Orleans Redux: Who is the real Legitimist?

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Prologue

While one might call me an Orleanist for the sake of simplicity, I prefer to think of my self as a legitimist. This may sound like a contradiction, but it isn’t, and the this post explains why.

What is Legitimism?

The dictionaries differ as the definition of legitimism. Oxford’s online dictionary defines legitimism as the support of a ruler based on direct descent. Google has the same definition. Webster’s, however, defines the term as “adherence to the principles of political legitimacy or to a person claiming legitimacy.” Dictionary.com uses a mixture of both.

The website Russian Legitimist defines the term as “the notion that the laws of a dynasty or a kingdom determine the identity of the rightful king.”

Let’s examine the etymology of the word to give us a clue. Legitimism, like the word legitimate, is derived from the Latin legitimus, meaning ‘lawful.’

Based on the etymology of the word, it seems that Russian Legitimist and Webster’s appear to be on to something.

It’s not to say that the other definitions are wrong, but merely incomplete, missing a crucial piece of information. That piece of information being the law.

Let’s look at the Spanish legitimist movement: Carlism. In Bourbon Spain, prior to 1830, Spain used semi-Salic law. This generally meant succession to males in the male line.

Ferdinand VII had no issue (but his wife was pregnant with the future Isabella II) in 1830 and issued the Pragmatic Sanction of 1830, which ratified a 1789 proposed change to the rules of succession, restoring the pre-Salic system used in Habsburg Spain. This meant that Isabella, born later that year, was next in line to the throne.

Infante Carlos naturally felt deprived of his rights. From his point of view, that was clearly the case. There was nothing ‘pragmatic’ about the Pragmatic Sanction. Ferdinand had a perfectly good brother ready to take the throne. After Ferdinand died in 1833, this set off the First Carlist War.

Infante_don_Carlos,_by_Vicente_Lopez

Infante Carlos, Carlist Pretender to the Throne of Spain

The Carlist cause was based not direct descent. Based purely on direct descent, Isabella had a better claim since she was the eldest child of the previous king. The Carlist cause was in support of the traditional legal system, semi-Salic law. The Carlist question was a legal question, not one of mere descent.

Based on the etymology and the historical example of Carlism, it appears that Russian Legitimist is right. Legitimism is about law, not just descent. In other words, the laws determine the legitimate successor.

Laws of France

The laws of succession vary by country. In addition to Salic law, France developed a custom that the king must be French:

Common sense requires that princes of the blood who have become foreigners be excluded from the throne just as the male descendants of princesses. The exclusion of both is in the spirit of the fundamental custom, which overlooks the royal blood in princesses only to prevent the scepter from falling in foreign hands.

It is understood that this law became established after the Hundred Years’ War to make the English claim to the throne of France even more illegitimate. The war started when Queen Mother Isabella (the She-Wolf of France) claimed the French throne on behalf of her Son, Edward III. The claim was invalid based on Salic law, but that didn’t stop the English from invading.

Let us be clear, being foreign does not, in and of itself, make one ineligible to the throne of France. The law merely requires that one be French, regardless of other nationality, foreign titles, or holdings.

Further (ibid):

A Frenchman lost his nationality if he left France and settled abroad “sans esprit de retour” without intent of returning. Since the early 16th c. at least, French nationality was based on jus soli and jus sanguinis: it was not enough to be of French blood, one had to reside in France.

While there was never a case of a claimant denied the throne because he wasn’t French (because such a thing hasn’t happened since the 16th century), that doesn’t make it any less a law.

Further, there is only one example of a foreigner taking the throne of France since the 16th century, and that is Henri IV, who was King of Navarre. It should be noted that Henri resided in France and participated in French politics. He even ruled Navarre from France. Thus, he never gave up his French nationality.

Ineligibility of the Spanish Bourbons to the throne of France

When Philip, Duke of Anjou became King of Spain, he left France with no intention of returning. He and his successors were thus removed from the line of succession.

The Court of Blois later ruled that: “one must deem that the duc d’Anjou, in accepting the royal crown of Spain, and settling permanently in that country as an inevitable consequence of his accession to that throne, has lost the French nationality.”

Unsurprisingly, after the death of Comte de Chambord, most French legitimists supported Prince Philippe, Comte de Paris as the rightful king. This was because they understood that the Spanish Bourbons were Spanish and not French.

legitimist division

From the Wikipedia page of Henri, Count of Chambord

A few thoughts on the July Monarchy

It was illegitimate.

It was rubbish. Next.

Conclusion

Legitimism is the idea that the laws of realm determine its rightful king. It is a movement based on legal traditions, not just of descent.

The traditional laws of the Kingdom of France make the Spanish Bourbons ineligible to take the throne of France.

Therefore, the rightful legitimist claimant to the throne of France is Henri d’Orleans, Comte de Paris.

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The Case for Henri d’Orleans

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If you google “who is the rightful King of France,” you will undoubtedly have Louis-Alphonse de Bourbon as your first, and likely only, result. Likewise, many sites erroneously state the false “Duke of Anjou” as France’s rightful head of state.

But for people who study the issue, and for most French Royalists, the answer to the above question is not Louis-Alphonse, but Henri d’Orleans, Count of Paris.

Origin of the dispute

The origin goes back to the War of Spanish Succession. Charles II of Spain, the country’s last Habsburg ruler, died without issue. In his will, he named Philip, Duke of Anjou as his successor.

The Habsburgs, who ruled the Holy Roman Empire (i.e. most of the German states/central Europe), were naturally angered. They saw Spain as theirs, so they declared war on France and Philip’s Spain.

Britain, likewise, did not fancy the possibility of Spain and France being united behind a single monarch in the future. Thus, they declared war on France and Philip’s Spain.

This is where the Peace of Utrecht comes in. Philip V of Spain agreed to renounce his claim to the throne of France, and Louis XIV accepted the renunciation.

There is, however, one tiny hiccup: The Fundamental Laws of French succession don’t allow the King to change the order of succession. So, is Utrecht valid?

The validity of the Peace of Utrecht

Yes, Utrecht is valid.

The first duty of the King is the protection and security of the realm. Surely everyone can agree to this.

While France and Philip were winning the war, France’s estimated casualties were between 115,000 and 140,000 men, far more than any other state in the war. Was Louis XIV supposed to just say ‘screw it’ and risk the lives of more Frenchmen when the road to a perfectly amicable and desirable peace was right in front of him? Of course not! To say so would not only be lunatic but downright immoral! The cost of the war was an estimated 400,000 to 700,000 dead!

Louis XIV accepted Philip’s renunciation in a good faith attempt to protect and secure France. The War of Succession constituted a force majeure. Protecting France was a higher priority than respecting the laws of succession. Therefore, the provisions of Utrecht supersede laws of succession.

Keep in mind, this doesn’t render the Fundamental Laws null and void, but was merely a temporary adjustment because of a force majeure. Therefore, despite the change in the order of succession, the Fundamental Laws remain intact and valid.

This is why, when the last French Bourbon, the Count of Chambord, died without issue, most Royalists turned to the House of Orleans in the person of Philippe, Count of Paris. That is why today, most French Royalists support Philippe’s descendant–Henri d’Orleans, Count of Paris–as the rightful King of France.

Don Louis’s disqualifications

With Philip V of Spain’s renunciation being valid, Philip’s descendants lost all rights to the French throne. That should go without question. Therefore, Louis-Alphonse is simply not in the line of succession to the French Throne.

Furthermore, the Spanish Bourbons are not French. They stopped being French the moment Philip V’s renunciation was accepted and the Peace of Utrecht was entered into the National Register of France.

A foreigner cannot become King of France. This has been a rule since at least the 16th century:

Charles Dumoulin, the greatest French jurist of the 16th c., wrote in his Coutumes de Paris (1576 edition): “Le bon sens exige que les princes du sang, devenus étrangers soient écartés du trône au même titre que les descendants mâles des princesses. L’exclusion des uns et des autres est dans l’esprit de la coutume fondamentale qui ne méconnaît le sang royal dans les princesses que pour ne jamais laisser le sceptre aux étrangers.” (Common sense requires that princes of the blood who have become foreigners be excluded from the throne just as the male descendants of princesses. The exclusion of both is in the spirit of the fundamental custom, which overlooks the royal blood in princesses only to prevent the scepter from falling in foreign hands. Note: this is the text cited by Coutant de Saisseval La Légitimité monarchique, but I have been so far unable to locate the source of this citation.)

Louis-Alphonse is not a French prince. He is, first and foremost, a Spaniard. Further, the Spanish Bourbons left France with no intention of returning. Therefore, according to the laws of France at the time, they would have likewise been considered foreigners even if the Peace of Utrecht were considered invalid.

While it is true that Louis-Alphonse has French citizenship through his grandmother, this does not magically restore him to the line of succession to the French throne. Because of Salic law (the main purpose of which was to keep foreigners from ruling France), only the male line is used to determine succession. And even if Salic law weren’t used, the Spanish Bourbons had already been removed from the line of succession because of their foreignness prior to their marriage to a French woman.

Therefore, once again, the Royal House of France is the House of Orleans, and the heir if the Bourbon Monarchy survives in the person Henri d’Orleans, Comte de Paris.