This is the day that Hugh Capet was crowned, not King of France, but King of the Franks, in the year 987. There wasn’t much to his kingdom at that point, but he set up shop in Paris and spent his life assembling a country. He had been elected to rule the kingdom of Charlemagne’s grandson, Charles the Bald, which was Aquitaine, Brittany, Burgundy, Catalonia, Toulouse and Ile-de-France. The Capets were the dukes of Ile-de-France, so they named their new country after their duchy.
His descendant, Phillip II, built a great fortress in Paris in the 12th century, and you can see the foundations of its keep today – they were unearthed in one of the renovations of the Louvre.
The Capetian rule over an ever-expanding France lasted for more than four hundred years. After the last Capet king died, the crown went to cadet branches of the family -notably the House of Bourbon – and continued for another four hundred years. That’s quite a record. It ended of course with the revolution in 1792.
But the Bourbons hung in there and they are with us still. One rules the Duchy of Luxembourg. The other is the king of Spain.
[N.B.: Although Louis XVI was a Bourbon and Marie Antoinette a Habsburg, she was called ‘the Widow Capet” after his execution.]
No one seems to know exactly what was in Francisco Franco’s mind when after ruling as an absolute dictator for almost 40 years, he decided to name the king as his successor and restore the monarchy, but he did. And the king helped Spain become a parliamentary democracy.
In Philadelphia, in 1776, the Continental Congress continued to debate revisions to their declaration. The document signed the following morning would be shorter than the original text by nearly one-fourth.