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The House of Valois[1] (French pronunciation: [valwa]) was a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty. They succeeded the House of Capet (or "Direct Capetians") to the French throne, and was the royal house of France from 1328 to 1589. Junior members of the family founded cadet branches in Alençon, Anjou, Burgundy and Orléans.

The Valois descended from Charles, Count of Valois (1270–1325), the fourth son of King Philip III of France (reigned 1270–1285). Their title to the throne was based on a precedent in 1316 (popularly known in the English-speaking world as the Salic law), which excluded females (Joan II of Navarre) as well as male descendants through the distaff line (Edward III of England), from the succession to the French throne.

Unexpected inheritance[]

The Capetian dynasty seemed secure both during and after the reign of Philip IV from 1285 to 1313. Philip had left three surviving sons (Louis, Philip and Charles) and a daughter (Isabella). Each son became king in turn but died young without male heirs, leaving only daughters who could not inherit the throne. When Charles IV died in 1328, the French succession became more problematic.

In 1328 three candidates had plausible claims to the throne:

  1. Philip, Count of Valois, son of Charles of Valois, who was the closest heir in male line and a grandson of Philip III. Because his father was the brother of the late Philip IV, he was therefore a nephew of Philip IV and the cousin of Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV. Further, Charles IV had chosen him as the regent before his death.
  2. Philip, Count of Évreux, another nephew of Philip IV and cousin of the three most recent Capetian kings. He strengthened his position by marrying Joan of France, daughter of Louis X.
  3. Edward III of England, son of Isabella of France, daughter and only surviving child of Philip IV. Edward claimed to be the heir as a grandson of Philip IV.

Philip III of France
r. 1270–1285
Philip IV of France
r. 1285–1314
Charles of Valois
Louis of Évreux
Louis X of France
r. 1314–1316
Philip V of France
r. 1316–1322
Charles IV of France
r. 1322–1328
Isabella of France
Edward II of England
Philip of Valois
b. 1293
Philip of Évreux
b. 1306
Joan of France
b. 1312
Edward III of England
b. 1312

The claimants to the French throne in 1328

In England, Isabella of France claimed the throne on behalf of her son. Similarly to French conventions, the English law of succession did not allow the succession of females,[2] but allowed the succession through the female line (as occurred de facto with Henry II of England). The French rejected Isabella's claims, arguing that since she herself, as a woman, could not succeed, then she could not transmit any such right to her son. Thus the French magnates chose Philip of Valois, who became Philip VI of France. The throne of Navarre went its separate way, to Joan of France, daughter of Louis X, who became Joan II of Navarre.

Because diplomacy and negotiation had failed, Edward III would have to back his claims with force to obtain the French throne. For a few years, England and France maintained an uneasy peace. Eventually, an escalation of conflict between the two kings led to the confiscation of the duchy of Aquitaine (1337). Instead of paying homage to the French king, as his ancestors had done, Edward claimed that he was the rightful King of France. These events helped launch the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) between England and France.

List of Valois kings of France[]

French Monarchy
Capetian Dynasty
(House of Valois)
Arms of the Kingdom of France (Ancien)

Philip VI
   John II
John II
   Charles V
   Louis I of Anjou
   John, Duke of Berry
   Philip the Bold
Charles V
   Charles VI
   Louis, Duke of Orléans
Charles VI
   Isabella of Valois
   Michelle of Valois
   Catherine of Valois
   Charles VII
Charles VII
   Louis XI
   Charles, Duke of Berry
Louis XI
   Charles VIII
Charles VIII
French Monarchy-
Capetian Dynasty, House of Valois
(Valois-Orléans branch)
Arms of the Kingdom of France (Moderne)

Louis XII
   Claude of France         
   Renée of France         
French Monarchy-
Capetian Dynasty, House of Valois
(Valois-Angoulême branch)
Arms of the Kingdom of France (Moderne)

Francis I
   Francis, Dauphin of Viennois
   Henry II
   Magdalene, Queen of Scots
   Charles of Valois
   Margaret, Duchess of Savoy
Henry II
   Francis II
   Elizabeth, Queen of Spain
   Claude, Duchess of Lorraine
   Louis, Duke of Orléans
   Charles IX
   Henry III
   Margaret, Queen of Navarre
   Francis, Duke of Anjou
   Joan of Valois
   Victoria of Valois
Francis II
Charles IX
Henry III

Valois (direct)[]


  • Louis XII, the Father of His People 1498–1515, great-grandson of Charles V of France


The application of the Salic Law meant that with the extinction of the Valois in the male line, the Bourbons succeeded to the throne as descendants of Louis IX.

Valois king of Poland[]

Other significant titles held by the House of Valois[]

Counts and Dukes of Alençon[]

House of Valois-Alençon

  • Charles II, count (1325–1346), second son of Charles of Valois
  • Charles III, count (1346–1361)
  • Peter II, count (1361–1391)
  • John I, count (1391–1414)
  • John I, duke (1414–1415)
  • John II, duke (1415–1424 and 1449–1474)
  • René I, duke (1478–1492)
  • Charles IV, duke (1492–1525)

Counts and Dukes of Anjou[]

House of Valois-Anjou

  • Louis I, duke (1360–1383) (also king of Jerusalem and Naples as Louis I), second son of John II of France
  • Louis II (1377–1417), son of (also king of Naples as Louis II)
  • Louis III (1403–1434), son of (also king of Naples as Louis III)
  • René I (1409–1480), brother of (also king of Jerusalem and Naples as René I)
  • Charles IV (1436–1481),

Dukes of Burgundy[]

House of Valois-Burgundy

Dukes of Brabant[]

House of Valois-Burgundy-Brabant

Counts of Nevers[]

House of Valois-Burgundy-Nevers

  • Philip II (1404–1415), third son of Philip the Bold of Burgundy
  • Charles I (1415–1464)
  • John II (1464–1491)

Dukes of Orléans[]

House of Valois-Orléans

Counts of Angoulême[]

House of Valois-Orléans-Angoulême

Illegitimate branches[]

  • House of Valois-Dunois, counts of Longueville (see Jean de Dunois), descended from a son of Louis I, Duke of Orléans
  • House of Valois-Saint-Remy, counts of Saint-Rémy (see Jeanne of Valois-Saint-Rémy), descended from a son of Henry II of France

Forms of address[]

Forms of address for Valois kings included "Most Christian Majesty".

See also[]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:


  1. ^ Valois meaning, literally, "of the valley" or "from the valley"
  2. ^ The contested reign in the early 12th century of Mathilda, Lady of the English, had not set a good precedent, occasioning lengthy civil war..
*Royal House*
House of Valois
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Preceded by
House of Capet
Ruling House of France
Succeeded by
House of Bourbon
Preceded by
Capetian House of Burgundy
Ruling House of the Duchy of Burgundy
Succeeded by
House of Habsburg

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