House of Bourbon

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Coat of arms of the Bourbons as kings of France

The House of Bourbon or the Bourbons is the name of a French noble family that provided seven French kings as well as other monarchs from other European states. Currently the heads of state of Spain and Luxembourg come from the Bourbon family.

Origin and name

Coat of arms of the French kingdom under the older Capetian lines (the original main line and the junior line of the House of Valois who succeeded the throne )

The house of the Bourbons is in its male line a branch of the French royal family of the Capetians , descended from Prince Robert of Clermont , the youngest son of the French King Louis IX. of the saint . Ultimately, Hugo Capet, as the progenitor of the Capetians and his subsidiary lines, is also the forefather of the Bourbons. This led, among other things, to King Louis XVI. was addressed by the real name Louis Capet during his trial before the National Convention in 1792 .

The last representatives of the Capetian dynasty today are the Bourbons, who still flourish in the male line. These include the Spanish Bourbon-Anjou line with its side branches Bourbon-Sicily and Bourbon-Parma as well as the Bourbon-Orléans line with the Brazilian side branch House Orléans-Braganza . The Bourbons are the oldest still existing dynasty in Europe, as all other Capetian main or secondary lines (such as the Valois with the Valois-Alençon branch , the Artois or the Évreux ) are now extinct in the male line. The former Portuguese royal family Bragança is also derived from the Capetians, but it represents an illegitimate side line of the older house of Burgundy .

The name of the dynasty has its origin in the castle of Bourbon (lat .: Castrum Borboniense , today Bourbon-l'Archambault), which can be traced back to the Carolingian period . In the high Middle Ages, this castle was the ancestral seat of a lord's family who were able to establish a rule ( seigneurie ) over the surrounding area (see list of lords and dukes of Bourbon ) ; since the 15th century their headquarters were in Moulins . The resulting Bourbonnais came into the possession of Beatrix of Burgundy through several inheritances , who herself came from the Capetian (older) House of Burgundy. Beatrix was married to Prince Robert in 1272 and thus brought the Bourbonnais into his possession.

The family name resulted from a trade between their son Ludwig von Clermont , who in 1327 exchanged his paternal inheritance, the County of Clermont , with King Charles IV the Fair for the County of La Marche . On this occasion, the king also raised the rank of the Bourbon Seigneurie to a duchy and endowed it with the hereditary dignity of a peerage . At the time, this was a one-time process, as until then only the traditional duchies based on ethnic principles existed in France ( France , Burgundy , Normandy , Brittany , Aquitaine , Gascony and Gothia ). The Bourbonnais thus became their most important property for the family of Duke Ludwig I, and consequently all of his descendants called themselves de Bourbon ( from Bourbon ).

The older and younger line

The Bourbon house branched out into several branches of the family in the course of its history. It all started with the two sons of Duke Ludwig I, from whom the older Peter I took over the duchy and continued the older Bourbon line. The younger son Jakob received the county of La Marche and founded the younger line. Both lines were present as members of the high nobility in France in the late Middle Ages, with the older line, whose dukes and pairs were given priority, acquired a strong position as feudal princes due to the increase in property.

Due to their descent, both lines belonged to the circle of princes of royal blood ( prince du sang ), which made them relevant for the succession to the throne in France. After the Capetian house Valois-Alençon died out in 1525, the older line moved with Duke Charles III. from Bourbon (Charles de Bourbon-Montpensier) briefly to the first rank of royal prince, since the Bourbons were the last remaining Capetian secondary school next to the ruling Valois. The older Bourbons found however with the death of Duke Charles III. 1527 their end, the Duchy of Bourbon was withdrawn as a settled fiefdom .

The Bourbon family was now represented by the younger line, which consequently also assumed the first rank as Prince of the Blood. Incidentally, all of today's Bourbons are descended from Duke Charles of Vendôme . After the Valois family died out in 1589, his grandson was the next Capetian agnate to take over the French throne as King Henry IV .

The main lines of the Bourbons are


The "Sun King" Louis XIV was probably the best-known Bourbon
Double coat of arms of the Bourbons as kings of France and Navarre

Ancien Régime

Surname Reign relationship
Henry IV. 1589-1610
Louis XIII 1610-1643 Son of the predecessor
Louis XIV 1643-1715 Son of the predecessor
Louis XV 1715-1774 Great-grandson of the predecessor
Louis XVI 1774-1793 Grandson of the predecessor

The Bourbons replaced the Valois as the ruling dynasty in France in 1589 . With the Edict of Nantes, King Henry IV ended the previous Huguenot Wars , which had shattered the country for more than 60 years. Under the rule of Louis XIII. With the skill of the statesman Richelieu, the French kingship was established in monarchical absolutism , which under the "Sun King" Louis XIV reached the climax of its power, when the unity of the central state was completed with the repeal of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Connected to his rule is the territorial expansion of France in the wars of reunification and the Bourbon succession to the throne in Spain after the War of the Spanish Succession . The lavishly developed Palace of Versailles advanced to become a cultural and social center and a synonym for baroque splendor. Under Louis XV. France lost its American colonies after the unsuccessful Seven Years' War , and at the same time, with the gain of Lorraine, the border of the kingdom could be moved to the Rhine . The intellectual climate of that time was shaped by the burgeoning Enlightenment , which called the existing order into question. Under Louis XVI. France successfully engaged in the American War of Independence , which, however, led to a further disruption of state finances.

When the king tried to solve the structural problems of the state together with the Estates General , on June 17, 1789 the Third Estate split off from the National Assembly and drafted a constitution for a constitutional monarchy. The outbreak of the French Revolution (July 14, 1789) finally led to the end of the " Ancien Régime " (old order) with the suspension of the king on August 10, 1792 and his execution on January 21, 1793. For the first time in its history, the French heard Kingdom existed, in its place came the First Republic .


See main article Restoration (France)

Surname Reign relationship
Louis XVIII 1814-1824 Brother of Louis XVI.
Charles X. 1824-1830 Brother of the predecessor

The fall of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1814 made it possible for Louis XVIII. taking over the throne, his rule was interrupted again in 1815 during Napoleon's reign of the Hundred Days . Louis XVIII tried to reconcile the royalist forces with the changes brought about by the revolution, but this was made more difficult by resentment on both sides. In terms of foreign policy, he managed to maintain France's position as a major European power.

Charles X, however, was a supporter of ultra-royalist currents and tried to turn back the wheel of history in order to undo the revolution. This ultimately provoked the liberal bourgeoisie on July 27, 1830, to the so-called " July Revolution ", in which the Bourbons were again ousted from the throne.

The Bourbons after the end of the Ancien Régime

The coat of arms of France during the July monarchy of the “bourgeois king” Louis-Philippe I from the House of Orléans (from 1830 to 1848), with the order of the Napoleonic Legion of Honor and the tricolor of the Revolution

The Bourbon dynasty has been divided since the French Revolution in 1789. On one side there was the main royal line of the family, which, shaped by monarchical legitimism , was opposed to the revolution and indulged in the ultra- royalism of the ancien régime . The Bourbons from the Orléans line, on the other hand, took an acceptable stance since Duke Louis Philippe II. Joseph de Bourbon, duc d'Orléans ( Philippe Égalité ), as a result of the social and political conditions changed by the revolution. This was reflected after the July Revolution of 1830 , when the son of Philippe Égalité , Louis-Philippe I , was offered the "civil kingship" and not the son of the just overthrown absolutist King Charles X , the Duc d'Angoulême . The supporters of a constitutional kingship are summarized today accordingly under the term " Orléanists ", their pretenders are the descendants of the citizen-king, which sprang from a branch of the House of Bourbon, the Bourbon-Orléans, which are also known as House of Orléans and during the " July Monarchy "Of the" Citizen King "ruled France from 1830 to 1848.

After the fall of Napoleon III. In 1871, Otto von Bismarck in particular prevented the restoration of the French monarchy under the Bourbons as Chancellor of the occupying power in the Franco-German War . In vain he hoped that a French republic would remain politically isolated among the European monarchies, which was then refuted in 1904 by the formation of the Entente cordiale . This led to a conflict with the German ambassador in Paris, Count Harry von Arnim, who supported the Bourbons . A supposed "merger" between the two rival Bourbon camps came in August 1873 so far about when the Count of Paris , grandson of the "citizen king" Louis-Philippe, the Count of Chambord , grandson of Charles X, in whose exile in Schloss Frohsdorf visited and recognized him as the head of the whole family, knowing full well that he would be able to succeed him after an accession to the throne for lack of other heirs. But the restoration plan failed because of Chambord's stubborn refusal to recognize the tricolor and to agree a constitution with the National Assembly.

The split in the monarchist supporters in France continues to this day. Although the direct royal line of the Bourbons died out with the death of Comte de Chambord in 1883, there was no merger between the Legitimists and the Orléanists. Since then the Legitimists have recognized the Bourbons from the Anjou line (Spanish Bourbons) as their pretenders to the French throne. This line came from Philippe de Bourbon, duc d'Anjou , a grandson of King Louis XIV of France. The Bourbon-Anjou are thus in closer agnatic kinship to the Comte de Chambord and, from the point of view of the legitimists, take the place as the first princes of the blood , who consequently deserve the legitimate successor of the Comte de Chambord and thus the first-rate claim to the French throne - im In contrast to the Orléans, who only descend from a brother of Louis XIV. In their claims, the Legitimists ignore the provisions of the Treaty of Utrecht , which ended the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713 when the Duc d'Anjou and now King of Spain had renounced any claims to the French throne. In their opinion, this waiver contradicts the succession regulation practiced since the Middle Ages within the Capetian house according to the principle of the firstborn and is therefore void.

The two current pretenders to the throne of the House of Bourbon are Louis Alphonse de Bourbon for the Legitimists and Jean d'Orléans for the Orléanists. (There is also the third pretender, Prince Charles Napoléon, head of the Bonaparte imperial family .)


The coat of arms of Spain . In the center the coat of arms of the Duchy of Anjou, which is also the coat of arms of the House of Bourbon-Anjou .

With the military support of his grandfather, Philippe de Bourbon, duc d'Anjou, came to the Spanish throne as King Philip V in 1700. The claim to him was derived from Philip's grandmother Maria Teresa of Spain , who was a sister of the last Spanish Habsburg king, Charles II . In the War of the Spanish Succession , the Bourbon takeover of rule in Spain was defended against the Austrian Habsburgs and contractually secured in the Peace of Utrecht in 1712. King Philip V is the progenitor of the House of Bourbon-Anjou (Spanish Bourbons, Borbón), the dynasty that ruled Spain to this day. The Bourbon rule was interrupted three times (1808, 1868, 1931) and it was restored three times (1812/14, 1874, 1975).

In 1713, King Philip V changed the rules of succession in Spain based on the French model with the Salic law , according to which a female succession to the throne was excluded. King Ferdinand VII , however, had the Salic law repealed in a so-called pragmatic sanction in 1830 and restored the traditional Castilian line of succession, which made the succession of women possible. Thus his daughter Isabella II could succeed him on the throne. On the other hand, however, Ferdinand's younger brother, Don Carlos de Borbón , appealed to the Salic law and raised his own claim to the throne. The party of the Carlist ( Carlism ) rallied around him, which plunged Spain into several civil wars ( Carlist Wars ) to help Don Carlos and his descendants to the throne. The direct line of Don Carlos died out in the male line in 1936, which is why the Carlist pretenders were transferred to the House of Bourbon-Parma , the next agnatic Bourbon line. The conservative-clerical Carlist, however, never became strong enough to secure the throne for their pretenders. After 1975 the pretender, Prince Carlos Hugo of Bourbon-Parma , as heir, finally renounced these claims in favor of the line of King Juan Carlos .

Despite the successor to Queen Isabella II, the Spanish throne was retained by the Bourbons in the male line, since Isabella had married her first cousin Francisco de Asís de Borbón , a grandson of King Charles IV . The kings of Spain provide their descendants to this day.

Since the French royal main line of the Bourbons died out in 1883, the Spanish line has represented the entire house of the Bourbons as it was closest to the main line in the agnatic tribe. The French monarchists of the legitimist wing therefore recognized Louis Alphonse de Bourbon as head of the Bourbons, senior of the house of France and thus as pretender to the French throne. He is thus in competition with the House of Orléans , whose head in turn claims the leadership of the Capet dynasty with reference to the Treaty of Utrecht.

The kings of Spain from the House of Bourbon-Anjou (Borbón)

Surname Reign relationship
Philip V. 1700-1724 Grandson of Louis XIV.
Ludwig I. 1724 Son of the predecessor
Philip V. 1724-1746
Ferdinand VI. 1746-1759 Son of the predecessor
Charles III 1759-1788 Brother of the predecessor
Charles IV 1788-1808 Son of the predecessor
Ferdinand VII. 1808 Son of the predecessor
French occupation of Spain from 1808 to 1813
Ferdinand VII. 1813-1833
Isabella II 1833-1868 Daughter of the predecessor
Interregnum from 1868 to 1870,
rule of the House of Savoy from 1870 to 1873,
First Spanish Republic from 1873 to 1874
Alfonso XII 1874-1885 Son of Isabella
Alfonso XIII 1886-1931 Son of the predecessor
Second Spanish Republic from 1931 to 1939,
then Franco dictatorship until 1975
Juan Carlos I. 1975-2014 Grandson of Alfonso XIII
Felipe VI. since 2014 Son of the predecessor

Marriage of cousin and cousin or uncle and niece

In three of the five immediate generations before Juan Carlos, cousins ​​had fathered children, and in two cases, and from both lineages, even uncle and niece. This inbreeding , which is repeated every generation, has therefore only been interrupted once.


Bourbon Sicily

Coat of arms of the House of Bourbon-Sicily

When the Duc d'Anjou (Philip V) ascended the Spanish royal throne in 1700, he also became King of Naples and Sicily (“the two Sicilies”), whose crowns had been linked to the Spanish kingship for several generations. In the Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713, he had to cede both kingdoms to the houses of Habsburg and Savoy. In the course of the War of the Polish Succession , however, both kingdoms were recaptured by Spanish troops. In the Peace of Vienna in 1738 , the "two Sicilies" were awarded to the Spanish Bourbon dynasty, but on the condition that their personal union with Spain was canceled. That is why King Philip V of Spain appointed his younger son, Don Carlos , to be King of Naples and Sicily. When King Charles (IV. In Sicily, VIII. In Naples) succeeded him as King of Spain (Charles III.) In 1759, he left the two kingdoms to his younger son Don Fernando . This founded the side branch of the royal house of Bourbon-Sicily separated from the Spanish Borbón (Bourbon-Anjou) .

King Ferdinand (III. In Sicily, IV. In Naples) lost Naples to the French in 1806, but was able to take it back in 1815. The House of Bourbon-Sicily descends from him. In 1816 he created a real union from the personal union of Naples and Sicily as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies , of which he became King Ferdinand I. This kingdom was lost to the Bourbons in the course of the Italian Risorgimento , King Francis II was expelled from his capital in September 1860 and had to go into Austrian exile in early 1861. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was incorporated into the newly founded Kingdom of Italy .

Bourbon Parma

The coat of arms of the House of Bourbon-Parma corresponds to that of the House of Bourbon-Anjou, extended by eight white shells
Great coat of arms of the House of Bourbon-Parma

The Duc d'Anjou (King Philip V of Spain) was married to Elisabetta Farnese , a member of the Italian ducal house of Parma , Piacenza and Guastalla . When Antonio Farnese , the last Duke of the House of Farnese , died in 1731 , Elisabetta's son Don Carlos de Borbón took over the duchy. In order to be able to take over the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily after the end of the Polish War of Succession in 1738, Carlos renounced Parma, which for the time being went to the House of Habsburg .

The Spanish Bourbons (Bourbon-Anjou) engaged in the Austrian War of Succession to regain Parma and Piacenza. In the Treaty of Aachen in 1748, Don Felipe , the youngest son of Elisabetta Farnese, was awarded the Duchy of Parma. This makes him the progenitor of the Bourbon-Parma house . The relapse of the Duchy to Austria was a condition of peace, in the event of the extinction of Don Felipe's male line or their inheritance to the throne of both Sicilies or Spain.

In 1801, under pressure from Napoleon Bonaparte , the Bourbon-Parma had to renounce their duchy, which was passed on to the wife of the French emperor. However, they received compensation for the loss with the Kingdom of Etruria , which mainly consisted of the former Grand Duchy of Tuscany . In 1807, however, the Bourbons were also expelled from Etruria and instead offered a planned kingdom of Lusitania . It was not until the death of Duchess Marie Louise in 1847 that the Bourbons were able to return to Parma. They stayed there until 1859, when Duke Robert had to flee during the Risorgimento . Parma was united with the Kingdom of Italy.


In 1919, Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma married the Luxembourg Grand Duchess Charlotte of Nassau-Weilburg ; Both descendants are still the Grand Dukes of Luxembourg today. Although Prince Felix was a member of the House of Bourbon-Parma and his descendants therefore belong in an agnatic line to the Bourbon dynasty, they have since called themselves "von Luxemburg-Nassau" for political reasons. Because according to Article 3 of the Luxembourg Constitution, the House of Nassau is established as the ruling dynasty. However, today the personal coat of arms of the Grand Duke Heinrich I (Henri) , in addition to the Luxembourg and Nassau coats of arms, also includes that of the House of Bourbon-Parma.

Extract from the family table of the Bourbons (French line)

Henry IV
Louis XIII
Louis XIV
Philippe I. de Bourbon, duc d'Orléans
Louis de Bourbon
House Orléans
(until today)
Louis de Bourbon
Philippe de Bourbon, duc d'Anjou
(Philip V of Spain)
Louis XV
House Bourbon-Anjou (Spanish Bourbons)
(to date)
Louis Ferdinand de Bourbon
Louis XVI
Charles X
Louis Charles de Bourbon
"Louis XVII."
Louis Antoine de Bourbon
"Ludwig XIX."
Charles Ferdinand de Bourbon
Henri de Bourbon
Comte de Chambord
"Henry V"
Family relationships

See also


  • Rainer Babel: Between Habsburg and Bourbon. Foreign policy and European position, Duke Charles IV of Lorraine and Bar from taking office to exile (1624–1634). (Supplements of Francia 18), Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1989, ISBN 3-7995-7318-6 . Online at
  • Klaus Malettke : The Bourbons. 3 volumes, Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2008–2009.

Web links

Commons : House of Bourbon  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files
Wiktionary: Bourbon  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations