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Introduction part I: the background

In physics, every action produces a reaction. And in human affairs, every revolution produces reaction too. The Arab Spring of 2011 resulted in the collapse of oppressive and corrupt secular dictatorships, but the vacuum thus left is increasingly being filled by even more oppressive, corrupt and cruel theocracies. The Russian Revolution of 1917 opened the door to a tyranny ten times worse than Romanoff rule had ever been, and the French Revolution of 1789 passed from murderous anarchy to Napoléon’s autocracy, better than what had gone immediately before but in no way an improvement on the ancien régime.

The upheavals of 1848 were spoken of as a Spring, too, the Springtime of Nations, which briefly flowered but never bore fruit. Perhaps the peoples of Europe were fortunate that a different kind of reaction prevailed in that year, the sovereigns and governments of Europe tottering for a time, monarchs fleeing their capitals, constitutions hastily granted. But then the monarchs returned, their armies ahead of them. Constitutions coerced from unwilling sovereigns were revoked as swiftly as they had been enacted, order was restored and across the continent everything looked very much like the status quo ante.

Not quite everything was the same. There would never again be a King in France, the very last of them having been the first to fall as the unrest broke and spread; though it cannot be said that the Second Empire which soon replaced the Second Republic was noticeably more liberal than the July Monarchy which had gone before, or that France benefited by this final severing from the ancient roots of its history and identity as a nation. In Denmark and the Netherlands the monarchy continued, but absolute was replaced by constitutional rule; the Dutch constitution of 1848 and the Danish one of 1849, respectively granted and promised to stave off violent upheaval, were not withdrawn, and the political life of those countries changed for good.

In Austria, Metternich had been driven from power, but Schwarzenberg was busy crushing rebellions and restoring autocratic rule; it was actually as a part of this process rather than as a direct result of the upheavals that Emperor Ferdinand I, who had never been capable of actual rule, was persuaded to step down in favour of his young nephew, Archduke Franz Joseph. The German states in general had been badly convulsed, but the only direct monarchical casualty was Ludwig I of Bavaria, compelled to stand aside for his son Maximilian II, whose regime turned out to be mildly more liberal than his father’s, but only mildly.

But these changes, limited as they were, were more of a success than triumph and the complete overthrow of the old order could ever have been. Had the old order fallen rather than stumbled but recovered, a grim New Order would have been inevitable. The nations of Europe were saved from that darkness, and although the new growth of the revolutionary Spring had been metaphorically ploughed under its seed survived and would grow in later years. German and Italian unification and Hungarian autonomy had all been demands of the revolutionaries, and within three decades all would be reality. Increased freedom of speech and assembly and more participation in government had also been demanded, and would grow naturally rather than violently from the seeds of 1848. As the dust settled everything may have seemed much as before, with just a few exceptions. But it was not, it had all changed forever.

I have been deterred previously from producing a thread on the monarchs of this significant year by the unconnectable Oscar I, King of Sweden and Norway and son and heir of Carl XIV Johan of the same, yet unrelated to any other monarch of the day, his parents being both originally of common stock. But having necessarily relaxed my rule that all sovereigns must be connectable for the pre-1453 threads I decided to do the long-contemplated thread for 1848 after all, choosing as its date the beginning of the upheavals in France that caused the one permanent fall of a monarchy in that year and, most historians agree, were the immediate spark for all that happened elsewhere.

Rather like La Belle Époque, this thread should be seen as a kind of sidebar to or additional feature of the main series rather than as part of it. In other respects it is rather like the pre-1453 threads, beginning with its two-part introduction, the second part of which now follows and will consider the relationships of the monarchs of 22nd February 1848, rather than the turmoil that awaited them.


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Introduction part II: the relationships

As would be expected, there is a close similarity between the pattern of relationships in 1848 and that of 1815. Fifteen was the number of sovereigns covered in 1815, and the addition of Belgium, Greece and Hanover and deduction of Sweden & Norway makes the 1848 number 17; of these, seven were children of those of 1815, a further three were grandchildren, and there was one great-granddaughter, a brother and a nephew.

Of the remaining four, Léopold I of Belgium had no predecessor (nor did Otto of Greece, but he was still the grandson of an 1815 sovereign, Maximillian I of Bavaria). Frederik VII of Denmark was the first cousin once removed of Frederik VI, who had been the last of ten generations of unbroken succession from father to son, beginning with the accession of Christian III in 1534. Louis-Philippe of France was twice the third cousin once removed of his 1815 predecessor Louis XVIII (not to mention fourth cousin five times, as the link also shows), and finally Carlo Alberto I of Sardinia was the second cousin once removed of Vittorio Emanuele I, who reigned there in 1815.

You would expect these four, then, to throw up some differences between the two generations of monarchs. To see whether they do, here are two tables analysing the respective relationships of 1815 and 1848. In the 1815 table, columns headed I show relationships between the Catholics, II within the Protestant and Orthodox group and III between the two groups together.

In the 1848 table that follows it, group I are the Protestants and Orthodox and group II the Catholics. As a reminder of this I have swapped these columns over on each side, so that 1848 figures appear directly below the comparable 1815 ones. In both tables figures on the left are actual numbers and on the right the percentages these form, e.g. 21% of total 1815 relationships were as first cousins, and 68% of these occur in group I.

1815 relationships analysed by group
 105282156 100272053
1848 relationships analysed by group
 135352872 100262153

The first thing to notice is a sharp decline in the proportion of first cousins, and a corresponding rise in remoter kinships, so that for example fourth cousinhoods, absent within the groups of 1815, occur fifteen times within those of 1848. Is it the statistical outliers such as Louis-Philippe, Carlo Alberto I and, for the Protestants, Léopold I that cause this? Not really. Neither of the latter two actually is a statistical outlier, and Louis-Philippe no more so than Ludwig I of Bavaria and his son Otto of Greece, with their largely Protestant ancestries. 

It was, paradoxically, inbreeding that caused some of the increase in distance. Most of these sovereigns were children of parents who were quite closely related, or if not still had a fairly similar ancestry overall once you got back a generation or three, so that there were not many new connections formed between 1848 sovereigns compared to those of 1815. Rather, connections tended to be similar but, being a generation or two on, slightly less close. That does not account for all of either the likenesses or contrasts between the two years, but it is a contributing cause of both.

So that this point can be more readily checked by anyone that cares to, here is a table showing relationships between those monarchs of 1815 who were ancestral to one or more of the 1848 generation and their respective spouses (if married more than once, the spouse who was ancestral with them).

RealmMonarchR'ship RealmMonarchR'ship 
AustriaFranz I1cPrussiaF Wilhelm III2c
BavariaMaximilian I3c1rSiciliesFerdinando I2c1r
BritainGeorge III3cSpainFernando VIIUncle
NetherlandsWillem I1cWürttembergFriedrich I2c
PortugalMaria INiece   

As a further illustration, 33 ancestors altogether were used to form 1815 connections. Seventeen, more than half of them, also formed connections in 1848, and these are naturally going to be more remote than connections the same ancestors formed in 1815.

Finally, as mentioned the 1848 monarchs that could reasonably be considered statistical outliers within their group are Ludwig I of Bavaria, Louis-Philippe of France and Otto of Greece, all Catholics. Because of this, the Protestant group actually look more closely related to each other overall than the Catholics do. Here though is the 1848 table above with those three stripped out. It will be seen that though the Protestants and their Orthodox cousin were a closely-knit kinship group, what might be called the ‘core’ Catholics were even more so.

Selected 1848 relationships
4c3034c    7  0 100
 431528 1003565

Only relationships within groups are shown, not those between them. It will be seen that the core Catholics (group IIa) have not a single relationship more distant than second cousin, while the Protestants/Orthodox venture out all the way to the remote terrain of fourth cousinhood; the Russian Emperor rather than the Belgian King accounts for most of these, due to his unconnected Romanoff great-grandmother on one side, aided and abetted by his little-connected Thurn und Taxis great-grandmother on the other. 

That concludes the relationships analysis, and now it is time to move on to the charts themselves. There are three of these, split as outlined above, and they and their keys are followed by two tables of combined statistics and a two-part note on posterities. I took a somewhat different approach to my usual one for this, including far more personal and relationship details of sovereigns and their spouses than normal and also going further into collateral relationships and multiple descents than I have in other notes. The result is, I have to admit, very lengthy, but I believe it is readable, and certainly informative.

No one has to read it, of course, but it is there for anyone who wishes to. If a guide to how to read the charts is required, one can be found here.


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Reply with quote  #3 
Relationships between the Protestant* European Sovereigns at 22nd February 1848, the day the revolutions of that year began in France
SovereignWilhelm INicholas ILéopold IE August IVictoriaF Wilhelm IVWillem IIFrederik VII
Wilhelm I of Württemberg1c FIIW2c1r FAIIB1c1r FLW2c FLW3c FAIIB
Nicholas I of Russia1c FIIW4c1r E3W3c1r GIGB4c GIGB3c FWIP3c FWIP4c1r JAZ
Léopold I of Belgium2c1r FAIIB4c1r E3W3c1r FISGU FSC2c1r FAIIB2c1r FAIIB2c1r FAIIB
2c1r FJSC
Ernst August I of Hanover1c1r FLW3c1r GIGB3c1r FISGU G3GB1c1r KMS2c1r GIIGB2c1r FIISG
Victoria of Great Britain & Ireland2c FLW4c GIGBN FSCN G3GB2c KMS3c FAIIB
Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia3c FAIIB
Willem II of the Netherlands3c FAIIB
Frederik VII of Denmark3c FAIIB
4c1r JAZ2c1r FAIIB
2c1r FJSC
* Including one Orthodox, but excluding Oscar I of Sweden & Norway

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Eberhard III, Duke of Württemberg (1)F Albrecht II, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (11)Friedrich II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (3)
Friedrich II Eugen, Duke of Württemberg (1)Friedrich I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1)Franz Josias, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (2)
Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales (2)Franz, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (1)Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia (1)
Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia (4)George III of Great Britain and Ireland (1)George I of Great Britain (2)
George II of Great Britain (3)Johann VI, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst (1)Duke Karl of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (2)
Most connections formed:FAIIB (11)FWIP (4)FIISG, GIIGB (3)FJSC, FLW, GIGB, KMS (2)Others (1)

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Relationships between the Catholic European Sovereigns at 22nd February 1848, the day the revolutions of that year began in France
SovereignLudwig IL-Philippe IFerdinando IIC AlbertoOttoIsabel IIMaria IIFerdinand IF August II
Ludwig I of Bavaria4c1r CAS4c1r PEP4c WHRRFather4c1r PEP4c1r PEP4c1r PEP4c1r PEP
Louis-Philippe I of France4c1r CAS3c2r L14F4c JFL5c CAS3c2r L14F4c1r PIO4c PIO4c JFL
4c PIO
Ferdinando II of the Two Sicilies4c1r PEP3c2r L14F2c1r A3P5c PEPU FrI2S1c1r CIVS
1c1r FI2S
1c FI2S2c FIE
2c FPP
Carlo Alberto of Sardinia4c WHRR4c JFL2c1r A3P4c1r WHRR2c1r A3P2c2r A3P2c1r A3P2c A3P
Otto of GreeceSon5c CAS5c PEP4c1r WHRR5c PEP5c PEP5c PEP5c PEP
Isabel II of Spain4c1r PEP3c2r L14FN FrI2S2c1r A3P5c PEP1c1r CIVS1c1r FI2S2c FPP
Maria II da Glória of Portugal4c1r PEP4c1r PIO1c1r CIVS
1c1r FI2S
2c2r A3P5c PEP1c1r CIVSN FIA2c1r FIE
2c1r FPP
Ferdinand I of Austria4c1r PEP4c PIO1c FI2S2c1r A3P5c PEP1c1r FI2SU FIA2c FIE
Friedrich August II of Saxony4c1r PEP4c JFL
4c PIO
2c FIE
2c FPP
2c A3P5c PEP2c FPP2c1r FIE
2c1r FPP
2c FIE

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Reply with quote  #6 
August III of Poland (5)Christian August, Count Palatine of Sulzbach (2)Carlos IV of Spain (2)
Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies (3)Franz I of Austria (1)Franz I, Holy Roman Emperor (3)
Filippo, Duke of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla (3)Francesco I of the Two Sicilies (1)Duke Johann Friedrich of Brunswick-Lüneburg (2)
Louis XIV of France (2)Philipp Wilhelm, Elector Palatine (10)Philippe I, Duke of Orléans (3)
Wilhelm, Landgrave of Hesse-Rotenburg (2)  
Most connections formed:PEP (10)A3P (5)FIE, FI2S, FPP, PIO (3)CAS, CIVS, JFL, L14F, WHRR (2)Others (1)

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Reply with quote  #7 
Relationships between the Protestant* and the Catholic European Sovereigns at 22nd February 1848, the day the revolutions of that year began in France
SovereignLudwig I
of Bavaria
L-Philippe I
of France
Ferdinando II
of the Two Sicilies
C Alberto
of Sardinia
of Greece
Isabel II
of Spain
Maria II
of Portugal
Ferdinand I
of Austria
F August II
of Saxony
Wilhelm I of Württemberg4c ABA
4c JBA
5c WMB4c LRBW4c1r E3W4c1r ABA
4c1r JBA
4c1r LRBW4c1r LRBW4c LRBW4c LRBW
Nicholas I of Russia4c ABA5c WMB4c2r E3W4c1r E3W4c1r ABA
4c1r JAZ
4c2r E3W4c3r E3W4c2r E3W4c1r E3W
Léopold I of Belgium4c1r EISG
4c1r WGCR
6c J7NS3c1r LRBW5c E3W3c2r GAIIE3c2r LRBW3c2r LRBW3c1r LRBW3c1r LRBW
Ernst August I of Hanover3c1r JBA5c GBL5c1r FVP
5c1r GBL
5c1r JEIO
5c GBL1c2r KMS5c1r GBL5c2r FVP
5c2r GBL
5c2r JEIO

5c2r JGIS
5c1r FVP
5c1r GBL
5c1r JEIO
5c GBL
Victoria of Great Britain4c JBA5c1r GBL4c LRBW5c1r E3W
5c1r GBL
2c1r KMS4c1r LRBW4c1r LRBW4c LRBW4c LRBW
Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia1c1r GWHD5c1r GBL4c LRBW5c1r E3W
5c1r GBL
1c1r KIIMS4c1r LRBW4c1r LRBW4c LRBW4c LRBW
Willem II of the Netherlands2c1r C3ZB
2c1r L8HD
5c1r GBL4c LRBW5c1r E3W
5c1r GBL
3c C3ZB
3c L8HD
4c1r LRBW4c1r LRBW4c LRBW4c LRBW
Frederik VII of Denmark5c EISG5c2r GBL4c LRBW5c1r E3W
5c1r F3D
* Including one Orthodox, but excluding Oscar I of Sweden & Norway
Note: the relationship not directly linked for Ernst August I of Hanover and Maria II da Gloria of Portugal can be seen here (this link is very slow-loading; the two instances of the relationship come up sixth and seventh)

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Reply with quote  #8 
Albrecht, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach (4)A Friedrich II, D of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1)Christian III, C Palatine of Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld (2)
Eberhard III, Duke of Württemberg (12)Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha (2)Frederik III of Denmark and Norway (1)
Friedrich V, Elector Palatine (3)G Albrecht II, Count of Erbach-Fürstenau (1)Georg, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (14)
Landgrave Georg Wilhelm of Hesse-Darmstadt (1)Johann VII, Count of Nassau-Siegen (1)Johann VI, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst (1)
J Friedrich, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach (4)J Ernst I, Count of Oettingen-Oettingen (3)Johann Georg I, Elector of Saxony (1)
Karl II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1)Duke Karl of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (2)Ludwig VIII, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt (2)
L Rudolf, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (30)W Georg, Count of Castell-Remlingen (1)Wilhelm, Margrave of Baden-Baden (2)
Most connections formed:LRBW (30)GBL (14)E3W (12)ABA, JBA (4)FVP, JEIO (3 )C3ZB, EISG, KMS, L8HD, WMB (2)Others (1)

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Reply with quote  #9 
Combined statistics 1848 part one: individuals forming three or more connections
LRBWL Rudolf, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel30--30KMSDuke Karl of Mecklenburg-Strelitz42-2
GBLGeorg, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg14--14FI2SFerdinando I of the Two Sicilies3-3-
E3WEberhard III, Duke of Württemberg13  1-12FIEFranz I, Holy Roman Emperor3-3-
FAIIBF Albrecht II, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel1111--FIISGFriedrich II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg33--
PEPPhilipp Wilhelm, Elector Palatine10-10-FPPFilippo, Duke of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla3-3-
A3PAugust III of Poland  5-  5-FVPFriedrich V, Elector Palatine3--3
ABAAlbrecht, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach  4--  4GIIGBGeorge II of Great Britain33--
FWIPFriedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia  4  4--JEIOJoachim Ernst I, Count of Oettingen-Oettingen3--3
JBAJ Friedrich, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach  4--  4PIOPhilippe I, Duke of Orléans3-3-

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Reply with quote  #10 
Combined statistics 1848 part two: individuals forming under three connections
C3ZBChristian III, C Palatine of Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld2--2F3DFrederik III of Denmark and Norway1--1
CASChristian August, Count Palatine of Sulzbach2-2-FIAFranz I of Austria1-1-
CIVSCarlos IV of Spain2-2-FIIWFriedrich II Eugen, Duke of Württemberg11--
EISGErnst I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha2--2FISGFriedrich I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg11--
FJSCFranz Josias, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld22--FrI2SFrancesco I of the Two Sicilies1-1-
FLWFrederick Lewis, Prince of Wales22--FSCFranz, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld11--
GIGBGeorge I of Great Britain22--FWIIPFriedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia11--
JAZJohann VI, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst21-1G3GBGeorge III of Great Britain and Ireland11--
JFLDuke Johann Friedrich of Brunswick-Lüneburg2-2-GAIIEG Albrecht II, Count of Erbach-Fürstenau1--1
L14FLouis XIV of France2-2-GWHDLandgrave G Wilhelm of Hesse-Darmstadt1--1
L8HDLudwig VIII, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt2--2J7NSJohann VII, Count of Nassau-Siegen1--1
WHRRWilhelm, Landgrave of Hesse-Rotenburg2-2-JGISJohann Georg I, Elector of Saxony1--1
WMBWilhelm, Margrave of Baden-Baden2--2KIIMSKarl II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz1--1
AFIIMSAdolf Friedrich II, Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz1--1WGCRW Georg, Count of Castell-Remlingen1--1

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A note on posterities part one – Protestants and Orthodox

The charts lead off with Wilhelm I of Württemberg, who was both senior Protestant and the doyen of all these sovereigns, and so will this note. Second of the four Kings of Württemberg, his surviving posterity is from the two daughters of his third marriage, which was his second to a first cousin.

He first married a Bavarian princess, a sister of the Catholic doyen Ludwig I, but that marriage was a sham, performed purely to protect the bride from being married off at Napoléon’s whim. Never consummated, the union was dissolved when Wilhelm met and fell in love with Grand Duchess Catherine of Russia, a daughter of Emperor Paul I and his wife Sophie Dorothea, sister to Wilhelm I’s father Friedrich I. They had a close and happy but brief marriage, Catherine dying within three years. Fifteen months later the still-grieving Wilhelm wed Duchess Pauline of Württemberg, a child of Duke Ludwig of the same, Friedrich I’s brother.

To marry again was a necessity, there being two daughters (one of whom married Willem III of the Netherlands and had children, but no further descent; the other was childless) but no son from the second marriage. The third marriage was long, spanning forty-four years, but most of them were years of bitter estrangement and mutual loathing. Nevertheless it was fruitful, producing the desired son, who succeeded as Karl I but had no children himself, and the aforementioned two daughters.

Wilhelm I’s posterity by them does not include any currently reigning monarch, but does both the Prince of Wied, a theoretical claimant to the Albanian throne, and Duke Wilhelm of Württemberg, who after his father is heir to the headship of the Royal House. He will in due course be the first head since Wilhelm II, the last King, to be descended from Wilhelm I, or indeed any other King of Württemberg; see Blood Royal post #11 for more on this. For the nearest collateral descents, six of the ten sovereigns reigning today have Wilhelm I’s brother Prince Paul of Württemberg among their ancestors. These are Margrethe II of Denmark, Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Harald V of Norway, Henri of Luxembourg, Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Philippe of Belgium.

Continuing in the order of the charts, as I will throughout, Nicholas I of Russia was more fortunate than either his sister Catherine or his brother-in-law and cousin Wilhelm, as his one and only marriage was both long and happy. By it he is an ancestor of two current sovereigns, with a third to come. Margrethe II again is a descendant, as is Felipe VI. The one to come is the Prince of Wales.

The Emperor’s sister Maria, Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach by marriage to Grand Duke Karl Friedrich, is an ancestress of Carl XVI Gustaf (twice), and also of Margrethe II and Felipe VI once more (actually, twice more in both cases), and another sister, Anna, Queen of the Netherlands by marriage to Willem II, is an ancestress of King Willem-Alexander. To complete the picture, Margrethe II yet again descends from a third sister, Helena, the first wife of Friedrich Ludwig, Hereditary Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. And so does King Willem-Alexander. Only four of the ten current sovereigns can claim Romanoff ancestry, but those that do have it rather a lot; four times for the Queen of Denmark, thrice for the King of Spain, and twice each for the Kings of Sweden and the Netherlands.

Léopold I of Belgium, a Protestant who for reasons of state married a Catholic and all of whose descendants adhere to that faith, has two current sovereigns among those descendants. These are King Philippe, of course, and also Grand Duke Henri. All other sovereigns bar the two Princes and the King of the Netherlands are descended from his sister Princess Viktoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, mother of Queen Victoria, and also his brother Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, father of the Prince Consort.

Ernst August I of Hanover married equally, once only, and for love. The union nevertheless caused a scandal, as his bride, his first cousin Duchess Friederike of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, had already been wed twice and had a (probably undeserved) sinister reputation. By it he is an ancestor of Felipe VI only among current sovereigns, though his Queen can add Margrethe II and Carl XVI Gustaf, descendants of a child of her first marriage, and a well-known descendant of marriage number two is the Princess of Prussia.

For collateral descents from the Hanoverian monarch, those descended from Queen Victoria, discussed next, are also descendants therefore of her father Edward Augustus, only Duke of Kent and Strathearn and an older brother of Ernst August (who was actually the British heir presumptive until the birth of Victoria’s first child); the link below from Edward VII to the Queen commences with George III, father of both Ernst August and Edward Augustus, so as to demonstrate this, and for good measure here is the Queen’s other descent from George III, via a third brother, Adolphus, 1st Duke of Cambridge.

Queen Victoria, who sat at the head of the mightiest Empire the world had yet seen and gave her name to an era, had nine children altogether by her famously devoted marriage to her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Of these seven have descendants today, her four sons and three of her five daughters. The eldest son, Victoria’s successor Edward VII, is among the ancestors of both the present Queen, naturally, and the King of Norway. His next brother Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, has no current crowned descendants. However, King Michael of Romania and Crown Prince Alexander II of Serbia both descend from him, and let us hope they both soon qualify as current sovereigns (again, in the case of King Michael).

The third son, Arthur, 1st Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, is an ancestor of both Margrethe II and Carl XVI Gustaf; he can be seen in the second link above from Maria, Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach to each of these sovereigns. Carl XVI Gustaf is also descended from the fourth son, Leopold, 1st Duke of Albany.

The eldest of the daughters, Victoria, Princess Royal and by marriage German Empress, is twice an ancestress of Felipe VI and can be seen in both links from Maria, Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach to him. The second of them, Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine as wife of Grand Duke Ludwig IV, is not yet an ancestress of a current sovereign, but will be on the accession of the Prince of Wales. The third daughter, Princess Helena, married Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg and had children, including the famous Princess Marie Louise, but her posterity is now extinct.

The next daughter was Princess Louise, an accomplished sculptress among other talents. She married the future 9th Duke of Argyll, a love match but, as it turned out, an unhappy and unfruitful union. The fifth daughter and youngest child, Princess Beatrice, married Prince Heinrich of Battenberg and is an ancestress of the King of Spain.

To be a descendant of Queen Victoria must be considered an honour but was not always a blessing; three of her children, Leopold, Alice and Beatrice, transmitted haemophilia into further generations, which in the cases of Alice’s grandson Tsesarevich Alexei and Beatrice’s grandsons Alfonso, Prince of Asturias and Infante Gonzalo was considerably more than just a family tragedy. Happily the defective gene, which most likely arose by spontaneous mutation in Queen Victoria herself, appears now to be extinct.

Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia married but had no children. His brother and successor Wilhelm I, who became first of the three German Emperors, is however an ancestor of the Queen of Denmark, the King of Sweden and the King of Spain (twice), as can be seen in the first links above from Maria, Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach to the two Scandinavian monarchs and both those to the Iberian one. The second link to each of Margrethe II and Carl XVI Gustaf shows in each case descent from a second brother, Prince Karl of Prussia. The Kings of Norway (twice) and Belgium and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg all descend from another sibling of Friedrich Wilhelm IV, his sister Princess Luise of Prussia, wife of Prince Frederik of the Netherlands, as indeed does the Queen of Denmark.

The present King of the Netherlands is descended from a second sister, Alexandrine, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin as wife of Grand Duke Paul Friedrich. Inevitably, so is the Queen of Denmark, making a fourth descent for her and leaving her fellow Scandinavian monarchs in the dust as regards Hohenzollern descents. The King of Spain though is on her heels with his third descent from Friedrich Wilhelm III, father of these two Prussian monarchs, their brother Karl and their sisters Luise, Alexandrine and the as-yet-unmentioned Charlotte. She was Empress of All the Russias as wife of her third cousin Nicholas I, and so appears in the links above from the Emperor to both Felipe VI and the Prince of Wales, who will bring this descent to the British throne.

And of course Charlotte also appears in the link from Nicholas I to Margrethe II, who decisively trumps the rest with her fifth descent from Friedrich Wilhelm III, and from a fifth child of his what is more. The children and further descendants of Constantine II of Greece can better this with eight descents of their own, though still only from five children. Descent does survive from a sixth child, Prince Albrecht, but does not extend to any current sovereign, or indeed living former sovereign.

Willem II of the Netherlands can be more briefly dealt with; his only crowned descendant today is King Willem-Alexander, as can be seen in the link above from Willem II’s wife (who was also twice his third cousin) Grand Duchess Anna of Russia. Theirs was another unhappy but nevertheless fruitful union, descent surviving from their fifth child and youngest daughter Princess Sophie, Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach by marriage to Grand Duke Karl Alexander, as well as from their eldest son, Willem II’s successor Willem III.

The above-mentioned Prince Frederik, an ancestor of the Danish and Norwegian monarchs and the other two Benelux sovereigns, was Willem II’s brother, so collateral descent at least from the second King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg is quite widespread. As for Frederik VII of Denmark, last Danish monarch of the original line sprung from Frederik II (reigned 1559-1588), he was the second of these eight Protestant and Orthodox sovereigns to have no children (there is a suggestion that he fathered an illegitimate son, who has descendants today, but there is no conclusive evidence of this).

He was married thrice, the first two times royally, both marriages ending in scandal and divorce. The third marriage was morganatic and also scandalous because of his bride’s common origins and her already having had an illegitimate son. It appears to have been happy, even though it may well have been an arrangement of convenience; the King lived in a ménage à trois with his third wife, Louise Rasmussen, and a Carl Berling, who appears to have been the lover of both spouses and was the father of the aforementioned illegitimate son of Frøken Rasmussen.

Such were the peculiarities of Frederik VII’s private life that while he was still Crown Prince his father Christian VIII, of whom he was the only legitimate child to survive infancy, appointed an heir presumptive to him, the future Christian IX. Whose wife Landgravine Luise of Hesse-Cassel happened to be the niece of Christian VIII, while the Prince Consort was the great-nephew of his wife, Frederik VII’s mother Duchess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (both relationships are shown as between Frederik VII himself and the respective spouses, rather than the individuals concerned).

Without going into other collateral descents, which do exist, that establishes the Queen, the Danish and Norwegian monarchs and the King of Spain as descended from all four of Frederik VII’s grandparents, they all being descendants of both Christian IX and Queen Victoria. And now it is time to move on to the second part of the note, and the posterities of the Catholic monarchs of the day.


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A note on posterities part two – Catholics

No current monarch descends from the senior Catholic sovereign on the chosen date, Ludwig I of Bavaria. A future monarch however does so descend; not the Prince of Wales this time, but rather Prince Joseph Wenzel of Liechtenstein. Collateral descents exist from Ludwig I’s full sister Princess Augusta of Bavaria to Margrethe II of Denmark (twice), Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Harald V of Norway (three times), Henri of Luxembourg (twice) and Philippe of Belgium (also twice). These links have a dual purpose, as besides illustrating descent from Princess Augusta herself they also do this for her son-in-law Oscar I of Sweden and Norway, omitted from the charts because he had no royal ancestry beyond his father and thus was not connectable.

Like both his father Maximilian I’s wives, Ludwig’s bride was a Protestant, his first cousin once removed Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Their marriage was the occasion of the first ever Oktoberfest, creating a tradition which still survives after two hundred years and more. While Therese was distressed by her husband’s numerous infidelities she endured them, and the union was productive of eight children that lived to adulthood, descent surviving from three of these.

The marriage of Louis-Philippe I of France was as productive, and even more so in the next generation, with eight children living to adulthood and descent surviving from seven of the eight. The Grand Duke of Luxembourg and the Kings of Belgium and Spain are among these descendants, the first two tracing from Louis-Philippe’s eldest daughter Louise, Queen of the Belgians by marriage to Léopold I, and the third from both his eldest son Ferdinand, Prince Royal, and his youngest son (and child) Antoine, duc de Montpensier.

Louis-Philippe’s descendants are numerous enough, but less so than they might have been due to very frequent intermarriage among them. The single and dual descents shown above are very restrained compared to, for example, the six descents held by the children of the comte de Paris, present legitimate (as opposed to legitimist) claimant to the French throne. But even six descents pales beside the eleven held by the children of Aimone, Duke of Apulia, of whom the eldest is eventual heir to both Italian claims. Eleven is I believe the current record, which is not to say that it will never be bettered.

These children’s parents, of whom the father contributed seven descents and the mother, Princess Olga of Greece, the remaining four, were not even the most recent (16th September 2008) mutual descendants of Louis-Philippe to marry; on 25th June 2014 Prince François of Orléans (a five times descendant) was wed to Theresa von Einsiedel (descended once). The couple’s nearest relationships show a fairly typical picture, one that despite the general decline in equal marriage (and actually this marriage was not equal) will I am sure be seen again in the future, eventually leading to eleven descents being surpassed – perhaps, who knows, by grandchildren of Aimone and Olga.

The original very fruitful union from which all these individuals spring was with Princess Maria Amalia of Naples and Sicily, a daughter of Ferdinando IV/III, who later became Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies. Their nearest relationships were rather complicated, they being each other’s third cousin once removed thrice and fourth cousin four times, with three different mutual ancestors involved. When they married Naples was occupied by Napoléon, so the marriage was in Palermo, capital of Sicily, where they remained for their first few years together and where their first three children were born.

Maria Amalia’s mother Queen Maria Carolina was a sister of Marie Antoinette and Louis-Philippe the son of the regicide Philippe Égalité, so she had unsurprisingly opposed the marriage at first. However, after lengthy interviews with her daughter’s suitor she eventually came round, influenced no doubt by the fact that at twenty-seven her daughter was well past the age at which a princess would usually marry and even a penniless exile with few prospects was preferable to no husband at all. We do not know what Maria Carolina would have thought of this same daughter becoming Queen of the French, she being long dead by then, but we do know what Maria Amalia herself did; she was horrified at the prospect, both because she considered it a usurpation and because she feared it would destroy their happy family life.

She never fully reconciled herself to the reality, either, asking on her deathbed to have Duchess of Orléans rather than her royal style put on her gravestone, but fulfilled her duties as Queen and came to see the crown as a duty given to her husband by God, so that she was as fiercely opposed to his abdication as she had been to his accession. Abdicate he did, however, and the happy family life that had in fact survived her husband becoming King continued in England until his death.

Maria Amalia’s nephew Ferdinando II of the Two Sicilies married twice, his first wife being his second cousin Maria Cristina of Savoy, youngest daughter of Vittorio Emanuele I of Sardinia. Beatified a little over a year ago, she gave him one child, the future Francesco II, but died of complications arising from the birth. He therefore needed to marry again, and his choice fell on another second cousin, but three times over this time, Archduchess Maria Theresia of Austria, daughter of the famous Archduke Karl who faced Napoléon in battle more times than any other general.

Their marriage was regarded as happy and she gave him eight children that lived to adulthood, descent surviving from five of these (there is none from Francesco II). However, though widespread in deposed royal lines it is not so common in currently reigning ones, and is in fact enjoyed only by the King of Spain among today’s sovereigns.

Via siblings of his parents descent is more widespread from Ferdinando II’s grandparents, Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and Carlos IV of Spain (who were brothers) and their respective spouses. All the Catholic monarchs bar the Prince of Monaco descend in this way from all four grandparents of Ferdinando II, and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg from his father Francesco I also, though not his mother, as the descent is via a half-sibling, a daughter of Francesco I’s first marriage.

Although no one disputes his legitimate inheritance of the Sardinian throne, Carlo Alberto I was otherwise in a somewhat similar situation to Louis-Philippe; scion of a remote cadet line, which absent sons from him would become extinct, and for the last several generations had been making marriages which were either not quite equal or, while equal enough, would not usually be considered sufficiently prestigious for a member of the principal branch. I actually like the Orléans ancestry that resulted very much, it is fascinatingly different from the usual run of royal ancestries, yet there are points of contact. I am less fond of Carlo Alberto’s ancestry via his Savoy-Carignano forebears, but this is largely due to the number of times I had to explore it for the 1871 and 1914 threads, over-familiarity breeding weariness, and certainly it has its points of interest.

Another way in which these two monarchs were in a similar situation prior to marriage was that despite their remoteness from the main line Salic law brought them close to the succession, enabling them to make more conventional royal marriages than their recent forebears could. At any rate I imagine this was another factor influencing Louis-Philippe’s future parents-in-law, and it surely was a factor for those of Carlo Alberto, he being when he married not merely close to the succession but second in line, and almost certain to become King.

His bride was Archduchess Maria Theresia of Austria, Princess of Tuscany, youngest child of Ferdinando III, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Despite all the above they were not that distantly related, she being twice his second cousin once removed. They had two children that survived infancy and had children of their own, the future unifier of Italy Vittorio Emanuele II and his brother Ferdinando, Duke of Genoa. Descent survives from both, and indeed Italy’s third and fourth Kings were descended from both. No current monarch descends from either, though, only those descended from Louis-Philippe having even a drop of Carignano blood.

A restoration in Italy would obviously remedy this, the senior line being again descendants of both brothers and the junior Aosta line, which I nevertheless believe to have the only valid claim, from the elder brother only, but sadly cannot be expected. A restoration in Bulgaria is perhaps a slightly better prospect (though I must admit I do not really expect that to happen either), and would again give Carlo Alberto I a current crowned descendant of both his sons.

Like his father Ludwig I of Bavaria, the Catholic Otto of Greece married a Protestant. Unlike his parents, however, Otto and his wife Duchess Amalia of Oldenburg were only distantly related, being each other’s fourth cousin once removed once and fifth cousin twice. Also unlike his parents they had no children at all. Otto is believed to have had an illegitimate son by a Greek woman, and if this is true then descent survives from him in Greece. For royal lines however all there is to look to is the direct and collateral descents from his father outlined above.

Childlessness was not a problem Isabel II of Spain had; she had twelve children altogether, of whom five lived to adulthood, descent surviving from three of these. What is problematic is the question of exactly who was the father of these children, with various different candidates suspected for various of them. There are grounds for suspicion; in the early years of their marriage she and her husband (not to mention double first cousin) Infante Francisco de Asis did not get on at all well, and though they eventually became friends at least they lived largely separate lives from the beginning. Neither had wished to marry the other, but neither had been given a choice, and while the paternity of her children is merely questionable there seems little doubt of Isabel II having had extra-marital affairs.

Personally, looking only at the three children, one son and two daughters, from whom there is surviving descent, I am inclined to believe that the elder of the daughters, Infanta Maria de la Paz, was not a child of Francisco de Asis. The son, Alfonso XII as he became, and the younger daughter Infanta Eulalia I tend to think were his children, though ‘think’ is as far as I would go.

For what it is worth, in the first volume of her memoirs Infanta Eulalia describes her father as courteous and formal but distant, having apparently very little interest in his family, which the Infanta ascribes to her parents having married not for affection but for reasons of state. Which they did, but if her father’s coldness was also due to his legal children not being actually his Infanta Eulalia betrays no awareness of it.

And in the end the question does not really matter one way or the other. It was Isabel II that was monarch of Spain, not her husband, and the acknowledged children of her marriage were thereby legitimate, and inherited and in three cases transmitted legitimate succession rights to Spain. The present Spanish monarch is her descendant and lawful and undoubted heir; elsewhere, there is descent at least from her (and her husband’s) grandfather Carlos IV to the other Catholic monarchs, the Prince of Monaco apart.

Wikipedia states that Maria II da Glória is the only European monarch ever to have been born outside Europe, her birthplace being Rio de Janeiro. While this is true enough for more modern times, there were various Roman and Byzantine Emperors born in Asia or Africa. Anyway her children were all born in Portugal, in Lisbon to be precise, and it is they we are concerned with here. Having lost her first husband, a Beauharnais scion, after only two months of marriage she married again, the choice falling this time on her fourth cousin once removed (twice), Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

She had eleven children altogether by him, and was in fact literally a martyr to childbearing. Warned that her constant pregnancies were wearing out her body and that further conceptions would be at great risk to her life, she replied that to bear children was her duty as a woman and a Queen. Sadly, the doctors were right, and she died of childbed complications aged only thirty-four.

Six of the children she bore at such cost to herself lived to adulthood, descent surviving today from two. No current crowned head has it, but restoration in Romania would change that. Restoration in Austria would also suffice, but while there is some chance at least in Romania a revived Austrian (or Bohemian, or Hungarian) monarchy cannot realistically be looked for, much as we all would desire it. For collateral descents, I invite anyone interested to consult the final paragraph of my epic essay ‘Blood of the Braganças’, which can be found in the 1415 thread, post #13.

There were exceptions, but the Catholic monarchs especially of the period were on the whole considerably inbred, as noted in the Introduction part II. As I have explained elsewhere, this can have deleterious effects but usually won’t. Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria, whose parents were double first cousins, does however seem to have suffered from the fact.

Physically, he was frail and somewhat deformed and suffered very gravely from epilepsy, having up to twenty fits a day. He was considered by many to be mentally subnormal, though I don’t feel he was (and some historians at least agree). He kept a journal and therefore was literate, and in the excerpts from it I have read comes across as endearingly childlike and innocent but perfectly able to express himself coherently, so if there was a degree of mental disablement I don’t think it can have been severe.

In the journal he expresses great affection for his wife (and, not that it was relevant, two times second cousin) Princess Maria Ana of Savoy, an elder sister of the beatified first wife of Ferdinando II of the Two Sicilies, but his epilepsy prevented physical expression of this affection and the unconsummated union was necessarily childless. He had eleven full siblings, only one of whom is known to have suffered from similar handicaps, six of them surviving to adulthood. There is descent surviving from three of these, which extends to one current sovereign, Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein. Beyond that, the King of Spain and Grand Duke of Luxembourg descend from all four of Emperor Ferdinand’s grandparents.

The last monarch to consider is Friedrich August II of Saxony. He married twice, first to a sister of Ferdinand I then to a half-sister of Ludwig I, but both unions failed of issue. He was not however childless, as he had an illegitimate son, Theodor Uhlig, a musician and composer who played a not insignificant part in the Wagner story. There appears to have been no further posterity from him, nor is any current sovereign descended from either of the two siblings of Friedrich August II with surviving descent.

This situation will eventually change, which once again will be on the accession of Prince Joseph Wenzel of Liechtenstein. With which information I will conclude the second and final part of this very lengthy note; I hope that anyone who made it this far found things of interest and to enjoy, both in the note and the thread generally.


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Thanks for this comprehensive and enjoyable survey of the European monarchs in 1848, the year of revolutions, and for the interesting map at the top of this thread.

Maria II da Gloria of Portugal, Otto of Greece, and Isabella II of Spain all acceded to their thrones  within 5 years of each other. In 1833, King Otto of Greece and Queen Regnant Maria II were teenagers, while Regnant Queen Isabella II was all of 3 years old. Across the ocean, reigning Emperor Pedro II of Brazil was about 7 years old at this time. It was probably fortunate that these young monarchs had another 15 years to mature in order to cope with the 1848 revolutionary fervor sweeping Europe. None of them had very easy reigns.

Otto reigned for many years in Greece, although he was eventually deposed. His deposition was for political reasons, although the fact that he and Queen Amalia were childless (except for the possible natural Greek child mentioned above) may have been a contributory factor. After the deposition, Otto and Amalia returned to Bavaria. Otto died a few years later, and Amalia outlived him by several years. A post-mortem medical examination determined that Amalia suffered from Mullerian agenesis, a not uncommon congenital condition, in which a female child is born without a uterus, and consequently has no menstrual cycles. Women with this condition do have normal hormones and ovaries. But due to the lack of a uterus, they cannot carry a pregnancy. Nowadays, with in vitro fertilisation, such women can become mothers, if a surrogate is available. Amalia was a princess of Grand Ducal Oldenburg, and the new King of Greece, chosen after Otto and Amalia's deposition, was George I of Glucksburg, another branch of the Oldenburg dynasty.

Ludwig I of Bavaria and Friedrich August II of Saxony, wherever they may now be, are probably pleased that Prince Joseph Wenzel will, in the fullness of time, make them ancestors or collaterals of a reigning sovereign, albeit it will be in tiny Liechtenstein.  Joseph Wenzel is also the Jacobite heir after his grand-uncles and his mother.This accession doesn't look  promising and should not be counted upon, and so Joseph, in all likelihood, will have to be content with Liechtenstein. Although Joseph's birth in Portland Hospital and education at Malvern College does give one pause.

Dis Aliter Visum "Beware of martyrs and those who would die for their beliefs; for they frequently make many others die with them, often before them, sometimes instead of them."

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Reply with quote  #14 

Thanks, Windemere. I hadn’t known that about Queen Amalia; I did read her Wikipedia article, but must have missed that last bit. I’m a little surprised the marriage ever took place, as it must have been evident that she would be infertile. Perhaps they were in love, and certainly they seem to have been happy together for the thirty years of their marriage; I don’t personally think that ought to have taken priority over the requirement for an heir to the throne, but it does count for something.

She was as you say ultimately of the same line agnatically as George I of Greece, who replaced her husband as Greek monarch. It was a fairly remote affinity, though; Amalia’s line originated with Adolf, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp (1526-1586), youngest son of the second marriage of Frederik I of Denmark, while George I’s was from a younger son of Adolf’s elder half-brother Christian III (1503-1559).

I have no idea why Prince Joseph Wenzel was either born in England or educated here, but I feel certain there was no Jacobite agenda behind it. It is 207 years since a Jacobite heir made even a token claim, so it would be a little late to be raising one now. Prince Joseph Wenzel will in the course of nature become lineal heir of William the Conqueror and Robert the Bruce, but it is over 300 years since that constituted a claim to the throne, and it is now a distinction to take pride in but not to act on.

Something else notable about his ancestry; through his mother’s Saxon blood he is a descendant of the great Jan III Sobieski of Poland, and when he eventually accedes will be the first monarch since 1946 (Simeon II of Bulgaria) who can say as much – unless an Italian, Austrian or Bulgarian restoration intervenes, all sadly unlikely prospects.

The Polish monarch’s greatest fame is from his successful defence of Vienna against the Turks in the siege of 1683. There were two other great commanders involved in that victory; Jan III entirely merits his fame from it, but has still somewhat unfairly overshadowed the other two in historical memory.

Prince Joseph Wenzel actually descends from all three. He descends several times from Charles V, Duke of Lorraine, grandfather of the Holy Roman Emperor Franz I, as of course do four of the five current Catholic monarchs, including his grandfather Hans-Adam II. But through his grandfather he descends also from Count Ernst Rüdiger of Starhemberg, of a line that was later raised to Imperial Immediacy and the rank of Prince and survives today as a mediatised House.

This is a descent not shared by any of the other monarchs, and neither Hans-Adam II nor Prince Joseph Wenzel’s father Hereditary Prince Alois has the descent from Jan III Sobieski; this comes as said through Prince Joseph Wenzel’s mother Duchess Sophie in Bavaria, Princess of Bavaria (who also descends from Count Ernst Rüdiger, via her paternal grandmother Countess Maritsa Draskovich de Trakostjan).

While there are various others besides the Prince’s mother who descend from all three of the commanders responsible for one of the most famous victories in European history, I believe Prince Joseph Wenzel will be the first sovereign ever to do so. The links above from Count Ernst Rüdiger trace respectively to the Prince’s father and mother; he actually has two more such descents, and here is one of them that goes all the way.

Now, after all that I have quite a lot to say about Maria II da Glória of Portugal and her brother Pedro II of Brazil, and charts and tables to accompany the verbiage. The graphical material is ready, the verbiage is not and anyway this has already been more than long enough, so I’ll resume with the Bragança siblings at another time.


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While I am grateful for Windemere’s appreciation of the thread, judging by the number of reads the appreciation is not widely shared. I doubt whether what follows will arouse much interest either, but still some may enjoy it and I think the work has at least a limited value, so will offer it.

My original plan for continuation of the thread was that I would first cover the histories of the two 1848 sovereigns Maria II da Glória of Portugal and Pedro II of Brazil, focussing more on Pedro II as his sister had already had some coverage. Following that I would delve more into their ancestries and relationships with two charts, the first introduced at the end of the joint history and followed by some discussion and a second chart, which would finally conclude the thread.

I am still going to do all that, but the first part grew in the writing and extended back to become a narrative and genealogical discussion of all the sovereigns of the House of Bragança; in fact, a Blood of the Braganças II, which is what I have called it. Or the first part of it, anyway; due to its length I have actually divided it into parts II and III, the first of these taking the story from the children of João IV, first monarch of the House and restorer of Portuguese sovereignty, up to João VI, through whose many children Bragança blood began to branch out into the dynasties of Europe. Part III will then give these children’s histories and also those of the next generation of Bragança monarchs, and will be followed by the charts and discussion previously described.

All this along with my 1415 in-depth study of Bragança forebears probably makes me seem a little obsessed with the House, a charge to which I would have to plead guilty. They were a characterful and often tragic dynasty, with a fascinating heritage of blood from João IV and his gallant Queen Doña Luisa de Guzmán, and I believe their story is worth the telling. I hope some people at least will read it, and see whether they agree.

For now there will be just part II to do that with; the various charts are ready but not the discussion of them, nor is part III. However rather than wait and post everything in one go I thought I would give the chance to digest this instalment before the next arrives. Until all is complete the thread will be locked so as to maintain sequence; after that it will again be open to replies, and anyone who wishes to reply in the meantime is, as ever, invited to do so in the discussion thread at the top of the page.

Blood of the Braganças part II

The wide-ranging ancestry covered in the preceding part took some time to ‘break out’ into general Catholic royalty, and then failed to spread altogether effectively. While it is no surprise, for example, that the Prince of Monaco has no Bragança blood, it is that the King of Spain has not a drop either; the most recent Portuguese monarch from whom he descends is in fact the Habsburg Filipe III (Felipe IV of Spain, reigned in Portugal 1621-1640), and the most recent native sovereign of Portugal found in his ancestry is Manoel I, reigned 1495-1521.

The most recent from whom descent is possible is Maria II da Glória, who reigned from 1826 to 1828 and then again from 1834 to 1853, so that is quite a gap. Mind you, for today’s Protestant sovereigns the gap is wider still, the most recent Portuguese monarch in their ancestries being Duarte I, reigned 1433-1438. The religious divide produced by the Reformation explains that readily enough, but why the Catholic monarch of neighbouring Spain should have to reach back to the early 16th century for a Portuguese sovereign ancestor is not so easy to understand.

The answer lies in the first factor mentioned above, the length of time that Bragança blood remained confined to Portugal, not giving it time to establish itself universally in Catholic reigning houses before the general collapse of European monarchies and the decline in equal marriage checked its spread. What follows will recount the history of the dynasty from when it first mounted the throne, and along the way the causes of the delay in Bragança blood spreading will become clear.

A dynasty in peril

Fragile from its beginnings, the Royal House of Bragança more than once nearly went extinct. João IV, first monarch of the House, and his Queen had seven children together, but only the last of these produced children in his turn. This was Pedro II, who succeeded his insane brother Afonso VI in 1683 but had in fact been ruling since 1668, when he had seized power in a coup and exiled his brother to the Azores, nevertheless allowing Afonso VI’s nominal reign to continue until his death.

Pedro II took more than the reins of government from his brother. He also took his wife, Princess Maria Francesca of Savoy-Nemours, whose marriage to Afonso had been annulled on grounds of impotence. They however had only one child, Infanta Isabel. With the third generation of royal Braganças containing exactly one member, a sickly teenage girl, it is no surprise that Pedro II married again when his first wife died, shortly after she became Queen for the second time. The only surprise is that he took nearly four years to get round to it, marrying Maria Sophia, Countess Palatine of Neuburg, on 11th August 1687.

There were three reasons for the choice. First, her father Philipp Wilhelm had recently acceded as Elector Palatine, making him one of the great princes of the Empire and raising his and his family’s status accordingly. Second, her mother, Elisabeth Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt, was a woman of exceptional beauty, who had passed her looks to her daughters.  And the third and probably most important reason was that Elisabeth Amalie was also exceptionally fertile, having given birth to seventeen children, of whom thirteen lived to adulthood.

These factors had already made the eldest child Eleonore Magdalene Empress as wife of Emperor Leopold I, and now made Maria Sophia Queen of Portugal. She proved a very popular Queen, devout and devoted to the welfare of the poor, but died aged only 32, leaving her husband a widower for the second time. They had though by then had nine children together, so Maria Sophia had indeed inherited her mother’s fertility along with her beauty. The first of these, Infante João, was born just over a year after the marriage and displaced his half-sister Isabel in the succession, but her position as heiress presumptive was restored when the child died in his third week.

However, a little over a year later a second Infante João was born, and he lived to be João V. A year less a day after that Infanta Isabel died aged 21 and unmarried, and that third generation was back to one member.* It was soon increased though by the arrival of Infante Francisco, and after that children arrived at regular intervals until Maria Sophia’s early death. Some died young but five of his legitimate children survived Pedro II.

Portugal’s Sun King

The dynasty’s position was still not assured, though, as exactly one of these children had legitimate issue of his own. This was João V, first Portuguese sovereign to bear the Papal title ‘Most Faithful Majesty’, who married his first cousin Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria, a daughter of Emperor Leopold I and Eleonore Magdalene of Neuburg (Pedro II and Maria Sophia had incidentally been fifth cousins once removed). They were to have six children altogether, of whom four survived infancy to be raised amid the splendours of Europe’s most magnificent Court after Versailles; indeed, Joao V was known as O Rei-Sol Português, such was the pomp and grandeur surrounding him.

Gold flooding in from Brazil paid for these splendours and allowed João V to dispense with the Cortes, having no need of financial grants, and rule absolutely, as his successors continued to do until 1822. The enormous wealth at his disposal was also put to use in amassing one of Europe’s greatest art collections, and in further expanding the music library, already the largest in the world, established by João V’s grandfather João IV, a composer of some repute and an expert musicologist besides his better-known occupation as King.

But still the dynasty’s survival was imperilled. In 1750 when João V died three of those four children remained alive (the fourth had died unmarried aged nineteen), but only one had yet produced grandchildren for him. This was his successor José I, who had married Infanta Maria Anna Victoria of Spain, daughter of Felipe V by his second wife Elisabeth Farnese, another granddaughter of the Elector Palatine Philipp Wilhelm, the bride and bridegroom thereby being twice second cousins.

There were four daughters of this marriage living when their grandfather died, but no son. Of João V’s other children, his daughter Barbara was Queen of Spain as wife of Fernando VI, but was childless and aged 38 could be expected to remain so, and his younger son Pedro was a 33-year-old bachelor.

The monarch and the minister

The pleasure-loving José I entrusted governmental affairs to the Marqués de Pombal, a gifted and imaginative administrator who effectively ruled as an enlightened despot in the King’s name, introducing far-reaching reforms, curbing the power of the nobility and expelling the Jesuits, who hitherto had exerted a paralysing grip on the country’s educational systems. In the meantime his royal master devoted himself to hunting, his mistresses and attending operatic performances, the latter interest leading him to still further expand the great music library, adding to it the largest collection of opera scores and libretti amassed to that date. But this idyllic way of life was brought to an abrupt end by the terrible Lisbon Earthquake of 1755, which levelled the ancient and beautiful city, killed upwards of 100,000 people and, in a cultural tragedy accompanying the human tragedy of so great a loss of life, destroyed the marvellous art and music collections.

The King fled to the hills with his family, where they lived in a tent city, José I refusing for some time to go within walls. Pombal was left to attend to reviving and rebuilding the capital, which within a year had arisen afresh, more beautiful than ever and constructed to be earthquake-proof this time.  The style of architecture developed under his direction, still one of the chief glories of Lisbon to this day, is justly known as ‘Pombaline’.

Five years after the calamity Infante Pedro married at last, aged 42. His bride was also his niece, Maria, Princess of Brazil and eldest daughter of Pedro’s brother José I. Not expecting to have further children and his only son having been stillborn, her father had given her the traditional title of the heir apparent on his accession and, desiring the throne to continue in the Bragança male line, subsequently arranged the marriage to his brother. Which was happy despite their seventeen-year age difference, and productive of three children that lived past infancy.

The eldest of these children, Infante José, became Prince of Brazil in his turn on his mother’s accession, and was married to his maternal aunt and paternal first cousin Infanta Benedita, youngest daughter of José I (neither of the other two daughters ever wed). The marriage had been at the express wish of the old King, but he died two months before and did not live to see either it or the birth of a child who would have been simultaneously his grandchild, great-grandchild and great-nephew or -niece, being the son or daughter of his grandson/nephew by his daughter.

And in fact no child was ever born with this quasi-Ptolemaic ancestry, nor did Infante José ever become José II, being struck down by smallpox aged 27. This left the continuation of the dynasty to his brother Infante João, who now himself became Prince of Brazil, or if he failed of issue continuation of the Bragança bloodline at least to his sister Maria Ana Vitória.

The mad Queen

When José I’s death brought Maria I to the throne her husband thereby became Pedro III. However his style as a sovereign did not empower him to share the rule, which he had no inclination to in any case, and Maria I took this firmly into her own hands, beginning by dismissing the great Pombal. An unpromising start, but in fact Maria reigned admirably well until, nine years after her accession and just before her husband’s death, the first symptoms of mental instability became apparent. The loss of her husband caused further deterioration, and when five years later her eldest son too died her reason collapsed altogether.

She never recovered, and the remaining 24 years of her reign were under the regency of her only remaining son Infante João, at first informal but in 1799 made official. Her other surviving child, her daughter Infanta Maria Ana Vitória, married Infante Gabriel of Spain but died with her husband in an outbreak of smallpox, leaving one son who in turn left a son, Infante Sebastian of both Portugal and Spain. A Carlist general, he was stripped of his titles and dynastic status for warring against the Crown, and while he has a considerable posterity today it does not extend to any royal line.

Infante João, the future João VI, had however played his part in the dynasty’s continuation and it is through his children that Bragança blood at last began to spread to other reigning houses. These children, of whom he had nine altogether, all but one living to adulthood, were with his wife and twice second cousin Infanta Carlota Joaquina of Spain, daughter of Carlos IV. A productive marriage, but in all other respects disastrous.

Infante João was plump, of easy temperament and lived simply, apart from his devotion to gastronomy. Infanta Carlota can only be described as an evil witch, a harridan who made her husband’s life a misery in every conceivable way and continually schemed and intrigued against him, serving always her own interests or those of her native Spain with never a thought for the interests of Portugal. Later in life she would egg on her youngest son Infante Miguel, whom she dominated, to repeatedly rebel against his father and ultimately to seize the Throne from its rightful occupant.

In the 1990s an examination of João VI’s remains confirmed what had long been suspected, that he died of poisoning. It cannot be confirmed that his wife had a hand in this, but suspicion of her is unavoidable, she having shown herself capable of any crime and they having long been the most bitter of enemies, both politically and personally.

A great deal of water, though, had flowed under the bridge between Maria I’s collapse into insanity and the murder of her son and successor, whether at his wife’s instigation or no. And it had flowed also under the keels of a fleet bearing the entire Portuguese royal family over the seas to Brazil.

A House in exile

No European Court had ever before established itself in one of its colonial possessions, nor would any do so again. The Portuguese Court would not have done so either were it not for the most pressing of circumstances, the approach in late 1807 of French armies so numerous and strong that there was no hope of successful resistance.

The whole period of Infante João’s regency had been dominated by the struggle with first Revolutionary and then Napoleonic France, and the endgame now approached, for this phase at least. Choosing reluctantly to, as it would appear, desert his people rather than have himself and the entire Portuguese Royal House become Napoléon’s captives, he chose also to seek refuge not in comparatively nearby England but in faraway Brazil, the vast land which was the source of Portugal’s, and the dynasty’s, great wealth but which no member of the Royal House had ever set foot in before.

It was to be a momentous choice, for both colony and motherland. Portugal had been content under absolute rule, orderly, peaceful and prosperous. Now its people saw themselves as abandoned and betrayed by their Prince, and though the French occupation of Portugal lasted less than a year, the invaders being driven out by British forces under the future Duke of Wellington, that was enough time for liberal ideas to spread and establish themselves.

The relationship between the Portuguese people and their sovereign would never be the same, and nor would Brazil ever be the same. For all its vast size and great resources, Brazil was backward and the people poor. The arrival of the Prince Regent and all the Court to take direct charge of the colony led to as big a transformation as could be imagined. Freed from the immediate pressures of war Dom João proved an industrious, imaginative and caring ruler, creating many institutions to advance Brazil’s prosperity and status and creating also a sense of Brazilian national identity, where none had existed before.

In 1815, the year before death finally freed the insane Maria I from decades of torment by her own ruined mind, the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves was declared. The declaration was issued not in Lisbon but in Rio de Janeiro, the Prince Regent and the rest of the royal family showing no inclination to return to Portugal despite Napoléon’s final defeat. They were still there on the accession of João VI in 1816, and still there in 1820 when a revolution in Portugal brought the triumph of liberal forces. They did not seek the monarchy’s overthrow but demanded that the King come back to his homeland, and demanded also the enactment of a Constitution and the return of Brazil to subordinate status.

The King tried to send the heir Infante Pedro in his stead, but he would not go and in 1821 João VI embarked for Europe, as reluctantly as he had sailed for the Americas 13 years before. The next year the required Constitution was enacted, and so two of the rebel demands had been met. The third, though, was a non-starter; Brazil had changed too much and advanced too far to again become an exploited colony. In the same year of 1822 the Empire of Brazil was proclaimed by that same Infante Pedro, who had remained as Regent of Brazil and now became its Constitutional Emperor and Perpetual Defender.

On the face of it a most unfilial rebellion, but in fact all the signs are that the King, recognising the inevitability of Brazil’s separation, had encouraged his son to lead rather than resist the independence movement, retaining Brazil for the Portuguese Royal House even if not for Portugal, the latter being impossible of accomplishment. None of this could be admitted publicly, and it was three years before the dispute between motherland and former colony was resolved, Portugal recognising both Brazil’s independence and its Emperor, while João VI was acknowledged titular Emperor of Brazil for life, reigning though not ruling alongside his son.

Nevertheless, on João VI’s arsenic-hastened death in 1826 his truly unfilial son Infante Miguel was able to parlay his elder brother’s rebellion – a sin of which he had repeatedly himself been guilty, and not with the complicity of his father and King – into a claim for the Throne. Which he made good, and which led to more years of turmoil and warfare for the country the dynasty had hitherto served so well. The story of those years, and of the children and further descent of João VI and the execrable Carlota Joaquina, will be told in the third and final part of Blood of the Braganças.

* Infanta Isabel’s mother Queen Maria Francesca was incidentally the great-great-aunt of Louis XV of France, and he in turn was among the great-great-grandparents of the children of João VI, so though it took some time Maria Francesca’s descents did make it to the House two sovereigns of which she married, even if not her own personal blood.

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