House of Bourbon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Jump to: navigation, search
Ancien Régime
Estates of the realm
French nobility
Seigneurial system

The House of Bourbon is an important European royal house. Bourbon kings first ruled Navarre and France in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Bourbon dynasty held thrones in Spain and southern Italy; other Bourbons held important duchies. As of 2005, Spain and Luxembourg have Bourbon monarchs.

Bourbon monarchs ruled Navarre (from 1555) and France (from 1589 until the 1792 overthrow of the monarchy during the French Revolution. Restored briefly in 1814 and definitively in 1815 after the fall of the First French Empire, the senior line of the Bourbons was finally overthrown in the July Revolution of 1830. A cadet branch, the House of Bourbon-Orleans, then ruled for 18 years (1830–1848), until it too was overthrown.

Philip V of Spain was the first Bourbon ruler of Spain, from 1700. The Spanish Bourbons—nowadays, in Spain the name is spelt Borbón—have been overthrown and restored several times, ruling 1700–1808, 18131868, 18751931, and 1975 to the present day. From this Spanish line comes the royal line of the kingdom of the Two Sicilies (17341806 and 18151860, and Sicily only in 18061816), the Bourbon-Sicilies family, and the Bourbon rulers of the Duchy of Parma. In 1919 Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg married a cadet of the Bourbon-Parma line, and thus her successors, who have ruled Luxembourg since her abdication in 1964, have also technically been members of the House of Bourbon.

The Princes of Condé (Bourbon-Condé) were a cadet branch of the Bourbon-Vendômes and, in turn, were senior to the Princes of Conti (Bourbon-Conti). Both these lines became extinct in the early nineteenth century.


Origin of the House of Bourbon

The House of Bourbon as a noble family dates at least from the beginning of the 13th century, when the estate of Bourbon was ruled by a Lord who was a vassal of the King of France. In 1268, Robert, Count of Clermont, sixth son of king Louis IX of France married Beatrice of Burgundy, heiress to the lordship of Bourbon. Their son Louis was made duke of Bourbon in 1327. The senior line of his heirs was dispossessed of the dukedom in 1523, due to the treason of Duke Charles III, but the junior line of La Marche-Vendôme acquired the Dukedom of Vendôme. The Bourbon-Vendôme branch became the ruling house of first the tiny remnant of the Kingdom of Navarre on the northern side of the Pyrenees (1555) and then of France (1589), with Henry III of Navarre becoming Henry IV of France.

The rise of Henry IV

The first Bourbon king of France was Henry IV. He was born on December 13, 1553 in the Kingdom of Navarre. Antoine de Bourbon, his father, was a ninth generation descendent of King Louis IX of France. Jeanne d'Albret, his mother, was the Queen of Navarre and the niece of King Francis I of France. He was baptized Catholic, but raised Calvinist. After his father was killed in 1563, he became Duke of Vendôme at the age of 10, with Admiral Gaspard de Coligny (1519–1572) as his regent. Five years later, the young duke became the nominal leader of the Huguenots after the death of his uncle the Prince of Condé in 1568.

Henry succeeded to Navarre as Henry III when his mother died in 1572. That same year Catherine de Medici, the influential mother of King Charles IX, arranged for the marriage of her daughter, Margaret of Valois, to Henry as a peace offering between the Catholics and Huguenots. Many Huguenots had gathered for the wedding held on August 24 and were massacred by the Catholics in what became known as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. Henry saved his own life by converting to Catholicism. He repudiated his conversion in 1576 and resumed his leadership of the Huguenots.

The period from 1576 to 1584 was relatively calm in France, with the Huguenots consolidating control of much of the south with only occasional interference from the royal government. Extended civil war erupted again in 1584, when Duke of Anjou, younger brother of King Henry III, died, leaving Navarre next in line for the throne. Thus began the War of the Three Henries, as Henry of Navarre, Henry III, and the ultra-Catholic leader, Henry of Guise fought a confusing three-cornered struggle for dominance. When Henry III was assassinated on July 31, 1589 Navarre became the first Bourbon king of France as Henry IV.

Much of Catholic France, organized into the Catholic League refused to recognize a Protestant monarch and instead recognized Henry IV's uncle, the Cardinal de Bourbon, as king as Charles X, and the civil war continued. Henry won the crucial victory at Ivry on March 14, 1590, and following the death of the Cardinal the same year, the forces of the League lacked an obvious Catholic candidate for the throne and divided into various factions. Nevertheless, as a Protestant, Henry IV was unable to take devoutly Catholic Paris, or to ultimately defeat his enemies, now supported by the Spanish. He reconverted to Catholicism in 1593—he is said to have remarked, "Paris is worth a mass"—and was crowned King of France at the Cathedral of Chartres on February 27, 1594.

The Early Bourbon Kings of France

Henry granted the Edict of Nantes April 13, 1598, establishing Catholicism as an official state religion, but otherwise assuring the Huguenots equal rights with the Catholics. This compromise ended the religious wars in France. That same year the Treaty of Vervins ended the war with Spain, adjusted the Spanish-French border, and resulted in a belated recognition by Spain of Henry as king of France.

Ably assisted by Maximilien de Béthune, duc de Sully, Henry reduced the land tax known as the taille; promoted agriculture, public works, construction of highways, and the first French canal; started such important industries as the tapestry works of the Gobelins; and intervened in favor of Protestants in the duchies and earldoms along the German frontier. This last was to be the cause of his assassination.

Henry's marriage to Margaret, which had produced no heir, was annulled in 1599 and he married Marie de Medici, the niece of the grand duke of Tuscany. A son, Louis, was born to them in 1601. Henry IV was assassinated on May 14, 1610 in Paris. Louis XIII was only nine-years-old when he succeeded his father. He was to prove a weak ruler, his reign effectively a series of distinct regimes, depending who held the effective reins of power.

At first, Marie de Medici, his mother, served as regent and advanced a pro-Spanish policy. To deal with the financial troubles of France, summoned the Estates General in 1614; this would be the last time that body met until the eve of the French Revolution. Marie arranged the 1615 marriage of Louis to Anne of Austria, the daughter of King Philip III of Spain.

In 1617, however, Louis conspired with Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes to dispense with her influence, having her favorite Concino Concini assassinated on April 26 of that year. After some years of weak government by Louis's favorites, the King made Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu, a former protégé of his mother, the chief minister of France in 1624.

Richelieu advanced an anti-Habsburg policy. He arranged for Louis' sister, Henrietta Maria, to marry King Charles I of England, on May 11, 1625. Her pro-Catholic propaganda in England was one of the contributing factors for the English Civil War. Richelieu, as ambitious for France and the French monarchy as for himself, laid the ground for the absolute monarchy that would last in France until the Revolution. He wanted to establish a dominating position for France in Europe, and he wanted to unify France under the monarchy. He established the role of intendants, non-noble men whose arbitrary powers were granted by (and revocable by) the monarchy and superseded many of the traditional duties and privileges of the noble governors. Although it required a succession of internal military campaigns, he abolished the fortified Huguenot towns that Henry had allowed. He involved France in the Thirty Years War (1618–1648) against the Habsburgs in 1635. He died in 1642 before the conclusion of that conflict, having groomed Jules Cardinal Mazarin as a successor. Louis XIII outlived him but by one year, dying in 1643 at the age of forty-two. After a childless marriage for twenty-three years he had a son with Anne on September 5, 1638, who he named after himself.

When Louis XIV succeeded his father he was only five-years-old. He would become one of the most powerful men ever in history. His mother Anne served as his regent with her favorite Jules Mazarin as chief minister. Mazarin continued the policies of Richelieu, bringing the Thirty Years War to a successful conclusion in 1648 and defeating the noble challenge to royal absolutism in a series of civil wars known as the Fronde. He continued to war with Spain until 1659. In that year the Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed signifying a significant shift in power, France had replaced Spain as the dominant state in Europe. One of the terms of the treaty arranged the marriage of Louis to his cousin Maria Theresa, the daughter of King Philip IV of Spain, by his first wife Elizabeth, the sister of Louis XIII. They were married in 1660 and had a son, Louis, in 1661. Mazarin died on March 9, 1661 and it was expected that Louis would appoint another chief minister, as had become the tradition, but instead he shocked the country by announcing he would rule alone.

Louis intended to glorify France by making war on his neighbors. For six years he reformed the finances of his state and built formidable armed forces. France fought three wars between 1667 and 1697 and though some territory was gained it hardly seemed worth it. Maria Theresa died in 1683 and the next year he married Françoise d'Aubigné, marquise de Maintenon. She had great influence over him especially in matters of religion. Louis XIV was staunchly Catholic and he revoked the Edict of Nantes on October 18, 1685, undoing the religious tolerance established by grandfather, Henry IV, almost a hundred years before.

The last war waged by Louis XIV proved to be one of the most important to dynastic Europe. In 1700, King Charles II of Spain died without a son. Louis's son the Grand Dauphin, as nephew to the late king, was closest heir, and Charles willed the kingdom to the Dauphin's second son, the Duke of Anjou. Other powers, particularly the Austrian Habsburgs, who had the next closest claims, objected to such a vast increase in French power. Initially, most of the other powers were willing to accept Anjou's reign as Philip V, but Louis's arrogance and blunders soon made the English, the Dutch, and other powers join the Austrians in a coalition against France. The War of the Spanish Succession began in 1701 and raged for 12 years. In the end Louis's grandson was recognized as King of Spain, but Spain's other European territories were largely ceded to Austria, and France was nearly bankrupted by the cost of the struggle. Louis died on September 1, 1715 ending seventy-two year reign, the longest in European history.

The reign of Louis XIV was so long that he had outlived both his son and eldest grandson. He was succeeded by his great-grandson Louis XV. Louis XV was born on February 15, 1710 and thus only five at his ascension, the third Louis in a row to become king of France before the age of ten. Initially, the regency was held by the Duke of Orleans, Louis XIV's nephew, as nearest adult male to the throne. This Regency period was seen as one of debauchery and loose morals following the austere nature of the latter years of Louis XIV's reign, which had seen a series of cripplingly expensive wars and the King's turn to religion. Following Orleans's death in 1723, another junior Bourbon, the Duke of Bourbon, the representative of the Bourbon-Condé line, became Prime Minister. It was expected that Louis would marry his cousin, the daughter of King Philip V of Spain, but this marriage was cancelled by the duke in 1725 so that Louis could marry Maria Leszczynska, the daughter of Stanislas, former king of Poland. Bourbon's motive appears to have been a desire to produce an heir as soon as possible so as to reduce the chances of a succession dispute between Philip V and the Duke of Orleans in the event of the sickly king's death. Maria was already an adult woman at the time of the marriage, while the Infanta was still a young girl.

Nevertheless, Bourbon's action brought a very negative response from Spain, and for his incompetence Bourbon was soon replaced by Cardinal Fleury, the young king's tutor, in 1726. Fleury was a peace loving man who intended to keep France out of war, but circumstances presented themselves that made this impossible. The first cause of these wars came in 1733 when Augustus II, the elector of Saxony and king of Poland died. With French backing Stanislas was again elected king. This brought France into conflict with Russia and Austria who supported Augustus III, duke of Saxony and son of Augustus II. Stanislas lost the Polish crown, but he was given the Duchy of Lorraine as compensation, which would pass to France after his death. Next came the War of the Austrian Succession in 1740 in which France supported King Frederick II of Prussia against Maria Theresa, archduchess of Austria. Fleury died in 1743 before the conclusion of the war.

Shortly after Fleury’s death in 1745 Louis was most influenced by his mistress the Marquise de Pompadour. She reversed the policy of France in 1756 by creating an alliance with Austria against Prussia in the Seven Years War. The war was a disaster for France, losing most of her overseas possessions to the British in the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Great Britain replaced France as the most dominant country in the world. Louis’ only son died in 1765 making his grandson the dauphine. Maria, his wife, died in 1768 and Louis himself died on May 10, 1774.

Early Bourbons of Spain and Italy

The Spanish branch of the House of Bourbon was founded by Philip V. He was born in 1683 in Versailles, the second son of the dauphine, the son of Louis XIV. He was the Duke of Anjou and probably never expected to be raised to a rank higher then that. However when King Charles II of Spain was dying without issue and he adopted Philip as his heir, being the great grandson of King Philip IV of Spain. Having a Bourbon king on both the French and Spanish thrones disturbed the balance of power in Europe and when Charles died on November 1, 1700 a Grand Alliance of European nations united against Philip. In the Treaty of Utrecht signed on April 11, 1713 Philip was recognized as king of Spain, but Sicily was ceded to Savoy and the Spanish Netherlands, Milan and Naples went to Austria.

Philip had two sons with his first wife. After she died he married Elizabeth Farnese, the niece of Duke Francesco of Parma, in 1714. She also gave Philip two son and intended them to win back the lost territory in Italy. She induced Philip to occupy Sardinia and Sicily in 1717. A Quadruple Alliance of Britain, France, Austria and the Netherlands, was organized on August 2, 1718 to stop him. In the Treaty of The Hague signed on February 17, 1720 Philip renounced his claim to Sardinia and Sicily, but assured the ascension of his eldest son with Elizabeth to the Duchy of Parma upon the current duke’s death. Philip abdicated in January 1724 in favor of Louis I, his eldest son with his first wife, but Louis died in August and Philip resumed the throne. When the War of the Polish Succession began in 1733 they saw it as another opportunity to advance the claims of their sons. Philip formed the Family Compact with Louis XV, his uncle and king of France. Their son Charles, duke of Parma since 1731, invaded Naples. At the conclusion of peace on November 13, 1738 Parma was ceded to Austria in exchange for Naples and Sicily. Philip also used the War of the Austrian Succession to win more territory in Italy. He did not see it to its conclusion because he died in 1746.

Ferdinand VI, the second son of Philip V and his first wife, succeeded his father. He was a peace-loving monarch who kept Spain out of the Seven Years War. He died in 1759 in the mists of that conflict and was succeeded by his half brother Charles III. Charles was the eldest son of Philip and Elizabeth. He was born in 1716 and became the Duke of Parma when the last Farnese duke died in 1731. He conquered the kingdom of the Two Sicilies during the War of the Polish Succession and became king there as Charles IV in 1734 renouncing Parma to Austria. When he ascended to the Spanish throne he abdicated in Sicily in favor of his third son, Ferdinand. Charles revived the Family Compact with France on August 15, 1761 and joined in the Seven Years War against Britain in 1762. He also opposed Britain during the American Revolution in June 1779. He died in 1788.

Elizabeth Farnese’s ambitions were realized at the conclusion of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1748 when Parma was ceded by Austria to her second son, Philip. Her eldest son, Charles, was already the king of the Two Sicilies. She died in 1766.

The Bourbons During the French Revolution

Louis XVI had become the dauphine of France upon the death of his father, the son of Louis XV, in 1765. He married Marie Antoinette, a daughter of Maria Theresa, in 1770. Louis intervened in the American Revolution against Britain in 1778, but he is most remembered for the French Revolution. France was in financial turmoil and Louis was forced to convene the estates-general on May 5, 1789. They formed the National Assembly and forced Louis to accept a constitution that limited his powers on July 14, 1790. He tried to flee France in June 1791, but was captured. The French monarchy was abolished on September 21, 1792 and a republic was proclaimed. The chain of Bourbon monarchs begun in 1589 was broken. Louis XVI was executed on January 21, 1793.

Marie Antoinette and her son, Louis, were held as prisoners. Many French royalists proclaimed him Louis XVII, but he nevered reigned. She was executed on October 16, 1793. He died of tuberculosis on June 8, 1795 at the age of ten while in captivity.

The French Revolution quickly spread throughout Europe and the other Bourbon monarchs were threatened. Ferdinand was forced to flee from Naples in 1806 when Napoleon Bonaparte deposed him and installed his brother, Joseph, as king. Ferdinand continued to rule from Sicily until 1815.

Napoleon conquered Parma in 1800 and compenstated the Bourbon duke with Etruria, a new kingdom he created from the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. It was short-lived when Napoleon annexed Etruria in 1807.

King Charles IV of Spain had been an ally of France. He succeeded his father, Charles III, in 1788. At first he declared war on France on March 7, 1793, but he made peace on June 22, 1795. This peace became an alliance on August 19, 1796. His chief minister, Manuel de Godoy convinced Charles that his son, Ferdinand, was plotting to over throw him. Napoleon exploited the situation and invaded Spain in March 1808. This led to an uprising that forced Charles to abdicate on March 19 in favor of his son, Ferdinand VII. Napoleon forced Ferdinand to return the crown to Charles on April 30 and then convinced Charles to relinquish it to him on May 10. In turn, he gave it to his brother, Joseph, king of Naples on June 6. Joseph abandoned Naples to Joachim Murat, the husband of Napoleon’s sister. This was very unpopular in Spain and resulted in the Peninsular War, a struggle that would contribute to the downfall of Napoleon.

The Bourbon Restoration in France and its aftermath

With the abdication of Napoleon on April 11, 1814 the Bourbon Dynasty was restored to the kingdom of France in the person of Louis XVIII, brother of Louis XVI. Napoleon escaped from exile and Louis fled in March 1815. Louis was again restored after the Battle of Waterloo on July 7.

The conservative elements of Europe dominated the post-Napoleonic age, but the values of the French Revolution could not be easily swept aside. Louis granted a constitution on June 14, 1814 to appease the liberals, but the ultra-royalist party, led by his brother, Charles, continued to influence his reign. When he died in 1824 his brother became king as Charles X much to the dismay of French liberals. Talleyrand reportedly remarked of the restored Bourbon rulers that they had "learned nothing and forgotten nothing."

Charles passed several laws that appealed to the upper class, but angered the middle class. The situation came to a head when he appointed a new minister on August 8, 1829 that did not have the confidence of the chamber. The chamber censured the king on March 18, 1830 and in response Charles proclaimed five ordinances on July 26 intended to silence criticism against him. This almost resulted in another revolution as dramatic as the one in 1789, but moderates were able to control the situation. As a compromise the crown was offered to Louis-Philippe, duke of Orleans, a descendent of the brother of Louis XIV, and the head of the Orleanist cadet branch of the Bourbons. He was proclaimed king of the French on August 7. The resulting regime, known as the July monarchy lasted until the Revolution of 1848. The Bourbon monarchy in France ended February 24, 1848, when Louis-Philippe was forced to abdicate and the short-lived French Second Republic was established.

Some legitimists refused to recognize the Orleanist monarchy. After the death of Charles in 1836 his son was proclaimed Louis XIX, though this title was never formally recognized. Charles' grandson Henri, comte de Chambord, the last Bourbon claimant of the French crown, was proclaimed by some Henry V, but the French monarchy was never restored.

Following the 1870 collapse of the empire of Emperor Napoleon III, Henri was offered a restored throne. The stubborn Chambord refused to accept the throne unless France abandoned the revolution-inspired tricolour and accepted what he regarded as the true Bourbon flag of France. The tricolour, originally associated with the French Revolution and the First Republic, had been used by the July Monarchy, the Second Republic and both Empires; the French National Assembly could not possibly agree. A temporary Third Republic was established, while monarchists waited for the comte de Chambord to die and for the succession to pass to the Comte de Paris, who was willing to accept the tricolour. Henri lived until 1883, by which time public opinion had come to accept the republic as the "form of government that divides us least." His death without issue marked the extinction of the French Bourbon.

Later Bourbon monarchs outside France

Upon the fall of the Napoleonic empire, Ferdinand I was restored to the throne of the kingdom of the Two Sicilies in 1815. His subjects revolted on July 2, 1820 and he was forced to grant a constitution on July 13. Austria invaded in March 1821 and revoked the constitution. He was succeeded by his son, Francis I, in 1825 and by his grandson, Ferdinand II, in 1830. Another revolution erupted on January 12, 1848 and Ferdinand was also forced to grant a constitution on February 10. This constitution was revoked in 1849. Ferdinand was succeeded by his son, Francis II, in May 1859. When Guiseppe Garibaldi captured Naples on September 7, 1860 Francis restored the constitution on July 2 in an attempt to save his sovereignty. He failed and his kingdom was incorporated in the Kingdom of Italy on March 17, 1861.

After the fall of Napoleon his wife, Maria Louisa, was made Duchess of Parma. As compensation, Charles Louis, the former king of Etruria, was made the Duke of Lucca. When Maria Louisa died in 1847 he was restored to Parma as Charles II. Lucca was incorporated into Tuscany. He was succeeded by his son, Charles III, and grandson, Robert I, in 1854. The people of Parma voted for a union with the kingdom of Sardinia on March 13, 1860. After Italian unification in 1861 the Bourbon dynasty in Italy was no more.

The Spanish branch of the Bourbon dynasty was the only one to survive into the 20th century. Ferdinand VII was restored to the throne of Spain after the fall of Napoleon in March 1814. Like his Italian Bourbon counterpart his subjects revolted against him in January 1820 and he was forced to grant a constitution. A French army invaded in 1823 and the constitution was revoked. Ferdinand married his fourth wife, Maria Christina, the daughter of Francis I, the Bourbon king of Sicily, in 1829. Despite his many marriages he did not have a son so on June 30, 1833 he was influenced by his wife to abolish the Salic Law so that her daughter, Isabella, could become queen depriving his brother, Don Carlos, of the throne.

Isabella II succeeded her father when he died on September 29, 1833. She was only three years old and Maria Cristina, her mother, served as regent. Maria knew that she needed the support of the liberals to oppose Don Carlos so she granted a constitution in 1834. Don Carlos found his greatest support in Catalonia and the Basques country because the constitution centralized the provinces thus denying them the autonomy they sought. He was defeated and fled the country in 1839. Isabella was declared of age in 1843 and she married her cousin Francisco de Asiz, the son of her father’s brother, on October 10, 1846. A military revolution broke out against Isabella in 1868 and she was deposed on September 29. She abdicated in favor of her son, Alfonso, in 1870, but Spain was proclaimed a republic for a brief time.

When the Spanish Republic failed the crown was offered to Isabella’s son who accepted on January 1, 1875 as Alfonso XII. Don Carlos, who returned to Spain, was again defeated and resumed his exile in February 1876. Alfonso granted a new constitution on July 1876 that was more liberal then the one granted by his grandmother. His reign was cut short when he died in 1885 at the age of twenty-eight.

Alfonso XIII was born on May 17, 1886 after the death of his father. His mother, Maria Christina, the second wife of Alfonso XII served as regent. Alfonso XIII was declared of age in 1902 and he married Eugenia of Battenberg, the granddaughter of Victoria, queen of Great Britain, on May 31, 1906. He remained neutral during World War I, but supported the military coup of Miguel Primo de Rivera on September 13, 1923. A movement towards the establishment of a republic began in 1930 and Alfonso fled the country on April 14, 1931. He never formally abdicated, but lived the rest of his life in exile. He died in 1941.

The Bourbon dynasty seemed finished in Spain as in the rest of the world, but it would be resurrected. The Second Spanish Republic was overthrown in the Spanish Civil War, leading to the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. He named Juan Carlos de Bourbon, a grandson of Alfonso XIII, his successor on July 22, 1969. When Franco died on November 20, 1975 a Bourbon monarch was restored to the throne two days later of Spain as Juan Carlos I. The new king oversaw the Spanish transition to democracy; the Spanish Constitution of 1978, approved on September 28, 1978, recognized the monarchy.

Though it is not a powerful as it once was under Louis XIV and it is all but extinct in its native country of France the house of Bourbon has survived to the present day world of republics. It seems likely that it will continue as well under Juan Carlos' son, Filipe, who officially became heir apparent when he turned eighteen years old in 1986.

List of Bourbon rulers

Monarchs of France

Dates indicate reigns, not lifetimes.

Monarchs of Spain

Dates indicate reigns, not lifetimes.

Other Bourbon rulers

See also

Personal tools