Carlos III of Spain, Don Juan Count of Barcelona, Ferdinand VII of Spain, General Francisco Franco, Isabel II of Spain, Juan Carlos I of Spain, Louis XVIII of France, Madrid, monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial, Spain
It isn’t just the British monarchy that has names that would not be well received by future monarchs, Spain also seems to have a rather large share of names that would not be welcomed once again.
In Britain, as I mentioned last week, the name John is not a favorable name. In Spain the name Juan may be a little controversial in the future. The present king, Juan-Carlos, chose the double name instead of Juan III, in deference to his father Don Juan, Count of Barcelona. Don Juan was the heir to his father King Alfonso XIII but was bypassed for the throne by Francisco Franco for being too liberal. Instead Franco chose Juan-Carlos, the eldest son of the Count of Barcelona, as the heir to the Spanish throne. This did cause some breakdown in the relationship between Juan-Carlos and his father. The Count of Barcelona had a difficult time letting go of his place in the succession. Don Juan formally renounced his rights to the Crown eight years after being displaced as recognised heir to the throne by Franco, and two years after his son Don Juan Carlos had become king. In return, his son officially granted him the title of Count of Barcelona, which he had claimed for so long.
There were many monarchists who saw Don Juan as the rightful king. Had he reigned as king he would have been King Juan III. When the count of Barcelona died on April 1, 1993 he was treated as if he had been a reigning monarch and was buried as Juan III with honours and trappings due a king, in the Royal Crypt of the monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial, near Madrid. Although this doesn’t negate the fact that a king may rule in Spain with the name Juan, the question would be will he rule as Juan III or as Juan IV? Even though Juan III was a nominal king and never actually reigned, I feel they will follow the usual Bourbon tradition of recognizing nominal rulers. In France Prince Louis Stanislas Xavier de Bourbon ruled as King Louis XVIII despite the fact that his nephew, Louis XVII, never actually ruled France.
The Count of Barcelona’s father, King Alfonso XIII, bore a name that may no longer be popular for a Spanish monarch. Alfonso XIII lost his throne in the unrest in Spain in the 1930s. In 1923 General Miguel Primo de Rivera took control of the government in a coup with the support of King Alfonso XIII. Rivera was very unpopular in Spain and in 1931 after some economic upheavals when he was told the army no longer supported him, he fled the country. A few weeks later the king also left the country as he had become the symbol for all that was wrong in Spain at the time. Alfonso XIII never abdicated and the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed after he left. He eventually abdicated in 1941 shortly before his death in 1941, leaving the throne to Don Juan, Count of Barcelona. However, when Franco restored the monarchy in 1947 he chose the option of naming a successor later. Instead of the Count of Barcelona he chose the count’s son. Spain’s current king, Juan Carlos. Because of his actions with Rivera and the news that he was a bit of a womanizer has left the name Alfonso an unlikely choice in the near future.
Another name that may not be used for a long time is Fernando. The last king by that name, Fernando VII, was king during the Napoleonic wars. In March of 1808 King Carlos IV of Spain was forced to abdicate and by May of that Year his son and successor, Fernando VII, was forced to turn Spain over to Napoleon who placed his own brother, Joseph, onto the Spanish throne. When Joseph’s rule began falling apart in 1813 Napoleon was forced to recognize Fernando VII as king once again. Upon his restoration he abolished the liberal Constitution of 1812 and restoring the monarchy to an absolutist form. He died in 1833 and prior to his death had overturned the Salic Law which King Felipe V had instituted when the Bourbons came to power in Spain. The Salic Law barred women from inheriting the throne or passing on claims of succession. With the law overturned this allowed Fernando’s daughter, Isabel, to rule as queen of Spain in her own right. This angered the kings brother, Carlos, Duke of Madrid, who would have succeeded him. By not accepting this verdict the Duke of Madrid plunged Spain into a series of Civil Wars known as the Carlist’s Wars. This war lasted for several generations.
In 1868 and unpopular Isabel II also abdicated and her name, along with that of her fathers, may not be used again for a long long time as the name of another reigning monarch.