At the death of Louis V in 987, the Carolingian dynasty had come to an end and the senior Frankish military commander Hugh Capet (939–996) ascended to the French throne, by election rather than inheritance, founding a new Catholic dynasty that was eventually to rule continuously until the French Revolution. Capet’s original domain and power centre was the populous region around Paris known as the ‘Île-de-France’, but most of the country at the time was a mosaic of disparate regions and fiefdoms with different languages and currencies. Hugh therefore set about extending and unifying his rule by means of alliances, treaties and intermarriages with the numerous feudal landowners and religious jurisdictions. In 992 Hugh was succeeded by his son Robert II, called ‘the Pious’ or ‘the Wise’, whose 35-year reign was notable for his continued attempts at royal expansion and his long struggle, briefly successful, to annex the kingdom of Burgundy. However, disputes with own sons were to lead to civil war and to Robert’s retreat to Paris and death there in 1031. The Capet dynasty is nevertheless generally regarded as being the founders of modern France.
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