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During the 9th and 10th centuries, continually threatened by Viking invasions, France

became a very decentralised state: the nobility's titles and lands became hereditary, and
the authority of the king became more religious than secular and thus was less effective
and constantly challenged by powerful noblemen. Thus was established feudalism in France.
Over time, some of the king's vassals would grow so powerful that they often posed a
threat to the king. For example, after the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror added
"King of England" to his titles, becoming both the vassal to (as Duke of Normandy) and the
equal of (as king of England) the king of France, creating recurring tensions.

Late Middle Ages (10th century15th century)


Main articles: Kingdom of France, Capetian dynasty, Valois dynasty, and Bourbon dynasty
See also: List of French monarchs and France in the Middle Ages

Joan of Arc led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, which paved
the way for the final victory.

French territorial evolutionfrom 985 to 1947

The Carolingian dynasty ruled France until 987, when Hugh Capet, Duke of France and Count
of Paris, was crowned King of the Franks.[41] His descendantsthe Capetians, the House of Valois,
and the House of Bourbonprogressively unified the country through wars and dynastic
inheritance into the Kingdom of France, which was fully declared in 1190 by Philip II
Augustus. The French nobility played a prominent role in most Crusades in order to restore
Christian access to the Holy Land. French knights made up the bulk of the steady flow of
reinforcements throughout the two-hundred-year span of the Crusades, in such a fashion
that the Arabs uniformly referred to the crusaders as Franj caring little whether they really
came from France.[42] The French Crusaders also imported the French language into
the Levant, making French the base of the lingua franca(litt. "Frankish language") of the Crusader
states.[42] French knights also comprised the majority in both the Hospital and the Temple orders.
The latter, in particular, held numerous properties throughout France and by the 13th
century were the principal bankers for the French crown, until Philip IV annihilated the order
in 1307. The Albigensian Crusade was launched in 1209 to eliminate the heretical Cathars in the
southwestern area of modern-day France. In the end, the Cathars were exterminated and
the autonomous County of Toulouse was annexed into the kingdom of France.[43]Later kings
expanded their domain to cover over half of modern continental France, including most of
the north, centre and west of France. Meanwhile, the royal authority became more and
more assertive, centred on a hierarchically conceived society distinguishing nobility, clergy,
and commoners.
Charles IV (Clermont 18/19 June 1294 Vincennes 1 February 1328), called the Fair (le Bel)
in France and the Bald (el Calvo) in Navarre, was the last direct Capetian King of
France and King of Navarre (as Charles I) from 1322 to his death. Charles was the third son
of Philip IV; like his father, he was known as "the fair" or "the handsome".[1][2]
Beginning in 1323 Charles was confronted with a peasant revolt in Flanders, and in 1324 he
made an unsuccessful bid for the elective German monarchy. As duke of Guyenne, King Edward II of
England was a vassal of Charles, but he was reluctant to pay homage to another king. In
retaliation, Charles conquered the Duchy of Guyennein a conflict known as the War of Saint-
Sardos (1324). In a peace agreement, Edward II accepted to swear allegiance to Charles and
to pay a fine. In exchange, Guyenne was returned to Edward but with a much-reduced
territory.

When Charles IV died without male heir, the senior lineage of the House of Capet ended.
He was succeeded by his cousin Philip of Valois, but the contested legitimacy was one factor
of the Hundred Years' War.