The Bourbons

The name of Bourbon comes from a town in France (called Bourbon-L'Archambault from the name of an early lord) and the region around it, the Bourbonnais. Robert de Clermont, a son of Louis IX, was originally given the title and apanage of comte de Clermont. He later married the heiress of the first lords of Bourbon; Bourbon was made into a duchy and peerage in 1327. The difference of the Bourbon family was a bend gules. Junior branches modified the bend further, adding a bordure (Préaux), charging it with three lions argent (La Marche) and then adding a bordure gules (Carency) or a bordure dancetty gules (Duisant), charging the bend with a quarter of Dauphiné d'Auvergne in chief part of the bend (Montpensier), or a crescent arget in chief (La Roche-sur-Yon), or shortening into a baton (Condé) and adding a bordure (Conti), etc.

In 1589, when Henri III died, the closest relative in main line was Henri de Bourbon, king of Navarre, of the Vendôme branch of Bourbon, who became Henri IV and placed the house of Bourbon on the throne. Henri IV's son Louis XIII had two sons, Louis XIV and Philippe. To Philippe was given the apanage of Orléans in 1661, and from him is descended the house of Orléans.

Louis XIV's wife was Maria-Teresa of Austria, older sister of the king of Spain Carlos II. He had one son and three grandsons, the dukes of Burgundy, Anjou and Berry. When Carlos II died in 1700, he had named as successor the duke of Anjou, who became king as Felipe V; not without a European war first, the War of Spanish Succession. As a result, Spain lost a number of territories, and Felipe V had to renounce all claims to the French throne for himself and his descendants by the Treaty of Utrecht.

The senior branch of the Bourbons

The son of Louis XIV died in 1711, the duke of Burgundy in 1712, the duke of Berry in 1714, and the only surviving legitimate descendant succeeded as Louis XV. He had three grandsons, Louis XVI (1754-93, who had two sons Louis (1781-89) and Louis (1785-95)), Louis XVIII (1755-1824, no children) and Charles X (1757-1836). Charles had two sons, the duke of Angouleme (1775-1844), who reigned 20 minutes as Louis XIX in 1830, and the duke of Berry (1778-1820), whose only son was Henri, duke of Bordeaux (1820-83). Charles X and the duke of Angouleme both abdicated in 1830. The duke of Orléans became king of the French, but the French legitimists considered the duke of Bordeaux to be their pretender. When he died childless in 1883, the senior branch of the Bourbons was extinct and the head of the Bourbon became Juan, count of Montizon, of the Carlist line of the Spanish Bourbons (see infra).

French royalists for the most part rallied to the Orléans line, the next in line to the exclusion of the Spanish Bourbons by virtue of the treaty of Utrecht. A very small faction could not accept the idea of supporting the Orléans, because of the "theft" of the throne by Louis-Philippe, and because Louis-Philippe's father, a deputy at the French Convention in 1793, voted for the death penalty in the trial of Louis XVI. They transfered their alliegance to the Spanish Carlists, with whom they had ideological affinities. More would probably have, had the count of Montizon not displayed such character flaws as he did. As early as 1830, when the Legitimists' only hope was a 10-year old child, the question did arise: what if the senior branch became extinct? And already legitimists considered that the abolition of the Salic Law in Spain (see infra) freed the Spanish Borbóns from their renunciation to the French throne, and placed a more senior branch before the Orléans line. In any event, the Orléans line could not possibly claim the French throne, having assassinated Louis XVI and betrayed Charles X. And, since Orleanists insist on Felipe V's Utrecht renunciation, what of Philippe-Egalite's renunciation to the French throne, uttered 3 times before his death in 1793? The laws of succession are what they are, one can renounce one's claims to the throne but one cannot deprive one's descendants from their rights. Likewise, Henri V could do nothing about the order of succession either, which is regulated by the fundamental laws of the French Kingdom, above the King's own reach: see for example how Louis XIV tried to place his bastard sons in the line of succession, and his will was annulled by Parliament as contrary to the laws of the Kingdom (after his death, of course...). (those are the legitimist arguments in any event).

These legitimists now uphold the rights of the duke of Anjou (see infra). On January 21, the anniversary of the death of Louis XVI, two rival services are held in Paris: the legitimists, headed by the duke of Anjou, go to the Chapelle Expiatoire (built by Louis XVIII in 1816 over the site of the grave of his brother) and the orleanists go to St. Nicolas du Chardonneret.

the Spanish Bourbons

Felipe V is the origin of the Bourbons of Spain (Borbóns). One of his sons, Charles III, known for a while as Don Carlos, had two sons: the elder, Charles IV, became king of Spain, the younger Ferdinand started the line of Bourbon-Naples, which still exists (another line issued from a son of Felipe V is the line of Bourbon-Parma). Charles IV of Spain had 3 sons: Ferdinand VII (1784-1833), Don Carlos (1788-1855) and Don Francisco de Paule. Ferdinand VII had no male heirs.

France's laws of succession included what was known as the Salic Law (q.v.), which prohibited succession through females. The Salic Law was established in Spain by Felipe V in 1713. It was revoked secretly in 1789, and publicly in 1830, so that Ferdinand VII could proclaim his daughter Isabella II. But, on Ferdinand's death in 1833, Carlos refused to accept this decision, and claimed the throne. The male line issued from Carlos died in 1936. It was this line which became head of the Bourbons in 1883.

The next male line was issued from Fransisco de Paule, but his elder son Francisco de Asise married Isabella II (his younger son started the line of Seville, still extant), and their son Alfonso XII (1857-1885) became king in 1874 after a tumultuous history. When the Carlist line died in 1936, Alfonso XIII (1886-1941) became heir to both lines, through females as well as through males. Alfonso XIII was forced to leave Spain in 1931, although he did not formally renounce his rights until 1941.

Alfonso XIII has four sons: the elder, Alfonso (1907-1938) renounced his rights in 1936 when he married a Cuban commoner, and had no issue. The next was Jaime of Segovia (1908-75): mute-deaf, he renounced his rights in 1933. The next, Juan of Barcelona (1913-93) renounced to all his rights in 1977. His only surviving son is Juan-Carlos I (b. 1938), proclaimed heir to Franco in 1969, king of Spain since 1975.

Jaime of Segovia (1908-75), second son of Alfonso XIII of Spain, renounced his rights to the throne of Spain on June 21, 1933 (a few days after his elder brother who was about to marry a Cuban dancer), and again on July 23, 1945 and June 17, 1949. He did, however, take the title of duke of Anjou and the arms of France in Rome on March 28, 1946; and on December 6, 1949 he recanted his renunciations, and took the title of duke of Madrid in 1964.

He married Emmanuelle de Dampierre, French citizen, but not of royal blood, which is why according to Spanish law his children cannot claim the throne of Spain (French law is not affected). His elder son Alfonso (1936-89) was styled duke of Burgundy from 1950 to his father's death, when he took the title of duke of Anjou and Cadix. he married in 1972 Maria Carmen Martinez Bardiu y Franco, daughter of the marquess of Villaverde and a daughter of F. Franco. They had two sons before divorcing; the older one died in a car accident, the younger one Luis-Alfonso (born 1974) was styled duke of Touraine in 1981, and became duke of Anjou in 1989 on his father's death. Alfonso was French citizen, as is Luis-Alfonso (Alfonso had a brother Gonzalo, 1937-2000, styled duke of Aquitaine, who died without issue).

Jaime adopted the arms of France, I suppose his descendants did too. The title of duke of Anjou seems to be derived from the grandson of Louis XIV. In fact, these titles belonged to the king of France, and Felipe V gave it up when he became king of Spain. Anjou continued to be the traditional title for younger sons of France: it was bestowed later in 1710 to the third son of the duc de Bourgogne (later Louis XV), and in 1730 to the second son of Louis XV (died in 1733). I suppose that it is as claimant to the throne of France that the Spanish Bourbons see it as their right to use such traditional French titles as duke of Burgundy, duke of Anjou, Duke of Aquitaine.

The Carlist line's disappearance did not mean that all Carlists rallied to Alfonso XIII: the last of the Carlist line, Alfonso (died 1936) appointed Francisco-Xavier of Borbón-Parma (1889-1977) as "Regent", and that later was taken by said B-P to mean King. He had two sons, Carlos-Ugo (born 1930) who calls himself duke of Madrid, pretender to the Spanish throne, and something of a socialist utopian; and Sisto-Enrique (born 1940) also pretender to the Spanish throne, but of a more traditional variety. The Borbón-Parma lot is a noisy and cumbersome one: they were expelled from Spain in 1968, and during a family reunion in Montejurra in 1976, gunfire was exchanged and one person killed! They now live in the US.

Believe it or not, there is yet another Carlist claimant: the daughter of Carlos, duke of Madrid (died 1909) Bianca married Charles-Salvator of Habsburg-Tuscany: they had 4 sons, the first Charles (1909-53) started claiming the title of duke of Madrid in 1945. Then his brother Leopold (died 1958) took up the claim, passed it to his brother Anton who renounced in favor of the last brother Franz-Josef (Francisco-Jose), still alive, although Anton recanted his renunciation when Leopold died, so there may be two pretenders in that branch.

The arms of Spain have displayed an escutcheon of Anjou since 1700, but the bordure gules on the escutcheon became less frequent since the late 18th century, and was altogether abandoned by the 1870s. It is curious to note that the Spanish Bourbons did not wait for the extinction of the senior branch in 1883 to adopt the arms of France over-all. It should not be seen as an escutcheon of pretence, however, but rather as a mark of lineage.

the Orléans branch


Philippe de France, duc d'Orléans and his son the future Regent.

Philippe (1640-1701), duke of Orléans, founded the house of Orléans, who had the title of first princes of the blood in France. The only male descendant was Louis-Philippe (1773-1850), who became King of the French after the revolution of 1830, which overthrew Charles X. Louis-Philippe was himself overthrown in 1848. Louis-Philippe had several sons: the first, duc d'Orléans in 1830, is now represented by Henri, count of Paris (b. 1933) and pretender to the throne of France. The second son of Louis-Philippe, the duc de Nemours, gave the lines of Orléans-Bragance, now Brazilians. Another son, the duc de Montpensier, gave the line of the dukes of Galliera, in Spain.


Louis-Philippe swearing oath to the Constitutional Charter, 9 Aug 1830.

The line of succession after Louis-Philippe is as follows: his grandson Philippe, comte de Paris (1838-94), who reconciled with the elder Bourbon branch in the 1870s, had two children, Louis-Philippe duc d'Orléans (1869-1926) and Ferdinand, duc de Montpensier (1884-1924), both childless. A younger brother of the comte de Paris, Robert duc de Chartres (1840-1910), had one son, called the duc de Guise (1874-1940), who succeeded the duc d'Orléans as head of the family in 1926. The duc de Guise's only son was Henri (1908-99), comte de Paris and longtime pretender to the throne. The current heir is Henri (b. 1933), comte de Paris; he has two sons, and several of his brothers have male issue. The comte de Paris is the head of the only branch of the Orléans family who could claim the throne, since the Orléans-Bragance and the Galliera branches are not French citizens. A family agreement earlier in this century laid down that they would not claim the throne, unless the elder branch died out and they acted to regain citizenship.

The Titles of the Orléans

The transmission of titles in the Orléans family since 1830 is very puzzling, and I don't have a good answer. As far as I can tell, the head of the family bestows titles as he pleases. Traditionally, the eldest son of the duke of Orléans had the title of duke of Chartres, and his eldest son duke of Valois. Louis-Philippe's eldest son Ferdinand (1810-42) was called Chartres until 1830, when his father became King of the French and he himself became Orléans, eschewing the traditional title of Dauphin. His son Philippe (1838-94) apparently never bore the title of duc d'Orléans, but rather that of comte de Paris, and, strangely, his 2d son was called Chartres. The eldest son of this first count of Paris was styled duc d'Orléans, the second son duc de Montpensier, a title previously born by another son of Louis-Philippe.

Other titles in use by the Orléans family include: Nemours, born by Louis-Philippe's second son Louis (1814-96), whose two sons were Gaston comte d'Eu and Ferdinand duc d'Alençon. The former married the heiress to the throne of Brazil and the line became Orléans-Bragance, still existing. The latter had issue a son Emmanuel duc de Vendôme and a grandson Charles-Philippe duc de Nemours, with whom the line died in 1970. Joinville, born by François (1818-1900), whose son Pierre was duc de Penthièvre. Aumale, born by Henri (1822-97) whose sons were prince de Condé (died 1866) and duc de Guise (died 1872). Montpensier born by Antoine (1824-90) whose only surviving son Antoine became Spanish with the title of duke of Galliera, his line still existing.

The strange thing is the title of count of Paris, which was never explicitly born to my knowledge ever since the count of Paris Hugues became king of France in 987. It was thus resurrected for the grandson of Louis-Philippe in 1838, and then bestowed in 1928 to Henri by his father, upon Henri's becoming of age. My guess is that it is a parallel to the title of duc de Bordeaux: Bordeaux had been the first French city to rally to the Bourbons in 1814, and Louis XVIII had promised to give that title to the next male born in the family. Similarly, I think Louis-Philippe wanted to acknowledge his gratitude toward the city of Paris, whose people overthrew Charles X and gave him the crown. It may also have been seen as a return to the founders of the Capetian dynasty, at a time when, as in England, all things medieval were becoming fashionable.

The comte de Paris bestowed the title of comte de Clermont on his son just before the latter's marriage in 1957. That title was the first one born by Robert, younger son of Louis IX and founder of the Bourbon branch, and was the usual title of the eldest son of the duc de Bourbon in the 14th and 15th c.

Note also that Henri was never duke of Orléans, but he made one of his sons duke of Orléans posthumously, after he died in Algeria in 1960, and then bestowed the title again to another son... My impression is that, since he is the pretender, he does not feel bound to use those titles in any rigid fashion. He has also bestowed the titles of comte d'Évreux and comte de La Marche on two of his sons in 1976.

French royalty in exile did not use the highest title they could: Charles X called himself comte de Ponthieu, and his son the Dauphin was called the comte de Marnes. Charles X's grandson, born duc de Bordeaux, adopted the title comte de Chambord instead in 1839. Louis-Philippe after 1848 was called the comte de Neuilly.

One thing to note is that all the titles used in the Orléans family, before or after 1883, are usually titles that belonged to the Orléans branch, whether as part of their original apanage (Orléans, Chartres, Valois) or by purchase/inheritance (Eu, Montpensier, Nemours, Joinville, Guise, Condé, La Marche, Évreux, Penthièvre) prior to 1830. They have thus abstained from using the more traditional titles of the elder branch (Anjou, Aquitaine, Normandie, Provence, Touraine, Bourgogne, Poitiers, etc). some of which are in use among the Spanish Bourbons. There are, however, some exceptions, such as Alençon, last used by a great-grandson of Louis XIV, used by Ferdinand (1844-1910) son of the prince de Joinville, and Vendôme, last been used for an illegitimate son of Henri IV, whose issue died out in 1712, and used by the son of the duc d'Alençon. The comte de Paris himself has used titles which were not in the Orléans inheritance, such as Vendôme and Angoulême. Angoulême was last used by the eldest son of Charles X.

Heraldry of the Orléans

The Orléans branch used the traditional arms of Orléans (France differenced by a label argent) since Philippe de France became duke of Orléans in 1660. In fact, from 1830 to 1831 the arms of the kingdom of the French under Louis-Philippe were the arms of Orléans, which was rather awkward (the arms were
changed in 1831). In 1883, when the elder branch died out, the head of the house of Orléans adopted the arms of France, his eldest son quarterly France and Dauphiné, his sisters the arms of France in a lozenge, and the rest of the family kept the label of Orléans. Ferdinand, duc de Montpensier, son of the first count of Paris and brother of Louis-Philippe, duke of Orléans, differenced with a crescent argent on a bend gules. On May 23, 1892, Carlos de Borbón, duke of Madrid wrote a letter of protest to the comte de Paris over the latter's use of the arms of France. His son claimed for himself the arms of France on August 15, 1909 and on Sept. 2, 1928. [Gotha]

Currently, according to Rémi Mathieu (in 1955 World Congress of Heraldry), the comte de Paris bears France with a royal crown, his eldest son the comte de Clermont quarters France and Dauphiné and uses the Dauphin crown (a closed crown formed of dolphins all joined at the tail), although he does not use the title of Dauphin; the duc d'Orléans used Orléans with a royal prince coronet; the comte d'Évreux bears France differenced by a bend compony argent and gules (the traditional Évreux difference), and the comte de La Marche bears a difference of three lions argent on a bend gules (same difference as used by the La Marche branch of the Bourbons). The last two both use a coronet of fleurs-de-lys and acanthus leaves.

Other branches

There are none. All junior lines of the Bourbons have died out, the last being the Bourbon-Condé and the Bourbon-Conti, descended from a first cousin of Henri IV, extinct in 1830 and 1814 respectively. (The death of the last duc de Bourbon, whose only son the duc d'Enghien was shot on orders of Napoleon I in 1804, was somewhat suspect: incensed by Louis-Philippe's appropriation of the throne in August 1830, he was about to revise his will in which he left all his fortune to the Orléans, when he was found hanged in his castle. The police of the new regime ruled the death a suicide and the Orléans inherited.)

There are, to my knowledge, no other male branches of the French Capetians (the Courtenay, whose link to the Capetians goes back to the 11th c., died out in the 18th c.).

Heraldic quarrel between Orléans and the Spanish Bourbons

In 1988 a suit was brought by Henri d'Orléans against Alfonso of Borbón, for usurping the title of duke of Anjou and the arms of France.

A Paris court stated the following on Dec. 21, 1988 (loosely paraphrased from the French): nobiliary titles abolished by the Revolutions of 1789 and 1848, and restored by decre of Jan. 28, 1852 [and never officially abolished since] can only be lawfully used and given to their bearers in official acts pursuant to a decree by the Minister of Justice, in application of the royal or imperial act which originally confered the titles [anyone who has a legitimate claim to a title can ask the Minister of Justice to confirm this claim: the bearer can then officially use the title in legal documents such as birth certificates etc; about 400 such confirmations were made since 1872]. A nobiliary title can only be defended from usurpation by the person who is entitled to it under these conditions, or who belongs to a family to which this distinction has been recognized in said manner. The title of duke of Anjou was last granted by Louis XV to his grandson Louis-Stanislas-Xavier [later Louis XVIII] in 1785, was abolished by the effects of the decree of June 19, 1790 [abolishing all nobiliary titles]. The present existence of the title could only be verified by the Minister of Justice if asked. Under those conditions Henri d'Orléans has no legal standing to defend the title of duke of Anjou over which he establishes no claim for himself or his family; likewise for Sisto-Enrique of Borbón-Parma [who was suing with Henri d'Orléans]. As for the coat of arms, "it does not behoove a court of the Republic to adjudicate the dynastic rivalry which underlies this heraldic quarrel, as well as the whole suit itself."

The Paris Court of Appeals confirmed the judgment on November 22, 1989, essentially saying that since 1830 there is no throne of France, and therefore the arms of France: Azure three fleur-de-lys or, are the arms of a family and not arms of dominion.

Interestingly, this ruling overturned an earlier ruling handed down by the first chamber of the civil tribunal of the Seine departement on January 28, 1897. Francisco-Enrique de Borbon, self-styled duke of Anjou, son of the duke of Seville (a junior branch of the Bourbons of Spain) sued the duke of Orléans, petitioning the court that "he only had the right to bear the arms of France and to sign official documents with his given name of "François", that is, to bear the title of King of France", and asking the court to prohibit the duc d'Orléans from using those arms and signing "Philippe". The court ruled against him for lack of legal standing and being without grounds for his claims, aims and conclusions. In particular, the court noted that he was a Spanish citizen, that he was not the male heir of line in the Spanish branch (the duke of Madrid was; he filed a claim himself but it was received on the day of the proceedings and was ruled to be too late), that the title of King of France was not a nobiliary title, and it was "childish" to ask a court of the French Republic to adjudicate that title. More significantly, however, the court ruled that the arms of France were bound to the rank of king of France and had therefore disappeared with the rank. Implicitly, the court decided that no one had the right to those arms. [Annuaire de la Noblesse de France, 1898]

The American Society of Cincinnati has a French branch, where the hereditary principle is also valid: so there is a seat for Louis XVI, and one for the duke of Orléans. The latter seat is held by the count of Paris, the duke of Anjou was elected to the former in 1983, as next of kin of Louis XVI, upon which the count of Paris resigned in protest against the admission of the "so-called duke of Anjou".


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François Velde

Last modified: Jun 02, 2002