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This thread is obviously modelled on another, On This Day in the General section, started over seven years ago by now inactive member MozartBoy, made into a real feature of the forum by gboleyn, and after he too became inactive ably kept going by DavidV. The week before last I began making my own original contributions to the thread, having previously confined myself to responses to those of others. Realising that whatever I wrote was often going to be influenced by my special genealogical interests, and also that I would sometimes be using links of the type that require regular repair, I have decided to make future contributions to a separate thread, where those who share my particular interests can find them more readily, as can I for maintenance purposes.

I will lead off with a few posts transferred from the original thread and somewhat amended, plus a post for 6th December which I didn’t finish writing on the day so didn’t make, before getting to today, a busy day in royal history. Further contributions will not be every day and will not cover every event, only those I feel to be of particular genealogical and/or historical interest. I don’t imagine that many people will read such contributions as are made, but I hope that those who do will find some enjoyment and interest along the way.

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26th November

1847: Princess Dagmar of Denmark is born, later to become better known under her assumed name of Maria Feodorovna, consort of Alexander III of Russia and mother of Nicholas II. She would have been the wife of (a different) Nicholas II instead, but he died of meningitis during their engagement, she then marrying his younger brother who was now Tsesarevich and heir.

1869: Also born on 26th November was the Empress's niece Princess Maud of Wales. She married Prince Carl of Denmark, who was the Empress's nephew and of course her own first cousin. In 1905 he also had a change of name, becoming Haakon VII of Norway and his wife the Queen Consort of that country, newly separated from personal union with Sweden. One hundred and ten years later, the Norwegian monarchy endures; would that the Russian had also, sparing Russia itself and half of the rest of Europe from one of the worst tyrannies known to history.



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                                                               João IV, King of Portugal and the Algarves, 'O Restaurador'

                                                                                                                                              1st December

1135: Henry I of England died 880 years ago today. His father William I was never loved, rather hated for his brutality and ruthlessness and imposition of alien rule and institutions. Nor had his brother William II been, but Henry was. More than capable of ruthlessness himself, he nevertheless ruled sternly but justly, wisely and well, his choice of a bride of English royal blood also discontenting his barons but helping to endear the new royal house to the populace. Henry I can fairly be regarded as the second founder of the post-Conquest monarchy which endures to this day. And, despite his lack of a male heir and all the troubles that ensued after his death, it was a far firmer foundation he laid than his father had been able to achieve.

1633: Three hundred and eighty-two years ago today Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia died in the Spanish Netherlands, which she had governed with great wisdom and success for over three decades. A daughter of Felipe II by his third wife Elisabeth of Valois, she might have been regnant Queen of England and was proclaimed regnant Queen of France, but neither was to be. Both Elizabeth I of England, who retained her throne despite Felipe II’s attempts to impose his daughter instead, and Henri IV of France who attained his despite the Catholic forces backing the Spanish Infanta, were themselves very great rulers, but still Isabella Clara Eugenia’s subsequent career showed that either country could have done worse.

1640: On this day 375 years ago João IV was proclaimed King of Portugal and the Algarves, ending over half a century of personal union with Spain and inaugurating the reign of the Most Serene House of Bragança, which, a brief occupation by French forces during the Napoleonic Wars aside, would continue uninterrupted for the next 269 years. It was greatly to Portugal’s loss that its ancient monarchy was then replaced by ramshackle and shoddy republican rule, which soon enough became an oppressive dictatorship under Salazar and his successor Caetano.

1825: Another 1st December death was that of the Emperor Alexander I Pavlovitch of Russia, 190 years ago today. Shrouded ever since in mystery, myth and rumour, I have little doubt that his death was natural and did actually occur on that day. In life he had been a Colossus bestriding Europe, the vanquisher of Napoléon and the hero of all nations, though perhaps not including France. There is much that can be criticised in detail in his life and reign, but the towering reputation he enjoyed in his lifetime was not without basis and should not be altogether disregarded or forgotten.

1844: Finally, a birth. On 1st December 1844, 171 years ago, Princess Alexandra of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg was born. Later she would be Princess Alexandra of Denmark, then for 37 years Princess of Wales, for another nine Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India as consort of Edward VII, and for a final decade and a half Dowager Queen. Greatly loved by the British public, the famous Alexandra Palace and over sixty street names in London still commemorate her memory, as does Alexandra Rose Day, instituted in 1912 to mark the 50th anniversary of her arrival from Denmark to marry the country’s future King and still held every year, more than a century after it began and 163 years since that arrival.

[Queen_Alexandra%2C_the_Princess_of_Wales]                                                      Queen Alexandra as Princess of Wales


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2nd December

1469: Piero the Gouty dies in his city of Florence, which he had ruled since the death of his father Cosimo, patriarch and founder of the great Medici dynasty which played such an important part in Europe’s cultural history and eventually joined the ranks of its royal houses. Piero’s own son and successor was the famous Lorenzo the Magnificent, and two of his grandsons were elected Pope.

1723: Philippe II, duc d’Orléans, dies not long after surrendering the Regency of France, the young King Louis XV being declared to have reached his majority aged 13. Great suspicion had surrounded the Duke’s assumption of the position, it being feared that as the child-King’s legal heir he would soon be exchanging the Regent’s diadem for a crown, but in the event even his worst foes, of which he had many, were forced to admit that he had ruled responsibly and with success and shown no ambition beyond the wellbeing of France and his ward. The latter always regarded him with affection and gratitude, and a continuing monument to Philippe II is in the city of New Orleans, which was named for him rather than the place in France whence he took his title.

1804: Napoléon I crowns himself Emperor of the French at Notre Dame de Paris. The only previous coronation to have been held there was that of the ten-year-old Henry VI of England as claimed King of France also, on 16th December 1431.

1825: The birth of Pedro II, who by the time he was five years old would find himself Emperor and Perpetual Defender of Brazil. His long reign, full of achievements, and life of dedicated service to the Brazilian people, were rewarded only by his overthrow and exile in a tawdry plot orchestrated by self-seeking politicians. None of Brazil’s presidents have served the country half so well as its great last Emperor, or indeed his father Pedro I and grandfather João VI, but at least his name is still honoured in the vast land he ruled so well for so long.

1848: Franz Joseph I accedes as Emperor of Austria, following the abdication of his uncle Ferdinand I and renunciation of his father Archduke Franz. Just eighteen years old at this date, he would reign for just short of 68 years, through many vicissitudes and much personal tragedy, including the suicide of his only son, the murder of his wife and finally that of his nephew and heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand, sparking the conflict that eventually destroyed the Habsburg Monarchy and so much else besides.

Upon learning of his wife’s death, stabbed by an anarchist assassin, the Emperor bowed his head and said ‘Mir bleibt doch gar nichts erspart auf dieser Welt’. ‘I am spared nothing in this world’, but at least he did not live to see the utter destruction of the centuries-old Habsburg heritage which followed so swiftly after his death.

1849: The Dowager Queen Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen dies at Bentley Priory in Middlesex. The two daughters she bore her husband William IV had both died in infancy, and thus William IV’s heir had been his niece Queen Victoria – though, uniquely as far as I know, the latter’s proclamation had been with a reservation in case of Queen Adelaide being pregnant. In that event there would have been a technical demise of the Crown and the newborn infant would have been King or regnant Queen from its birth, with the now Princess Victoria resuming the position of heiress presumptive. But there was no posthumous issue of William IV, and the chief legacy today of his consort is the name of the beautiful city of Adelaide, capital of South Australia, named for her in 1836.

1852: On the anniversary of his uncle’s coronation, Napoléon III becomes Emperor of the French. France’s last monarchical ruler to date, his reign was one of many admirable accomplishments but ended in overreach, defeat and deposition. If only the Third Republic that followed him had been itself succeeded by the restoration of France’s ancient and original monarchy in the person of Henri V, rather than a dreary duo of further republics.


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3rd December

1368: Charles VI of France is born. His reign is chiefly remembered for his periodic bouts of insanity, which rendered him mostly incapable of rule. In the English version of things his successor was his grandson Henry VI, referred to above, and in the French his son Charles VII. The latter prevailed, due in no small part to the extraordinary deeds of Jeanne d’Arc. The link is to Leonard Cohen’s extraordinary song Joan of Arc, a love duet between Joan and the flames.

1533: Vasily III of Moscow dies, to be succeeded by his dread son Ivan IV.

1706: The hymnwriter Countess Emilie Juliane of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt dies. Born a Countess of Barby-Mühlingen, over 600 of her hymns survive. Another legacy is that she was an ancestress of Queen Victoria, of Landgravine Luise of Hesse-Cassel, spouse of Christian IX of Denmark, and of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, grandmother of King Willem-Alexander, who along with the Princes of Monaco and Liechtenstein descends from neither Victoria nor Christian IX. All other present-day European monarchs claim descent from one or the other if not both, and thus the long-ago Protestant hymnodist is ancestral to eight out of ten of today’s reigning sovereigns, including three of the five Catholics.


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                                                         The coronation of Béla I of Hungary
                                                                                                                                               6th December

1060: Béla I of Hungary is crowned at Székesfehérvár, though not with the Holy Crown, which did not yet exist at this date, or with the Monomachus Crown, which had already been lost and was not rediscovered until the 19th century. Whatever artefact may have descended on the new King’s head, he was now the successor of his father’s cousin the canonised István I, under whom Hungary had first been raised to a kingdom.

His own immediate successor was Solomon, son of Béla’s brother and predecessor András I, but Solomon was deposed and replaced by Béla’s son Géza I. Every single King of Hungary that followed until the Árpád line failed in 1301 was of the male line of Béla I, and with the sole exception of Matthias Corvinus in the 15th century every King after that was a cognatic descendant.

1185: Afonso I of Portugal dies. Forty-six years earlier he had achieved his country’s independence from León, thus becoming its first ever King. He is revered in Portugal to this day as O Fundador, the Founder.

1421: The birth at Windsor Castle of the future Henry VI, whose sad reign would begin less than a year later.

1685: The birth of Princess Marie Adélaïde of Savoy, later to be consort of Louis, duc de Bourgogne, who was briefly Dauphin following the death of his own father. Of the three children they had together the only one to survive would be their youngest, who as a five-year old orphan became Louis XV, King of France and Navarre.

1745: The Jacobite army begins its retreat from Derby, the furthest point south they reached, ending the last serious threat to the Protestant Succession established by law over half a century before.

1792: The future Willem II of the Netherlands is born at The Hague. The date will explain why much of his earlier life was spent in exile at various different European Courts, but he grew to be a gallant and much-admired soldier and eventually returned to his birthland as Crown Prince, later to be King. His private life was scandalous due to his promiscuous bisexuality, but as a monarch he ruled prudently and well, most notably granting the Netherlands Constitution which with amendments is still in force today and thus staving off the troubles of 1848.

1978: Spain’s monarchical constitution is overwhelmingly approved in a nationwide referendum, a point somehow always overlooked by Spanish republicans complaining that the Spanish monarchy lacks democratic legitimacy.

[King_Willem_II]                                                     Willem II of the Netherlands


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                                                                                        Mary I of Scotland, to some a Catholic martyr, to others a scheming murderess

                                                                                                                                              8th December

1542: Princess Mary of Scotland is born at Linlithgow. Less than a week later her father James V died and as his sole surviving legitimate child she became Queen as Mary I. Aged five she was sent to France as affianced bride of the Dauphin, the future François II. She would spend the next thirteen years there, becoming in succession Dauphine, Queen Consort of France and a widow. Returning to Scotland she made her disastrous second marriage, terminated by her husband’s murder in a plot commonly and with good reason believed to have been orchestrated by Mary, and then her deeply scandalous third. Her marital career and general dissatisfaction with her rule led to her deposition and flight to England, where she would die under the executioner’s axe aged 44.

1574: Maria Anna of Bavaria is born. Aged 25 she would marry her complicated cousin Archduke Ferdinand of Austria. She died before he became Emperor Ferdinand II but had already had several children, including the future Ferdinand III and Archduchess Maria Anna, a remarkable Electress of Bavaria as wife of her uncle Maximilian I.

1708: Prince Francis Stephen of Lorraine is born at the Duchy’s capital Nancy. He was to become Emperor Franz I as spouse of Archduchess Maria Theresa, the last Habsburg of the original line. Greatly overshadowed in both life and historical memory by his wife, he was not without qualities and capabilities of his own and contributed much to the success of what will nevertheless always be known as her rather than his reign. As a young man he had travelled quite widely, including at least one prolonged visit to England. My remark elsewhere in these threads that Charles V was the only Holy Roman Emperor ever to come to this country is not though invalidated thereby, as Franz I’s election was more than a decade later.

1818: The first child is born in Paris of the theatrical couple Tancrède Grimaldi and his wife Marie Gibert. Tancrède however had a future career awaiting him quite different from appearing on French stages as a comic actor, as he was the younger son of Honoré IV of Monaco and would in due course succeed his elder brother Honoré V, becoming Florestan I. That baby born in Paris would be Charles III in his turn, his reign seeing the foundation of the Casino of Monte Carlo, named for him, and the final cession of the bulk of Monaco’s land area to France, leaving the minuscule principality we know today.

1907: Oscar II of Sweden and formerly Norway dies and is succeeded by Crown Prince Gustaf, now Gustaf V, whose long reign extended over both World Wars and saw the final establishment of parliamentary democracy in Sweden.

1974: A sad day for European monarchism, as a referendum in Greece confirms the abolition of that country’s monarchy. I would venture to suggest that all seven Greek monarchs since independence from Ottoman rule had served their country well and been ill-served in return, four of them being deposed, one of these twice, and another assassinated.

[800px-Gustaf_V_f%C3%A4rgfoto]                                                    The long-reigning Gustav V of Sweden


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9th December

1165: Malcolm IV of Scotland dies after a 12-year reign, having succeeded his grandfather David I aged 12. He became known as ‘Malcolm the Maiden’, which would not be a particularly flattering sobriquet these days but then was meant to indicate his Christian virtue and chastity. Dying unmarried and childless, he was succeeded by his brother William I, known as ‘the Lion’. William was by no means chaste, and through his illegitimate daughter Ada is a universal ancestor of today’s royalty, as shown in the 1286 note on posterities. Legitimate affinity to both Malcolm IV and William I is preserved through their brother David, an ancestor of Robert the Bruce.

1437: The Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund dies, last male of the House of Luxemburg. His immediate successor as German king was his son-in-law Albrecht, Duke of Austria, but he died himself less than two years later and was succeeded by his distant cousin Friedrich, crowned Emperor as Friedrich III, the first of 16 Habsburg or Habsburg-Lorraine Emperors who succeeded in sequence until the Empire’s end, interrupted only by a brief Wittelsbach intrusion in the person of Karl VII. Thus Sigismund was not only the last Luxemburg Emperor (of three), he was the last Emperor with that one exception not to be a Habsburg or Habsburg-Lorraine.

1594: The future Gustav II Adolf is born at the Three Crowns Castle in Stockholm, on the site of the present Royal Palace. When born he was not heir to the Swedish throne, but became so when in 1604 his cousin King Sigismund was formally deposed and replaced by Gustav Adolf’s father Duke Karl, who now became Karl IX. Gustav Adolf succeeded his father aged 16, and over the next 21 years forged a reputation for himself as one of the greatest military commanders of all time, raising Sweden to Great Power status through his own genius and success in warfare and laying the foundations of the Swedish Empire.

His intervention in the Thirty Years War changed the course of that conflict, but his death at the (victorious) Battle of Lützen prevented the intervention from being completely decisive; had the King survived the battle, who knows how different subsequent events might have been. After he died the Riksdag voted him the formal title of Gustavus Adolphus Magnus, Gustav Adolf the Great, and to this day the anniversary of his death is dedicated to his memory as Gustavus Adolphus Day, celebrated not only in Sweden but also Finland and Estonia.

Of living legitimate heritage he left only his daughter and heiress Christina, who never married and eventually abdicated the throne to a Wittelsbach cousin, who became Karl X. Descent does survive from the great King, through his illegitimate son Gustaf Gustafsson, but has never extended to any royal line. Curiously enough, Axel Oxenstierna, Lord High Chancellor to the King and himself a major figure in Swedish history, does have a future sovereign as his descendant, who as usual turns out to be Prince Joseph Wenzel of Liechtenstein (stage I: stage II).

Seven current sovereigns are kin to Oxenstierna, being descended through either Christian IX of Denmark or a sibling of his from the Chancellor’s cousin Gabriel Oxenstierna, but then they are closer kin to the King himself, all current sovereigns being descended from his half-sister Katarina, who appears in the link between Karl X and Queen Christina above. Nine of the ten are descendants of Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt (see the second table in this post for evidence), himself a Katarina descendant, and for the tenth, the Queen, here is a link through to her great-grandfather Edward VII.

1674: Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon dies. A statesman of considerable significance in British history and a notable historian, he is included here not because of that but because he was the father of the first wife of James, Duke of York and Albany, later James II & VII, and maternal grandfather of Queens Mary II and Anne. Mary II had no children at all and Anne none that survived, but the Earl had other children besides their mother, descent from whom is very widespread in the British aristocracy. I thought I might well be able to trace the Duke of Cambridge at least from him, but in fact the only royal descendant I could find other than the two Queens was the Duke of Gloucester.

1706: The death of Pedro II, King of Portugal and the Algarves. The third Bragança monarch, he had become so on the death of his insane brother Afonso VI, whom he had some years previously removed from the rule though not the Crown, exiling his brother to the Azores and taking up a position as Regent. See my essay Blood of the Braganças parts II and III in the 1848 thread for more than anyone could reasonably want to know about Pedro II’s posterity.

1751: Maria Luisa of Parma is born. The youngest child of Duke Filippo I, she would marry her first cousin Carlos IV of Spain and be an ancestress of all succeeding Spanish monarchs, Bonaparte and Savoy interlopers aside. The present King of Belgium, Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Prince of Liechtenstein are all also of her descent. Her husband not being well-fitted by either character or capacity for rule Maria Luisa essentially took his role in government, acquiring many enemies as a result. Her character and especially her fidelity were greatly blackened by those enemies, but modern historians believe that this was vicious and untruthful gossip and that there is no reason to doubt the Queen’s virtue and faithfulness to her husband the King.


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10th December

1508: René II, Duke of Lorraine dies. Through his father Ferry, Count of Vaudémont, he was agnatic heir to the ducal throne, and through his mother Yolande cognatic heir, thus neatly reconciling in his person the succession dispute that had simmered ever since the death of Duke Charles II, last of the senior line of which the Counts of Vaudémont were a cadet branch. There had been no grounds then for disputing his own succession, which was in 1473, but nevertheless both Charles the Bold of Burgundy and Louis XI of France coveted the lands of Lorraine for themselves. After a few adroit changes of alliance René was victorious in the 1477 Battle of Nancy in which Charles was killed, leaving his domains to his daughter Mary through whom they passed to the Habsburgs.

René was less successful in gaining the throne of Naples, to which he had a claim through his mother. Another disappointment was that while his wife Philippa of Guelders became heiress to that duchy after the death of her childless brother it too could not be obtained, falling to the rapacious Habsburgs. Eventually René’s distant heir would have the last laugh, marrying the Habsburg heiress and gaining all the lands for his line, but that would be more than two centuries after his death.

In the meantime René could leave Lorraine at least to his son Antoine, while the county of Guise which he had also inherited went to his younger son Claude, raised to be Duke of Guise, the progenitor of that famous line. Among Claude’s grandchildren was Mary, Queen of Scots, an ancestress of all current sovereigns bar the Prince of Monaco. He however is descended (stage I; stage II) in another way from the long-ago Claude of Guise, making both the latter and his father René II of Lorraine universal ancestors of the sovereigns of today.

1776: The scandalous Archduchess Maria Leopoldine of Austria-Este is born. Aged 18 she was forced into marriage with the septuagenarian Karl Theodor of Bavaria. She submitted to the ceremony but declined to submit to anything else, refusing her husband’s advances and taking a string of lovers instead, which included Karl Theodor’s remote agnatic (though closer cognatic) cousin and successor Maximilian of Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld, eventually to be Bavaria’s first King.

Widowed four years after the sham marriage, the Dowager Electress caused further scandal by marrying morganatically the nobleman Count Ludwig von Arco. Descendants of this union include the wife of Maximilian, 1st Duke of Hohenberg and eldest son of the assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and Countess Olympia of Arco-Zinneberg, partner of Jean-Christophe Bonaparte, who depending on your view of events either is or will be Prince Napoléon. It is to be hoped that the couple will eventually marry and have a son, to be Prince Napoléon in his turn.

1865: Belgium’s first King Léopold I dies at his palace of Laeken. His prudent rule had consolidated both Belgian independence and the position of the Royal House, which endures to this day in the person of Léopold I’s great-great-great-grandson King Philippe. The Grand Duke of Luxembourg is similarly descended (as it happens, so is the above-mentioned Jean-Christophe Bonaparte), and Léopold’s wider dynastic ambitions bore substantial fruit with the marriage he brokered between his niece Queen Victoria and nephew Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

1936: Edward VIII, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India, signs an Instrument of Abdication at his Fort Belvedere home, his three surviving younger brothers also signing as witnesses. The next day His Majesty’s Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 would be passed and these august titles would then pass to Albert, Duke of York, who chose to reign as George VI.

All the Dominion governments gave the required assents except for Ireland, which chose to pass its own legislation, dating it in a studied display of insolence not to the 11th but the 12th. Legal complications in South Africa led to it too eventually passing separate legislation, His Majesty King Edward the Eighth’s Abdication Act, 1937. However the legislation was backdated so it did not prolong Edward VIII’s South African reign. Indeed it shortened it, being mistakenly backdated to the 10th rather than the 11th. Whoever may have reigned, confusion certainly did.



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11th December

1282: Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, first (to be recognised in the title) and last native Prince of Wales, is killed in a skirmish with English forces. It is pure myth that Edward I of England, having completed the conquest of Wales, presented his infant son the future Edward II to the Welsh as their new Prince ‘who spoke no word of English’. The younger Edward was 17 years old when invested with the title, and while he may or may not have spoken English the 1301 date hardly fits the circumstances of the legend.

Every single heir apparent to the English, later British, throne has been created Prince of Wales ever since (incidentally, the Spanish heir’s title Prince of Asturias was modelled on this practice), with the sole exception of Edward II’s own heir Edward III. For living heritage, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd had but one child, his daughter Gwenllian, confined from infancy in a Lincolnshire convent and for all her 54 years knowing no life outside its walls. Descent does exist from his father Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, extending for example to the Queen (stage I; stage II; stage III). Note that it is Owen Glendower in the sixth generation from Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, from whom his wife Margred Hanmer also descended.

These descents come through the late Queen Mother; the blood of Llywelyn Fawr, ‘the Great’, father of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn and grandfather of the last native Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, had entered the English royal house much earlier, beginning with Richard II. He had no children of course, and the next English King with the descent was Henry V, his successor but one. Henry V’s line did not extend beyond his son Henry VI, but Edward IV was a descendant, and so was every English and British monarch ever since. Including Henry VII, Edward IV’s son-in-law rather than son, whom I had not forgotten.

So indeed was every bearer of the proud title Prince of Wales, and that had begun with Richard II as aforesaid. Which produces the remarkable result that every English Prince of Wales with but two exceptions, Edward II and the Black Prince, has been a kinsman by blood of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, who died on this day in 1282.

1282: Another 11th December 1282 death, but natural this time, was that of Michael VIII Palaiologos, first Eastern Emperor of that final dynasty. His career, ancestry and posterity are all discussed in post #51 on the Blood Royal II thread.

1686: The death of le Grand Condé, Bourbon prince and brilliant general. As descendants of Louis-Philippe I of France, the Spanish, Belgian and Luxembourg monarchs today are all descended from Condé also. The link though begins not with him but with his wife’s maternal grandfather, pointing up a perhaps unsuspected affinity between these monarchs and the famous Armand du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu.

1694: Ranuccio II Farnese, Duke of Parma, dies. He married three times and had numerous children but only two grandchildren, of whom only one lived beyond infancy. This was Elisabeth Farnese, second wife of Felipe V of Spain and mother of all his children from whom there was further descent. As her grandfather’s heir-general, she was heir-general of the Portuguese House of Aviz and the Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany as well as the Farnese Dukes of Parma.

No claim was ever made to Portugal, but it was to both Tuscany and Parma, the latter claim being made good in the person of her younger son Infante Felipe, who became Filippo I, Duke of Parma. Four of the five Catholic monarchs today descend from Elisabeth Farnese and Filippo I, as well as from other children of hers (no prizes for guessing which one misses out). But the current heir-general to all these claims is none of them, but rather Don Luis Alfonso de Borbón-Segovia y Martinez-Bordiú, known by some though never by me as the Duke of Anjou.

1826: Brazil’s first Empress Archduchess Maria Leopoldina of Austria dies of childbed complications. Her husband Emperor Pedro I had treated her most cruelly, returning her love with neglect and disdain and openly flaunting his mistresses, but was sincerely grief- and guilt-stricken after her death and both repented his cruelty and reformed his character. Among her children were Pedro II of Brazil and Maria II da Glória of Portugal, descent surviving from both these as well as her younger daughter Infanta Francisca.

1830: The future Kamehameha V of Hawai’i is born (he would die on the same day in 1872, his 42nd birthday). While not the last of the Kamehameha dynasty, he was the last Hawaiian monarch to actually descend from Kamehameha I, the kingdom’s founder; his immediate successor Lunanilo was the first Kamehameha’s great-nephew, and subsequent Hawaiian sovereigns were drawn from other chiefly lines.

1840: The death of the Kōkaku Emperor, who had been the first to reign of the current (and only surviving) branch of the Imperial House of Japan, which itself dates literally from time immemorial. His great-grandson the Meiji Emperor was himself the great-grandfather of the present Emperor, seventh of the Kan’in line to reign.


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12th December

1298: Albrecht II, Duke of Austria is born, son of the German king Albrecht I and grandson of Rudolf I, the first Habsburg to ascend to that dignity. Albrecht II’s elder brother Frederick the Fair had been a rival of his childhood friend Ludwig of Bavaria for the succession to the first Luxemburg Emperor Heinrich VII, but the struggle ended with Frederick defeated and imprisoned and Ludwig enthroned as Ludwig IV. When he succeeded Frederick in Austria Albrecht II chose a different policy, loyally supporting Ludwig IV and being rewarded with the enfeoffment of Carinthia and Carniola as well as other territories which would long be part of the Habsburg domains.

Wise and prudent, Albrecht was a celebrated and much-admired ruler in his day, though I suppose he would have to be considered obscure now. Dynastically, he was progenitor through two of his younger sons of the Albertine and Leopoldine branches of the House of Habsburg. The senior Albertine line eventually regained the German crown, obtaining also through marital inheritance those of Hungary and Bohemia, but failed with the death of Ladislaus Postumus in 1457.

The then head of the Leopoldine (and only surviving) branch therefore inherited all the Habsburg lands; this was the Emperor Friedrich III, under whom the iron grip of the Habsburgs on the Imperial crown commenced, to be only once and temporarily dislodged until the Empire’s end. This link shows the common root of Ladislaus Postumus and Friedrich III in Albrecht II of Austria, known as the Wise, or the Lame.

1574: Princess Anne of Denmark is born, a daughter of Frederik II. Aged 14 she would marry the 23-year-old James VI of Scotland, later becoming Queen of England and Ireland also when her husband inherited those realms. Once the first passion of the marriage failed James returned to affairs with those of his own sex and the couple became estranged. A degree of friendship and mutual regard remained, and they had in the interim managed to produce three children that lived to adulthood, descent surviving from two of them to the royalty of today; see post #6 of the Genealogical Challenges thread for more (much more) on this.

A strong personality and a great patroness of the arts, Anne was often accused of being a secret Catholic, though she always strenuously denied the charge and the evidence for it seems slim to me. If she were, it would not of course have saved her from going up in smoke along with her husband and sons had the Gunpowder Plot succeeded in its aims.

1791: Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria is born, eldest child of the then Holy Roman Emperor Franz II. Handed over as a sacrificial victim to be the second wife of Napoléon I, she developed a genuine love for her husband, which he returned. After Napoléon’s first overthrow the Austrian court were anxious to prevent the reunion of Napoléon and his Empress, fearing further issue of the marriage to keep the Bonaparte claim alive, and arranged for Marie Louise to be seduced by the one-eyed general Adam Albrecht of Neipperg.

The plan worked with such success that they had two children together and, after Napoléon’s death, married and had a further child. Their youngest did not live but descent survives from their elder son Wilhelm, 1st Prince of Montenuovo. While the three Scandinavian monarchs and the King of Belgium and Grand Duke of Luxembourg are all descendants of Napoléon’s common-born first Empress, Joséphine de Beauharnais, née Tascher de la Pagerie, there has never been a sovereign descended from his imperial-born second, herself a sovereign as Duchess of Parma. There will be, though, and yet again it is the future Joseph Wenzel II of Liechtenstein.

1843: Willem I of the Netherlands dies, three years after abdicating his three thrones (the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Limburg) to his son Willem II. A soldier who had often tasted battle, as King he ruled near-absolutely, introducing important economic reforms which long-term greatly benefited his people. However, what was seen as his bias towards the reformed religion and the Dutch language led to the Belgian revolution and the loss of the southern provinces to independence.

His disappointment over this and a subsequent curbing of his monarchical power led to his abdication, but I would say that he was nevertheless neither a bad King nor an entirely unsuccessful one. He was the last King of the Netherlands to have a sovereign descendant outside his realm (barring his son Willem II’s great-grandson Wilhelm Ernst, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach), the Queen of Denmark, Kings of Norway and Belgium and Grand Duke of Luxembourg all being descended from his younger son Frederik; see the 1848 note on posterities part I for verifying links.

13th December

1126: Heinrich IX, Duke of Bavaria, dies at the family foundation Weingarten Abbey to which he had retired earlier that year. One of his grandsons was Henry the Lion and another was the Emperor Friedrich I Barbarossa. The rivalry between the cousins would eventually lead to the Welf loss of Bavaria and Saxony, the former to the Wittelsbachs who would reign there for so long thereafter.

1250: Barbarossa’s own grandson the Emperor Friedrich II dies. Known as Stupor Mundi, ‘the Wonder of the World’, he was perhaps the greatest Emperor after the founder Charlemagne. Descent from him is discussed in the 1215 note on posterities, and he will be one day in that thread’s historical introduction, if (as I hope) I ever get around to finishing it.

1404: Albrecht, Count of Holland, Hainaut and Zeeland dies. He was a son of the second marriage of the Emperor Ludwig IV, his mother having been the heiress of these counties. After his death they would pass after a complicated series of evolutions and not a little warfare to the Duke of Burgundy Philip the Good, whose mother Margaret was Albrecht’s daughter.

1521: The death of Manuel I of Portugal, known as Manuel the Fortunate. He was one of the most famous and successful monarchs of Portugal and the Algarves, expanding the Portuguese Empire to the globe-spanning dimensions it retained for several centuries afterwards and overseeing a cultural renaissance at home. The Kings of Spain and Belgium, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and the Prince of Liechtenstein are all descendants; in fact, and rather astonishingly, Manuel I is the most recent Portuguese sovereign of native line from whom the King of neighbouring Spain descends. There are reasons for this, and anyone who cares to find out what they are can do so by reading Blood of the Braganças part II on the 1848 thread.

1533: Erik XIV of Sweden is born. Second King of the Vasa dynasty, he early evinced symptoms of mental instability and eventually became insane, leading to his deposition, imprisonment and probable murder by his brother, who became Johan III. Erik had been a long-term suitor of Elizabeth I of England and pursued several other royal brides with an equal lack of success before eventually marrying a commoner, Karin Månsdotter, legitimising the children he already had by her. Descent survives from him through illegitimate children by other liaisons, but does not extend to any royal line.

1553: An heir is born at Pau, capital of the rump kingdom of Navarre, to its Queen Jeanne III. Later in life he would bear a far weightier crown as Henri IV, King of France, first and by most reckonings greatest of the Bourbon line to reign. Male-line descendants of his occupy two thrones today, those of Spain and Luxembourg, and the King of Belgium, Prince of Liechtenstein and a Protestant future sovereign, the Duke of Cambridge, are all cognatic descendants.


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14th December

1542: James V of Scotland dies aged 30. King since he was one year old and a learned and cultured man, he had been a capable and conscientious monarch, though his record was marred by many cruelties committed in his fight against the spread of Protestant ideas and by a generally unsuccessful foreign policy against England. No Scottish King had ever had to cope with the former before, but the latter problem had of course been common to all. His grandson James VI neatly dealt with both by being himself Protestant and inheriting England, but much water was to flow under the bridge first, and very turbulently.

1788: The death of Carlos III of Spain. Born a junior Infante, he had been Duke of Parma, then heir to Tuscany, then moved on to greater things as King of Naples and Sicily, and finally was recalled to Spain as the death of his half-brother Fernando VI had raised him to that throne. He had ruled his Italian realms very ably, leaving a considerable cultural legacy and also one of administrative and economic reforms. He continued in the same vein in Spain, and although he did not succeed in all his aims the country still had much to thank one of its best ever Kings for.

1861: The Prince Consort Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha dies, plunging his widow Queen Victoria into a lifetime of mourning. Capable, conscientious, imaginative and industrious, he would have made an excellent monarch and was an outstanding consort, his legacy not often appreciated today as much as it ought to be.

1878: On the melancholy anniversary of her husband’s death Queen Victoria loses her daughter Princess Alice, the first of three of her children that she would outlive. Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine as wife of Grand Duke Ludwig IV, Alice had for several weeks been nursing her children through an outbreak of diphtheria. Her daughter Marie died of it, and at first this news was kept secret from the other children. However her son Ernst kept asking for his sister, and unable to dissemble any longer Alice admitted that she was gone. The little boy was so devastated that she could not forbear from taking him in her arms, and thus caught the fatal disease herself.

1895: The birth of His Highness (as he then was) Prince Albert of York. Coming very unwillingly to the Crown following his brother’s abdication he reigned through some of the darkest years of our history and proved his quality as man and monarch, his early death then bringing his daughter to the throne she has occupied with such grace for some 63 years now. I wish that the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales (an unlucky name for a warship) currently under construction had been called HMS King George VI instead, commemorating a great wartime monarch in a fitting way.

1901: Prince Paul of Greece and Denmark is born, third son of the then Crown Prince Constantine. When he was 11 his grandfather George I was murdered and his father became Constantine I, when he was 15 his father was deposed and, his eldest brother George being excluded, his second brother Alexander became King. When he was 18 Alexander died and after a brief interregnum their father was restored, Paul having by then attained the age of 19. Before he was 21 Constantine I was deposed a second time, George then being grudgingly allowed to succeed as George II, and he was still only 22 when George was deposed and the monarchy abolished altogether.

‘What a country’ he might well have thought, but nevertheless it would be his fate to reign over it. In 1935, following the latest of 13 (!) coups since the monarchy’s fall, what it has to be said was a blatantly rigged referendum produced a ‘result’ of 98% in favour of the monarchy’s return and George II was recalled, the newly-installed dictator Kondylis feeling the need of a monarchical figleaf to cover himself. He proved to have reckoned without his host and was soon removed from power, but George II was unable to resist the later dictator Metaxas and Greece as a whole to resist the Axis forces. Another rigged referendum after the country’s liberation saw George II recalled again but he shortly died, and the now 46-year-old Paul found himself on the most unstable of thrones.

‘The most important tool for a King of Greece is a suitcase’, he is said to have not-so-humorously remarked, but in fact, and uniquely among Greek monarchs aside from his briefly-reigning brother Alexander, he was neither deposed nor assassinated, reigning for 16 years during which Communist insurgency was crushed and the country recovered economically from its wartime privations. His son Constantine II was alas not so fortunate, but nevertheless Paul I of Greece does have a crowned descendant today, his grandson Felipe VI. Perhaps one day the one will become two, with yet another Greek restoration. I must admit, though, that were I the candidate I would have decidedly mixed feelings about the prospect.

1918: The door closes on one of history’s might-have-beens, as Landgrave Friedrich Karl of Hesse-Cassel renounces the Finnish throne to which he had been provisionally elected. The victorious Allies were, it was thought, unlikely to smile on a new monarchy with someone so near akin (brother-in-law and twice second cousin) to Wilhelm II at its head, so Finland became a republic instead and the resonant roll of titles planned never came into use. ‘Kaarle I, King of Finland and Karelia, Duke of Åland, Grand Duke of Lapland, Lord of Kaleva and the North, Landgrave of Hesse’ is a pleasant thought, but too much else would have had to change for the titles to ever become more than theoretical.


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15th December

1025: Nearly half a century after his personal rule began, the Eastern Roman Emperor Basil II dies. A tireless campaigner, skilled general and brilliant administrator, he had restored the lands and power of the Empire to a level not seen for centuries; the map above shows its vast extent at his death, but what it cannot show was the full treasury and secure borders he also left to his successors. These were not his descendants, since he never married and had no known children at all, the rule instead passing to his brother and nominal co-Emperor Constantine VIII and then to Constantine’s daughters Zoe and Theodora, the last of whom was also the last of the great Macedonian dynasty, of which Basil II was the chiefest ornament.

1230: The death of Přemysl I Otakar of Bohemia, who had been Bohemia’s third King but the first to have the title as a hereditary and dynastic right rather than a lifetime award from the Emperor. He had obtained this as a reward for his support of first the German king Philipp of Hohenstaufen and then his nephew the Emperor Friedrich II, and passed the sovereign Bohemian Crown he had established to four further Přemyslid Kings, all his descendants in direct male line. His status as a universal ancestor of today's sovereigns is demonstrated in the 1215 note on posterities.

1753: A remarkable aristocratic ancestor of the Queen dies. Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, was not merely the premier architectural patron of his day, he was among the premier architects too. He was a lover and patron of opera also, being the dedicatee of two works by Händel, and appropriately married a wife, Lady Dorothy Savile, daughter of the 2nd Marquess of Halifax and granddaughter of the 1st Marquess, a great statesman and one of the most admirable figures in 17th-century politics, who was herself both a patron of the arts and an accomplished artist.

As their only children were two daughters the vast Boyle estates in both England and Ireland passed to the Dukes of Devonshire with whom they remain, the 4th Duke being the husband of the younger daughter, the only one to have issue herself.


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              Catherine of Aragón pleads her case before her husband, the King

16th December

1263: Haakon IV of Norway dies at Kirkwall, Orkney, which was then within the Norwegian kingdom. One of the greatest of all Norway’s medieval monarchs, the romantic story of his coming to the crown is related in post #13 of the Blood Royal II thread. His long reign saw the end of the civil wars that had racked the country for decades past, important legal reforms, work which his son Magnus VI continued, and an unprecedented involvement of and influence in international affairs by a kingdom which he brought fully into the European orbit. With territorial additions including Iceland, the kingdom he left his son was at the greatest extent it had ever had.

1325: ‘Son of a king, brother of a king, father of a king, but never a king’, and so it would always be after the death on this day of Charles, Count of Valois, son of Philippe III of France, brother of Philippe IV and father of Philippe VI, preventing yet more of the futile attempts to gain a crown for himself that had made up much of his adult life. But he did make his mark on posterity, if not quite in the way he had hoped, his children by his three marriages spreading his blood throughout the dynasties of Europe.

He is a universal ancestor of today’s royalty by at least one child of each; as an example of this, here is Marie Eleonore of Cleves from his first marriage, here from his second, and here his third, plus here is Marie Eleonore to Landgravine Marie Luise of Hesse-Cassel, wife of Jan Willem Friso, Prince of Orange, and with him most recent common ancestor of the current sovereigns.

1485: The birth of Catherine of Aragón, whose melancholy story needs no recounting here. While her only child to live to adulthood, Mary I of England, had no children herself, all of today’s sovereigns are descended from her sister Juana I, Queen of Spain in her own right (though never allowed to reign, another melancholy story), and the Catholics, excepting as usual the Prince of Monaco, also from her sister Maria, Queen of Portugal as wife of Manuel I.

1614: The future Eberhard III, Duke of Württemberg, is born in Stuttgart. He would reign through very troubled times indeed, fleeing his duchy in 1634 due to developments in the Thirty Years War and returning to a severely depleted patrimony only in 1638. All his territories were restored in the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, but by then two-thirds of the Württemberg population had either fled or died from warfare, disease or famine.

In the midst of all this turmoil he found time to marry twice and sire no fewer than 25 children, 14 by the first wife and 11 by the second. Five of these, all from the first marriage, would go on to have children themselves, with descent from four traceable in the royal lines of today. Himself a Lutheran, Eberhard III’s blood entered Catholic lines as well as spreading among the Protestant houses, making him a key connector between the Catholic and Protestant and Orthodox royalty of later generations.

As just a few of the multitude of examples I could give, these links show the descent from him of Franz II, last Holy Roman Emperor and, as Franz I, first Emperor of Austria, through his father Leopold II, and through his mother Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain, while here is the descent from Eberhard III of Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia, and here that of Queen Victoria.

1751: Leopold II, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau dies. Son of Leopold I, the famous ‘Old Dessauer’ who instilled an iron discipline into the Prussian armies, he had himself been one of the best generals serving Frederick the Great. He is an ancestor of three of today’s sovereigns, these being Margrethe II of Denmark, Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg. All the descents are through his also very commendable son Leopold III, third of a remarkable trio of rulers of the small principality.

1888: In Cetinje, capital of his grandfather Nikola I’s principality of Montenegro, the future first King of Yugoslavia is born. Prince Alexander Karađorđević had no such destiny envisaged for him at his birth; the best that could be hoped for was that his father Prince Peter would regain Serbia from the rival Obrenović dynasty, and even then Alexander was a second son. In 1903 the first did indeed come to pass, and in 1908 the second obstacle was overcome, the now King Peter I of Serbia’s elder son George being compelled to renounce the succession following the latest of many violent episodes that had marked his life, and called both his sanity and his fitness to inherit into question.

Alexander distinguished himself in the Balkan wars, then led Serbia through World War I, his father having in June 1914 appointed him Regent. He oversaw also the formation of the new Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, of which his father was first albeit nominal King, and the name of which he changed after his own accession to Yugoslavia. Declaring that ‘the time has come when nothing must stand between the people and the King’, in 1929 he suspended Yugoslavia’s democratic institutions and proceeded to rule absolutely, which continued until, to the great loss of his country, in 1934 he was assassinated in a joint conspiracy by Croatian and Macedonian separatists. His minor son Peter II succeeded, and today his grandson Crown Prince Alexander II claims the Serbian throne to which we would all wish to see him ascend.


        Marseilles 1934: a mounted officer cuts down the Bulgarian assassin who has just taken the life of Alexander I of Yugoslavia


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  Queluz Palace, where Maria I of Portugal was confined during her insanity

17th December

920: The coronation as co-Emperor with Constantine VII of Romanus I Lekapenos, identified in Blood Royal II post #46 as the earliest Eastern Emperor from whom known descent survives, with verifying links in #47.

1195: Baudouin V, Count of Hainaut and Margrave of Namur by paternal and maternal inheritance respectively, and by marriage Count of Flanders, dies aged 45. His eight children included two Latin Emperors, a Latin Empress Consort and a Queen of France. Called ‘a most wise and powerful prince’ by the chronicler Gilbert of Mons (who was first his chaplain then a court official, eventually rising to Chancellor, so presumably knew Baudouin V well), he nevertheless does not seem to have left much of a discernible mark on affairs, but his progeny certainly did.

Descent survives from four of those children, the Latin Emperor Baudouin I, the Latin Empress Yolanda, the Queen of France Isabelle, and Sybille, by marriage Dame de Beaujeu. Descent from Baudouin I is shown in the 1215 note on posterities, by way of proving collateral descent from his brother and successor Henri I, himself childless. The links from Isabelle’s consort Philippe II of France in the same note all feature Isabelle, and while I do intend to write separately about the Latin Emperors as a continuation of my genealogical survey of those of Byzantium I will mention here that Catherine of Courtenay, second wife of Charles, Count of Valois (see 16th December 1325 above) was a descendant of Yolanda and her husband Pierre de Courtenay, indeed their heiress. Finally, for Sybille I will show descent to Friedrich I, Elector Palatine, more than amply proved to be a universal ancestor of today’s royalty in Blood Royal II post #22.

1734: The future Maria I of Portugal is born in Lisbon. Her tragic story is covered in part II of Blood of the Braganças on the 1848 thread. There, I say that death ‘finally freed the insane Maria I from decades of torment by her own ruined mind’. As an illustration of what I meant, consider this account by the English author, traveller, art collector and all-round strange individual William Beckford (an ancestor incidentally of the Prince of Monaco), who visited Lisbon in the 1790s:

‘The most agonising shrieks - shrieks such as I hardly conceived possible - inflicted on me a sensation of horror such as I had never felt before. The Queen, herself, whose apartment was only two doors off from the chambers where we were sitting, uttered those dreadful sounds, "Ai Jesus. Ai Jesus!" did she exclaim again and again in the utterances of agony.’

1860: The death in Stockholm of Désirée Clary, born in Marseilles 83 years earlier, the daughter of a prosperous silk merchant. Which would not normally merit a mention here, but since she was in later life Queen Consort of Sweden and Norway as wife of Carl XIV Johan, by whom she was the mother of Oscar I of the same and an ancestress of five contemporary monarchs (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg and Belgium) the anniversary of her passing seemed worth noting.

Her ascent to a consort’s crown had sadly not been a blessing to her, she never being comfortable with her royal role or finding any liking for Sweden, saying ‘Do not talk to me of Stockholm, I get a cold whenever I hear the word.’ Indeed, having followed her husband to Sweden in 1810 she left it again the next year, not returning until 1823. This was intended to be just a visit, but her prolonged absence from the country of which since 1818 she had been Queen was causing a scandal and she was never permitted to leave. Towards the end of her life her behaviour, which had often been odd, became eccentric to the point of near-lunacy, but nevertheless there is something engaging about this strong-willed and very individual woman of the bourgeoisie trapped in a royal world.


                                       Queen Desideria (her official style) of Sweden and Norway

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