Hugh Capet

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Hugh Capet[1] (c. 939 – 24 October 996), called in contemporary sources "Hugh the Great" (Latin: Hugo Magnus),[2] was the first King of France of the eponymous Capetian dynasty from his election to succeed the Carolingian Louis V in 987 until his death.


Descent and inheritance

The son of Hugh the Great, Duke of France, and Hedwige of Saxony, daughter of the German king Henry the Fowler, Hugh was born in 939. His paternal family, the Robertians, were powerful landowners in the Île-de-France. His grandfather had been King Robert I and his grandmother Beatrice was a Carolingian, a daughter of Herbert I of Vermandois. This makes him the great-great-great-great-great grandson of Charlemagne through both of his parents, through Louis the Pious and Pepin of Italy. King Odo was his grand-uncle and King Rudolph the son-in-law of his grandfather, King Robert I. Hugh was born into a well-connected and powerful family with many ties to the reigning nobility of Europe.[3] But for all this, Hugh's father was never king. When Rudolph died in 936, Hugh the Great organised the return of Louis d'Outremer, son of Charles the Simple, from his exile at the court of Athelstan of England. Hugh's motives are unknown, but it is presumed that he acted to forestall Rudolph's brother and successor as Duke of Burgundy, Hugh the Black, from taking the French throne, or to prevent it from falling into the grasping hands of Herbert II of Vermandois or Richard the Fearless, Duke of Normandy[4].

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