Wednesday, July 28, 2010

O Capetians Português ou Um Monte de Bastards (Capet, Part V)

 It seems there is little in Western Europe that the Capetians did not control at one point or another in their history. France, Spain, Italy, the Low Countries...heck, even the Byzantine Empire! But the second oldest Capetian house resided in the small backwater kingdom of Portugal. Why do I degrade it so? Quite simply because Portugal never truly achieved the heights of its European neighbors. It was created as a crusader state directly responsible to the Frankish Emperor. After it declared independence, it did its duty, taking over Galicia, Lisbon, and southern Iberia from the Moors. But it was already stagnating at the start of the 1400s, when its part in the reconquista had ended. Portugal was and still is principally a farming and maritime state. Its maritime fishing and trading habits certainly helped Portugal expand to become a worldwide empire, but Portugal was heavy-handed and lost much of its empire sooner than did Spain, France, the Dutch Republic and Great Britain. At its roots, the Portuguese were not destined to be conquerors and today the country remains one of the most impoverished of the Western European states.

But one of its greatest and most enduring successes has been its monarchy. As I mentioned earlier, Portugal began as a crusader state called the County of Porto Cale. It was controlled by the Frankish emperor who first invested the title of count to a local noble family, probably of Basque origin, before it eventually passed to Henry, the son of Duke Henry of Burgundy, the son of Duke Robert I of Burgundy, the son of King Robert II of France. Count Henry was a junior cadet branch of the senior House of Burgundy, but his line proved to be the longest living.
Henry, Count of Portugal
Afonso I the Conqueror, King of Portugal
Henry, having few options as a younger son, joined the reconquista of Iberia and, during his conquests, married the illegitimate daughter of the king of Castile and León, Teresa. At the time, Portugal was a fief of León and so Henry was a servant of his father-in-law. However, his son, Afonso I the Conqueror, changed all that when he defeated his mother and took the title of king, forever severing Portugal's ties with León. In 1179, Pope Alexander III recognized Portugal as an independent state. The House of Burgundy continued to produce crusading kings.In 1249, Afonso III conquered Algarve, the southernmost province of modern-day Portugal, and declared himself the King of Portugal and the Algarve, a title they would retain until the end of the monarchy. In 1297, the final borders of Portugal were defined and focus shifted from conquest to settlement. A short dynastic crisis occurred after the death of Ferdinand I in 1383. His only child, Beatrice, was married to the king of Castile and when Ferdinand died, Castile tried to take over Portugal. A short war followed and Castile was defeated in that Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. The House of Burgundy was formally over, but the Portuguese never really liked following proper rules of succession.

John II, King of Portugal and the Algarve
The House of Aviz claimed the throne from the extinct House of Burgundy. But in reality, Aviz was just an illegitimate male branch of the previous dynasty. Aviz is the best known of the Portuguese houses. Where Burgundy founded and established the modern Portuguese state, it was Aviz that took it across the seas. John I, the first Aviz king, began the long fight against the Moors in Africa by conquering the thin strip of land known as Ceuta at the Strait of Gibraltar. His grandson, Afonso V, took the fight to the African mainland and conquered much of northern Morocco. He also supported the explorations of Henry the Navigator, his uncle. Perhaps his worst place in history is as the one who established the African Slave Trade via the Papal Bull Dum Diversas, issued by Pope Nicholas V to subdue the heathens of Africa. John II helped consolidate and centralize Portuguese power at Lisbon even while improving the economy through exploration and trade, most notably by sending Bartolomeu Dias around the Cape of Good Hope in search of India. Manuel I fared even better when he sent Vasco da Gama around Africa where he found India, even while Pedro Cabral discovered Brasil in the west. But the despotism and wealth of the Portuguese monarchy was taking its toll on the populace.

Portugal's explorations continued but the monarchy became increasingly wrapped up in problematic rulers. John III was the first European monarch to contact China and Japan but his goals were mostly evangelistic. Sabastian was a child for most of his reign and Henry the Cardinal was quite old. With Henry's death, the Portuguese throne was wide open for the taking and there were many potential candidates. Anthony, the Prior of Crato, was the last of the house of Aviz (although he was illegitimate) to claim the Portuguese throne, but his illegitimacy gave the Habsburg king of Spain, Philip II, license to claim the throne by right of his mother, who was a Portuguese princess. None could really argue with the might of the Habsburg Empire bearing down on them. A short war began but the winner was clear from the start. Thus, Portugal passed from the Capetian dynasty to the House of Habsburg for a while, from 1580 until 1640 to be precise. Such an interlude was unfortunate, but pro-Capetian forces won the day in the end.

The rise of the Most Serene House of Braganza in 1640 was slightly unexpected and followed proper Portuguese form. Like Aviz, Braganza was a male-line illegitimate branch of the previous dynasty, although it was removed quite a few more generations. Where Burgundy founded Portugal, and Avis created the Portuguese Empire, Braganza's chief claim to fame is creating the break-away Empire of Brasil. The royal house began as dukes of Braganza, a region in northern Portugal. The third duke, Fernando II, married Isabella, granddaughter of King Duarte I, thereby legitimizing the branch and giving it a strong claim to the throne. This was strengthened when the sixth duke, John I, married Catarina, a granddaughter of King Manuel I. When war broke out in 1580, the Braganza branch was overlooked since its chief representative was a woman (Catarina). For the next sixty years, the family would remain loyal to their Habsburg overlords, becoming rich and powerful due to their service.
John IV, King of Portugal and the Algarve
It was the eighth duke of Braganza, John IV, who was recruited to lead the anti-Habsburg cause. He did so, reluctantly, and won the day. John's sons, Afonso VI and Pedro II, reclaimed and expanded the Portuguese Empire which had suffered greatly under the hands of the Spanish Habsburgs. Like many other monarchies in the 18th century, Portugal under John V became an absolute despotate, amassing great wealth from the colonial empire allowing the king to neglect his parliament and cortes. John V was a patron of the arts and helped revitalize the Portuguese economy. Unfortunately, much was lost after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated Lisbon in 1755 during the reign of King José. In 1777, Portugal added its first uncontested queen regnant, Maria I, to its list of monarchs. Maria continued to stabilize Portugal, even as she slowly went insane. Her husband, Pedro III, was also her uncle and a member of the Braganza family, so the royal house remained intact for a while longer.

The Napoleonic Wars, as it did to so many other kingdoms in Europe, caused much panic in Portugal. The royal family fled to Brasil, renaming the Portuguese empire the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarve. It wasn't until 1821 that the family returned to Portugal but Brasil was now happy being a European capital and became quite frustrated when King John VI demoted it to a colony. John's eldest son, Pedro, siding with the Brasilians, proclaimed himself Emperor of Brasil, and began the long separation between Brasil and its mother country. Pedro abdicated in 1831 in favor of his son, Pedro II, who ruled Brasil until 1889 when the Brasilian aristocracy overthrew the monarchy because of its anti-slavery policies. The Brasilian Braganza branch still has two rival pretender lines to this day, but they have never reclaimed the Brasilian throne.
Maria II, Queen Regnant of Portugal and the Algarve
Miguel, Usurper and King of Portugal and the Algarve
Meanwhile, in Portugal, John VI had liberalized the nation, in accordance with his restoration, by issuing a constitution. When he died, Pedro I of Brasil returned to Portugal and was proclaimed king for a very short while (as Pedro IV) but he quickly abdicated in favor of his daughter, Maria II, who was to uphold the new constitution. Pedro's brother, Miguel, was assigned to act as regent but instead declared himself king and returned Portugal to an absolutist state. Maria fled into exile until her dad, former Emperor and King Pedro, was able to wrest control of Portugal away from Miguel and return it to Maria II, who was now married to Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha. The last few kings of Portugal — Pedro V, Luis, Carlos I, and Manuel II — were all relatively hard-working monarchs who attempted to maintain the liberal constitution. But the revolutionary fervor leading into World War I was too strong and the House of Braganza was ended ingloriously by the Portuguese First Republic in 1910. Manuel II went into exile until his death in 1932 and the title of pretender passed to the male line of Miguel where it still resides today.
Manuel II, Last King of Portugal and the Algarve

Technically, the last four monarchs of Portugal were members of the German House of Wettin, often called the House of Braganza-Saxe-Coburg & Gotha, but they are also considered a continuation of the previous house and are rarely separated from it in family trees, much like William III of England is generally considered a Stuart monarch despite being a member of the House of Orange. As noted, after the family went into exile, it did in fact return to the Braganza branch anyway, through the person of King Miguel.
Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza and Pretender to Portugal
Portugal's long history as a crusader and explorer state ended rather sadly with revolts and rebellions, much like how many once-great states of Europe fell. However, few European states can claim such continuous leadership by one family. While the family may have changed names through the years, Burgundy-Avis-Braganza were all members of the greater Capetian dynasty, legitimate or not. In fact, Braganza remains the longest surviving branch of that family, placing its origins at a much earlier time than the House of Bourbon. And today, they remain a small but intact group of former royals with claims to two states, Brasil and Portugal, both of which have strong monarchist movements for their restoration.

So ends the long and complex history of the Capetian Dynasty. Next week, we will explore the family of Moctezuma of the Aztecs and see just how quickly that family spread across Spain and Mexico.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Los Capetos Muchos y Variadas de España y Italia (Capet: Part IV)

Sadly, our look at the legitimate descendants of Hugh Capet and the earlier Robertians comes to an end with this post. Fear not! The Portuguese are still Capetians in fact, even if often disregarded as such by historians. However, today's topic is perhaps the most important one in all of these five postings because the Capetians of Spain and Italy still rule Spain and Luxembourg today as constitutional monarchs, and their family members are still considered some of the most eligible for royal marriages in the European royal marriage market.

Two weeks ago I brought up the most illustrious House of Bourbon as one of the sub-houses of the Capetian dynasty. The House of Bourbon (in any form) ruled France from 1589 until 1792, and 1814 until 1848. Its fall marked the end of France as a kingdom (although Napoleon III would raise it up one last time as an empire). But the House of Bourbon's fall in France had little effect on its other domains abroad.
Philip V of Spain and his family

Philip, duke of Parma
The Spanish House of Bourbon, generally called the House of Borbón, began its meager beginnings in the hotly contested War of the Spanish Succession, fought from 1701 until 1714. A younger grandson of the still-reigning King Louis XIV, Philip, was selected by the last Habsburg king of Spain, Charles II, as his heir. The Austrian Habsburgs disagreed and a war ensued. In the end, Spain lost much of its European landholdings, especially in Italy, but Philip was allowed to keep the Spanish throne and reigned as King Philip V. Philip married Elizabeth Farnese, the niece of the Duke of Parma. Parma was a small duchy in central Italy which had played a somewhat important role in Italian politics for the past four centuries. With Parma in hand, Philip conquered the islands of Sardinia and Sicily for Spain. The other European monarchs reacted with the Quadruple Alliance and halted Spain's power-grab. Philip was forced to give up his new islands but got his son signed on as the heir to the Duchy of Parma. Thus began the Italian branch of the Spanish Bourbons.

We will return to Spain later as Italy proved far more interesting a story. Charles, son of Philip and now Duke of Parma, took his chances in the War of the Polish Succession and invaded Naples (southern Italy) in 1738. He was forced to give up control of Parma to Austria but in exchange was elevated to king of Naples & Sicily (I told you the family would get it back!). Philip V also used this war and the War of the Austrian Succession a decade later to further his land claims in Italy. The Austrian Succession War ended with Spain reconquering Parma and Philip V granting that duchy to his third son, Philip. Now the Spanish Bourbons had three branches: the Senior Borbóns in Spain, Borbón-Naples (later Two-Sicilies) in southern Italy, and Borbón-Parma in central Italy.
Italy in 1796

Everything in the Capetian empire fell to a screeching halt when Napoleon started his rampage across Europe in the first decade of 1800. One by one, Napoleon conquered France, Spain and Italy, placing siblings and puppets on the thrones and forcing the rightful rulers to flee to Britain, Austria and other unconquered states. The Capetian empire was in ruin and when the rulers returned to their thrones in 1814-1815, the people were enchanted by the concepts of constitutions and personal freedoms.

 In Naples & Sicily, Ferdinand I was restored and almost immediately broke the statues of his restoration by merging the two kingdoms into the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and instigating a four-year spree of total dictatorship. The people forced him to sign two separate constitutions restricting his powers, which he signed under duress. His death in 1825 was the only thing that saved the Two Sicilies from a violent revolution. The Two Sicilies continued to see waves of revolutions and new constitutions, with Austria and the United Kingdom both getting involved. Francis II succeeded to the throne in 1859 and desperately tried to stop the revolutionary trends by adopting a previous constitution and promising the people his cooperation, but the revolutionary fervor was too strong and the Neapolitan Bourbons were overthrown by Garibaldi and Two Sicilies was incorporated into the new Kingdom of Italy.

Meanwhile, Parma had undergone some serious beating during the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon's second wife, Maria Louisa, was given Parma in 1815 and Charles II, the former duke, was granted the duchy of Lucca, in eastern Italy. When Maria Louisa died in 1847, Charles regained Parma (returning Lucca to Tuscany) and passed the duchy on to his son, then grandson. During the Italian Unification in 1860, the people of Parma voted to unify with the quickly growing kingdom of Sardinia and the Parma Borbóns no longer had a country to call home.
Isabella II, Queen of Spain
Only the Spanish Borbóns survived the turbulent 1800s with their monarchy intact. Ferdinand VII was restored after the long and deadly Peninsula War which ended in 1814. Like in Italy, revolutionary fervor was not dead and Ferdinand was forced to sign a constitution in 1820, although his cousins in France helped him revoke the constitution a few years later. Ferdinand made a choice, under the influence of his wife, to end Salic Law in Spain (which was never absolute to begin with) in order to place his daughter, Isabella, on the Spanish throne rather than his tyrannical brother, Don Carlos. When Ferdinand died in 1833, Isabella II was only three and Don Carlos was angry. Isabella's regent issued a new constitution to win the support of the liberals. Don Carlos rallied Catalonia (north-eastern Spain) to his cause since the new constitution stripped the region of much of its autonomy. Don Carlos lost but his movement, known as the Carlists, continues in a much reduced form even today (despite the fact that the catalyst for the movement, the renunciation of Salic Law, has since been corrected).

Isabella II found her own problems once she became of age to rule. Isabella married her first cousin, Francisco de Asis, and her reign slowly became more autocratic. Finally, in 1868, she was forced to abdicate and a short-lived republic was formed. In 1875, the monarchy was restored under Isabella's son, Alfonso XII. Don Carlos took the opportunity to invade, but was defeated and resumed his exile. Alfonso was a much praised liberal king but died young in 1885. His son, Alfonso XIII, was born posthumously and caused a 19-year regency which took Spain into the 20th century. While Alfonso XIII managed to stay out of World War I, he supported the military coup of Maria Primo de Rivera and Spain was ruled by a dictator for seven years. A new wave of revolutions ended in Alfonso's deposition in 1930 and the establishment of a second Spanish republic. The Spanish Borbón line ended with the last king fleeing the country, although never formally abdicating his throne...
Juan Carlos, King of Spain
Just kidding, things actually did improve for the Spanish Borbóns but it took forty-five years to do it. The Spanish Civil War overthrew the Second Republic and threw Spain into the eager hands of Francisco Franco who would rule Spain until 1975. A son of Alfonso III's second son (his eldest being mentally disabled) was chosen by Franco to continue the Franco dictatorship when Franco died. Juan Carlos, however, was no dictator. Almost as soon as Franco died, Juan Carlos had begun the necessary work to transition the dictatorship into a democracy and the country released its new constitution in 1978 which recognized the restoration of the Spanish Borbóns to the Spanish throne. Today, Juan Carlos remains one of the few European monarchs to retain some political power, and the dynasty is expected to continue for many more generations since the number of Alfonso III's descendants alone is quite a few.
Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Up until this point, I've skipped mentioning the Capetian Luxembourg monarchs. There is a good reason for that: there have been only two! In 1919, Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg married Felix, the third son of Robert, the last Duke of Parma. When she voluntarily abdicated her throne in 1964, her son Jean became the first Capetian grand duke of Luxembourg (and the first Capetian duke of Luxembourg since the 1400s). Jean himself abdicated in 2000 to his son Henri who is now the second Capetian grand duke. The grand dukes of Luxembourg are rather powerless, much like the constitutional monarchs of other European states, but the title goes back nearly a millenia and the position is respected by all current and former royal circles. The Luxembourg Capetians are closely related to the Portuguese royal family.

The Spanish Borbóns, including those of Parma and Naples, are still very much in existence and, while only two of them may rule anything in Europe, the family is considered some of the best marriage stock. Ironically, many of the members of the family choose to marry each other rather than other royal families. Regardless, the family holds a highly prestigious place in European royal circles and is respected the world over for what its ancestors did and did not accomplish while kings.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Most That Once Was Has Passed, But Some Remain (Capet, Part III)

And as things have come and passed, so too has the great expanse of the Capetian empire. Not that the French truly had an empire (since they had no emperor) but over the years, the dynastic expanse of the House of Capet was definitely vast. Next week I plan to delve into the Spanish-Parma branch of the Capetian family which still rules Spain and Luxembourg today, but this week I feel it necessary to linger on those Capetian domains that are no longer controlled by them, and in most cases no longer exist, today. I mentioned quite a few of them in my previous post just to get their names out there, but today I will complete the task in the form of a sort of list. Behold, the many domains of Capet:
Duke Charles the Bold of Burgundy
The Duchy of Burgundy – Burgundy was perhaps the longest-held and most important of the Capetian landholdings since it bordered on France itself. Burgundy traveled in and out of the senior line a few times until finally falling into the House of Habsburg in the person of Philip the Handsome. The original members of the family who controlled Burgundy were not even Capetians! They were Robertians, younger sons of Hugh the Great, Hugh Capet's father. But their line died out early and the title went to France where it was passed to Robert II's second son, Robert. The family of Robert continued for many generations, gathering up small neighboring counties, duchies, etc. and generally just increasing in size and prestige. By the death of the last in the line, Philip I, Artois, Franche-Comté, Auvergne, and Boulogne (all in France) were all part of the duchy. A great re-distribution occurred following his death and Burgundy returned to France. John II of France gave the duchy to his fourth son, Philip II the Bold. When Philip the Bold married the heiress of Flanders, Burgundy exploded in size and quickly, through more marriages, gobbled up the County of Burgundy, Rethel, Nevers, Namur, Brabant, Limburg, Hainaut, Holland, Zeeland, Luxembourg, Guelders, and Zutphen. In other words, the entire Low Countries became a fief of the Duke of Burgundy. With much dread, the lands passed through the last duke, Charles the Bold's, daughter, Mary, to Philip the Handsome and out of Capetian hands forever...pretty much.
Emperor Peter I of Byzantium (Latin Empire)
The Empire of Byzantium (or the Latin Empire) – The Fourth Crusade was perhaps the most damaging event sponsored by the Papacy during the Middle Ages. While the previous Crusades had aimed at the Holy Land, the Fourth Crusade misfired and ended up sacking Constantinople itself, sending the various members of the imperial family fleeing for their lives into the surrounding Black Sea and Aegean regions. For around 60 years a "Latin", or rather Papal, Empire of Byzantium existed at Constantinople while the imperial princelings awaited their restoration. The first two Latin Emperors were not Capetians, but the third, who had married the sister of the first two, was elected emperor after the second died. He was the youngest son of Louis VI of France, Peter of Courtenay, and was crowned Latin Emperor at Rome by Pope Honorius III in 1217. He never actually made it to Constantinople, though, having been kidnapped and imprisoned by one of the aforementioned princelings and dying in prison. His two sons ruled the Empire in succession after him. Robert, the first son, ruled only seven years, most of them fighting just to get TO Constantinople. Once there, he was driven out by an angry gentleman from whom Robert had stolen his fiancée. He died during his flight in 1228. His brother, Baldwin II, proved to be the last acting Latin Emperor, losing his throne in 1261. Baldwin was a child of 11 when he ascended the throne and by the time he was 18, the Latin Empire encompassed little more than its capital city. He spent the majority of his adulthood seeking out allies to help him expand, and later reclaim, his empire.
King Charles I of Naples & Sicily
The Principality of Achaea – This little relic of Byzantine Venetia encompassed the entirety of the Peloponnese Peninsula in Greece and was also created from the mess caused by the Fourth Crusade. It was not intended in any way as a Capetian dominion but ended up one nonetheless. It was the expansive Charles I of Naples (see below) who obtained the region and kept it in the family for a surprising nine generations. Few of the rulers actually lived there, being based mostly in Italy, but it did act as a staging ground for a number of failed crusades. The claim to Achaea was never solid, there being a rival line from a female, but it did come and go quite frequently until the death of Charles II of Hungary, where after the title fell into disuse.

The Kingdoms of Naples & Sicily – Naples and Sicily, consisting generally of everything south of Rome in Italy, have been culturally and socially linked for millenia. Normans conquered the region in the early 1100s and turned it into two linked yet rivaling states. It soon fell under the dominion of the powerful Hohenstaufen family of Germany, Holy Roman Emperors with a penchant for arguing with popes. Pope Clement IV didn't like the Hohenstaufen king Manfred and quite liked the Capetian duke of Anjou Charles. In 1265 Clement crowned Charles king of Sicily and Charles took off on a whirlwind tour that saw the death of Manfred and the rise of one of the most powerful Capetians in Medieval history. Charles conquered Albania proclaiming himself king, conquered Naples and incorporated it into Sicily and purchased the kingdom of Jerusalem, although it later reverted to its old masters. Naples, the Italian peninsular side of the two kingdoms, remained in Capetian hands for almost two hundred years before falling to the Aragonese. Both Naples and Sicily would later be reunited to the Capetian dynasty through the Spanish-Parma branch.
King Louis I of Hungary & Poland
King & Saint Hedwig of Poland
The Kingdoms of Hungary & Poland – Hungary became an appendage of the Capetian dynasty for a short 86 years from 1300 until 1386. The claim to the throne was through Charles I of Hungary's mother, who was of the House of Árpád. Charles himself was a grandson of Charles II of Naples & Sicily (see above) through his son, Charles Martel, who pretended to Hungary for a number of years. It was a difficult challenge for Charles, who was Franco-Italian, to get a foothold in Hungary, which was primarily Magyar in culture and hostile to outsiders. The majority of his reign was spent appeasing and attacking various Hungarian holdings, largely in Wallachia and Transylvania (modern-day Romania). His son, Louis I the Great, was one of the most important kings of Eastern Europe in the 14th century. He consolidated his power in Hungary just in time to fight advances by the early Ottoman Empire in the south and the Golden Horde in the east. He was a soldier-king and was feared by many enemies in the east. In 1370, he succeeded to the Polish throne of his childless uncle, Casimir III. He fought against Bohemians, Lithuanians and Mongols to endear himself to the public. When he died, the personal union of Hungary and Poland ended with Hungary going to his eldest daughter, Mary, and Poland going to his second, Hedwig. Mary struggled as a child ruler and was briefly overthrown by the king of Naples before being restored with her husband, Sigismund of Luxembourg. She passed to the background of history then, with her husband ruling alone and eventually becoming the Holy Roman Emperor. Hedwig, meanwhile, was elected "king" of Poland and ruled for 15 years, eventually becoming a saint in the Catholic Church. She married the Grand Duke Jagaila of Lithuania which began the long personal union of the two neighbors. When Hedwig died in 1399, Jagaila ruled both regions for another 35 years and his son through another marriage inherited the personal union. Hungary left the Capetian family forever, but Poland would return once more in the form of Henry V, the brother of Francis II and Charles IX of France, who was elected king of Poland in 1573 only to abandon the throne the next year when he became king of France as Henry III.
Louis X of France & I of Navarre, receiving Jews at Court
The Kingdom of Navarre –Interestingly, Navarre is perhaps the oldest dominion in this list and certainly the smallest. At its height, Navarre encompassed the majority of the Pyrenees region of Spain and France, but the Capetians never really ruled it during its height. Navarre was a reconquista state, quite likely the oldest of them with origins in Visigoth Hispania, and it fell into the French royal family the first time in 1305 when Louis X of France's mother, Jeanne I of Navarre, died. It only stayed in the French royal family for three kings before Jeanne II, Louis X's daughter, was finally able to reclaim her birthright (her uncles stole the throne from her). Jeanne II renounced all claims to France and her hereditary French lands to keep her Navarrese throne, but managed it pretty well. Her husband, Philip III of Navarre, was also a Capetian, the grandson of Philip III of France. Navarre stayed in this family, called the House of Evereux because of Philip III's hereditary lands in France, for four generations until Queen Blanche, the last of the line, died. The throne then passed out of the family for a short time as John II of Aragon, Blanche's husband, took control. His son, Ferdinand II of Aragon (of Ferdinand & Isabella fame) forcibly took the southern majority of Navarre and annexed it to Aragon. The remaining portion passed to a minor Gasgan house before returning again to the Capetian dynasty in the form of the House of Bourbon with Henry III. In 1589, Henry III became the king of France as Henry IV and the kingdom of Navarre became an appendage in personal union with the kingdom of France.

It must be emphasized that this list is not all-exhausting; rather, it is a summary of the most important domains once held by Capetians. Other smaller regions, especially in France, remained in Capetian hands for generations or were inherited in-and-out of the family over multiple generations. The expanse of the family during the High Middle Ages was extremely uncommon with no other royal family really experiencing this flux until the Early Modern Era. The unfortunate fact that the family failed to retain most of their empire hints at the instability of this expanse. While it may have been fairly easy for an aspiring Medieval royal family to expand its domains, it took a great deal of patience, cooperation, regional acceptance, and power to maintain that power. The major failing of the Capetians was that they generally failed to maintain their foothold once they got it. One by one regions broke away, were inherited away, or were conquered by rivals, leaving the Capetians at the start of the 17th century with a much smaller dynastic empire than they could have claimed three centuries prior. However, the size of the French, Spanish and Portuguese empires were at their height at that time.

Next week we will delve deeper into the mysterious circumstances of the Spanish Capetians and their forays into Italy and their acquisition of Luxembourg. To Portugal after that!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Far-Reaching Effects of French Royal Sexual Practices, or Why the French Still Rule Europe (Capet, Part II)

Ah yes, my title entices you all to continue this journey into the heart of Capetia (no, that is not a real word...or IS it?). Last week I showed you the questionable and problematic start to perhaps the largest European dynasty in history; this week I will tell the rest of the story...minus the bits about Portugal and Spain and Luxembourg and Italy and Burgundy and, well, pretty much every place else. Oh, did I forget to say that I am planning THREE more posts about the Capetians after this? Yes, I forgot that they need a "Random Other Places They Ruled" post because they ruled a great many places. Today we will discuss the French royal throne and why there are so many branches of the family.

The House of Capet has two meanings in European history. While it can generally mean all those people descended from Hugues Capet, king of the Franks, it also has a more typical meaning: the early Capetian dynasty in France. The family never went extinct in the male line, but historians have used specific years to separate the French monarchy into periods. Now don't get confused, periods are historical constructs and rarely have any actual purpose other than to divide up history into easier-to-remember segments. From 987 until 1792 and from 1814 until 1848, the French monarchy was ruled by a Capetian monarch. Period! What historians have done is separate this period into multiple ones. They did this for YOU, the learner. Here are the major periods in French dynastic history:

Merovingians (c. 457 until 752)
Carolingian (752 until 987)
Capetian (House of Capet) (987 until 1328)
Valois (House of Capet-Valois) (1328 until 1589)
– Senior Valois (1328 until 1498)
- Orléans (1498 until 1515)
– Angoulême (1515 until 1589
Bourbon (House of Capet-Bourbon) (1589 until 1792, 1814 until 1848)
– Senior Bourbon (1589 until 1792, 1814 until 1830)
– Orléans (1830 until 1848)
Napoleonic (1804 until 1815, 1852 until 1870)

Saint Louis IX, King of France
Thus we continue our story with the House of Capet, the first ruling house of the Capetian dynasty in France. Hugh ruled for a short nine years and was succeeded by his son, Robert II, who through his name solidified his great-grandfather, Robert I's, reign in West Francia. A steady progression of father-son succession began and continued unbroken until the death of Jean I in 1316.During that time of 300 years, France reasserted itself as a crusading nation. It established a cadet family in the County of Portugal which broke off and became an independent kingdom. A century later, the Crusades helped elevate three members of the Capetian dynasty to the throne of Byzantium during the Latin Empire period. France continued this pattern, sending Philip Augustus and Saint Louis IX off to war and impoverishing the nation. Philip III successfully married his son into the royal family of Navarre, a former crusader state in northern Spain. A generation later, the Navarre line died out and was inherited by Philip IV of France. The French retained the title until the line split in 1328. Meanwhile, a son of Louis VIII the Lion had gained the thrones of Sicily and Naples in southern Italy, beginning a long legacy of French influence there. All-in-all, things were going well for France. They had asserted themselves regionally, set themselves up for praise by the Catholic Church, and reclaimed the majority of France from those who had gained much in previous centuries, namely the Norman kings of England. Inevitably, a time of troubles was brewing.

France, or rather the Franks, had a long tradition of Salic Law (male-line succession). Yet things had been going so well for the past four hundred years that some had forgotten or disregarded old laws. When Louis X and his infant son, Jean I, died in 1316, the throne passed without problem to Philip V and then Charles IV, both brothers of Louis. However, when Charles died in 1328 without a male heir, things got complicated. There was no obvious heir: Louis X had a daughter, Jeanne, who had the seniority card; Louis had a sister, Isabella, who had the eldest-child card; and Louis had a cousin, Philip, who had the next male-heir card. A compromise was made: Jeanne gets Navarre (since inheritance law there said she should have had it already), Philip gets France (since he was the next Salic heir), and Isabella gets nothing. Isabella didn't like this and neither did her son, Edward III of England, who considered himself Isabella's heir and the legal king of France. So started the Hundred Years War which lasted from 1337 until 1453 (yes, it took a few years for Edward to finally declare war). England pulled a near-complete victory in retaking France, conquering one-by-one each county and duchy of France with the help of Burgundy (Belgium & Netherlands). Henry VI of England was even crowned king in Paris as Henri II! But the tides began to turn with the help of Joan of Arc, and by 1453 Charles VII was finally sovereign of a single unified France. England, meanwhile, fell into the War of the Roses.
Genealogy of the Hundred Years War, circa 1328

Charles VII the Victorious
The House of Valois was the name given to this dynasty and it continued the Capetian tradition of dynastic expansion. From the very beginning, it spread its tentacles across France and Europe. Members of the dynasty were dukes in Anjou, Burgundy, Brabant, Nevers, and Alençon. Burgundy was by far the most important Valois holding outside of France.The dynasty ruled until 1498 when Charles VIII died. The line passed to a cadet line known often as Valois-Orléans which only had one monarch: Louis XII. It then passed to a cadet line of Valois-Orléans known as Valois-Angoulême which ruled France for another seventy years. This house is fairly well known because of its interplay with the House of Tudor and Stewart in England and Scotland. But it was an unfortunate house. Francis II was poised to become a powerful king of France, ruling in personal union with the Queen Mary of Scotland, but died only a year into his reign. His brother, Charles IX, experienced the start of religious wars in France. Henry III, who reigned in Poland-Lithuania for two years before becoming king of France, continued these wars but with increasing pessimism. Henry III of Navarre, Salic heir to France, was fighting for the Protestant Huguenots while Henry, Duke of Guise, was fighting for the Catholic League. King Henry was torn between peace and Catholic pride and it eventually killed him, ending the Valois dynasty.
Louis XIV the Sun King with his son, Louis the Grand Dauphin, grandson, Louis le Petit Dauphin, and great-grandson, later Louis XV of France.

The House of Bourbon arose from the ashes of the religious wars. It descends from the second son of Saint Louis and passed through many of its own cadet lines before one branch took the French throne. It is now the only legitimate branch of the once-vast Capetian dynasty but still has representatives spread across Europe today. Henry III of Navarre became king of France with the compromise that "Paris is worth a mass." His son and grandson turned the French monarchy from a mess of regional laws and religions into a solid Catholic absolute state. Louis XIV the Sun King centralized the French bureaucracy and became a leader in religious wars in the 16- and 1700s. He also became the major protagonist against England and the Netherlands in the Balance of Power in Europe. Louis married a Spanish Habsburg princess and managed to get his grandson placed on the throne of Spain in 1701, although the resulting War of the Spanish Succession stripped his son of many attached domains, especially in Italy. French Navarre was also finally annexed to the French crown, having been brought back into the family by Henry IV's mother. When the Sun King died, his great-grandson inherited the throne, although nearly a decade of regency under Duke Philip II of Orléans passed before Louis XV took power. By the late reign of Louis XVI, France had grown tired of the totalitarian regime of its masters and rebelled, prompting the French Revolution, the beheading and/or death of the immediate royal family, and the elevation of Napoleon Bonaparte, a military general, to the throne as emperor. Twenty-three years transpired between the death of Louis XVI and the restoration of Louis XVIII (Louis XVII having been the uncrowned son of the beheaded Louis XVI).

Louis XVIII should have been more grateful for his restoration, but almost immediately returned to his ancestor's ways. Charles X, his brother, did likewise and the people rebelled a second time, overthrowing the Bourbon monarchs in favor of the Duke of Orléans, a descendant of Louis XV's regent, Duke Philip. The July Revolution (or Revolution of 1830) placed King Louis-Philippe and the House of Orléans on the throne, but even Louis-Philippe wasn't able to avoid his family's habits. Tired and sick of Capetians altogether, the French revolted a third time and dissolved the Capetian monarchy once and for all in the Revolution 1848. With no monarch, Napoleon III, nephew of the first Napoleon, took over France in a coup d'etat in 1852 and ruled for nearly two decades until the Prussians forced his abdication in 1870. The following year, the French considered returning to the Capetians for a king once more in the person of Henry, Duke of Chambord, who was an infant at his grandfather's abdication in 1830. But Henry's impulsive demand that the tri-colored flag of the French Revolution be replaced with the fleur de lis flag of his house ended any further thought of restoration. The Capetian dynasty in France was at an end.
Henri VII, Unionist Claimant to France since 1999
Since 1871, there have been few strong cries for a restored monarchy, although many people are not against the idea. There are two rival lines to the French throne, although only one is accepted by the French. The Legitimist line descends from the Sun King's grandson who inherited Spain, and thus the claimants are Spanish citizens and therefore barred by French law. The other line descends from King Louis-Philippe, whose members have remained French citizens since the time of the king's abdication. The current Unionist claimant is Henri, Count of Paris, who if crowned would be Henri VII of France (since the family would continue numbering claimants that did not reign).


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