House of Bourbon

Orfeas Katsoulis | Mar 29, 2024

Table of Content


The House of Bourbon is one of the largest ruling families in Europe, a branch of the House of Capeting, which ruled France from 987. Its members first came to the throne in Navarre in 1572, but their extensive family connections have allowed them to rule several states. They succeeded to the throne of France in 1589, after the extinction of the Valois branches, under the Salic law, which excluded female succession, and ruled until 1793, and then during the Restoration after the French Revolution and Napoleon's reign, from 1814 to 1848.

The Bourbons took the throne of Spain in 1700, which they still hold (as the Bourbons), albeit with several interruptions. The current king is Philip VI. The Spanish Bourbons also ruled several states in Italy (the Italian version of their name is Borbone): the Kingdom of Naples-Sicily from 1734 to 1808 and from 1816 to 1860; the Kingdom of Etruria during the Napoleonic era from 1801 to 1807; and the Duchies of Guastalla, Parma and Lucca in the 18th and 19th centuries, with several interruptions. Since 1964, the title of Grand Duke of Luxembourg has been borne by the heirs of the Parma branch of the family. They have also been the Dukes of Bourbon, Montpensier, Vendôme, Orléans, Conti and Condé.

The family's name goes back to the 10th century Bourbon manor in central France, in what is now the department of Allier.In 1272, Louis IX's youngest son, Count Robert de Clermont, married Béatrice de Bourgogne, heiress of Bourbon, founding the House of Bourbon. In 1327, in the reign of their son Louis, Bourbon became a duchy, from which time the Bourbon surname was used.

Strangely, the Duchy of Bourbon was not the family's longest surviving estate, as it was merged into the royal estates in 1523, after the traitor Prince Charles III was sentenced to the loss of his estates and rank. (His successors regained the Duchy of Montpensier in 1539.) This brought the Vendôme branch of the Bourbon family to the fore, from which descended Prince Antony, who became King of Navarre by marriage, and his son Henry, who inherited the French throne in 1589.

The first Bourbon to succeed to the throne was Henry IV. He was born on 13 December 1553 in the Kingdom of Navarre. His father Antoine de Bourbon was a descendant of King Louis IX (Saint) of France, so he had Capetian blood in his veins. His mother, Jeanne d'Albret, was Queen of Navarre as Joan III and niece of King Francis I of France.

Henry was able to experience all the tricks of the reign at a very early age, as his father died in 1563 and he inherited the title of Duke of Vendôme. As he was only ten years old, he was appointed regent, alongside Admiral Gaspard II de Coligny. Nor did he have to wait long for another title of high rank, for in 1568 his uncle Louis, Duke of Condé, who was known at the French royal court not only for his princely title but also as the leader of the Huguenots, died. This cast a shadow over him and Henry, who became the leader of the Huguenots after his uncle's death. In 1572, after the death of his mother, he became ruler of Navarre under the name of Henry III, and his name was increasingly mentioned in the vicinity of the French throne.

Catherine de Medici, the influential mother of Charles IX, invited Henry to Paris in 1572 to marry her daughter Margaret. This gesture was intended to finally put an end to the hostilities between the Huguenots and the Catholic court. But Catherine had no intention of reconciling with the Huguenots, and instead of a glittering wedding on 24 August, the day was marked by the massacre of St Bartholomew's Night. The royal soldiers spared no Huguenots, and in time they were put to the sword outside Paris.

Henry was saved because he took the opportunity to be baptised. After returning to his estates in the south of France, he refused to be baptised Catholic and continued to organise the Huguenots. After the bloody events, the calm was shattered in 1584 by the so-called Battle of the Three Henrys, in which the Huguenots tried to fight back the court with all their might. In the battle, King Henry III of France was assassinated. As the House of Valois had no male descendants in the line of descent after Henry, Henry was allowed to take the French throne.

However, a strong opposition to Henry's reign developed in France, where he wanted to take the throne as a Protestant. The Cardinal refused to be crowned, and the whole of Paris was seething against Henry. A civil war broke out, which Henry won, but under pressure from the whole country he finally reverted to Catholicism in 1594. It was then that he uttered his now-ubiquitous phrase: Paris is worth a mass.

Richelieu takes to the stage

On 13 April 1598, Henry issued the Edict of Nantes, which recognised Catholicism as the only official religion in France. But the Edict also put in writing that Huguenots had the same rights as Catholics. This ended an era of religious and civil strife that had kept the country in turmoil for decades. Henry IV had his work cut out for him in a war-torn country. After his accession to the throne, he concluded the Treaty of Versailles with Spain, which fixed the borders and the Spanish side recognised Henry's right to the French throne.

After peace was established, he set about developing his country. His skilled minister of state, Maximilien de Béthune, was a great help. During his reign of peace, Henry reduced the landed gentry known as the taille, promoted agriculture and provided jobs and wages for more people by boosting public housing. He laid roads and built the first French canal. He also established several industries in the country (including tapestry, which later became world-famous) and sought to protect Protestants in every corner of his empire.

Henry's first bloody marriage to Margitta left him without an heir, and the French monarch soon divorced her, marrying Maria Medici in 1599, who gave birth to his son Louis two years later. Louis was only nine years old when his father was assassinated in Paris on 14 May 1610, precisely because of his policy of defending Protestants.

Instead of the child Louis XIII, the country was first ruled by his mother, who took over from her son. In 1615, Louis was married to Anne of Austria, daughter of King Philip III of Spain (1601-1666). Louis found it increasingly difficult to cope with his mother's reign, who was trying to ease the financial problems of the court. So he had his allies assassinate his mother's favoured minister of state, Concino Concini, and put an end to female rule.

Lajos proved to be a weak hand, as his wife quickly took the helm instead. But Anne did not prove a successful governor either, and after a few years of a troubled reign, King Louis appointed Prince Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu, better known as Cardinal Richelieu, as his minister of state.

The heyday of French absolutism

Louis XIII had no idea how decisive a man he had chosen to lead his country. Above all, Richelieu was ambitious. He also valued the power of the French court. In fact, in time, the weak-handed Louis was completely excluded from power, and even abroad the cardinal was the first name to be mentioned when the leader of France was mentioned.

Cardinal Richelieu pursued an anti-Hapsburg policy in Europe. His main aim was to bring the whole continent under the rule of Louis. He saw this as a means of increasing his own power, and he was not indiscriminate in the means he used to achieve his goal. In 1625, Louis married his sister, Princess Henrietta Maria, to King Charles I of England (Charles I was later dethroned because of, among other things, the deeply Catholic Henrietta Maria).

This was the time when the absolute monarchy was established, which determined the country's political system until the Revolution. This was the result of two of Richelieu's most important ambitions. On the one hand, the Cardinal sought French hegemony and, on the other, to unite the whole country under the central authority of the monarch. He sought to achieve the latter by creating a broad class of intendants, officials of non-noble origin. Intendants were granted rights and privileges by the court which had previously been reserved only for nobles, and they were therefore strongly attached to the court that appointed them, pledged unconditional obedience to the king, and served their privileged position with excellent work. The power of the country, united under the crown of Louis, rested not only on a network of loyal officials and informers, but also on the domestic actions of the army. In time, the Cardinal finally ended the independence of the southern duchies.

The royal army did not get much rest, as the ambitious minister of state involved his country in the Thirty Years' War. Richelieu did not live to see the results of the French efforts against the Habsburgs, for he died in 1642. His successor was Cardinal Jules Mazarin. Meanwhile, after 23 years of marriage, Louis was finally given a son by Queen Anne in 1638. The child was also named Louis after his father. In 1643, Louis XIII also died, and his throne was inherited by his infant son, who was replaced as regent by his mother, Queen Anne.

The land of the Sun King

Anna welcomed Cardinal Mazarin, appointed by Richelieu as Minister of State, who knew his predecessor's policies well. As it later proved, he was able to apply it. France had won a brilliant victory in the Thirty Years' War and in 1648, at the Peace of Naples, she was able to dictate the terms on which the kingdom became one of the leading powers in Europe. In the peace treaty, French policy succeeded in ensuring that the great eastern adversary, the German-Roman Empire, would finally fall to pieces. After these foreign policy successes, a civil war, initiated by the French nobility, broke out against the absolutist regime of Mazarin and the Sun King, Louis XIV, who had been enthroned at the age of five. In the fighting, known as the Fronde, the royal troops eventually prevailed.

With the internal problems resolved, Mazarin's attention turned back to European hegemony. The only power left to threaten France's power was the Habsburg-dominated Kingdom of Spain. A war broke out between the two kingdoms, which lasted until 1659, at the end of which Mazarin was again victorious. The Treaty of Pyrenees guaranteed France's supremacy on the continent and also provided for Louis to marry the daughter of King Philip IV of Spain, the Infanta Maria Theresa. The wedding took place in 1660, and less than a year later Louis XIV's first son was born, also named Louis. However, Mazarin died on 9 March 1661.

To the surprise of the French, Louis XIV declared that he did not intend to appoint a new minister of state and would rule alone. The Sun King also had the greater glory of his empire in mind, and he did his utmost to enhance it. It took him six years to reform France's finances to maintain the largest army in Europe. He did not do this merely on a whim of grandeur, but initiated several wars at the expense of neighbouring empires. In forty years, he fought three major wars. All of these resulted in territorial gains, but they were not worth the money and manpower lost.

In 1683, Queen Maria Theresa died and Louis XIV married his mistress, Françoise d'Aubigné, the Marquise de Maintenon, who, among other virtues, was able to influence Louis with her deep religious faith. In 1685 the Sun King revoked the Edict of Nantes and strengthened the position of the Catholic Church.

Louis, who is still credited with building the unique Versailles palace complex, embarked on his last and greatest military venture in 1700, when King Charles II of Spain died without an heir. Both the French court and the House of Habsburg were directly related to the Spanish monarchs. The deceased Charles' nephew, Philip, Count of Anjou, was the closest relative. The Habsburgs, however, feared that the Bourbon dynasty's power would grow dangerously after the Spanish throne. Moreover, Louis did not hide his ambitious plans. The maritime powers, England and the Netherlands, saw their interests threatened and sided with the Habsburgs. This alliance declared war on France. In 1701, the War of the Spanish Succession broke out and lasted for 12 years. At its conclusion, the balance of the war at Versailles was mixed. On the one hand, Louis had succeeded to the Spanish throne through his grandson. On the other hand, he had to give up several of the territories he had acquired, which strengthened the Habsburg Empire. In addition, the huge costs of the wars brought France to the brink of bankruptcy. This was beyond the reign of Louis XIV, who died on 1 September 1715, after the longest reign in European history.

The weakening of absolutism

Louis XIV reigned for so long that he outlived his children and grandchildren. He was succeeded on the throne by his great-grandson, Louis XV, who was only five years old. He was the third in the line of successive Louis, who had to be succeeded by a regent during his minority. This position was now given to Philip II, Duke of Orléans, who had brought idleness and immorality to the royal court after the strict discipline of Louis XIV. The problems of the country and the bankruptcy of the state did not particularly concern Prince Philip, who preferred to hold balls at the chateau of Versailles. After Prince Philip's death in 1723, Prince Louis IV Henri de Bourbon-Condé took over as Chief Minister. He arranged for Louis XV to marry not the daughter of the King of Spain (who had already been betrothed to him), but the Polish royal princess Maria Leszczyńska, daughter of King Sanislo I. In the event of the early death of the ailing Louis XV, the Chief Minister wanted to avoid a dispute with King Philip V of Spain. If Louis XV's widow had been the daughter of King Philip V, the French throne would have been inherited by Philip V rather than the Duke of Bourbon-Condé in the event of Louis XV's death. In 1725, the wedding took place, and the Spanish court was seriously resentful of the Duke of Bourbon-Condé.

In 1726, under pressure from the Spanish court, the ailing monarch's minister of state was Cardinal Fleury, a man of infinite piety and peace-loving, who had completely turned his back on the conquering policies of his predecessors. He tried to avoid war by every possible means, but this did not always succeed, precisely because of the great power plans of the previous monarchs. In 1733, King Augustus II of Poland died and, under pressure from the French court (and Queen Mary in particular), Sanislo was elected to the throne for a second time. Russia and the Hapsburg Empire intervened militarily, and the War of the Polish Succession broke out, during which Sanislo was ousted. More significant was the Austrian War of Succession, which broke out in 1740, with France siding with King Frederick II of Prussia against Maria Theresa, heir to the throne of the Habsburg Empire. The war was still raging when Cardinal Fleury died in 1743.

With great difficulty, Louis XV ended the war, which had been a loss for him, and plunged back into hedonistic court life, which from 1745 onwards was run by one of his concubines, the Marquise de Pompadour. It was under her influence that France entered the Seven Years' War on the side of the Habsburg Empire. In this war, the French court, which had defected from the Prussians, suffered the greatest defeat in its history. Under the Treaty of Paris, signed in 1763, all of France's overseas possessions were acquired by Britain, making it the world's leading power. The failure of French hegemony was compounded by the death of Louis XV's only son, Prince Louis Ferdinand, in 1765, making his grandson the dauphin, and the death of Louis XV, also described as the usurper of the throne, on 10 May 1774.

The Revolution and the Bourbons

The jubilation that became fashionable in the court of Louis XV continued in the court of his grandson Louis XVI. In 1770 he married Marie Antoinette, the youngest daughter of Empress Maria Theresa. In 1778 Louis gave all the help he could to the Americans in the War of Independence against the British, but this did nothing to quell the domestic discontent that was growing and becoming louder.

Louis did not care about the serious problem that the country was close to bankruptcy under Louis XIV, and from the glittering ballrooms of the Palace of Versailles he did not realise that for his subjects, bankruptcy meant famine and economic crisis. He had to emerge from his much-loved carpentry workshop, as the country was in such deep crisis that its finances had to be restored through rapid reform. But the impetuous monarch was unable to resolve the crisis, and was forced to call a meeting of the orders.

On 5 May 1789, the Assembly of the Orders met in Versailles, which rejected the King's demands in a heated debate. The dissatisfied delegates formed a constituent assembly and moved to the ballroom in the garden of the castle. Louis was unable to stop things from developing, as most of the noble delegates to the assembly were also in favour of the bourgeoisie. In any case, the king ordered a tight military blockade around Paris. The National Constituent Assembly decided, as a first step towards overcoming the crisis, to limit the King's sovereign rights. At first, Louis refused to accept this, but word spread around the city that the army surrounding Paris was about to attack. All hell broke loose on 12 July, and on 14 July an armed mob stormed the Bastille. Revolution broke out. Louis was forced to accept restrictions on his rights on the same day. Later, in June 1791, he tried to escape abroad under cover of night, but was captured and imprisoned with his family.

On 21 September 1792, the republic was proclaimed. Louis Capet, King of France, was sentenced to death and beheaded on 21 January 1793. Marie Antoinette and her children, Prince Charles Louis and Princess Maria Theresa, were imprisoned. The royalists consistently referred to the imprisoned child as Louis XVII. On 16 October, Marie Antoinette was also sent to the scaffold, and in 1795, Prince Charles Louis, heir to the throne, also died of tuberculosis.

In the last year of the Consulate, in March 1804, General Bonaparte, the First Consul, kidnapped and executed the Duke of Enghien, the last male heir of the Bourbon-Condé line, from abroad on charges of royalist conspiracy, and in December the Senate voted unhindered to make him Emperor.

The last act of a kingdom

On 11 April 1814, Napoleon abdicated the French imperial throne and it was returned to the House of Bourbon. Louis XVI's younger brother, Louis XVIII, took the throne. In March 1815, Napoleon escaped from his captors and once again ousted the Bourbons during his 100-day reign. With international help, Louis finally defeated the 'Corsicans' at Waterloo on 18 July. The most significant achievement of Louis XVIII's reign was the liberal constitution of 1814, which appeased some sections of the French political class but not the royalists.

After his death in 1824, the throne was taken over by his conservative brother Charles X, who continued where Louis XVI had left off in 1789. He banished all liberal traits from his reign. He thought he could finally regain what the mob had taken from his family. As Talleyrand put it, "The Bourbons had learned nothing and forgotten nothing." Charles regarded the values of the Revolution as a passing fad, and governed his country with contempt for them. One after the other, he passed new laws that served the interests of the upper house, ignoring the achievements of the revolution and the popular lower house, which relied on the common people. The last straw was the appointment by Charles in 1829 of Jules de Polignac, who was not trusted by the lower house, as Minister of State. On 18 March 1830, the House of Commons issued a letter of censure against the Emperor's action, and on 26 July Charles issued a decree banning criticism of him.

This upset members of the House of Commons. The people of Paris rebelled against Charles X. It was up to moderate political leaders to prevent a repeat of the tragedy of 1793. Charles abdicated his throne first to his son, Prince Louis Antony, and then to his grandson, the Duke of Bordeaux. However, on 7 August, the National Assembly elected Prince Louis Philippe of Orléans as King. During the liberal reign of the 'bourgeois king', social tensions were serious, the July Monarchy fell in the February Revolution of 1848, the Republic was proclaimed and the House of Bourbon lost its power in France for good.

The main branch of the family never recognised the legitimacy of the reign of Louis Philippe of Orléans. The death of Charles X in 1836 led the French Legitimists to proclaim Charles' son, Louis Antal, Duke of Angoulême, as King, under the name of Louis XIX. However, he was never to reign in France. His nephew, Charles X's grandson, Prince Henry, Count of Chambord, was also nominated as a pretender to the throne. He was the last Bourbon claimant to the throne.

On the threshold of a third chance

In 1873, shortly after the defeat by the Prussians, Otto von Bismarck himself supported a possible third French Bourbon Restoration, and in France Prince Henry, Count of Chambord, had broad support. However, the prince made it a condition that the white Bourbon flag with the golden fleur-de-lis should be used as the French national flag instead of the revolutionary tricolor. In a conflict over a purely symbolic question of prestige, the Republic won the vote on the form of government in the National Assembly by a single vote against the Bourbon Restoration. The Duke's limited inability to compromise meant that the French monarchy's last real chance of restoration had been gambled away, even though for a time after 1871 the restoration of the kingdom seemed almost certain. Having no children, and thus excluded from the succession by the Spanish branch in 1715, Philip Louis, grandson of the last French king from the Orléans branch of the House of Bourbon, the Count of Paris, would succeed him on the throne, thus uniting the two opposing Bourbon branches since 1830, as well as the Legitimist and Orléans royalist factions.

War of Spanish Succession

In Spain, the House of Bourbon came to power at the cost of the War of the Spanish Succession. The first Bourbon monarch was Philip, Duke of Anjou, grandson of King Louis XIV of France. He was nominated by the last Spanish monarch of the House of Habsburg, Charles II, who had no male heir due to numerous physical and mental illnesses. Philip was the great-grandson of King Philip IV of Spain, whose daughter, the Infanta Anne, became the wife of King Louis XIII of France.

Charles's decision meant that the Sun King, who had ambitions of great power, could put a member of his own family at the head of the Spanish Empire. The alliance or union of the two kingdoms threatened to upset the balance of power in Europe, and was detrimental to the interests of the maritime powers (England and the Netherlands) and the Habsburg Empire. These powers formed an alliance against the Franco-Spanish alliance of interests. Charles II's decision was most strongly opposed by the German-Roman Emperor Leo I, who claimed the Spanish throne by right of Habsburg descent, as did the grandson of the French king. The anti-French alliance was forged by Emperor Leo Lipót, with England and the Netherlands joining him. Charles II died in 1700 and a year later the War of the Spanish Succession broke out between the alliances. The war, which had been devastating for twelve years, ended with the Treaty of Utrecht on 11 April 1713, in which the allies recognised Philip V as King of Spain, but the Habsburg Empire was allowed to take the Duchy of Milan, the Kingdom of Naples and Spanish-Netherlands, and the House of Savoy was given Sicily.

The age of absolutism

Philip V had two children from his first marriage, but after being widowed early on, he married the Italian noblewoman Elizabeth Farnese in 1714. She also had two sons. At his wife's suggestion, Philip decided to reconquer the Spanish territories in Italy lost at the Treaty of Utrecht. In 1717, his armies launched a military offensive to conquer both Sardinia and Sicily, but the loss of the latter was already damaging to the interests of England and the Habsburg Empire. Philip was forced to negotiate in 1720. In the Treaty of The Hague, he renounced Sardinia (which was given to Prince Victor Amadeus II of Savoy in exchange for the loss of Sicily). Philip, in turn, recognised the Bourbons' right to the ducal throne of Parma with the four great powers (England, the Habsburg Empire, the Netherlands and France).

Philip abdicated the Spanish throne in 1724 in favour of his son Louis from his first marriage. The son died later that year, and Philip was restored to the throne. In 1733, when France became embroiled in the War of the Polish Succession, Louis XV concluded a 'family pact' with his uncle, King Charles XV of France, in which the two kings granted the throne of the Kingdom of Naples to Philip's son, Prince Charles of Parma. Finally, in the peace treaty of 1738, the Habsburg Empire recognised Charles as ruler of the Kingdom of Naples and the Kingdom of Sicily in exchange for Parma. This fulfilled part of Philip's ambitions in Italy. He even took advantage of the War of the Austrian Succession to increase his possessions in Italy until his death in 1746.

After the death of Philip V, his second son by his first marriage, Ferdinand VI, succeeded to the Spanish throne. In contrast to his father's active foreign policy, Ferdinand sought to bring peace to his country. A peace-loving monarch, he did not embark on further conquests of Italy, nor did he take part in the great power disputes of Europe. During his reign, he sought to ease domestic problems and restore the economy. He also avoided a seven-year war with his country, which began in 1756, although the French court strongly objected.

After the death of Ferdinand VI in 1759, Charles III, the eldest son of his father's widow, Elisabeth Farnese, Queen Mother, was allowed to take the Spanish throne. In 1761 he renewed the family treaty with France, and the following year he led his armies against England. He spent most of his energies trying to prevent the English from gaining ground in Europe's leading political circles. To this end, he mobilised overseas against the English, who had taken up arms against London in the American War of Independence to establish a new free nation.

After the death of Charles III in 1788, the Spanish throne was taken over by his son Charles IV. Four years after his accession, the wars of the revolutionary French Republic reached Spain in 1792. Napoleon Bonaparte's campaigns affected several Bourbon monarchs. Napoleon drove Ferdinand IV out of the Kingdom of Naples and also ousted the Bourbon ruler of the Duchy of Parma. Napoleon attempted to compensate the ousted princes with the throne of the annexed Kingdom of Etruria, which he had created in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, but soon placed members of his own family there.

On 7 March 1793, Charles IV declared war on France. In 1795, a peace was concluded, which became an alliance by 19 August 1796. This was due to the influence of Charles's minister of state, Manuel de Godoy, who convinced his monarch that his son Ferdinand would succeed him. Taking advantage of the uncertainty of the Spanish administration, Napoleon invaded the country in 1808 and dethroned Charles on 19 March. The Spanish throne went to Ferdinand VII, who was eventually abdicated by Napoleon in favour of his father. On 30 April, the change took place, after which Napoleon 'asked' Charles to abdicate again in favour of his brother. Napoleon passed on the crown of Spain to his brother Joseph Bonaparte. This led to an internal war, and the Bourbons were only able to regain the Spanish throne in 1813.

Age of constitutional monarchy

Of all the Bourbon monarchies, only the Kingdom of Spain made it into the 20th century. After the Napoleonic wars, the royalists restored the rule of Ferdinand VII of the Bourbon dynasty. However, the achievements of the French Revolution also reached here: in 1820, the Spanish people revolted against King Ferdinand's rule and forced their king to limit his own rights in a constitution. The constitutional monarchy remained in place until 1823, when, in the spirit of the Congress of Vienna, the French royal forces invaded the country and sided with Ferdinand in annulling the constitution.

In 1829, Ferdinand VII married for the fourth time, to his cousin, Princess Maria Cristina of Naples and Sicily. The princess was the daughter of the dual King Francis I of Sicily and Queen Mary Isabella, making her a granddaughter of King Charles IV on her mother's side. There were only two daughters, Mary Isabella and Luisa Ferdinanda, who were not male heirs by this marriage, so he changed the law of succession and nominated his eldest daughter, the Infanta Isabella, as his successor.

Just three years old, Isabella II came to the throne in 1833. As regent, she was ruled by her mother, Queen Mary, Queen Mother. Changed inheritance laws excluded Ferdinand's younger brother, Infante Charles, from the succession, leading to a conflict over the throne. In 1834, she issued a constitution to make it impossible for Charles, who was a believer in absolute power, to rule. Yet the Catalan and Basque territories rallied behind the Infante because the constitution strengthened central power and suppressed territorial autonomy. The fighting dragged on until 1839, when Charles was defeated and forced into exile.

In 1843, Isabella II took effective control of the country. In 1846, she married Francisco de Asís María, Duke of Cádiz, her own first cousin. Francis was the son of the Infante Francis de Paula, grandson of King Charles IV. The military revolted against the Queen's rule and in 1868 she was forced to abdicate in favour of her son, Infante Alfonso, but the Bourbons were ousted from the throne of Spain.

Bourbon restorations

The Spanish orders were looking for a new monarch, and several years later they found one in the second-born son of King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, Prince Amadeus of Savoy. Amadé took the oath of allegiance to the Spanish constitution in Madrid in 1871. From the beginning of King Amadé I's reign, he had to face a turbulent domestic political situation, demands from various nationalities, assassinations, and the independence movement in Cuba. Unable to control the situation, Amadé denounced the Spanish people as ungovernable and abdicated his throne in 1873. The first Spanish republic was proclaimed that night and lasted only two years.

In 1874, the Cortés, the parliament, recalled the Bourbons to the throne under pressure from the royalists. Isabella's son, Alfonso XII, accepted the throne, restoring the Bourbon dynasty for the second time. Isabella II's uncle, Infante Charles II, continued to claim the throne, but was finally defeated in 1876 and banished from the kingdom again. Alfonso tried to smooth over Spain's unrelieved domestic politics with a liberal constitution, but he did not see the results because of his premature death.

In 1886, Alfonso XIII took the throne. In his place, his mother, Queen Maria Christina of Austria, ruled as regent. In 1906, Alfonso married Victoria Eugenia of Battenberg, the granddaughter of British Queen Victoria. Alfonso played a very low-key role in the political life of the constitutional monarchy that was emerging, maintaining the neutrality of his country during the First World War. In 1930, however, republican movements again dominated Spanish politics, and in 1931 Alfonso had to flee the country.

Officially, Alfonso never abdicated his throne, but the country proclaimed a second republic, which, because of disputes between different groups and nationalities, led to the Spanish Civil War. In 1936, General Francisco Franco emerged victorious from the turmoil of war and slowly established his dictatorship, which became total in 1939. The period leading through the horrors of the Second World War was also marked by Franco, whose methods of governance often ran up against opposition from the United Nations and other international organisations and countries.

Much to his surprise, in 1969, President-General Franco appointed Prince John Charles of Bourbon as his successor, even though John Charles's father, the son of Alfonso XIII, John, Count of Barcelona, the rightful heir to the throne, was still alive. The Prince was very close to Franco, and the Cortés expected him to continue Franco's policy. However, when John Charles was allowed to take the Spanish throne after the death of General Franco in 1975, he turned away from the dictatorship and democratised Spain. With the 1978 Constitution, he allowed the country to open up to Europe. However, on 18 June 2014, John Charles abdicated the throne to his only son, Infante Philip. Philip VI is now the head of the Spanish state and the only reigning Bourbon monarch in the world.

Kingdom of Naples

After Napoleon's fall, Ferdinand I was able to take his place on the throne of the Kingdom of the Two Kingdoms of Sicily once again. On 2 July 1820, the people of southern Italy revolted against the Bourbon rule and forced Ferdinand to give his people a constitution, transforming his country into a constitutional monarchy. The constitution was ready in just over a week, but as the participants in the Congress of Vienna in 1815 swore to uphold absolute rule, the troops of the Austrian Empire invaded Naples in 1821 and the king revoked the constitution.

In 1825, Ferdinand's son Francis I succeeded to the throne, but he died five years later, and his son Ferdinand II inherited the throne. In 1848, Europe was once again overwhelmed by revolutionary ideas, and Ferdinand's absolute power was swept away by popular revolt. He managed to avoid dethronement by issuing a liberal constitution, but the overwhelming force of reaction led him to revoke it in 1849. King Francis II, who ruled his kingdom following his father's policies, was enthroned in 1859. However, the armies that united Italy were already on the move from the north at the time of his accession. On 7 September 1860, under the leadership of Giuseppe Garibaldi, Naples was captured, and Francis II re-enacted the liberal constitution in July to retain the territories he had not yet conquered. But by then it was too late, the whole kingdom had revolted against Bourbon rule. On 17 March 1861, the Kingdom of the Two Kingdoms of Sicily was finally incorporated into the newly proclaimed Kingdom of Italy.


After Napoleon's final abdication, Parma, once under Bourbon rule, was given to Emperor Napoleon's wife, Maria Luisa, for the rest of her life. The Bourbons were temporarily compensated with the Duchy of Lucca. When Maria Luisa died in 1847, the House of Bourbon was able to retake the throne of Parma. Charles II became Duke of Parma, and the territory of Lucca was annexed to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, which became an annexed state of the Habsburg Empire. After the revolutions of 1848-49, Charles II was succeeded by his son Charles III, who was assassinated in 1854. He was succeeded by his six-year-old son, Robert I, under his mother's regency. The reign of the House of Bourbon ended here too, however, when the forces of King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia-Piedmont defeated the Austrian army with the military help of Napoleon III in the Sardinian-French-Austrian War, Parma was annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont, and in 1861 the Duchy of Parma was abolished and incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy.


  1. House of Bourbon
  2. Bourbon-ház
  3. ^ a b titular
  4. ^ La brisura con la barra rossa indica che i Borbone sono un ramo cadetto della casa dei Capetingi.
  5. ^ I Borbone regnarono sul Regno di Francia dal 1589 al 1792, di nuovo con la Restaurazione francese dal 1814 al 1830, e ancora dal 1830 al 1848 con la Monarchia di luglio con Luigi Filippo di Borbone-Orléans, ultimo monarca a regnare sulla Francia con il titolo di re.
  6. ^ Unione delle Corone di Napoli e di Sicilia nel 1816.
  7. ^ Data d'estinzione del ramo principale diretto dei Capetingi, i Borbone in generale esistono tuttora e regnano sui troni di Spagna e del Lussemburgo.
  8. Desintegrado en 1530; la parte peninsular, denominada Alta Navarra, pasó a ser parte de la corona de Castilla y más tarde se integró en la Monarquía Hispánica, existiendo como reino hasta 1848; la parte traspirenaica fue abandonada por Carlos I de España tras unos veinte años de control (1512-1530), quedando como reino independiente con Enrique II como rey y asociándose con el Reino de Francia en 1589 en la persona de Enrique III y IV de Borbón. Permaneció así hasta 1789, cuando fue abolida su entidad de reino y fue unida a Francia. En 1814, Luis XVIII de Francia sube al trono y se intitula como rey de Francia y de Navarra, aunque ya Navarra (Baja Navarra) no existía como reino; este titulación siguió siendo empleada por Carlos X, su hermano y sucesor, y por los pretendientes legitimistas al trono de Francia que ha habido desde entonces.
  9. Extinguido dentro del reino de Italia en 1861.
  10. ^ Svensk uppslagsbok band 4 s. 868, Malmö 1948.

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