Charles the Bald; Dep 11 864-875; Dep 856 (968 examples), not in Bel. MEC 889. Similar to CGB Monnaies IX #879 which says about this type: "Le trésor de Rennes publié par Jean Lafaurie (RN 1965, p. 262-305), et enfoui entre 915-923, contenait 23 deniers de Rennes au type de notre exemplaire. Son style est très proche du (MEC 889 or) n° 890 de la collection du Fitzwilliam Museum de Cambridge." Based on weight, this would most likely be a coin of CS. See the coin weights page for discussion. However, MEC 889 notes "This coin, despite (the) low weight, probably belongs to CB rather than CS, since coins of the latter have the mint name REDONIS."

Odo (Eudes) (887-898)

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AR denier, 19mm, 1.56gr. Obv: +MISERICORDIA D-I, central interesting monogram. Rev: +BIESIANIS CASTRO, central cross. Blois mint. R1652; MG 1311; Dep 14E1v, 163v (91 examples). This coin is not clearly in Depreyot but this is the closest. MEC 980. Bel 186v. Pr 482. For additional coins of  Eudes see the Carolingians page. For a fuller background on Eudes, see the Eudes Home Page.

This period was known as the decadent age of the Carolingians. The kingdom fragmented after the death of Charles the Bald and a number of regional kings emerged. Odo was one of these. He was the son of Robert the Strong, count of Angers and Adelaide. Odo left no heirs and apparently did not marry. He reigned 10 years and died in 898. Several generations later Hugh Capet emerged as king of France, being descended from Odo's brother Robert I.

Odo was elected by his peers as king of west Francia, over a direct Carolingian descendant, Charles the Simple, who was a child. Odo successfully defended Paris from the Vikings and held sway over territory that is similar to the Ile de France. His lands were much smaller than those of Charles the Bald. It was a difficult reign, with threats coming from several quarters, domestic and foreign. When Charles the Simple was 14, there was a revolt against Odo, which he crushed. Given the lack of his own heir, Odo passed the kingdom on to Charles the Simple on his death, restoring direct Carolingian control in west Francia.

Charles III (896-923)

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AR denier, 22mm, 1.34gr. Obv: +l'lROLVS PIVS REX, central cross. Rev: ARGENTI/./NACIVITS in two lines where the N in the second line is reversed. Mint is Strasbourg. R1716; MG 1348; Dep closest match is 959 +KARLOVS etc, Nouchy CIII 46Dv, not in MEC (which identifies a similar German type after 911) or in Bel. For other coins of Charles III see the Carolingians page.

Charles the Simple, i.e. without guile, was the son of Louis II and grandson of Charles the Bald. He married first Frederuna, who died in 917 and then Eadgifu, daughter of King Edward of Wessex. Their son, Louis, becomes king and is known as d'Outremer. Charles died a prisoner of Herbert of Vermandois in 929.

Charles was named by Odo of Paris as his successor, in recognition of the continuing regard the Carolingians still held. Charles was faced with continued Norseman invasions, and Charles granted land, in return for fealty, to Rollo who settled in what became Normandy. Charles intervened in Lotharingia and triggered a revolt of the nobility against himself. On the bright side (from his point of view) Robert, father of Hugh the Great, was killed in battle against Charles. On the downside, Charles was captured by Herbert II of Vermandois and died in captivity. His wife and young son fled to England. Raoul (Ralph) of Burgundy ruled after Charles' imprisonment. (Source: Riche' 246-54)

Robert I (922-23) (Eudes?)

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AR denier, 21mm, 1.29gr. Obv: +MISERICORDIA D, central monogram. Rev: +TVRONES CIVITAS, central cross. Mint is Tours. Dep 1045 (DEI) as Robert (no examples studied). PdA 1616 as Robert or Eudes. Not in R. MEC says Robert did not have coinage, as does Prou (XXIII “n’a pas laisse de monnaies.”) Unfortunately, attribution is not clear and I will go with Depeyrot. Seller Vinchon id’d as Robert.

Raoul (923-936)

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AR denier of Chateau Landon, 20mm, 1.30gr. Obv: GRATIA D-I, central monogram. Rev: CAST_SI___NI, central cross.  Seller M. Garnier in Paris id'd as Raoul, and Chateau Landon. Not clearly in Roberts, but monogram same as R1798. Dep 308B (2 examples); not in MG or Belaubre. The difficulty is the obverse as Odo had several coins very similar (R1656 of Odo identical). Roberts says "Odo's nephew Raoul imitated these monograms very closely. CGB Monnaies IX #881 has a similar coin for sale December 2000 and describes it "Le monogramme particulier du droit est inspiré de celui d'Eudes. Pierre Crinon a montré que ce type de monogramme fut employé par Raoul et qu'il fut même immobilisé dans certains ateliers tels que Château-Landon, Étampes ou Orléans (P. Crinon, BSFN, avril 1993 p. 539-543 et F. Dumas, Le trésor de Fécamp, p. 188-189). Ces pièces, pour la plupart inédites avant la découverte du trésor dit "du Loiret", sont réputées en provenir."

"Raoul est le fils de Richard le Justicier, duc de Bourgogne." He did not become duc of Burgundy, his brother Hugh the Black did. Raoul became king of the west Franks. "Il a épousé Emma, la sœur d'Hugues le Grand, la fille de Robert de France." Raoul had an indirect connection with the Caroligians through an uncle, Boso of Provence. He used this to justify interference in Carolingian controlled lands in the south. (He is a different person from his contemporary Rudolf II who reunited Burgundy.)

"À la mort de Robert Ier de France (brother of Eudes) à la bataille de Soissons, en 923, son gendre (son in law) Raoul est élu (elected) roi tandis que (whereas) Charles III le Simple est arrêté et destitué. Il doit faire face à la montée des Normands dont le roi, Rollon, a reçu la Normandie au traité de Saint-Clair-sur-Epte en 911. Raoul doit faire face à la montée en puissance de Guillaume Longue Epée, duc de Normandie, et de Hugues, comte de Vermandois. Il meurt en 936, sans postérité." Source: CGB Monnaies VIII 2000. In addition to the Normans, and conflict with Hertbert II,  he faced threats from the Magyars.

Louis IV 936-954

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AR denier, 19mm, .93gr. Obv: HLVDOVICVS, central Rx, Rev: LINGONIS CVTS, central cross. Mint is Langres. R1808; Dep 474 (25 examples); MG 1636v as L IV or V.

 Louis was son of Charles III by his second wife. He fled to England with his mother after his father was imprisoned by Herbert II of Vermandois. He married Gerberga of Saxony and they had two sons. He was succeeded by Lothar IV and his grandson Louis V was the last Carolingian.

When Raoul died without an heir, Hugh the Great, father of Hugh Capet, was instrumental is the restoration of the Carolingians, in the person of Louis d'Outremer (from across the sea). The territory over which Louis had direct rule was limited but the nobility initially pledged fealty to him. He subsequently fell out with his advocate Hugh the Great and they engaged in civil war. He was captured by Hugh and subsequently released, under papal pressure. He succeeded in reasserting control in Normandy. He died from injuries sustained in a hunting accident, at age 34. He was succeeded by his son Lothar IV, who ruled under the protection of Hugh the Great. (Source: Riche' 255-64.)

 Louis IV 936-954 or Louis V

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AR denier, 21 mm, 1.27gr. Obv: +LVDOVICVSRE, central (rex?) monogram. Rev: +NEVERNIS CVT, central cross. Nevers mint. R 1814 (which says 'CIVIT' whereas this is 'CVT'); MG 1633/4v (CVT); Dep 22 B1, 705 (26 examples); not in Bel; Nouchy L415.

Lothaire (954-986)

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AR denier, c. 960-980, 19 mm, 1.16 gr. Obv: + LOTERIVS REX. (Lothaire, roi). Croix. Rev: BITVRICES CIVITAS. Mint is Cité de Bourges. "Temple tétrastyle avec un fronton triangulaire sommé d'une croisette coupant la légende en haut, portant en cœur une croisette posée sur deux degrés. Frappe bien venue au droit. Tréflage au revers avec une petite tache à 5 heures." Description from CGB Monnaies VIII 1071. Roberts 1823; MG 672; Dep 24 I1, 206, 310 examples); Prou 755; Bel 198. Ce type reprend celui à la légende XPISTIANA RELIGIO introduit dans le monnayage Carolingien par Charlemagne et largement diffusé sous Louis le Pieux. Contemporary English coin: Ethelred.

"Dès 954, Lothaire cède l'Aquitaine à Hugues le Grand et essaie de lutter contre la montée (sought to fight against the rise) du féodalisme. Il finit par se brouiller avec Hugues Capet (duc 956-987, roi 987-996), fils de Hugues le Grand, car il est plus puissant que son suzerain. Au début du règne de Louis IV (936-954), une nouvelle réforme monétaire aurait modifié la taille des deniers, passant à 360 pièces par livre de 18 onces." Source: CBB Monnaies VIII 2000.

Lothaire inherited from his father, Louis IV, when he was only thirteen. By good fortune he was not pressured from the throne by powerful nobles, although he did cede some lands. His reign was spent seeking to establish control over lands previously controlled by his line, with mixed success. During his reign, coinage in his name was minted in areas over which he did not have direct control, indicating a residual respect for the direct Carolingian lineage.


Hugh Capet (987-996)

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AR denier, 21mm, 1.25 gr. Obv: HERVEVS HVGO REX, cross cantonee with two besants (pellets). Rev: BELVACVS CIVITAS, central Carolingian KRLS monogram. This coinage became immobilized from the end of the 10th C, during Capet's reign, until the start of the 11th century. Mint: Beauvais (an episcopal mint at the time). Dup 1, Belaubre 273 (which uses Lafaurie, Les monnaies des rois de France, as its source). Contemporary English coin: Ethelred

He was the son of Hugh the Great and Hadwig, sister of Otto I (king of Germanie). He married Adeliade of Aquitaine in 965 and they had two children, a son and daughter. His son, Robert, succeeded him as Robert 11 (The Pious). He was known as Hugh Capet because he wore a cape, an indication he was a lay abbot of a number of valuable properties (Riche 264).

Hugh's father was responsible for the restoration of Louis IV and did not seize the throne himself at that time. After the death of Louis' son and heir, Louis V, in an hunting accident, there was not a direct heir, although an uncle, Duke Charles of Lorraine, was a prime candidate. Instead Hugh Capet was elected king in June 987. He was better connected and had a greater stature than Charles. He had his son also crowned in December 987. Charles of Lorraine contested Hugh's ascension but was defeated and imprisoned in Orlean, where he died in 992.  Hugh's election marked the end of the Carolingian dynasty and the birth of the Capetians, which extended to the Valois in the 14th century. Hugh Capet's direct control of territory was minimal, being concentrated on the Ile d'France.

Robert 11 (996-1031)

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AR denier, 977 - 1030, 20 mm., 1.23gr. Obv: ROB FRAN REX (and variations), crowned stylized head of the king. Rev: ADALERO LAD, stylized head of the bishop. Mint is Laon. D8, C29. Contemporary English coins: Ethelred and Cnut.

He was son of Hugh Capet and known as 'the Pious' and 'the August.' He was born in Orleans in 970. He married a cousin, Bertha, a marriage which was subsequently annulled due to consanguinity. There was no issue from this union. He subsequently married Constance of Arles, daughter of William of Arles and Blanche d'Anjou. They had four sons and a daughter. He was succeeded by his son Henri I.

He reconquered the duchy of Burgundy and sought to stabilize the kingdom, limited in size as it was. He is buried at St. Denis.

Hugues, son of Robert II

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AR denier, 20mm, 1.34gr. Obv: +D-I DEXTRA BE, portal with letters HYGO around it. Rev: +AVRELIANIS CIVITAS, central cross. Mint is Orleans. C 31aV (BE, not BNE in the reverse). R4895 as an anonymous issue; not in Dup, PdA. Ciani places as a royal coin in Robert's name.

Henri I (1031-1060)

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AR denier, 19mm, 1.2gr. Obv: AIANRGO, center REX. The symbol is actually 'A' without the cross bar. Rev: POHCIO COHES, central latine cross, one besant in upper left quadrant. Mint is Toulouse. Dup 29v (which cites two besants); Ciani 47; Boud 707; PdA 366v. PdA discusses the obscure meaning of the obverse inscription, favoring (I think) a genealogical link between the issuer and Henri I. Seller (Singer) categories this as 'RRR,' a fairly rare coin.

Philip 1 (1060-1108)

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AR denier, 22mm, 1.21gr. Obv: +PHILIPVS X REX D-I, central gate. Rev: AVRELIANIS CIVITAS, central cross with 's' in two quadrants. Mint is Orleans. D56/57, not in C. Contemporary English coins: Edward the Confessor and William the Conqueror.

Philip, son of Henri I and Anne of Kiev (daughter of the grand duke of Russia and descendent of Byzantine emperors), came to the throne as a child (eight years old). He married Berthe of Holland, daughter of the Count of Frise and of Holland, as a political marriage to counter the power of William of England, also Duke of Normandy. His son, Louis, succeeded him.

William of Normandy successfully conquered England and set up the tension between his duty as a feudal vassal of Philip and king in his own right. This essentially initiated a conflict that would not be fully resolved for almost four centuries. Philip withstood the threat William's power offered, and sewed dissension among William's heirs, relieving pressure on France. Royal domains were small at this time and Philip sought to expand them, without conflict, and within the prevailing tenets of feudalism. He also worked on administrative reform of his lands, centralizing power and control.

Louis V1 (1108-1137)

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AR denier, 6th type, 19mm, .85gr. Obv: LODOVICVX REX, grand E, annulet, cross. Rev: STAIII CVTELLVTII, central cross, A in opposite quadrants. D106. Contemporary English coins: Henry I and Stephen I. For additional coins see the Capetians.

He is the son of Philip I and Bertha of Holland, and called Louis the Fat. As 'king of France,' his territory was actually limited to the Ile de France, a series of territories running down the center of modern France, from Sens in the north to Bourges in the south. His major accomplishment was a series of administrative reforms that shifted power in his territory away from feudal holders of administrative functions to people (clergy and lower nobles) who were more committed to the king than had previously been the case.

Modern France did not exist, and would not for centuries. It was a series of feudal principalities often in conflict with each other, and having weak allegiance to the king. The Duke of Normandy became king of England in 1066, leaving many of the English Normans with French land holdings, laying the foundation for a split allegiance. This was not be finally resolved until the mid 15th C, and would color French-English relations in the intervening centuries.

Louis V11 (1137-80)

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Denier, 19.5mm, 1.15gr. Obv: LVDOVICUS REX, interior FRA/OCN. Rev: PARISII CIVIS, central cross.  Mint is Paris. D146, C182 as Louis IX. Contemporary English coin: Henry II. For a portrait coin see the Capetians page.

Louis V11 was the son of Louis VI and Adelaide of Savoie. He was calm and reflective. He married first Eleanor of Aquitaine, his temperamental opposite, and they had two daughters. They were divorced on the grounds of consanguinity. She then married Henri Plantagenet while he married next Constance of Castile and then Adele of Champagne, by who he had a son and heir, Philip II.

By his divorce from Eleanor, he lost Aquitaine, which became an English possession through her marriage to Henry. He participated in a crusade and led France in war against England and her continental territories, events common for the age. In spite of this he was a generally effective and assertive ruler and began the process of consolidating royal territories, as task continued by his son.

Philip 11, Auguste (1180-1223)

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Denier, 19mm, 1.10gr. Obv: PHILIPVS REX with FRA OC(reversed)N in the center. Rev: +PARISII CIVIS, with a cross in the center. Mint is Paris. D164, C160. Contemporary English coins:Henry II, Richard 1John,Henry III.

Born in 1165, he was son of Louis VII and his third wife, Alix of Champagne. The 'Auguste' in his name is because he was born in August. Philip was a a successful warrior and consolidator of territories in France, and successful administrative reformer of the monarchy. During his reign, the English crown lost most of its holdings in France. Philip led the defeat of Otto IV and other English allies at Bouvines in 1214. From Horne (29): "Historians have generally agreed that Bouvines was a turning point for both countries (France and England), fundamentally setting the destinies of each. Says Ernest Lavisse, "The two nations set off in different directions. England headed towards liberty, France towards absolutism." By the end of his reign he had extended territory controlled by the crown three to fourfold.

After the Norman invasion of England (1066), the new English nobility maintained territory in France, setting up a conflict of dual allegiance. A series of shifting allegiances, involving Flanders, Champagne and the Angevin Empire (English holdings) kept the country in turmoil. In Paris Philip continued the work on Notre Dame, begun in 1163, paved streets and built churches and hospitals. He built a wall around the city, encompassing 250 acres, started construction on the Louvre, started the market at Les Halles and recognized rights of the University of Paris. On the down side, he supported Simon de Monfort in a ruthless suppression of the Albigensians in the south. Horne's eulogy (41): "With his death Paris in particular mourned a great ruler. The virtual founder of France, who established a powerful country, Phillippe Auguste left a capital for the first time secure enough within the mighty walls he had built around it to develop, thrive and expand. Paris had become the administrative center of France, as well as Europe's capital of learning."

Louis V111 The Lion (1223-26) (and IX)

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Denier tournois, 18mm, .99gr. Obv: +LVDOVICVS REX, center cross. Rev: +TVRONIS CIVI, chatel tournois. Mint is Tours. D 188, C170.

He was son of Philip II and Isabelle of Hainault. He was born in 1187. He married Blanche of Castille, niece of John Lackland, as part of an effort of Anglo-French rapproachment. It didn't work.

The period was characterized by intrigues between England and France, as the English sought to reestablish influence in France. Louis fought at Poitou, was courted by Jean sans Terre (John Lackland), and visited London, where he was well received. In France, he continued the fight against the Albigensian heretics. He died in 1226 of dysentery. During his brief reign he essentially continued the nation building policies of his father.

Louis 1X The Saint (1226-70)

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AR gros tournois, 25mm, 4.03gr. Obv: +LUDOVICVS REX, inner circle. SIT NOMEN etc. outer circle, central cross. Rev: +TVRONVS CIVIS, central chattel tournois. Mint is Tours. Dy 190; C 181. Contemporary English coin: Henry III

The only canonized king of France (a payoff for support of the papacy) was generally pious, but also continued the militarist tendencies of his predecessors. He came to the throne as a minor, and his mother, Blanche of Castile, was the regent. He married Margaret of Provence, who accompanied him on his first crusade (1248). He was captured, ransomed, and finally returned to France in 1254, where he turned his attention to governing. His lasting legacy in Paris is St. Chapelle, with its stunning stained glass. Horne (43), citing Maurice Droun, characterizes him as "one of the great neurotics in history. Had he not inclined to saintliness he might have been a monster. Neros are made of the same fiber."

Christendom was involved not only with inner conflicts between kings and vassals, and kings versus kings, but also against the Islamic domination of the holy lands. On the dark side, he "installed the Inquisition in France, with all the misery that was to bring, and turned his back on the liberalism of the 12th century." (Horne 43) On the brighter side, he continued the nation building efforts begun by his predecessors. Taxes were modest and France was generally prosperous by the end of his reign.  Louis led the seventh crusade and against the advice of his counselors mounted another crusade in 1270 against Tunis. Louis died on this crusade.

Philip 111 (1270-85)

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AR denier tournois (1270-80), 18mm, 1.09gr. Obv: +PHILIPVS REX (1 'P'), central cross. Rev: TVRONVS CIVIS, chatel tournois. Mint is Tours. D204. Contemporary English coins: Henry III and Edward 1.

He was the son of Louis IX and Marguerite de Provence. He married first Isabelle d'Aragon and then Marie de Brabant (at age 14) when he was 30. He was succeeded by Philip IV, his son by Isabelle.

At this time English holdings in France still owed feudal allegiance to the French king, which made for unusual political stress. In August 1273 Philip receive homage from Edward I of England. Besides England, France was involved in the affairs of Aragon, succession in Toulouse and in Navarre, all in the south. In 1282 the 'episode sinistre des "Vespres Siciliennes"' triggered  a royal French reaction to interests in Italy. Charles of Anjou was a central figure in this event.

Philip 1V (1285-1314)

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Gros tournois, 24.5m, 3.29gr. Obv: +PHILIPPVS REX in the inner circle. BENEDICTV:SIT:NOMEN:DNI:NRI:DEI:ihV XPI, outer circle, cross in the center. Rev: TVRONVS CIVIS, tournois in the center. Mint is to Tours standard . C203 (differentiated by the strong X in rex), D213b. Contemporary English coins:Edward 1 and Edward II. His impact of French money was not positive. From Horne (48): ".. he introduced rampant inflation by adulterating the currency, reducing its weight in gold at the mint - the first French king to do so. Shamelessly he admitted, "We have been forced to have these pieces coined which perhaps lacked some of the weight and alloy of those struck by our predecessors.""

The son of Louis IX was a strong ruler who extended influence over the Church in France, as well as over the administration of his kingdom. The year before he became king he married Jeanne, heiress to Champagne and Navarre. (The Navarre notation enters the coinage by the reign of Henri IV). He challenged Pope Bonifice VIII and suppressed the wealthy and powerful Knights Templar with the support of 'his' captive pope, Clement V. As he was being burned, Jacques de Molay, KT, cursed both Clement and Philip. Clement died within a month and Philip within the year. Horne's characterization: he "prove(d) one of France's most unpleasant and disastrous kings, leaving in his wake catastrophe for the country and misery in Paris. Under him a new depth of savagery manifested itself in the life of Paris, a dark retreat from the enlightenment of Sugur and Philippe Auguste."

Besides religious conflict over the prerogatives of the church, through the pope, Philip engaged in war against Edward I of England, who was also duke of Aquitaine. This conflict settled nothing, and led to the marriage of Philip's sister Marguerite to Edward and his daughter Isabella to Edward II. The offspring of these unions and lack of a clear Capetian successor some years hence lay the foundation for the 100 Years War.

Louis X (1314-1316)

Philip V (1316-22)

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AR gros tournois, 26mm, 3.97 gr. Obv: PHILIPPVS REX, central cross. Exterior obv. legend: BNDICTV:SIT:NOMEN:DHI:NRI:DEI:---XPI. Rev: + TRONVS CIVIS, central chatel. The key distinguishing ‘secret' mark is the crescent on the reverse before CIVIS. Mint is Tours. Dup238. Contemporary English coin: Edward II.

Philip V was the middle son of Philip IV and he succeeded his older brother on his death. He was first, and briefly Regent for his brother's young son, who was born after Louis X's death. The baby died before a serious succession issue arose. France was not ready for a female heiresss and an assembly of the three estates ruled "femme ne succede pas a la Couronne de France." Philip was called 'le long' because of a good resemblance to his father and his strength of character. He has the reputation as a good ruler, governing "avec sagesse et intelligence." In turn, Philip was succeeded by his younger brother, who ruled as Charles IV. Philip was the penultimate Capetian ruler.

Charles 1V (1322-28)

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1/2 Blanche, 21m, 1.44gr. Obv:  +KAROLVS REX, interior,  +BENEDICTV:SIT:NOME:DNI:NRI:DEI exterior, central cross. Rev: +FRANCORVM, central castle. Small cross to the left of the larger cross. Mint uncertain. C258, D243A. Contemporary English coins: Edward II and Edward III.

Charles was the third son of Philip IV and Jeanne of Navarre. His first wife was Blanche of Bourgogne. Next he married Marie of Luxembourg and finally Jeanne d'Evreux. He died without a son, and the line transferred to a cousin, Philip of Valois, who became Philip VI.

When Charles died at 34 years of age, his death opened the door for an English claimant to the throne, Edward III. This set the next stage for conflict between England and France, now not just over territory but over the throne of France itself.

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Double tournois, 3rd emission 1326, 20.5mm, 1.15gr. Obv: +KAROLVS REX, large central crown with annulet under the crown. Rev: +MONETA DVPLEX, ornate central cross. Mint uncertain. D244c, C261.

The Valois
(Link to an overview of English and French coins and events of the Hundred Years War page)

Philip V1 (1328-50)

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Ecu d'or a la chaise, 1st minting 1/1/1337, 22 mm, 4.47gr. Obv: PHILIPPVS:DEI| xGRAx|FRANCORVM:REX, figure seated on a Gothic throne, holding a sword, shield of lis. Rev: XP'C:VINCIT:XP'C:REGNAT:XP"C:IMPERAT, cross in an ornamented quadrilobe. D249, C282. Contemporary English coin: Edward III.

"Philippe VI (1293-1350) est le fils aîné de Charles de Valois, frère de Philippe IV le Bel et de Marguerite d'Anjou, la fille de Charles II d'Anjou, roi de Naples. Régent après la mort de Charles IV le 1er février, il devient roi le 1er avril 1328 après la naissance d'une fille. Édouard III prête l'hommage à Philippe VI pour la Guyenne en 1329 mais la guerre de Cent Ans commence en 1337 avec la saisie de cette province. La flotte française est coulée à l'Écluse en juin 1340. À partir de 1341 commence la guerre de Succession de Bretagne (1341-1365) où les Bretons s'opposent par Français et Anglais interposés. Édouard III débarque en Normandie le 11 juillet 1346 et écrase la chevalerie française grâce à ses archers à Crécy le 26 août 1346. Il assiège ensuite Calais qui résiste onze mois et capitule le 4 août 1347, (affaire des Bourgeois de Calais). La grande peste ravage l'Europe et tue la moitié de la population entre 1348 et 1350, dont la reine Jeanne la Boiteuse. Philippe rachète le Dauphiné en 1349 à Humbert II. Il se remarie avec Blanche de Bourgogne et meurt l'année suivante." Source: CGB Monnaies VIII, #1196, Juin 2000.

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AR Gros a la Couronne (1338), 24mm, 2.5gr. Obv inner legend:  PHILIPPVS REX, obv. outer legend, +BNDICTV etc., central cross. Rev:  FRANCORVM, chatel avec etoile sous le chatel, 2nd emission. 1338. D262A, C298.

Jean 11 The Good (1350-64)

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AR Blanc au chatel fleir de lise, 1st emission, 1/16/1356, 27mm, 3.82gr. Obv: IOHANNES REX, central short cross. Rev; TVRONVS CIVIS, chatel. Mint is Tours. D310, C408. Contemporary English coin: Edward III.

"Jean II (1319-1364) est le fils de Philippe VI de Valois et de Jeanne de Bourgogne, dite la boiteuse. Il succède à son père en 1350. Son règne est le plus catastrophique du XIVe siècle. La guerre reprend avec les Anglais en 1355. Le Prince Noir, fils d'Édouard III, ravage tout l'Ouest de la France. Jean II réunit les États Généraux pour obtenir des subsides. Il est battu à la bataille de Poitiers en 1356, fait prisonnier et emmené captif en Angleterre. Charles, le dauphin, fils de Jean II, devient lieutenant général du royaume. Il doit faire face à Charles le Mauvais, roi de Navarre et descendant de Philippe IV, allié à Étienne Marcel, prévôt des marchands, qui obligent le dauphin à composer. Les États Généraux sont convoqués et essaient d'imposer au régent une profonde réforme des institutions ainsi que le respect de la monnaie : c'est la grande ordonnance de 1357. En 1358, il doit faire face à la révolte de Paris et à la Jacquerie en province. Étienne Marcel est assassiné et Charles reprend le pouvoir. Jean II le Bon est prisonnier en Angleterre depuis 1356 (apre' Poitiers) et les traités de Londres de 1358 et 1359 préparent la libération du roi Jean qui signe le traité de Brétigny le 8 mai 1360. Il perd un tiers de son royaume et doit payer 3 millions d'écus d'or de rançon. Libéré en juillet 1360, il demande une aide spéciale (impôt) pour rétablir la bonne monnaie et créer le franc à cheval le 5 décembre 1360. Le duc de Bourgogne, Philippe de Rouvres, étant mort sans héritier, le roi rattache la province au royaume et l'apanage en 1363 à son fils, Philippe le Hardi, qui avait soutenu son père à Poitiers en 1356. Le duc d'Anjou, otage, s'étant échappé de Londres, Jean, en chevalier, y retourne se constituer prisonnier. Il y meurt le 8 avril 1364." Source: CGB Monnaies VIII,  Juin 2000.

Charles V The Wise (1364-80)

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Blanc au K, 25mm, 2.5gr. Obv: DEI:GRACIA in the inner circle, center is K surmounted by crown, with lis on both sides of the K. Rev: (lis)FRANCORV:REX in the inner circle. The center has a cross surmounted by a crown. The outer circle is +BENEDCTV:SIT,etc.  D363, C47. Contemporary English coins: Edward III and Richard II.

Before coming to the crown, Charles served as Regent of France during his father's captivity in England, as a result of the disastrous (from the French point of view) Battle of Poitiers. He married Jeanne of Bourbon, and their son becomes Charles VI. As king he benefited from strategic family alliances with Castile and Flanders, blunting potential English allies in the 100 years war. During his reign, France succeeded in capturing much of the territory previously lost to the English. In Paris, he faced rebellion, which was put down in 1358.

This continued to be a fragile time for French kings, as they remain involved in sustained conflict with England over succession to the French throne. Charles V's reign was one of relative success for France, between two less successful periods of time. The French kings had to deal with growing frustration from the non-nobles, who are heavily taxed to support the war.

Charles V1 The Fool (1380-1422)

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Ecu d'or, 28mm, 3.81gr. Obv: +KAROLVS:DEI:gRACIA:FRANCORVM:REX, central shield (ecu) of France with three lis. topped by a crown. Rev: +APC*VINCIT*XPC*REGNAT*XPC*IMPERAT, central stylized cross (croix arquee) enclosed, with four crowns. 1st emission (11 March 1385). Mint unclear to me. Rouen? Punctuation by * on the reverse. Another possiblity is St. Quentin - * at the base of the cross. Dup 369v, C 484-5. Contemporary English coins: Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V.

Charles came to the throne in 1380, but experienced mental illness in 1392 which plagued him throughout his life. This set the stage for conflict among his uncles and other French nobility, which weakened the position of the king in the war with England. A Burgundian alliance with England led to the fall of Paris in 1418, and subsequent occupation by the English.

The battle of Agincourt( 1415) was a success for English bowmen over French knights. This led to the Treaty of Troyes in 1420, which identified Henri V of England as successor to the French throne on Charles' death. This period is the French nadir in the 100 years war, with the crown withdrawn from Pairs and settled in the south at Bourges. Henri V married Charles' daughter Catherine. Their son was Henri VI of England.

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Blanc dit guernar, 1389 or 1411, 26mm, 2.96gr. Obv: +KAROLVS FRANCORV REX, shield with three lis. Rev: SIT NOMEN DNI BENEDICTV, cross with two crowns and two lis. Mint is Tours - pt under 6th letter.  D377A or D377C, C507 or 509. For an additional coin, the Valois page.

Henri V of England,  claiming to be king of France, had coinage
Henri V1 of England, claiming to be king of France, had coinage

Charles V11 le Victorieux  (30/10/1422-22/07/1461).

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Blanc aux Couronne, 27mm, 2.45gr. Description from (and identification based on) the CGB web catalogue, France IV, Fall 1999, # 58. "Blanc à la couronne, 26/06/1456, 4e ém, (pd. th. 3,022 g,  taille 1/81 marc, ). Mint is St. Lo. 19th pt. A/ + KARO[LVS*] FRANCORVm* REX*. Écu de France entre trois couronnelles, dans un double trilobe.  R/ + SIT* nOmE[N]* DnI* BEnEDICTVm. Croix cantonnée aux 1 et 4 d'une couronnelle, aux 2 et 3 d'un lis, dans un double quadrilobe." C.688,  Dup 519C. Contemporary English coin: Henry VI. For another coin see the Valois.

The disinherited son of Charles VI came to the thrown, what was left of it in 1422. His father and Henri V were both dead, leaving a child Henri VI also claiming the crown as a result of the Treaty of Troyes. Charles' actions caused Burgundy to become allied with England and the picture was very bleak, until Joan of Arc entered the scene and lead French troops to victory at Patay and Orleans. This turned the tide for the French and from then on, the English were driven back. Charles regained Paris in 1436, and is called Victorious.

Joan of Arc played a key role in the wars of succession, and is credited with "giving Charles his throne." She was ultimately captured by the Burgundians, who turned her over to the English. Charles refused to ransom her, the tradition of the times, and allowed her to be burnt at the stake by the English, under the guise of heresy, but as revenge for their defeat at Orleans. Charles preferred her as a dead martyr and inspiration to the French rather than as a living challenge to his authority.

Louis X1 (The Spider: 1461-83)

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Ecu d'or, 28mm, 3.22gr, 1st emission 31/12/1461. Obv: LVDOVICVS:DEI:GRA:FRANCOR:REX, ecu de France crowned, bounded by deux lis crowned. Rev: XPS:VINCIT:XPS:REGNAT:XPS:IMPGRAT, "croix feuillue avec quadrilobes en coeur, accoste de quarte cournelles, dans un quadrilobe." Mint is Paris - pt 18 on the obv. Dup 539v (with XPC); C 741v which has the reverse ending "XPS IMPERT." Coin shows great clarity of the ... in the crown, which suggests it is as struck, with some weakness in the legend. Contemporary English coin:Edward IV.

The son of Charles VII had a contentious relationship with his father, leading also to strained relationships with his father's advisors on his ascension to the throne. On the death of his first wife, he married Catherine of Savoy, to his father's displeasure. As king, he benefited from the death of Charles the Bold of Burgundy, and spent the balance of his reign extending royal control over Burgundian territory, largely giving France its modern shape. For a fuller look at his problems, visit the Siege of Paris 1465 page.

While England had withdrawn from the last of its French territories by the start of his reign, England continued to threaten intervention. Louis intervened in the English War of the Roses, first supporting the Lancastrians and then the Yorkists, to forestall English intervention. (It is interesting to note that English coinage through Anne in the early 18th C claimed French sovereignty.)

Charles V111 ( 1483-98)

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Karolus ou dizain, 1488, 25mm, 2.31gr. Obv: + KAROLVS FRANCORVM REX, large initial under a crown. Obv: +SIT:NOMEN:DNI:BENEDICTVM, cross with arms topped by crowns, lis in each quadrant. Mint is St. Lo - 19 pt.  C814, D593. For another coin see the Valois. Contemporary English coins: Richard III and Henry VII.

Charles came to the throne as a young person (13 years old) and benefited from the regency of his older sister, who withdrew from the scene as he achieved his majority. Charles was interested in acquiring Brittany, and married Anne of Brittany. None of their children lived long enough to succeed him. Charles was a pious king, but an unsuccessful candidate for canonization, the papacy being less reliant on the French by this time.

Charles had territorial ambitions in Italy and led a French army to Naples. He was subsequently forced to withdraw. For some time hereafter France maintained an interest in Italian politics, and intervened repeatedly in the peninsula.

Louis X11 Father of his People (1498-1515)

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Ecu d'or au soleil (25 April 1498), 25 mm, 3.4gr. Obv: LVDOVICVS:DEI:GRA:FRANCORVM:REX, central shield with three fleur de lis, surmounted by a crown and sun. Dot between the top two lis in the shield. Rev: XPS:VINCIT:XPS:REGNAT:XPS:IMPERAT:b, croix fleurdelise avex quadrilobe en cour. Coin is shaved. Mint is La Rochelle? pt. 9. Louis formally came to power April 8 1498 so this is among his first issues. D647, C900. For a grand blanc see the Valois page. Contemporary English coins: Henry VII and Henry VIII.

Louis was a cousin of Charles VIII and married Anne of Bretagne, wife of the previous king Charles VIII. Their daughter, Claude, became the wife of Louis' successor, Francois I.  His first marriage to Jeanne of France was annulled, accompanied by a generous pension, so this could happen. After the death of Anne, Louis reconciled with Henri VIII by marrying his sister, Mary (Marie). Louis focussed on the structure of law in France, and promulgated the grand ordinance de Blois in 1499.

Internal strife in France receded after the expulsion of the English in the mid 1400s. Louis continued to play on the larger European stage, continuing the interventions in Italy started by Charles VIII.

Francis 1 (1515-1547)

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AU ecu d'or, 25mm, 3.37gr, 2nd type, 1st emission, 23 January 1515, theoretical weight 3.49g. Obv: +FRANCIS:DEI:GRA:FRANCORVM:REX, center shield with three lis, surmounted by a crown. Rev: XPS:VINCIT:XPS:REGNAT:XPS:IMPERAT, cross with crowned F in 2nd and 4th quadrant. Mint is Lyon. D771, C1071. For another coin see the Valois. Contemporary English coin: Henry VIII.

Cousin of Louis X11, and married to his daughter, Francis I was known as a man of arts and letters. He was responsible for bringing Leonardo daVinci to the French court. Leonardo brought the Mona Lisa, which remains in the Louvre to this day. He built royal chateaux in the Loire and south of Paris, including Blois, Chambord, Fountainbleau and St.-Germain-en-Laye. His son became Henri II. He also initiated religious prosecution of emerging protestantism as heretical and a threat to the state.

Francis remained involved in the Italian peninsula, intervened in the succession of the Holy Roman Empire and became involved in the internal affairs of Spain. France was emerging as a major European nation state, playing a growing role on the continent. He entered treaties with Suliman the Magnificent and made peace with Henry VIII.

Henri 11 (1547-1559)

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AR douzain aux croissants, 155x, 25mm, 2.43gr. Obv: +HENRICVS.2.DEI.GRA.FRANCOR.REX, shield with three lis, sides with crown over crescent, B under shield. Mint is Rouen. Rev: +SIT.NOMEN.DNI.BENEDICTVM.155x.  D997, C1305. Contemporary English coins: Edward VI, Maryand Elizabeth I. For another similar coin see Henry II in Valois after Louis XII

The son of  Francis I became king in 1547. He was an ineffective ruler ('not over-endowed with brains' say Horne)who married Catherine de Medici, reflecting continued French interest in Italy. He was responsible for substantial expansion of the Louvre. His mistress, Diane of Poitiers, is delightfully immortalized in one of the grand halls of the palace.  He contested with Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles' son, Philippe II of Spain, and the English, now ruled by Mary Tudor. None of this strengthened France. Henri was killed accidentally in a joust by the captain of his guard, Montgomery, in the Marais of Pairs (now the 4eme).

Tolerance or suppression of emerging protestantism became a major domestic and international force in European politics in the second half of the century, and French kings had to deal with the ensuing civil strife this religious reform caused. Now to the mix of territorial ambitions, the element of religious preference came to play a role. In 1559 England renounced its claim on Calais, the last English holding in France. France gave up its ambitions in Italy.

Francis II (1559-60)

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AR teston, 1559, 28.5mm, 9.51gr. Obv: HENRICVS.II.D.G.FRABCOR.REX, portrait right. (All Francis' coinage bore Henri II's inscription.) Rev: +XPS.VINCIT.XPS.REGNAT.XPS.IMPE, central shield with three lis, topped by large crown, bracketed by smaller ‘H' topped by crown. K under shield. Mint is Bordeaux.  D. 1033, C1335. Contemporary English coin: Elizabeth I.

Francis was born in 1544 at Fountainbleau, the first son of Henri II and Catherine de Medici. His mother was the dominant force in his life, and the life of France. He came to the throne at age 15 on his father's death.  He was engaged at six years of age to Marie Stuart,  the daughter of James V of Scotland, who was five at the time.  He married her, and they had no children. He died of meningitis in December 1560, a year after he became king.

As with contemporary French kings, his brief reign was concerned with internal religious strife and the efforts to suppress a growing Protestant movement. Horne characterizes his reign as "one of the shortest and most wretched in French history." Most interestingly, in terms of the relations between the English and the French, after his death Mary Stuart remarried and her son became James I of England. She got caught up in the religious conflicts in England and died for it.

Charles 1X (1560-1574)

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AR douzain, 2nd type, 1574, 23.5mm, 2.26gr. Obv: D.G.FRANC.REX.CAROLVS.IX, shield with three lis, surmounted by large crown, shield bracketed by the letter ‘C.' Rev: +SIT.NOMEN.DOMINI.BENEDIC, cross with two lis and two crowns in the quadrants. Mint is Rouen- B under shield. C1386,  D1088. Contemporary English coin: Elizabeth I.

He was the second son of Henri II and married Elisabeth of Austria, daughter of Maximilien II, HRE. His reign was characterized by religious strife, including what was effectively civil war, centered in Orleans, starting in 1562. His concerns were primarily internal and centered on containing protestantism.

Catherine de Medici, queen mother, unsuccessfully tried to contain the growing violence, before agreeing with Charles to suppress protestantism. The upshot was the St. Bartholomew Day Massacre on August 18, 1572, sponsored by the royals, but spread throughout Paris and other parts of France. Thousands were killed. Henri of Navarre, the future Henri IV, escaped by promising to return to Catholicism. Many Huguenots fled and found sympathy in England. For additional background visit the siege of Paris page for these religious conflicts.

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AR demi teston, 1566, 25mm, 5.54gr. Obv: CAROLOVS VIIII D.G. FRANC ...?, bust left. Rev: SIT:NOMEN:BENEDIC ... CDLXVI, central crown bracketed by small crown and 'c,' with 'H' at base of crown. Mint is La Rochelle. Not clearly in C or D, close to D1067.

Henry 111 (1574-1589)

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Douzain,  (1575-89), 25mm, 2.2gr, Obv: D.G.FRAN.ET.POL.REX.HENRICVS.III, shield with three lis, surmounted by large crown, shield bracketed by the letter ‘H.' Rev: +SIT.NOMEN.DNI.BENEDICT, cross with two lis and two H's in the quadrants. Mint is Rouen - B under shield. Youngest hammered coin on the site. D1140, C1450.  Contemporary English coin: Elizabeth I.

The third son of Henri II married Louise of  Lorraine. Horne characterizes him as "one of France's more bizarre monarchs" for among other things, "the ocasional practice of appearing at official functions in drag."  His major concern was resolving religious strife and insuring an orderly succession. He offered concessions to the Huguenots, but was met by a Catholic backlash that put forward an alternative to Henri of Navarre as successor king. The Catholic League candidate was supported by the pope, an unwise move and one that led to a weakening of the Catholic position. Henri was murdered by a Dominican Catholic League member. The Valois line died with him. For Paris, he initiated the construction of the Pont Neuf, completed by his successor.

Religious turmoil dominated the European political scene. Catholic Spain launched the armada against England . In France the CL sought to violently suppress protestantism.

Charles X, roi de la ligue (pretender)

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AR 1/8 ecu, 25m, 4.68gr .Obv: CAROLVS.X.D.G.FRANC.REX, central fleur d'lis cross. Legend starts at 9 o'clock. Rev: SIT.NOMEN.DOMINI.BENEDICTVM, central crowned ecu de France, bracketed by V and III. Pt 14 under N on the reverse. Dup 1178, C 1489.

The Catholic League dates from 1576 and was the center of the strong anti-Catholic reaction to growing Protestantism. It was headed by duc Henri de Guise. The League took control of Paris, among other places, and set itself against both the king and the more moderate Catholic nobility. Duc Henri was assassinated in 1588 at the Blois Chateau of Catherine de Medici. This, in turn, probably triggered the assassination of Henri III as year later. Guise’s brother, Charles of Lorraine, succeeded him in leadership of the League and appointed the Cardinal de Bourbon, now an old man, pretender king of France. As it happened, the Cardinal was already a prisoner of Henri IV. The cardinal was never a serious threat to Henri and died in his control during the subsequent siege of Paris. (Source: Horne 69-73)

The Bourbons
Henri 1V (1589-1610)

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AR quart d'ecu, 29mm, 9.58gr. Obv: +HENRICVS.IIII.D.G.FRANC.E.NAVA.REX, croiz feuillue avec quadrilobe ponctue en coeur. Rev: .SIT.NOMEN.DNI.BENEDICTVM_ _L, legend starts at the bottom, central ecu d'France, couronne, acoste de 'II II.' Mint is Bayonne (after 1590). The mint mark 'L' is at the end of the reverse legend. There is one other symbol here also (sword?). This was an early mint for Henri IV. Dup 1224, C 1517v. Contemporary English coin: Elizabeth I.

Henri ushered in the Bourbon line with the demise of the Valois. He was first married to Marguerite de Valois, his cousin, and subsequently, with papal approval, divorced her to marry Marie de Medici. He was an able ruler and faced the task of rebuilding Paris and the French economy. The Edict of Nantes in 1598 provided religious toleration for protestants. Like his English counterparts, Henri straddled religious commitments to maintain the throne. He was assassinated in 1710 by Francis Ravailac, acting as a Catholic against what was seen as too soft a line on protestantism.

Henri did major building in Paris, including the Place Royale (now Place des Vosges), finishing the Pont Neuf and building onto the Louvre. He maintained international alliances supporting protestants in the Netherlands and encouraged industrial activity in silk and textiles. The civil religious strife that characterized his predecessor's reigns quieted but remained a source of tension.

Louis X111 (1610-43)

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AR 1/12 ecu, 20 mm, 2.17gr Obv: +LVDOVICVS XIII D  |  G  FR ET NAV REX, bust right. Rev: +SIT NOMEN DOMINI V BENEDTITVM 1643, central crowned shield with three lis. Paris mint. D 1352v, 3eme type 1642-3 (D does not reflect the 'V' on the reverse legend); C 1667. Contemporary English coin: James I and Charles I. For another coin see Louis XIII on the Bourbon page.

Louis comes to the crown at the age of nine. His mother, Marie de Medici acts as his regent and succeeds in smoothing the transition. Louis reaches the age of governance at 14 years and ultimately engages in conflict with his mother, who is exiled from Paris. Marie arranged a marriage with Anne of Austria, a child bride from Spain, in the Hapsburg line. During his reign Cardinal Richelieu became the major royal advisor and assumeed significant power in the French state. Louis died after a long illness in 1642. His chief advisor, Richelieu, had the opportunity to name his successor, Mazarin, who played a similar role for Louis XIV.

Louis consolidated royal authority and modernized the administration of the state. He formed a modern army and continued the modernizing economic policies of Henri IV. These policies contributed to economic prosperity in the latter half of the century. During his reign France was involved in the 30 Years War.

Louis XIV (1643-1715)

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AR douzieme d'ecu, 1644, 21mm, 2.21gr. Obv: D.G.FR.ET.NAV.REX.LVD.XIIII, young portrait facing right, wearing an imperial wreath. Rev: SIT.NOMEN,DOMINI.BENEDICTVM.1644, shield with three lis surmounted by a large crown. Mint is Paris - A under shield. D1464, C1836. Contemporary English coins: Charles I, Charles II, James II, William and Mary, William III, Anne and George I.

Louis became king when he was only 5. His reign of 72 years was the longest in French history, and he outlived both his son and grandson. He married Marie-Theresa of Austria. He was known as the Sun King and moved the Court from the Louvre to Versailles. Louis XIV brought absolutism in the monarchy to its peak (l'etat c'est moi), an idea challenged by the Enlightenment. In his youth he led his own troops in battle, and war was a continual activity during his reign.

Louis was successful in war against the Dutch, but less so later against the HRE, Spain and England.  The Thirty Years War ended with the Treaty of Westphalia, which established the balance of power principle that still characterized European alliances in the 20th C. High taxes to finance the war and a lavish Court came to cause domestic unrest. In 1713, in the Treaty of Utrecht, Louis lost much of the French New World to the English. His life ended without the military glory that characterized the first part of the reign. On the broader European scene, the Turks beseiged Vienna in 1683 and were turned back from Europe. In celebration, the croissant was created, the the pleasure of breakfast lovers everywhere. Larousse Gastronomique attributes it to success against the Turks at Budapest, other sources attribute it to the victory at Vienna.

Louis XV (1715-74)

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AR dixieme d'ecu (12 sols), 1741, 21.5mm, 2.81gr. Obv: LUD.XV.D.G.FR.ET.NAV, portrait facing left. Rev: SIT NOMEN DOMINI BENEDICTUM 1741, circle with three lis, surmounted by a large crown, shield bracketed by wreath. Mint is Caen - C at bottom of reverse.  D1683, C2127. Contemporary English coins: George I,  George II, George III.

Louis XV, great grandson of Louis XIV, had another long reign of 59 years. This was a time when the earlier absolutism gave way to new ideas of the Enlightenment, and the growing challenge of different groups within French society. He married Marie Leczinska, of the Polish royal family, and had a number of children. Louis was a builder and Paris benefited from this attention. The Pantheon was constructed in response to a pledge he made when ill that if cured he'd build a church. It was built, but not ready until the Revolution, so never functioned as a church.

Wars were expensive, and not successful. In the Seven Years War (the French and Indian Wars to Americans) France ran up large debts and lost additional territory in the New World. Financing the state became increasingly difficult, as regions sought to preserve historical privileges and resisted taxation. France became increasingly factionalized by the end of the reign. Louis apparently realized this, and is quoted as saying "Apres moi, c'est le Deluge." Such was to be the case for his heir.

Louis XVI, (1774-93)

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AR 12 sols, date obscured, 22mm, 2.79gr. Obv: LUD.XVI.D.G.FR.ET.NAV.REX, portrait facing left. Rev: SIT NOMEN DOMINI BENEDICTUM, circle with three lis surmounted by large crown, bracketed by wreaths. Mint is Paris.  D1711,  C2191 1785? Contemporary English coin: George III.

Louis XVI, son of L. XV, had the misfortune to come to the throne when France was riven by financial, political and economic stresses. He was married to Marie Antoinette, who was never popular with the French. Louis was a cultured person, interested in the arts and sciences, but unprepared to deal with the state of the State. From the failure of the Estates Genereaux to the proclamation of a General Assembly through the storming of the Bastille, Louis rode a current that was to unravel the Bourbon monarchy. He was ultimately held a virtual prisoner and forced to sign a Civil Constitution. He remained on coinage as Roi until his execution, on January 21, 1793. In October Marie Antoinette followed him to the guillotine.