Comte de Chambord, Count of Paris, Emperor Napoleon III of France, Franco-Prussian War, Henri V of France, Philippe VII of France, Third Republic
In the early 1870s, as the Second Empire collapsed following its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War at the battle of Sedan on 1 September 1870, the royalists became a majority in the National Assembly. The Orléanists agreed to support the aging comte de Chambord’s claim to the throne, with the expectation that at his childless death he would be succeeded by their own claimant, Philippe d’Orléans, comte de Paris.
Henri was then pretender for both Legitimists and Orléanists, and the restoration of monarchy in France seemed a close possibility. However, Henri insisted that he would accept the crown only on condition that France abandon its tricolour flag and return to the use of the white fleur de lys flag. He rejected a compromise, whereby the fleur-de-lys would be the new king’s personal standard, and the tricolour would remain the national flag.
A temporary Third Republic was established, to wait for Henri’s death and his replacement by the more liberal Comte de Paris. By the time this occurred in 1883, public opinion had however swung behind the Republic as the form of government which, in the words of the former President Adolphe Thiers, “divides us least”. Thus, Henri could be mockingly hailed by republicans such as Georges Clemenceau as “the French Washington” — the one man without whom the Republic could not have been founded.
Henri died on August 24, 1883 at his residence in Frohsdorf, Austria, at the age of sixty-two, bringing the Louis XV male-only line to an end. He was buried in his grandfather Charles X’s crypt in the church of the Franciscan Kostanjevica Monastery in Gorizia, then Austria, now in Slovenian city of Nova Gorica. His personal property, including the château de Chambord, was left to his nephew, Robert I, Duke of Parma (son of Henri’s late sister).
Henri’s death left the Legitimist line of succession distinctly confused. On one hand, Henri himself had accepted that the head of the Maison de France (as distinguished from the Maison de Bourbon) would be the head of the Orléans line, i.e. the Comte de Paris, recognized by most monarchists as Philippe VII of France. This was accepted by many Legitimists, and was the default on legal grounds; the only surviving Bourbon line more senior was the Spanish branch, which had renounced its right to inherit the throne of France as a condition of the Treaty of Utrecht.
However, many if not most of Henri’s supporters, including his widow, chose to disregard his statements and this law, arguing that no one had the right to deny to the senior direct-male-line male Bourbon to be the head of the Maison de France and thus the legitimate King of France; the renunciation of the Spanish branch is under this interpretation illegitimate and therefore void. Thus these Legitimists settled on Infante Juan, Count of Montizón, the Carlist pretender to the Spanish throne (the Salic law having been suspended in Spain, the actual king, Alfonso XII, was not the senior descendant in the male line), as their claimant to the French crown.