England's Bouts of Duality
Let's start this little survey with a look at what Britain has controlled off-and-on throughout its existence. I've already mentioned two so let's chalk them up:
|William III, King of England|
& Stadtholder of the Netherlands
- The Kingdoms of England, Scotland & Ireland, et al. with The United Provinces of the Netherlands (1689 – 1702)
- Ruler: King William III who was also Stadtholder of the Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders & Overijssel (most of the Netherlands)
- The Dutch Estates General ruled the Netherlands in his stead
- The English Privy Council ruled Britain in his stead
- How'd it start: William III conquered England (sort of) and deposed his father-in-law, thereby taking the crown. He was already stadtholder at the time.
- Fate: Died leaving England in the hands of his sister-in-law Anne and Netherlands in the hands of nobody in particular
- The Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland, et al. with The Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Electorate of Brunswick (1714 – 1803, 1813 – 1832)
- Rulers: Kings George I, George II, George III, George IV, and William IV who were also hereditary rulers of the region immediately around Hanover in Germany
- The English Privy Council, the Queen, and/or the Prince of Wales ruled Britain in their stead
- The Hanoverian Regency and/or the Prince of Wales ruled Hanover in their stead
- Communication was via a special agency unaffiliated with the British government
- How'd it start: To avoid another Catholic monarch, the British monarchy went to their 52nd choice in the line of succession: an elderly granddaughter of James I. She died and her German son inherited Britain.
- The Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland became the United Kingdom in 1801
- The Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg became the Kingdom of Hanover in 1814
- Fate: Separate succession laws left Britain in the hands of Queen Victoria and Hanover in the hands of King Ernest Augustus
|Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg. Note: Bremen, Verden, Osnabrück, and|
Lauenburg were also all dynastic unions. Brunswick -Wolfenbüttel was
a separate possession of a younger branch of the House of Este-Welf.
These are rather late additions, so let's step back into time and see what other dynastic unions existed. Two have already been implied though not mentioned:
- The Kingdom of England with The Kingdom of Ireland (1542 – 1651, 1659 – 1801)
- Rulers: All English monarchs from Henry VIII onwards until 1801
- The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland ruled in their stead
- How'd it start: The Kingdom of Ireland replaced the semi-sovereign and often autonomous Lordship of Ireland which was also presided over by the Lord Lieutenant. Ireland had been partially conquered by Normans in the 12th century and Henry VIII finished the job...mostly.
- Fate: Ireland had little independence in the union and Great Britain and Ireland finally formed a constitutional union in 1801
|The Royal Standard of the United Kingdom|
(Note: First and Fourth quarters represent England, the
second represents Scotland, and the third Ireland.)
- The Kingdoms of England & Ireland with The Kingdom of Scotland (1603 – 1651, 1660 – 1707)
- Rulers: All English monarchs from James I onwards until 1707
- The Scottish Parliament and Privy Council ruled in their stead
- How'd it start: Elizabeth I died leaving three possible heirs: the most senior—the Scottish king—or one of two squabbling heiresses who broke the queen's rules. She went with the Scotsman.
- Fate: Scotland attempted to end the union but failed and were forced to enter into a constitutional union in 1707
There are dozens of other unions England had with other states throughout its medieval history. Most of these territories were in France. While England very briefly claimed true control over the French throne in the 15th century, I will gloss over that to focus on two other historically more important territories that England once controlled:
|Map of France in 1154. Normandy is the pink bit in|
the north. Aquitaine is the large peach part in the
middle and south. Note: Brittany (orange on left)
and Anjou (center red) were also dynastic unions.
- The Kingdom of England with The Duchy of Normandy (1066 – 1087, 1106 – 1144, 1150 – 1204 [– Present])
- Rulers: William I, Henry I, Stephen, Henry II, Richard I and John
- A regent and/or Lord Lieutenant ruled Normandy in their stead
- How'd it start: William I of Normandy invaded England and killed his predecessor, Harold II, and deposed the upstart, Edgar II.
- Fate: Conflict with France over sovereignty in Normandy resulted in the French confiscation of Normandy in 1204.
- Today: The Channel Islands, primarily Guernsey and Jersey, remain Crown Dependencies under the name "Duchy of Normandy" and are the last remnant of the once-great duchy. These islands are not a part of the United Kingdom though are administered by it. The Lieutenant Governor of each set of islands rules in the monarch's stead.
- The Kingdom of England with The Duchy of Aquitaine ( 1204 – 1362)
- Rulers: Technically, Eleanor of Aquitaine ruled until 1204, but her husband, Henry II, and sons, Richard I and John, both ruled in her stead many times. Henry III, Edward I, Edward II, and Edward III also ruled.
- A Regent ruled in their stead.
- How'd it start: Henry II married the Aquaitaine duchess, Eleanor, and took her lands for his own.
- Fate: The French got fed up with England not respecting them, so reclaimed their fief. England countered by claiming the French crown. So began the Hundred Years' War. Neither side really could claim the title after that.
Finally, just as a fun aside, the British monarch is still technically in one last dynastic union (not counting the Commonwealth countries) with a tiny little island sitting in the Irish Sea:
|The Kingdom of Mann was|
once much larger and included
the Western Isles of Scotland
- The Kingdom of England with The Lordship of Mann (1765 – Present)
- Rulers: Every British monarch since George III
- A Lieutenant Governor rules in their stead
- How'd it start: In 1399, Henry IV conquered the Kingdom of Mann from its hereditary ruler. It had previously alternated between Norwegian, Scottish, and English control for centuries. It fell into the Stanley family and, in 1504, they renounced the title "King" in favor of "Lord". In 1765, the Baroness Strange sold the title back to the English crown.
- Fate: Today, the monarch of the United Kingdom is also, separately, the Lord of Mann. It is administered separately as with the Channel Islands (see Duchy of Normandy).
More Problems than an Oversized Chin
The Habsburgs of Austria had their own divided monarchy that, at times, remained divided for long periods of time, but every once in a while, they would recombined to become truly behemoth political entities that would span the breath of Europe. Three long-term unions and one amazingly brief union created a Habsburg empire that still boggles modern minds.
- The Archduchy of Austria with The Kingdoms of Bohemia & Hungary (1438 – 1918)
- Rulers: Various Habsburg monarchs until 1918
- The Habsburg monarchs ruled Bohemia through various means, but rarely directly
- How'd it start: Albert married the daughter of the previous king of both Bohemia and Hungary. He was crowned king of Hungary in 1438 and Bohemia six months later, but never ruled in the latter. The Habsburgs did not firmly establish themselves in either until 1526.
- Fate: Hungary remained a part of Austria-Hungary until 1918 and the monarchy was officially ended on 1921. Bohemia was incorporated into the Austrian Empire in 1806 and became crown land in 1867. It later became half of Czechoslovakia after World War I.
|Map of the Ethnic Composition of Austria-Hungary in 1910. Note: Only Austria, Hungary and Bohemia were legal|
dynastic unions. Bosnia, Croatia, Dalmatia, Transylvania, Galicia, and Moravia were all artificial monarchies.
|Map of the Iberian Peninsula, 1570. Note: Galicia (top left),|
Aragon (top right), and Cordoba (bottom center) were all
in dynastic unions with Castile (Spain) during this period.
- The Kingdom of Spain with The Kingdom of Portugal (1560 – 1640)
- Rulers: Philip II of Spain, Philip III and Philip IV
- A Viceroy of Portugal ruled in their stead
- How'd it start: The last obvious heir to the Portuguese throne died leaving it vacant with the Spanish monarch, Philip II, in a prime dynastic, political, and military position to claim it.
- Fate: Fed up with Spanish domination of politics and an obvious loss of their overseas empire, Portuguese revolutionaries deposed Philip IV and installed a native king.
|A Map of the Burgundian Inheritance. The lands|
dynastically unified to Spain in the Low Countries
were vast and spanned seven modern countries.
- The Kingdom of Spain with The Duchy of Burgundy (1516 – 1555)
- Ruler: Charles I of Spain, also known as Holy Roman Emperor Charles V
- Many different methods were used to rule his empire
- How'd it start: First off, this dynastic union appears very mediocre for all the hype, so let's explain. The Kingdom of Spain at this time did not just include what we think of today as Spain. It also included all of Italy south of Rome and Sicily. He inherited all of this from his mom, though technically she was still alive until 1555. Next, Burgundy refers to a large area that today includes Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of Germany and France. It was on par in side to Portugal but with much more valuable land. He inherited this lot from his dad, Philip the Handsome, in 1506. In addition, Charles was also an Archduke of Austria, was elected Holy Roman Emperor (which technically means he was King of Italy and Germany), and he also ruled over all the new Spanish possessions overseas. So in literal size, his empire was quite large for a European monarch.
- Fate: Inevitably, he tired of ruling such a large empire. He actually abdicated two years before his death. Spain, Italy, and Burgundy he left to his son, Philip II. The Holy Roman Empire he left to his brother, Ferdinand I.
Danes Among Us
Denmark has led a long history of dual monarchy. Stationed on the small peninsula that divides the North Sea from the Baltic Sea, it is in prime position to claim both the fjords of Norway and Sweden and the flats of Germany. And claim them it did, though not without significant resistance. Two long dynastic unions proved that a small country could still play it large.
- The Kingdom of Denmark with The Kingdoms of Sweden & Norway (1397 – 1523)
- Rulers: Margaret, Erik, Christopher III, Christian I, John and Christian II
- Sweden and Norway maintained regencies in their stead (and sometimes against them)
- How'd it start: Queen Margaret I of Denmark married King Haakon VI of Norway and their son, Olaf III, became king of both in 1380. In 1389, Margaret united Sweden to Denmark and in 1396, Erik of Pomerania was elected the first king of all three realms. The union was formalized the next year via the Treaty of Kalmar.
- Fate: Almost immediately, the Swedes came into conflict with the Danes over Danish wars in northern Germany. Sweden elected an anti-king, Charles VIII, who was deposed and restored numerous times. Eventually Sweden would elect Gustav Vasa as king and secede from the union permanently, only to become involved in their own German wars.
- The Kingdom of Denmark with The Kingdom of Norway (1536 – 1816)
- Rulers: All kings of Denmark until 1816
- Norway maintained a regency in their stead
- How'd it start: With the fall of the Kalmar Union (see above), Denmark retained Norway, though not without a fight. Denmark's dynastic claim over Norway was stronger, and Norway was unable to resist Danish domination to the same degree as Sweden.
- Fate: Norway was traded to Sweden following the Napoleonic Wars and, after a brief war between Norway and Sweden, the two countries entered into their own dynastic union that lasted until 1905, when Norway finally became an sovereign kingdom once more.
Poling your Weight Around
Poland, too, was the senior partner in a long dynastic union. While Poland jumped in and out of other unions throughout its history, it's union with one partner withstood the test of time.
|The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 1618. The sheer size of this dynastic|
union is unbelievable. Livonia (gray), Courland (greenish), and Prussia (peach)
were vassal states of Poland-Lithuania but not in dynastic union with it.
- The Kingdom of Poland with The Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1382 – 1795)
- Rulers: All kings of Poland until the dissolution of the monarchy in 1795
- It is unknown how these monarchs ruled both realms
- How'd it start: Grand Duke Ladislas II of Lithuania married "King" Hedwig of Poland. When she died, Ladislas became ruler of both.
- Fate: Sigismund II constitutionally unified the two lands in 1572, though both retained autonomy. The monarchy became elective after that date, though it stayed in the Vasa family of Sweden for many generations. The entire monarchy fell apart in the French Revolutionary Wars and its fractions were given to Russia, Prussia and Austria.
Almost every monarchic state in Europe at one time or another controlled another state. France was often the largest player, but its attachments were almost always geographically close to France and also geographically smaller. Spain ruled vast lands around the Mediterranean for many years, including much of southern Italy. Sweden and Denmark both had their hands on significant lands in Northern Germany for awhile. In the end, most dynastic unions have to come to an end. The junior partner either joins the senior partner in a constitutional union or the two separate permanently. Today, quasi-states such as Mann and the Channel Islands are exceptions rather than the rule.
Attempts to force dynastic unions, such as that of the Austrian Netherlands (Belgium) and United Provinces (Netherlands) after the Napoleonic Wars, generally fail. The Prussian and Sardinian technique of blatant conquest and monarchic overthrow, such as in the unifications of Germany and Italy, seem to work better. The other technique, largely used by France and Spain, of slowly marrying into title-holding families and inheriting the titles also works better.
Nonetheless, throughout history most monarchies have experienced periods of dynastic union and it is an interesting, albeit often overlooked, aspect of nation-building that I find absolutely riveting.