Henri, Duc de Bordeaux
Henri Charles Ferdinand Marie Dieudonné de Bourbon, Duc de Bordeaux from his birth, later known as the Comte de Chambord, and by French Legitimists as Henri V, King of France and Navarre, died on 24th August 1883. He was the last of the male descendants of the senior line of the House of Bourbon from King Louis XIV.

His birth on 29th September 1820, as the posthumous son of Charles Ferdinand, Duc de Berry, assassinated as he left the Paris Opera House theatre seven months before, came as joyful news to French Royalists, who had feared the extinction of the senior line. He was given the baptismal name "Dieudonné" and called "l'enfant miracle". His mother, Caroline of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, each of whose four grandparents were descendants of Princess Elizabeth Stuart, Electress Palatine of the Rhine,Duchess of Orléans, was determined that her son should inherit the Bourbon Throne of France.

After the abdication of King Charles X in the July Revolution of 1830, his heir was his surviving elder son, the Dauphin, Louis Antoine, Duc d'Angoulême, who had no children from his marriage with his cousin, Marie Thérèse, the last surviving child of King Louis XVI, known as Madame Royale.

Louis Antoine, Duc d'Angoulême
For 20 minutes, no more, Louis Antoine became de facto King Louis XIX. Henri was at once proclai- med Henri V, King of France and Navarre, but the National Assembly declared the Throne vacant and summoned Louis Philippe, Duc d'Orléans, whose consort, Marie Amélie of Bourbon-Two Sicilies was the aunt of Henri's mother, the Duchesse de Berry. Louis Philippe was proclaimed King of the French and reigned until 1848.

Royalists in France were divided. Liberals and constitutionalists supported the July Monarchy of the Orléans branch of the House of Bourbon, Conservatives recognised Henri V, while Legitimists and the former Ultra-Royalists considered that Charles X had no right to renounce the Throne and that, consequently, he was still de jure King of France and Navarre, until his death in 1836 at Gorizia, in Venezia Friuli. Only then was the Dauphin Louis Antoine recognised by Legitimists as Louis XIX, until his death in 1844, also at Gorizia, then Austria, today Slovenia.

From 3rd June 1844, Henri V, while the retaining the title of Comte de Chambord, by which he is known in history, became the official French Legitimist claimant. On 16th November 1846, at Brück an der Mur, in Austrian Styria, he married Archduchess Marie Therese Beatrice Gaëtane of Austria-Este and Princess of Modena. The couple remained childless.

It is perhaps the last years of Henri V, Comte de Chambord, which are the most controversial. With the defeat of Napoleon III by Prussia in 1870, France found herself with the Legitimist Maréchal Patrice de MacMahon, Duc de Magenta, as Provisional President of the Third Republic, and with a mixed Royalist majority in the National Assembly.

Louis Philippe, Comte de Paris, 1893
Orléanists were prepared to support the restoration of Henri V, on condition that Louis-Philippe Albert d'Orléans, Comte de Paris, would be recognised as his successor, in the event of a Restoration. Whether or not Henri, the Comte de Chambord, was prepared to make a compromise settlement, he was implacably opposed to accepting the Revolutionary Tricoleur as the national flag of France, insisting on the white "Fleur de Lys" of the pre-revolutionary Bourbon Monarchy. He remained in exile and was not prepared to return to France, before a settlement had been reached among Royalists, according to his declared principles. But he and the Comte de Paris met and found a common ground:
Le comte de Paris cherche à se rapprocher de son cousin. «Henri V» n’ayant pas d’enfant, le chef des Orléans est en effet convaincu qu’une restauration légitimiste ferait de lui le dauphin et permettrait de renforcer le camp monarchiste face aux républicains et aux bonapartistes. Après l’envoi infructueux de plusieurs émissaires auprès du « comte de Chambord », le comte de Paris décide de se rendre lui-même à Frohsdorf afin d’y affirmer officiellement sa soumission à l’aîné des Capétiens. Le 3 août 1873, le prince déclare ainsi à son cousin : « Je viens en mon nom, et au nom de tous les membres de ma famille, vous présenter mes respectueux hommages, non seulement comme au chef de notre maison mais comme au représentant du principe monarchique en France ». À ces mots, le « comte de Chambord » l’embrasse et lui répond : « Croyez, mon cousin, que je trouve tout naturel que vous conserviez les opinions politiques de votre famille, dans lesquelles vous avez été élevé. L’héritier du trône peut avoir ses idées comme le Roi a les siennes ». La fusion des deux courants monarchistes et la reconnaissance mutuelle des deux princes en tant que chef de famille et héritier semblent donc totales
It was clear that after the death of Henri, Comte de Chambord, the head of the Maison de France (as distinguished from the Maison de Bourbon) would be the head of the Orléans line, i.e. the Comte de Paris. Henri himself had accepted that and it was accepted by many Legitimists, and was the default on legal grounds; since the only surviving Bourbon line more senior was the Spanish branch, which had renounced its right to inherit the throne of France as a condition of the Treaty of Utrecht. However, many of Henri's supporters, including his widow, chose to disregard his statements and this law, arguing that no one had the right to deny to the senior direct-male-line male Bourbon to be the head of the Maison de France and thus the legitimate King of France.

Reconciliation between the Comte de Chambord and the Comte de Paris.



More...