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Map of France in 1154
The Duke of Aquitaine ( ) ruled the historical region of Aquitainemarker under the supremacy of Frankish, English and later French kings.

As a successor state for the Visigothic Kingdom (418–721), Aquitania (Occitania) and Languedoc (Toulouse) inherited the Visigothic Law and Roman Law which had combined to allow women more rights then their contemporaries would enjoy until the 20th century. Particularly with the Liber Judiciorum as codified 642/643 and expanded on in the Code of Recceswinth in 653, women could inherit land and title and manage it independently from their husbands or male relations, dispose of their property in legal wills if they had no heirs, and women could represent themselves and bear witness in court by age 14 and arrange for their own marriages by age 20. As a consequence, male-preference primogeniture was the practiced succession law for the nobility.


The Merovingian kings and dukes of Aquitaine had their capital at Toulousemarker. The Carolingian kings used different capitals situated further north. In 765 Pepin the Short bestowed the captured golden banner of the Aquitainian duke, Waiffre, on the Abbey of Saint Martial in Limoges. Pepin I of Aquitaine was buried in Poitiersmarker. Charles the Child was crowned at Limogesmarker and buried at Bourgesmarker. When Aquitaine briefly asserted independence after the death of Charles the Fat, it was Ranulf II of Poitou who took the royal title. In the late tenth century, Louis the Indolent was crowned at Brioudemarker.

The Aquitainian ducal coronation is preserved in a a late twelfth-century ordo (formula) from Saint-Étiennemarker in Limoges, based on an earlier Romano-German ordo. In the early thirteenth century a commentary was added to this ordo, which emphasises Limoges as the capital of Aquitaine. The ordo indicates that the duke received a silk mantle, coronet, banner, sword, spurs, and the ring of Saint Valery.

Dukes of Aquitaine under Frankish kings

Merovingian kings are in boldface.

Direct rule of Carolingian kings

After 778, Charlemagne appointed no more Dukes, assuming direct rule of Aquitaine (and accordingly is enumerated Charles I of Aquitaine, as the first so named King in that kingdom). In 781, he appointed his son Louis as a subordinate King and assigned him with Aquitaine. After Louis, several other members of the dynasty ruled over the region as subordinate kings.

After 882, when Carloman succeeded his brother Louis III to become King of all Western Francia, Aquitaine remained under the supremacy of the French king with only two instances where the title resurfaced.

Coat of arms of the duchy of Aquitaine

Restored dukes of Aquitaine under Frankish kings

The Carolingian kings again appointed Dukes of Aquitaine, first in 852, and again since 866. Later on, this Duchy was also called Guyenne.

House of Poitiers

House of Auvergne

House of Poitiers (Ramnulfids) restored (927–932)

  • Ebalus the Bastard (927–932), for a second time.

House of Rouergue

House of Capet

House of Poitiers (Ramnulfids) restored (962–1152)

From 1152 the Duchy of Aquitaine was held by the Plantagenets, who also ruled England as independent monarchs, as well also holding other territories in France by separate inheritance (see Plantagenet Empire). The Plantagenets were often more powerful than the kings of France, and their reluctance to do homage to the kings of France for their lands in France was one of the major sources of conflict in medieval Western Europe.

House of Plantagenet

Richard Lionheart was outlived by his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine. She acted as regent for the Duchy while he was on crusade — a position he resumed on his return to Europe in 1189.

Plantagenet rulers of Aquitaine

In 1337, King Philip VI of France reclaimed the fief of Aquitainemarker from Edward III, King of England. Edward in turn claimed the title of King of France, by right of his descent from his grandfather King Philip. This triggered the Hundred Years' War, in which both the Plantagenets and Valois claimed the supremacy over Aquitaine due to the King of France.

In 1360 both sides signed the Treaty of Bretigny, in which Edward renounced the French crown but remained sovereign Lord of Aquitaine (rather than merely Duke). However, when the treaty was broken in 1369, English claims and the war resumed.

In 1362, King Edward III, as Lord of Aquitaine, made his eldest son Edward, Prince of Wales Prince of Aquitaine.

In 1390, King Richard II, son of Edward the Black Prince appointed his uncle John of Gaunt as Duke of Aquitaine. That title passed on to John's descendants.

Henry continued to rule over Aquitaine as King of England and Lord of Aquitaine. He succeeded in obtaining the French crown for his family by the Treaty of Troyes in 1420. Henry's baby son Henry VI became King of England and France in 1422, but gradually lost control of France until 1453.

Valois and Bourbon dukes of Aquitaine

The Valois Kings of France, claiming supremacy over Aquitaine, granted the title of Duke to their heirs, the Dauphin.

With the end of the Hundred Years War, Aquitaine returned to direct rule of the King of France and remained in the possession of the King. Only occasionally was the Duchy or the title of Duke granted to another member of the dynasty.

See also


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