Arrêt Le Maistre: The French Question

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Original French

Here we have an English translation of Arrêt Le Maistre of 1593:

JUDGMENT of the sitting parliament in Paris which annulls all treaties made or to be made which would call to the throne of France a foreign prince or princess, as contrary to the salic law and other fundamental times of the state.

Paris, June 28, 1593

The court, on the above remonstrance made to the Court by the Attorney General of the King and the subject matter of deliberation, said court, all the assembled chambers, having, as it never had other intention other than to maintain the catholic, apostolic and roman religion and the state and crown of France, under the protection of a good king very Christian, catholic and French,

Ordered and ordered that remonstrances will be made this afternoon by Master Jean Lemaistre President, assisted by a good number of advisers in the said court, to the Duke of Mayenne, Lieutenant General of the State and Crown of France, in the presence of the princes and officers of the crown, now being in this city, that no treaty be made to transfer the crown into the hands of prince or princess foreigners;

That the fundamental laws of this kingdom be kept and the judgments given by the said court for the declaration of a Catholic and French king executed; and that it is necessary to employ the authority which has been committed to him to prevent that, under pretext of religion, be transferred in foreign hands against the laws of the kingdom; and to provide as quickly as possible for rest at the relief of the people, for the extreme necessity in which it is reduced; and yet, at the present time, said court declares all treaties made and to be made hereafter for the establishment of null foreign prince and princess and of effect and value, as done to the prejudice of the Salic law and other fundamental laws of the state. [Emphasis added]

Basic Background

Henri IV of France

Henri IV, a Protestant, became the nominal King of France.

Many Catholics naturally opposed having a Protestant king. Thus many supported other claimants. One being Infante Isabella.

Unable to win militarily, Henri announced his intent to convert to the Catholic faith. The Parlement of Paris then issued the aforementioned judgment. [Note: the Parlement was a judicial body, not a legislative one.]

Analysis

Four times the judgment states the crown is not to be given to foreigners (or to that effect). Twice the judgment describes the king as French. Salic law is mentioned twice, and the fundamental laws (or times) are mentioned thrice.

Clearly, the main objection to Isabella and the other claimants was that they were foreign.

Notice also the preamble:

JUDGMENT of the sitting parliament in Paris which annulls all treaties made or to be made which would call to the throne of France a foreign prince or princess, as contrary to the salic law and other fundamental times of the state.

The phrase “as contrary” clearly indicates a belief that foreigners were already to be excluded from the throne by the fundamental laws.

Take another look at the final paragraph of the judgment:

That the fundamental laws of this kingdom be kept and the judgments given by the said court for the declaration of a Catholic and French king executed; and that it is necessary to employ the authority which has been committed to him to prevent that, under pretext of religion, be transferred in foreign hands against the laws of the kingdom

The phrase “against the laws of the kingdom” once again indicates that it was already contrary to the fundamental laws to give the crown to a foreigner.

Was Henri IV a foreigner?

No*. Despite being born in (and being King of) Navarre, Henri was not a foreigner. He was the son of a French Peer, Antoine de Bourbon, who participated in French politics.

[While one might describe him as a foreigner in the since that he was King of Navarre (as the Anjouists love to point out and say it disproved the point entirely) Henri was not foreign in the context used in Le Maistre. Foreign titles and nationality has nothing to do with this. What matters is whether the person in question is French.]

Henri, likewise, participated in French politics. Never did Henri or his father leave France with no intention of returning. In fact, both died in France. Thus, neither ever became a foreigner.

It is clear, then, that the fundamental laws require the king to be a Frenchman.

What is a Frenchman?

This may seem like an easy question, but it isn’t. Many people believe, as I do, that there is something more to what is commonly called “nationality” than a legal status.

In a purely legal sense, anyone can potentially become a “national” or “citizen” of another country. But let’s face reality: Plopping a German in the middle of Paris and proclaiming him a French citizen does not make him a Frenchman by his nature. His nature is, and always will be, German.

There is something that transcends the legal qualifications of nationality. Each nation has its own culture, its own spirit (for lack of a better term). A German simply would not possess the French spirit. Thus, by his nature, he is a German.

This is why I, and many others, will never consider the Spanish Bourbons to be French (even if Luis Alfonso de Borbón has French citizenship through his grandmother). The Spanish Bourbons stopped being French years ago.

Legally, a person lost their French nationality upon leaving France with no intention of returning.

In 1883, after the death of the Comte de Chambord (de jure Henri V), the Count of Montizón became the senior agnate of the House of Bourbon.

But Don Juan, Count of Montizón was a Spaniard, not a Frenchman. Don Juan was the great-great-grandson of Philip V of Spain. Don Juan was the result of multiple generations of Spaniards. Don Juan, and his direct ancestors, were raised in Spain. Don Juan was of the Spanish spirit, not of the French spirit. He was not, in any any sense of the word, a Frenchman.

Don Juan was likely the rightful King of Spain, but he had no right to the throne of France.

How rigid is the Unavailability (inalienability) of the Crown?

One of the fundamental laws is the Unavailability of the Crown – the idea that the crown is not the property of the King or anyone else. This generally means that abdications, renunciations, and arbitrary attempts to change the line of succession are void. Hence the debate over Utrecht, which I’m not getting into in this post.

Those who believe in succession based on the fundamental laws tend to hold this rule as very rigid. Anjouists (supporters of Don Luis) hold it as so rigid that they believe the Peace of Utrecht to be void.

This is clearly why Anjouists deny that there is a requirement that the king be a Frenchman. Otherwise, their candidate (Don Luis) would be illegitimate. It is their interpretation that the king simply be of male descent from the Royal House of France. Thus, they view patrilineal descendants of Philip V as automatically “French.”

I, and many others, find this line of thinking absurd. The Spanish Bourbons are not of the French spirit, nor have they been for several generations.

But, as I’ve stated, the Anjouist line of thinking is necessary for their cause.

The rigidity of the unavailability rule means that once the right of succession is lost, it cannot be regained because such a restoration would constitute an arbitrary change in the order of succession. In other words, the Spanish Bourbons are permanently outside the line of succession to the French throne.

To put the Spanish Bourbons ahead of the French Orleans would be a usurpation, the same crime committed by Louis-Philippe, the illegitimate “King of the French.”

Thus, it doesn’t matter that Don Luis has French citizenship through his grandmother. Firstly, he is not of the French spirit. Secondly, the Spanish Bourbons are permanently outside the line of succession because of the Unavailability of the Crown.

The Count of Paris, therefore, is the rightful King of France, the de jure Henri VII.

HRH Prince Henri, Count of Paris, de jure Henri VII

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Prince Jean is NOT the Dauphin!

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There is a problematic dispute within the French Royal Family about who is the rightful Dauphin (crown prince) of France.

Prince Jean claims that he is the rightful Dauphin. His father, the Count of Paris, disagrees and says his eldest son, Francis, is the Dauphin.

Francis’s Wikipedia page, however, states that Jean is Dauphin (without citation).

But, if you go to the Count of Paris’s page, it says that Francis is heir.

The blog of the Royal Family also recognises Francis as heir, placing him right below Henri VII, Comte de Paris (scroll to the bottom of the page).

The Fundamental Laws of Succession are clear: inalienability of the crown. The king cannot regulate or change the order of succession unless there is some force majeure, something that would supersede the laws of succession (something that threatens the survival of the state, for example).

Francis has a mental disability, but this alone does not supersede the laws of succession.

For this reason, HRH the Count of Paris declared that Prince Jean would be regent for King Francis upon the death of the Count of Paris.

Edit: The problem resulting from this should be obvious. If the Count of Paris were to die before Prince Francis, it means there will be a split not just between monarchists (those who support the House of Orleans and the illegitimate Spanish Bourbons) but also within the House of Orleans itself. We legitimists will proclaim Prince Francis as the de jure Francis III, while others will proclaim Jean as king.

The Case for Henri d’Orleans

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henri7

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.