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Kings and Queens and Kingdoms

Yabla features many videos that give you an opportunity to learn about French history and expand your history-related vocabulary. In this lesson, we will focus on some of France's most illustrious rulers, starting from Clovis, the first monarch, to Louis XVI and Louis Philippe, the last French kings. 


As Patricia explains in her video, France was once divided into several royaumes francs (Frankish kingdoms). The Franks were a Germanic tribe that gave the country its name. In the Middle Ages, un roi franc (a Frankish king) named Clovis came into power and managed to unite all the Frankish tribes to form a kingdom roughly the shape of France: 


Ce roi franc a unifié plusieurs royaumes francs et a ainsi agrandi considérablement son royaume.

This Frankish king unified several Frankish kingdoms and thus considerably expanded his kingdom.

Caption 9, Le saviez-vous? D'où vient le nom de la France?

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Clovis, who ruled from 481 to 511, is considered the first French king:


Clovis est le premier roi de France.

Clovis is the first king of France.

Caption 10, Le saviez-vous? D'où vient le nom de la France?

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Two centuries later, another Frankish king, Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, expanded his kingdom by conquering much of what would become Europe today. Charlemagne is perhaps best known in France for his contribution to education, as described in France Gall’s popular 1964 song "Sacré Charlemagne" ("Sacred Charlemagne" or "Bloody Charlemagne"): "[le roi] qui a eu cette idée folle d’avoir inventé l’école" ([the king] who had this crazy idea of inventing school). In the video below, a passerby hums part of the refrain: 


Sacré Charlemagne...

Sacred Charlemagne...

Caption 39, Micro-Trottoirs Sacrée France Gall

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Much later, during the Renaissance period, another powerful king, Louis XIV (Louis Quatorze) came into power and ruled France for 72 years! In his video, Daniel Benchimol shows us the king’s birthplace, the town of Saint-Germain-en-Laye in the outskirts of Paris:


À cet endroit tout simplement naquit Louis Quatorze en mille six cent trente-huit.

On this very spot, Louis the Fourteenth was born in sixteen hundred thirty-eight.

Caption 36, Voyage en France Saint-Germain-en-Laye

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Louis XIV became known as le roi Soleil (the Sun King) because he adopted the sun as his emblem:


Louis Quatorze, donc, le roi Soleil a décidé de prendre la ville ici en mille six cent soixante-trois.

Louis the Fourteenth, so, the Sun King decided to seize the town here in sixteen sixty-three.

Captions 38-39, Lionel Marsal - Part 2

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Louis XIV’s main residence was, of course, the Château de Versailles (Palace of Versailles), known for its amazing architecture:


Puisque l'art, c'est plutôt, euh... l'architecture, euh... comme le château de Versailles.

Since art, it's rather, uh... architecture, uh... like the Palace of Versailles.

Caption 15, Micro-Trottoirs Art ou science?

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Although in English we refer to the Château de Versailles as “a palace," strictly speaking, “a palace” is un palais and un château is “a castle.” And you are never far away from one of those in France, as there are over 40,000 castles throughout the country:


Autour de nous, des moulins, des châteaux, une cité médiévale.

Around us, windmills, castles, a medieval town.

Caption 43, Voyage en France Saint-Mammès

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The magnificent Château de Versailles was also the main residence of Louis XVI (Louis Seize) and la reine Marie-Antoinette (Queen Marie-Antoinette). Louis XVI also enjoyed staying at another royal castle outside of Paris, the Château de Rambouillet, where he could hunt in the nearby forest. Unfortunately, the queen hated the place, so the king, ever eager to please her, had le pavillon (the pavilion) called la Laiterie de la Reine (the Queen’s Dairy) built for his wife in 1785. In the video below, Daniel Benchimol shows us this magnificent building:


Derrière moi, ce magnifique pavillon qu'on appelle la Laiterie de la Reine. Il fut construit à la demande de Louis Seize pour la reine Marie Antoinette.

Behind me, this beautiful pavilion called the Queen's Dairy. It was built at the request of Louis the Sixteenth for Queen Marie Antoinette.

Captions 7-8, Voyage en France Rambouillet - Part 2

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Four years after the pavilion was built, the monarchy was formerly abolished during the 1789 French Revolution:


La France a été une royauté jusqu'en dix-sept cent quatre-vingt-neuf

France was a monarchy until seventeen eighty-nine

Caption 11, Le saviez-vous? D'où vient le nom de la France?

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La monarchie returned in 1815 for a brief time, as Patricia explains in her video:


En dix-huit cent quinze, avec le retour de la monarchie

In eighteen fifteen, with the return of the monarchy

Caption 26, Le saviez-vous? Histoire du drapeau français

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Indeed, there were a few more kings after the French Revolution, Louis Philippe being the last to rule from 1830 until 1848. In his video, Daniel Benchimol mentions how Louis Philippe came into power:


C'est ici que se prépara la révolution de dix-huit cent trente qui conduisit Laffitte à la présidence du Conseil de Louis Philippe.

It's here that the eighteen thirty revolution was fomented, which led Laffitte to the presidency of the Louis Philippe Council.

Captions 23-24, Voyage en France Maisons-Laffitte - Part 3

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There are many more rois (kings) and reines (queens) featured in our videos for you to explore. Daniel Benchimol's Voyage en France series is a great place to start. Thank you for taking this little trip back in time with Yabla!


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