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The next country I will examine in the usage of ordinal numbers for is monarchs is France. As my previous blog post demonstrated all monarchies, France included, developed over time. This includes the usage of ordinal numbers to differentiate monarchs of the same name within a given territory.

The modern Kingdom of France evolved out of the old Kingdom of the Franks. Similar to England where Anglo-Saxon names fell into disuse in France the old Frankish names such as Childeric, Dagobert and Thierry also gave way to more modern Christian based names. All of the numbering of the French kings follow the numbering that began with the Carolingian Dynasty. There is not any real discrepancy in the numbers except with the name Charles.

In 768 Charlemagne became co-king of the Franks along with his brother Carloman. However, Charlemagne was technically not his real name. It is an Anglicized version of his given name plus his sobriquet. His name was simply Charles. To history and even his contemporaries he was known as Charles the Great (Latin: Carolus Magnus or Karolus Magnus) It is the Latin form of his name and sobriquet that have been Anglicized and passed down to posterity.

There were a few successor to Charlemagne, reckoned Charles I of France, that also held the name Charles and similarly were known by their name along with their sobriquet. Adding to the confusion was the fact that titles and territories were in a constant state of flux. Here is a list of the Carolingian kings/emperors with their titles and sobriquet’s.

Charles the Bald, King of West Francia, 840-877, Holy Roman Emperor, 875-877

Charles the Fat, King of East Francia, 882-887. King of West Francia 884-887, Holy Roman Emperor, 881-887.

Charles the Simple, King of West Francia, 898-922.

In some lists of the kings of France both Charles the Fat and Charles the Simple are listed as Charles III. I have also seen some lists where Charles the Bald is listed as Charles I of France and Charlemagne is listed as Charlemagne instead of Charles the Great without an ordinal. The lists where Charles the Bald is listed as Charles I, Charles the Fat is listed as Charles II. There are some lists that omit Charles the Fat entirely. After Charles III the Simple there would not be another king of France by that name until 1322 a full 400 years! Even then Charles IV was known by his sobriquet as Charles the Fair.

In the end all of these mistakes are difficult to reconcile and I have just come to accept that the numbering for the name of Charles is simply off by one.

Part II will be posted tomorrow.