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From the Emperor’s Desk: When I began this blog back in 2012 I initially wrote a series of articles on the various pretenders to vacant thrones of Europe. Many of these articles need an update so today I start with the pretenders to the vacant throne of France.

One of the most interesting battles for the claims to a vacant or non existent throne is that of France. The argument on who is the rightful heir to the French throne 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 of Spain (Philippe Duc d’Anjou) was born a French Prince of the Blood (Prince Du Sang) the second son of Louis the Grand Dauphin and a grandson of King Louis XIV of France and Navarre (1643-1715). Felipe V of Spain was also a maternal great-grandson of King Felipe III of Spain and Portugal (1598-1621) from whose descent he was appointed successor to the childless King Carlos II of Spain (1665-1700).

King Felipe V of Spain

King Louis XIV and his son and heir, The Grand Dauphin, had the strongest genealogical claim to the Spanish throne held by his maternal uncle, King Carlos II. The great European powers would never accept a united France and Spain under the leadership of King Louis XIV of France.

However, since neither the Grand Dauphin nor his eldest son, Louis, Duke of Burgundy, could be displaced from the succession to the French throne, King Carlos II of Spain named Prince Philippe de Bourbon, the Duke of Anjou as his heir-presumptive in his will. He ascended the Spanish throne in 1700 upon the death of Carlos II as King Felipe V of Spain.

What followed was the the 13-year War of the Spanish Succession, which continued until the Treaty of Utrecht forbade any future possibility of unifying the French and Spanish crowns while confirming the Duke of Anjou’s accession to the throne of Spain.

The treaty required King Felipe V of Spain to renounce his claim to the French throne, both for himself and his descendants, with reciprocal renunciations by French Bourbon Prince and Princesses to the Spanish throne, including Louis XIV’s nephew Philippe, Duke of Orléans. These renunciations became increasingly important after a series of deaths between 1712 and 1714 that left the five year old, Prince Louis, Duke of Anjou, (the future King Louis XV ) as his great-grandfather’s heir.

Although the House of Bourbon still reigns in Spain, the French monarchy was abolished in 1848 with the abdication of Louis Philippe I, King of the French of the House of Bourbon-Orléans.

Louis Alphonse de Bourbon (King Louis XX of France)

After the death of Henri, Comte de Chambord in 1884, who died without an heir, the claim to the vacant throne of France has been contested between the descendants of the Spanish branch of the House of Bourbon and the descendants of Louis Philippe I, King of the French of the House of Bourbon-Orléans.

As previously mentioned, the arguments of which of these pretenders is the rightful heir to the French throne rests on the legality of the renunciations to the French and Spanish thrones by Spanish and French members of the House of Bourbon as outlined in the Treaty of Utrecht.

Today there are two claimants from the different lines of the House of Bourbon. The first is Prince Louis Alphonse of Bourbon, Duke of Anjou who is the senior male heir of Hugh Capét, King of the Franks (987-996). Louis Alphonse is also the senior descendant of King Louis XIV of France through the aforementioned King Felipe V of Spain.

Those that support the Spanish branch of the House of Bourbon to the French throne are called Legitimist. According to the Legitimists, Louis Alphonse of Bourbon, Duke of Anjou is recognized as the rightful claimant to the French throne and is considered King Louis XX of France by his supporters.

Prince Jean of Orléans, Comte de Paris (King Jean IV of France)

The other claimant to the French throne is Prince Jean of Orléans, Comte de Paris and Duc de France. Prince Jean is a descendant of King Louis Philippe I (1830-1848), the last King of the French. Known as King Jean IV of France by his supporters and he is the current head of the Orléans line of the Bourbon dynasty.

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