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One of the most interesting battles for the claims to a vacant or non existent throne is that of France. The argument rests on the legality of the renunciation of rights to the French throne by King Felipe V of Spain (1700-1746) and his descendents at the end of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714. Felipe V (Philippe Duc d’Anjou) was born a French prince and a grandson of King Louis XIV of France (1643-1715) and also a great-grandson of King Felipe III of Spain (1598-1621) from whose descent he was appointed successor to the childless King Carlos II of Spain (1665-1700).

Today there are two claimants from different lines of the House of Bourbon: Prince Louis Alphonse of Bourbon, Duke of Anjou is the senior male heir of Hugh Capet, King of France (987-996). Louis Alphonse is also the senior descendant of King Louis XIV of France through his grandson King Felipe V of Spain. By the Legitimist faction of French royalists he is recognized as the rightful claimant to the French crown.

The other claimant to the French crown is Prince Henri of Orléans, Comte de Paris and Duc de France. Prince Henri is a descendant of King Louis Philippe (1830-1848), the last King of France and he is the current head of the Orléans line of the Bourbon dynasty.

The issues are complicated so I will attempt to give a basic readers digest version of how the two rival claims arouse. Succession to the thrones of all monarchies are governed by law. There are two basic fundamental laws that governed the succession to the French throne. The First is the Salic Law which states that the succession is via male only primogeniture and that women could neither inherit the throne nor pass on succession rights. The other relevant law is that a French prince could not renounce their rights to the throne.

In 1830 King Charles X of France (1824-1830) was deposed in a revolution. He unsuccessfully tried to abdicate the throne in favor of his eldest son, Louis Antoine, Duc d’Angoulême whom the Legitimist faction call King Louis XIX of France and Navarre. His tenure on the French throne was brief and never recognized for 30 minutes later Louis XIX abdicated his claim to the throne to his nephew Henri of Artois, Count of Chambord. The Count of Chambord claimed the throne of France as Henri V until the Chamber of Deputies proclaimed his distant cousin, Louis Philippe, Duc d’Orléans as King of the French on August 9, 1830. The Legitimist faction view Louis-Philippe as a usurper to the French throne.

Technically he was a usurper. The National Assembly named Louis Philippe Lieutenant général du royaume, and gave him the responsibility to proclaim to the Chamber of Deputies his desire to have his cousin, Henri V, Count of Chambord mount the French throne. Louis Philippe failed to do this in an attempt to seize the throne for himself. This hesitation gave the Chamber of Deputies time to consider Louis Philippe in the role of king due to his liberal policies and his popularity with the general public. Despite Louis Philippe being regent for Henri V the Chamber of Deputies proclaimed Louis Philippe as the new French king, displacing the senior branch of the House of Bourbon which was in direct violation of the Fundamental Laws of Succession to the French Crown.

This concludes part I. Tomorrow Part II will show the rise of the rival claims in the aftermath of the reign of Louis Philippe.

Louis Philippe, King of France 1830-1848

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