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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 makes duke of Anjou a Spanish King
Louis XIV makes duke of Anjou a Spanish King
Louis XIV makes duke of Anjou a Spanish King
Louis XIV makes duke of Anjou a Spanish King

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 (see Wars). 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.

Henry IV - first Bourbon king

Louis XIII - Louis father

Louis XIV
Henry IV - first Bourbon king
Philippe - Louis brother
Louis XIII - Louis father

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.
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 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. 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.

Philipp V of Spain

Louis XV

Louis XVI

the Spanish Bourbons

Felipe V (1683-1745) 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.

the Orléans branch

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.
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.


© Elena Steingrad     2000 -

the image of Louis XIV in the menu is taken from PC-Game "Versailles II" created by Cryo Interactive Entertainment. See the description of that game under "Software" for more information.

since 26.11.07: