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In the 1870s the rival Legitimist and Orléanist claimants agreed for the sake of restoration of the monarchy in France to end their rivalry. Philippe d’Orléans, Count of Paris and grandson of Louis Philippe I, accepted the prior claim to the throne of France by Prince Henri, Compte de Chambord.

The Comte de Chambord remained childless and therefore in turn acknowledged that Philippe d’Orléans would claim the right to succeed him as heir, and after his death many Legitimists accepted the descendants of Philippe d’Orléans as the rightful pretenders to the French throne and those that supported this plan became known as Unionists.

Proclamation of Felipe V as King of Spain in the Palace of Versailles on November 16, 1700

Those Legitimists who did not accept the Orléanist line as the successors of the Compte de Chambord argued that the renunciation of the French throne by Felipe V of Spain, second grandson of Louis XIV, was invalid and that in 1883 (when Chambord died childless) the throne passed by right to Felipe V’s heirs in the male-line.

In 1883, the senior male of the Spanish branch of Bourbons was Infante Juan, Count of Montizón. His father, Infante Carlos de Borbón, Count of Molina (second son of Carlos IV: grandson of Felipe V), had lost Spain’s throne in favor of his niece, the non-Salic heiress of his elder brother, Queen Isabella II of Spain, and his lineage became known as the Carlist pretenders in Spain.

Henri, Comte de Chambord

When the Carlist branch died out in 1936, the French claim was reunited with that of the Isabelline Spanish line through her grandson Alfonso XIII of Spain, who was also (officially) the grandson of her consort Francisco de Asís, Duke of Cádiz (grandson Carlos IV via his third son, Infante Francisco de Paula of Spain) and was thus the most senior male-line descendant of Felipe V (although by that time Alfonso had been dethroned by the Second Spanish Republic).

The French and Spanish claims separated once again at Alfonso’s death as his eldest surviving son Infante Jaime, Prince of Asturias, renounced his claim to the Spanish throne due to physical disability and some years later asserted his claim to the French succession based on Legitimist principles.

The present French Legitimist claimant, Louis Alphonse de Bourbon, descends from Jaime while the present King Felipe VI of Spain is the grandson of Jamie’s younger brother, Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona.

Louis Alphonse de Bourbon, Duke of Anjou

With the claimant to the French throne (Louis Alphonse) and the present King of Spain (Felipe VI) being two separate individuals this will be a significant point when discussing who has the better claim to the French throne between the Legitimists and Orléanist factions.

There are however some legitimists who have questioned the claims of all pretenders from Alfonso XIII onward, as it is commonly believed that his father, King Alfonso XII of Spain, was not the biological son of the Duke of Cadiz.

Francisco de Borbón y Escasany, 5th Duke of Seville

If true, this would mean that Francisco de Borbón y Escasany, 5th Duke of Seville (great-great grandson of Cádiz’s younger brother) is currently the true legitimist heir to the French throne. He would be considered King François III of France.