The term House of France refers to the branch of the Capetian dynasty which provided the Kings of France following the election of Hugh Capet. The House of France consists of a number of branches and their sub-branches. Some of its branches have acceded to the Crown, while others remained cadets.
The House of France embodied in the Ancien Régime the continuity of political institutions of the kingdom of France, in its relations with the rulers of other countries. It included both a family dimension (the royal family and princes of the blood) and patrimony (the royal domain).
This continuity was made possible by the stability of the succession of kings who ruled France since the Treaty of Verdun with the Carolingians, and from 987 with the Capetians and their various branches. The policy of family alliances with other princely or royal houses for centuries led to the establishment of peace, control of the borders, and a sustainable royal domain by regaining control of the old appendages without an heir.[clarification needed]
In 1316, Philip V the Tall definitively established the principle that only male descendants of Hugh Capet, born of a legitimate marriage, can succeed to the French throne. The rules laid down by the lawyers of the old regime led to strict limitations on the quality of princes of the blood, sometimes against the will of the prince. Reference is made on the question of legitimated bastards, the religion of the prince and other fundamental laws of the kingdom.
The use of the term House to designate a family appears in the twelfth century in translations of the Vulgate. It speaks of the House of Saul and House of David. House was therefore found proper to describe the lineage of the "new David", the Most Christian King, anointed on the head like the kings of Israel. In the thirteenth century the King of the Franks was officially called the King of France and the great officers of the king became the officers of France. For example, the marshal of the king became the Marshal of France. The term House of France was consecrated by Pope Boniface VIII in his bull of canonization of Louis IX: Gaudeat Dominus inclyta Franciae (11 August 1297).
The adjectives "Most Christian", "Holy", and "Noble" were used to describe this house but the term "August", came to be preferred, especially from the time of Louis XIV, due to the imperial and sacred resonances of the latter term. There are testimonies of authors (for example, Mathieu Paris) and foreign rulers who claim that since the thirteenth century it was the first family of the world, as the king of France is the first of the kings.
Called "kings of the first, second and third race" by lawyers or former officers of the chancery of France, modern historians called the French royal dynasties since the mid-nineteenth century by the name of the founding ancestor: the Merovingians were named after Merovech, the Carolingians named after Charlemagne and the Capetians from the nickname of King Hugh, elected in 987. The imperial House of Napoleon Bonaparte is not considered by historians as the "House of France" but is considered a new dynasty sometimes called the Fourth Dynasty.
The unity of the Frankish kingdom was made through the succession of the Merovingian kings from the baptism of Clovis I and Clotilde, the earliest date which historians designate as the beginning of Frankish Gaul or France. These lineages, however, shared the kingdom, once in every generation, including the Carolingian period. The system of shared rule did not end until the last of the Carolingian kings. The last division of the kingdom of the Franks in 879 took place at the death of Louis II. Male children of the direct Capetians cadets received land, mostly often a county; this practice led to the concept of the appanage.
Before Hugh Capet, two members of the Robertian family were kings of the Franks, their reigns interspersed between those of the Carolingians: Odo I and Robert I. These first two kings are the sons of Robert the Strong. The origin of the family of the ancestors of Hugh Capet has long been misunderstood and various conjectures have been formulated. In the twentieth century, the work of several historians have identified a number of assumptions and near certainty on the history and genealogy of the Robertians. The ancestors of the Capetians form a family group consisting of servants in the last Merovingians in Neustria such as Robert, an adviser to Dagobert I, then from the first Carolingians of Austrasia, Count Robert I of Worms and Hesbaye who died in 764.
In 836, a member of this family, Robert the Strong, sided with Charles the Bald against his brother Lothair I, which led him to leave his Rhine possessions to the Loire Valley, where the king gave him significant counties. The weakness of the Carolingians (minority of Charles the Simple, premature death of Louis IV, Lothair and Louis V), combined with the energy of the Robertians both before the face of the Norman invaders and of royal power is beginning of the rise in power of the line of Hugh Capet.
According to historian Karl Ferdinand Werner, because of its origins, the House of France is the oldest royal dynasty in male succession of the world. Though this may have been true in Europe, the Imperial House of Japan is, in fact, much older.
Although it is impossible to unite the three Frankish royal dynasties in a single agnatic line, the multiple entanglements between the three proven pedigree families, particularly between Robertians and Carolingians, and historical continuity prompted to designate them together with the term House of France. That is the conception of genealogists from different eras such as the brother of St. Martha, Father Anselm or Christian Settipani.
The notion of royal family can be construed in a strict or broad sense. Strictly speaking, the royal family included the close relatives of the king.
Between the sixteenth century and 1830, the royal family of France was composed, in a ceremonial order, of the king, his wife (the queen), mother (the Queen Mother), his children and grandchildren, his brothers and sisters, their children and grandchildren and the spouses of each of them, and, where applicable, queens which were wives of kings of France of extinct branches.
The royal domain includes a large area, which corresponds to the public domain, and a small area, which is the private domain of the royal family, and inalienable concessions, such as the appanages or large grants that are not hereditary.
The house is descended in male line from the Robertians. The House of Capet reigned in France from 987 to 1792 and from 1814 to 1815 to 1848. It gave birth to other dynasties that ruled in Europe, Africa, Asia and America when taking into account the overseas possessions of European kingdoms.
In 987, Hugh Capet inaugurates the third race of the kings of France, the one which will reign longest. The first Capetians associated their heirs to the crown while they still lived; the dynasty established its legitimacy and the principle of election, through which its founder attained the throne, is substituted by the hereditary principle already present in earlier dynasties. The extraordinary father-to-son succession ended in 1316 with the death of the child-king John I. His uncle and regent Philip V took the throne for himself, then his younger brother succeeded him briefly. These last two reigns allowed time for the royal court to consolidate the principle of agnatic succession by giving the throne to the Count of Valois, the nearest male in the male line, against Edward III of England and Joan II of Navarre, heirs in the female line.
The House of France, in its direct line of Capetians, has produced a number of cadet branches:
Each branch, along with their legitimate sub-branches, forms a part of the House of France. Some illegitimate branches are still extant, such as the House of Braganza (descended from the House of Burgundy), a few illegitimate branches of the House of Bourbon and of the House of Valois-Burgundy.
The House of Valois, descended from a younger brother of Philip IV, ascended the throne in 1328. After becoming a royal house, it produced several cadet branches, all now extinct in the legitimate male line. The main line was extinguished with Charles VIII of France, who was succeeded by a prince of the House of Orléans (a cadet line of the Valois), in common parlance called, "House of Valois-Orléans", under the names of Louis XII of France (1498–1515). He himself died without a male heir, and the branch of the Orléans-Angoulême succeeded him, reigning until 1589.
On 29 June 1768, with the death of Helen of Courtenay (1689–1768), the Courtenay branch of the Capetian dynasty became extinct.
Since 1733, all legitimate male Capetians were of the House of Bourbon, of the Vendôme branch, descended from Charles, Duke of Vendôme. The descendants of Charles (themselves from the Dukes of Bourbon and, by them, from the youngest son of St. Louis), then became the only surviving legitimate branch of the Capetian dynasty. The House of Bourbon-Busset form, indeed, the elder branch, but are not considered dynasts of the House of Bourbon (for they descend through what is considered an illegitimate line). These are the only surviving Bourbons who are not descended in male line from Henry IV. Charles' eldest son Antoine, King of Navarre, was the ancestor of the royal dynasties of France and Spain, and of the House of Orléans, while his youngest son Louis, Prince of Condé (1530–1569), was the ancestor of the House of Condé. A cadet branch of the Condés was the House of Conti, who in male line descended of Henri, Prince of Condé (1588–1646). Both Condés and Contis were ranked as Prince du sang.
Therefore, officially since 1768 (in practice, even longer, for the last of the Courtenay were little-known), the House of France became interchangeable with the "House of Bourbon".
The House of Bourbon gave rise to several branches named after the appanage of the son of France from which they descend.
The princes from the different branches took the name of their branch. Thus, the princes of Orléans did not bear the name of Bourbon; also, just as his father before him, the Count of Chambord bore the surname of Artois and not of Bourbon.
The head of the House of France, was until 1830, the King of France and thereafter the Comte de Chambord, who died in 1883. Since the death of the latter, the French royalists are divided on the question of succession between supporters of the Spanish Bourbons and the supporters of Orléans.
The former equate the House of Bourbon and House of France, while for the latter, the House of France is identified only with the House of Orléans, which is only one component of the House of Bourbon.
The rule of male primogeniture for the transmission of the ancient crown of France is therefore subject, since the death of the Count of Chambord, to the recognition or not by partisans of one or the other waivers made during Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, which prevented the union of the kingdoms of Spain and France under one monarch. The will of Charles II of Spain in 1700 was in congruence with the European powers that Louis XIV, despite his victories during the War of Spanish Succession, was unable to influence.
This branch, descended from Louis XIV and his son the "Grand Dauphin", began with King Philip V of Spain, Son of France and Duke of Anjou before his accession.
Descendants of Philip V of Spain used the surname of Bourbon. Under the old French royal tradition, they should bear the name of the appanage conferred on the son of France from which they originate. But Felipe V acceded to the Spanish crown before receiving an appanage, so the princes from this line took the name of Bourbon. "Duke of Anjou" was a title given to the grandson of Louis XIV, though he never received the duchy of Anjou in appanage.
According to supporters of the elder branch of the Bourbons, the Head of the House of France must be the oldest of all the legitimate descendants of Hugh Capet, and that whatever his nationality or waivers of his ancestors such as those made in the Treaty of Utrecht, are invalid because of the theory of indisponibilité (unavailability of the crown, which meant that the right of succession is inalienable; it cannot be lost or bypassed). Under this view, the Head of the House of France would be, currently, Louis de Bourbon (1974), "Duke of Anjou." Known in legitimist circles (in the press and the French and Spanish) under the name "Louis XX", the "Duke of Anjou" is a descendant of King Philip V of Spain.
Like his father Alphonse de Bourbon (1936–1989), Louis de Bourbon is titled "Head of the House of Bourbon." He has French nationality, inherited from his paternal grandmother, Emmanuelle de Dampierre, "Duchess of Anjou and Segovia." His grandfather Jacques Henri de Bourbon, a Spanish national, had declared himself "Head of the House of France" at the death of his father, King Alfonso XIII of Spain. Louis de Bourbon carries the full arms of France; his father had confirmed this right through the French courts.
His followers call themselves "legitimists"; their opponents prefer to call them Blancs d'Espagne ("Whites of Spain").
This branch starts with the second son of Louis XIII, Philippe de France, Son of France and Duke of Orléans.
For supporters of the younger branch of the Bourbons, or House of Orléans, the head of the royal House of France was the eldest of the Bourbons that remained continuously French, namely the Head of the House of Orléans, a descendant of Philippe de France (1640–1701), Duke of Orléans, and Louis-Philippe I, King of the French: the current "Count of Paris and Duke of France", "Henry VII" to his supporters. They recognize the validity of waivers of the treaties of Utrecht (1713).
Supporters of Orléans are called "Orleanist". Historically, the term applied to supporters of the regime of Louis-Philippe I, against the supporters of the Count of Chambord (the legitimist) or of the Bonaparte family (Bonapartists).
Moreover, the term "Orleanist" refers to a nineteenth-century political tradition, that of a constitutional monarchy, parliamentary and secular, which does not necessarily include all the supporters of the House of Orléans today. Nevertheless, regardless of ideological debates, in common usage, "Orleanist" means a supporter of the House of Orléans regardless of his conception of monarchy.
The House of France not only gave thirty-seven kings of France but also thirteen kings in Naples and Sicily, ten kings in Spain, four kings to Hungary, three kings in Poland, three emperors in Constantinople and by illegitimate offspring thirty-two kings in Portugal and two emperors in Brazil.
Beyond the ruling families, a search that began with the Cahiers de Saint-Louis, was undertaken to identify all individuals and families currently living, and can prove descent from Hugh Capet including female line or natural.