The Frankish kingdom became divided after the death of Clovis l,
and Paris became the capital city of a much smaller sovereign state, and by the time of
the Carolingian dynasty in the 9th century, the city of Paris was little more than a
feudal county stronghold.
By this time, Paris was a typically crowded early
medieval city with timber buildings alongside surviving Roman remains. According to the
chronicler Gregory of Tours, it suffered a disastrous fire in 585. The city grew beyond
the boundaries of the Ile, with suburbs being established on both banks of the river Seine.
The Merovingian kings died out in 751, to be replaced by the Carolingians.
In 751, Pepin was proclaimed King of the Franks, then to be succeeded by Charlemagne, who
moved the capital of his empire from Paris to Aachen.
The city was neglected by the Empire and suffered grievously from Viking raiders who
repeatedly sailed upriver to attack it.
It was on 28 March 845 that Paris was attacked by Viking raiders, who in the end collected
a huge ransom in exchange for leaving, and it was this weakness from the late Carolingian
Kings that led to the gradual rise in power of the Counts of Paris.
The Counts of Paris gradually rose to prominence and eventually had far greater power than
In 885 the city was faced with a massive Viking invasion force, which was believed to have
numbered around 700 ships and 30,000 men. Its inhabitants sought the assistance of
Robert the Strong, Count of Anjou, and his son Odo, Count of Paris.
Count Odo led the defence of the city in opposition to a ten-month Viking siege in 885 and
then after this became the co-ruler of the Empire with Charles the Simple.
And although the Cite island had survived the Viking attacks, most of the unprotected Left
Bank city was destroyed, so rather than rebuilding in that area, after drying marshlands
to the north of the island, Paris again began to expand but on the Right Bank.
The Grand-nephew of Count Odo, Hugh Capet, Count of Paris, was elected King of France in
987. He again made Paris his capital and then founded the Capetian dynasty, which
still exists today.
It is as early as the 12th century that the distinctive character of the Paris districts
The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was built in
1163 in the Īle de la Cite area of Paris, which was the centre of government and
It was the Left Bank of the River Seine that was the centre for learning, with various
Church run schools being established there and the Right Bank was the centre of commerce
and finance. A league of merchants, known as Hanse Parisienne, was established and
quickly became a powerful force in all of the city's affairs.
Philippe Auguste became the king in 1180, and under his rule there were a number of major
building works, which were carried out in Paris. He built a new city wall and began the
construction of the Palais du Louvre, as well as paving streets and establishing a covered
market at Les Halles.
His grandson Louis IX established the city as a major centre of pilgrimage in the 13th
century with the construction of the Sainte-Chapelle on the Ile de la Cite, the completion
of the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral and the Saint
Denis Basilica, which was one of the finest medieval Gothic religious buildings ever