ANST - FW: Musing on October 24 -- Caped Kings

j'lynn yeates jyeates at
Wed Oct 25 16:46:08 PDT 2000

Hash: SHA1

- -----Original Message-----
From: Ellsworth Weaver [mailto:astroweaver at]
Sent: Tuesday, October 24, 2000 21:44
To: 2thpix at
Subject: Musing on October 24 -- Caped Kings

Dear Folk,

October 24 marks the death of a dynasty maker. Three hundred plus
later, the family rule passed to a collateral branch which ruled for
over five hundred years after. I am speaking of Hugh Capet and the
Capetian dynasty, the Kings of France.

Hugh was born sometime around 938 CE the second son of Hugh the Great
and Hedwig(a). Daddy Hugh was the Count of Paris and Momma Hedwiga
the sister of Otto I, Emperor of Germany. Pretty impressive
for a boy to live up to.

Hugh the Great had been ruling his side of France almost secretly. It
was easier to just be a Count and Duke than it was to buck the system
and try to be king. Louis IV was king but Hugh as Duke of France
to imply that most of the local barons thought Hugh was pretty darned

Hugh Capet was about 10 years old when dad died and left him the
Count of Paris and Duke of France. He married a sweet gal, Adelaide
Aquitaine, when he was 32.

The kings of France at the time were Carlovingians, descended from
Charlemagne. Descended is the right word. They had become pretty
decadent. The king of the hour was Lothar, Louis IV’s son. Lothar
decided that he needed more land and Lorraine looked just the place
find it. Only problem was Lorraine was claimed by the German Emperor
Otto II. Otto took the invasion of his lands as an unfriendly act and
retaliated by marching towards Paris. Hugh Capet made a quick
with Otto and his son such that Lothar suddenly found himself king in
name only.

Lothar died leaving his son Louis V his empty title in 986 CE. Louis
was the last Carlovingian (or Carolingian) king. A year later when
Louis V died on May 21, 987, saw Gilbert of Reims and Adalberon,
Archbishop of Reims, engineering a popular proclaiming of Hugh as
France’s king. Adalberon said. "He is most illustrious by his
his nobility, his forces. The throne is not acquired by hereditary
right; no one should be raised to it unless distinguished not only
nobility of birth, but for the goodness of his soul". The Duke of
Normandy and the Count of Anjou both went along with it. In fact, it
was unanimous. Hugh was crowned at Noyon on July 3, 987. Emperor Otto
III was even persuaded to give his blessing as long as Hugh
that Lorraine belonged to Otto.

Hugh crowned his own son Robert II (the pious)  shortly after his own
coronation and began a practice (co-optation) which the early
continued until Philip II felt it no longer necessary. That practice
insured the succession and weakened that which got Hugh the throne in
the first place: election of kings.

If things got tough for Hugh, and they did militarily at times, His
Majesty did have allies in Normandy. You may remember the story of
Rollo the Viking who was eventually baptized as Robert and was given
the land which is now Normandy (Norse land) in order to keep him from
taking the rest of France. That happened about a century before. The
Norse were still strong fighters and great allies.

Understand that being king was at that very point something to do
church as well as state. The archbishop had engineered Hugh’s being
elected and was the one who crowned him. His chief concern then was
hold onto the Archdiocese of Reims, whose jurisdiction comprised
the whole of northern and northeastern France, he needed to hold on
tight and let nobody question that. The Archdiocese of Reims
a double importance, first because the archbishop had the right to
elect and crown the kings of France, and next because of its
geographical situation between France and Germany. Hugh’s power might
have extend to major cities like Paris, Orleans, Chartres, Touraine,
and Anjou but out in the country there might be some disagreements
about who ruled.

The death of Adalberon, January 23, 989, disturbed the new king. Hugh
appointed Arnoul as the new Archbishop of Reims without really
his loyalty. Arnoul attempted to restore the rule of the
in a coup in September 989 CE. Arnoul and company dug up Charles of
Lorraine, the last heir to the Charlemagne dynasty as their boy. For
very short time Charles of Lorraine held Reims and Laon.

Arnoul refused to appear at the Council of Senlis (beginning of 990)
answer charges of sedition. Neither Arnoul nor Charles were that hard
to catch and both wound up doing time starting in about March 29,
Arnoul was finally squeezed enough to say he was wrong and Gerbert of
Reims became the new Archbishop on June 21, 991.

Hugh Capet asked Pope John XVI to recognize the actions of the
of Senlis in deposing and appointing a new archbishop. The Germans,
ever anxious to help internal matters in France (just kidding)
convinced His Holiness to refuse to recognize Gerbert as archbishop.
There upon started some difficulties between the bishops who dug Hugh
(who were said to have "Gallican principles") and the Church of Rome.
You understand that Hugh was not pushing for anything like a new
religion or philosophy, he just did not trust the Germans and their
influence over the pope.

Hugh actually was pretty darned supportive of the church, the
development of monasteries and their autonomy. When local heavies
around pushing protection on the gentle monks, Hugh sent guys around
stop it. He even did his best to keep politics in the form of bishops
taking over monasteries. Well, he did keep the power to confirm the
appointments of the abbots to himself.

Because of its political importance he wished to retain effective
direction over the Abbey of St. Martin of Tours, and even under the
reign of the Plantagenet Henry II the Capetians preserved
influence at Tours and along the Middle Loire River valley. The name
Capet is significant to this. The Dukes of France, Hugh the Great and
Hugh "Capet," had in their possession the famous cape of St. Martin.
Some authors say it is that cape which gave the dynasty and its
the name "Capet."

Hugh Capet passed away on October 24, 996 CE having reigned for a
scarce nine years. The dynasty he founded really continued through
Charles VI (the last Valois) to Henry IV (the first Bourbon) and down
to Louis XVI (the last king of France) in 1792.

What have we learned? Sometimes one can rule without being called
Sometimes it is not about religion even when it has to do with
and popes? Lorraine is more than just quiche? When a boy puts on a
cape, he can become Superman (or at least King of France?) How about
helps to have the saints on your side when you become king?

Sorry for the delay in putting out these. Work, sickness, and worry
have been pretty hard on creativity. A big thanks to Eva Mignon,
Lucretia, and the Rev for their support of this column. My gratitude
those involved with the book and movie "Pay It Forward;" it helped me
remember that one person can change the world.

So if you are appointing an archbishop, defending a monastary,
down the last of a dynasty of kings, or just trying on a saint’s cape
and you want to forward this please do. Please, leave my name and sig

Avoiding kryptonite and German emperors,
J. Ellsworth Weaver

SCA – Sir Balthazar of Endor
AS – Polyphemus Theognis
TRV – Sebastian Yeats

SmileWeavers Astrology Charts
SCA & Veteran Discounts
1748 Tierra Nueva Ln. Oceano, CA 93445 805.473.8867

Musing Archive at

Ray Clark Dickson Poetry

Do You Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Messenger - Talk while you surf!  It's FREE.

Version: PGPfreeware 6.5.8 for non-commercial use <>


Go to to perform mailing list tasks.

More information about the Ansteorra mailing list