House of Bourbon

"Bourbons" redirects here. For other uses, see Bourbon (disambiguation).
House of Bourbon
Country France, Italy, Navarre, Spain, Luxembourg
Parent house Capetian dynasty
Founded 1268
Founder Robert, Count of Clermont, the sixth son of King Louis IX of France, married Beatrix of Bourbon
Final ruler France and Navarre: Charles X (1824-1830)
Of the French: Louis Philippe I (1830–1848)
Parma: Roberto I (1854–1859)
Two Sicilies: Francis II (1859–1861)
Deposition France and Navarre, 1830: July Revolution
France, 1848: February Revolution
Parma, 1859: Annexation by Kingdom of Sardinia
Two Sicilies, 1861: Italian unification
Ethnicity French, Spanish
Cadet branches

Bourbons of Spain

House of Orléans

House of Condé

The House of Bourbon (English /ˈbɔːrbən/; French: [buʁˈbɔ̃]) is a European royal house of French origin, a branch of the Capetian dynasty (/kəˈpʃən/). Bourbon kings first ruled France and Navarre in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Bourbon dynasty also held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma. Spain and Luxembourg currently have Bourbon monarchs.

The royal Bourbons originated in 1268, when the heiress of the lordship of Bourbon married a younger son of King Louis IX.[1] The house continued for three centuries as a cadet branch, while more senior Capetians ruled France, until Henry IV became the first Bourbon king of France in 1589.[1] Bourbon monarchs then unified France with the small kingdom of Navarre, which Henry's father had acquired by marriage in 1555, and ruled until the 1792 overthrow of the monarchy during the French Revolution. Restored briefly in 1814 and definitively in 1815 after the fall of the First French Empire, the senior line of the Bourbons was finally overthrown in the July Revolution of 1830. A cadet Bourbon branch, the House of Orléans, then ruled for 18 years (1830–1848), until it too was overthrown.

The Princes de Condé were a cadet branch of the Bourbons descended from an uncle of Henry IV, and the Princes de Conti were a cadet branch of the Condé. Both houses were prominent in French affairs, even during exile in the French Revolution, until their respective extinctions in 1830 and 1814.

When the Bourbons inherited the strongest claim to the Spanish throne, the claim was passed to a cadet Bourbon prince, a grandson of Louis XIV of France, who became Philip V of Spain.[1] Permanent separation of the French and Spanish thrones was secured when France and Spain ratified Philip's renunciation, for himself and his descendants, of the French throne in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1714, and similar arrangements later kept the Spanish throne separate from those of the Two Sicilies and Parma. The Spanish House of Bourbon (rendered in Spanish as Borbón [borˈβon]) has been overthrown and restored several times, reigning 1700–1808, 1813–1868, 1875–1931, and since 1975. Bourbons ruled in Naples from 1734–1806 and in Sicily from 1734–1816, and in a unified Kingdom of the Two Sicilies from 1816–1860. They also ruled in Parma from 1731–1735, 1748–1802 and 1847–1859.

Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg married a cadet of the Parmese line and thus her successors, who have ruled Luxembourg since her abdication in 1964, have also been members of the House of Bourbon. Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil, regent for her father, Pedro II of the Empire of Brazil, married a cadet of the Orléans line and thus their descendants, known as the Orléans-Braganza, were in the line of succession to the Brazilian throne and expected to ascend its throne had the monarchy not been abolished by revolution in 1889.

All legitimate, living members of the House of Bourbon, including its cadet branches, are direct agnatic descendants of Henry IV.

Part of a series on the
History of France
France portal


The castle of Bourbon-l'Archambault

The pre-Capetian House of Bourbon was a noble family, dating at least from the beginning of the 13th century, when the estate of Bourbon was ruled by the Sire de Bourbon who was a vassal of the King of France. The term House of Bourbon ("Maison de Bourbon") is sometimes used to refer to this first house and the House of Bourbon-Dampierre, the second family to rule the seigneury.

In 1268, Robert, Count of Clermont, sixth son of King Louis IX of France, married Beatrix of Bourbon, heiress to the lordship of Bourbon and member of the House of Bourbon-Dampierre.[1] Their son Louis was made Duke of Bourbon in 1327. His descendant, the Constable of France Charles de Bourbon, was the last of the senior Bourbon line when he died in 1527. Because he chose to fight under the banner of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and lived in exile from France, his title was discontinued after his death.

The remaining line of Bourbons henceforth descended from James I, Count of La Marche, the younger son of Louis I, Duke of Bourbon.[1] With the death of his grandson James II, Count of La Marche in 1438, the senior line of the Count of La Marche became extinct. All future Bourbons would descend from James II's younger brother, Louis, who became the Count of Vendôme through his mother's inheritance.[1] While the most senior branch of the family, the House of Valois, continued to occupy the throne of France, at the death of Charles IV, Duke of Alençon in 1525, all of the princes of the blood royal were Bourbons.

In 1514, Charles, Count of Vendôme had his title raised to Duke of Vendôme. His son Antoine became King of Navarre, on the northern side of the Pyrenees, by marriage in 1555.[1] Two of Antoine's younger brothers were Cardinal Archbishop Charles de Bourbon and the French and Huguenot general Louis de Bourbon, 1st Prince of Condé. Louis' male-line, the Princes de Condé, survived until 1830. Finally, in 1589, the House of Valois died out and Antoine's son Henry III of Navarre became Henry IV of France.[1]

List of Bourbons

Dukes of Bourbon

Bourbon branches

Families claiming to be a branch


Rise of Henry IV

The first Bourbon king of France was Henry IV.[1] He was born on 13 December 1553 in the Kingdom of Navarre. Antoine de Bourbon, his father, was a ninth-generation descendant of King Louis IX of France.[1] Jeanne d'Albret, his mother was the Queen of Navarre and niece of King Francis I of France. He was baptized Catholic, but raised Calvinist. After his father was killed in 1562, he became Duke of Vendôme at the age of 10, with Admiral Gaspard de Coligny (1519–1572) as his regent. Seven years later, the young duke became the nominal leader of the Huguenots after the death of his uncle the Prince de Condé in 1569.

Henry succeeded to Navarre as Henry III when his mother died in 1572. That same year Catherine de' Medici, mother of King Charles IX of France, arranged for the marriage of her daughter, Margaret of Valois, to Henry, ostensibly to advance peace between Catholics and Huguenots. Many Huguenots gathered in Paris for the wedding on 24 August, but were ambushed and slaughtered by Catholics in the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. Henry saved his own life by converting to Catholicism. He repudiated his conversion in 1576 and resumed his leadership of the Huguenots.

The period from 1576 to 1584 was relatively calm in France, with the Huguenots consolidating control of much of the south with only occasional interference from the royal government. Extended civil war erupted again in 1584, when François, Duke of Anjou, younger brother of King Henry III of France, died, leaving Navarre next in line for the throne. Thus began the War of the Three Henrys, as Henry of Navarre, Henry III, and the ultra-Catholic leader, Henry of Guise, fought a confusing three-cornered struggle for dominance. After Henry III was assassinated on 31 July 1589, Navarre claimed the throne as the first Bourbon king of France, Henry IV.

Much of Catholic France, organized into the Catholic League, refused to recognize a Protestant monarch and instead recognized Henry IV's uncle, Charles, Cardinal de Bourbon, as rightful king, and the civil war continued. Henry won a crucial victory at Ivry on 14 March 1590 and, following the death of the Cardinal the same year, the forces of the League lacked an obvious Catholic candidate for the throne and divided into various factions. Nevertheless, as a Protestant, Henry IV was unable to take Paris, a Catholic stronghold, or to decisively defeat his enemies, now supported by the Spanish. He reconverted to Catholicism in 1593—he is said to have remarked, "Paris is well worth a mass"[2]—and was crowned king retroactively to 1589 at the Cathedral of Chartres on 27 February 1594.

Early Bourbons in France

Henry granted the Edict of Nantes on 13 April 1598, establishing Catholicism as an official state religion but also granting the Huguenots a measure of religious tolerance and political freedom short of full equality with the practice of Catholicism. This compromise ended the religious wars in France. That same year the Treaty of Vervins ended the war with Spain, adjusted the Spanish-French border, and resulted in a belated recognition by Spain of Henry as king of France.

Ably assisted by Maximilien de Béthune, duc de Sully, Henry reduced the land tax known as the taille; promoted agriculture, public works, construction of highways, and the first French canal; started such important industries as the tapestry works of the Gobelins; and intervened in favor of Protestants in the duchies and earldoms along the German frontier. This last was to be the cause of his assassination.

Henry IV of France, the first Bourbon King of France

Henry's marriage to Margaret, which had produced no heir, was annulled in 1599 and he married Marie de Medici, niece of the grand duke of Tuscany. A son, Louis, was born to them in 1601. Henry IV was assassinated on 14 May 1610 in Paris. Louis XIII was only nine years old when he succeeded his father.[1] He was to prove a weak ruler; his reign was effectively a series of distinct regimes, depending who held the effective reins of power. At first, Marie de Medici, his mother, served as regent and advanced a pro-Spanish policy. To deal with the financial troubles of France, Louis summoned the Estates General in 1614; this would be the last time that body met until the eve of the French Revolution. Marie arranged the 1615 marriage of Louis to Anne of Austria, the daughter of King Philip III of Spain.

In 1617, however, Louis conspired with Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes to dispense with her influence, having her favorite Concino Concini assassinated on 26 April of that year. After some years of weak government by Louis's favorites, the King made Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu, a former protégé of his mother, the chief minister of France in 1624.

Richelieu advanced an anti-Habsburg policy. He arranged for Louis' sister, Henrietta Maria, to marry King Charles I of England, on 11 May 1625. Her pro-Catholic propaganda in England was one of the contributing factors to the English Civil War. Richelieu, as ambitious for France and the French monarchy as for himself, laid the ground for the absolute monarchy that would last in France until the Revolution. He wanted to establish a dominating position for France in Europe, and he wanted to unify France under the monarchy. He established the role of intendants, non-noble men whose arbitrary powers of administration were granted (and revocable) by the monarch, superseding many of the traditional duties and privileges of the noble governors.

Although it required a succession of internal military campaigns, he disarmed the fortified Huguenot towns that Henry had allowed. He involved France in the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) against the Habsburgs by concluding an alliance with Sweden in 1631 and, actively, in 1635. He died in 1642 before the conclusion of that conflict, having groomed Cardinal Jules Mazarin as a successor. Louis XIII outlived him but by one year, dying in 1643 at the age of forty-two. After a childless marriage for twenty-three years his queen, Anne, delivered a son on 5 September 1638, whom he named Louis after himself.[1] In the mid eighteenth century, the Bourbon monarchy had a faulty system for finance and taxation. Their lacking a national bank lead to them taking short-term loans, and ordering financial agents to make payments in advance or in excess of tax revenues collected.[3]

Louis XIV and Louis XV

Main article: Louis XIV of France
Main article: Louis XV of France

Louis XIV succeeded his father at four years of age;[1] he would go on to become the most powerful king in French history. His mother Anne served as his regent with her favorite Jules, Cardinal Mazarin, as chief minister. Mazarin continued the policies of Richelieu, bringing the Thirty Years' War to a successful conclusion in 1648 and defeating the nobility's challenge to royal absolutism in a series of civil wars known as the Frondes. He continued to war with Spain until 1659.

In that year the Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed signifying a major shift in power, France had replaced Spain as the dominant state in Europe. The treaty called for an arranged marriage between Louis and his cousin Maria Theresa, a daughter of King Philip IV of Spain by his first wife Elisabeth, the sister of Louis XIII. They were married in 1660 and had a son, Louis, in 1661.[1] Mazarin died on 9 March 1661 and it was expected that Louis would appoint another chief minister, as had become the tradition, but instead he shocked the country by announcing he would rule alone.

For six years Louis reformed the finances of his state and built formidable armed forces. France fought a series of wars from 1667 onward and gained some territory on its northern and eastern borders. Maria Theresa died in 1683 and the next year he secretly married the devoutly Catholic Françoise d'Aubigné, marquise de Maintenon. Louis XIV began to persecute Protestants, undoing the religious tolerance established by his grandfather Henry IV, culminating in his revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

The last war waged by Louis XIV proved to be one of the most important to dynastic Europe. In 1700, King Charles II of Spain, a Habsburg, died without a son. Louis's son the Grand Dauphin, as the late king's nephew, was the closest heir, and Charles willed the kingdom to the Dauphin's second son, the Duke of Anjou. Other powers, particularly the Austrian Habsburgs, who had the next closest claims, objected to such a vast increase in French power.

Initially, most of the other powers were willing to accept Anjou's reign as Philip V, but Louis's mishandling of their concerns soon drove the English, Dutch and other powers to join the Austrians in a coalition against France. The War of the Spanish Succession began in 1701 and raged for 12 years. In the end Louis's grandson was recognized as king of Spain, but he was obliged to agree to the forfeiture of succession rights in France, the Spanish Habsburgs' other European territories were largely ceded to Austria, and France was nearly bankrupted by the cost of the struggle. Louis died on 1 September 1715 ending his seventy-two year reign, the longest in European history.

Dynastic group portrait of Louis XIV (seated) with his son le Grand Dauphin (to the left), his grandson Louis, Duke of Burgundy (to the right), his great-grandson the duc d'Anjou, later Louis XV, and Madame de Ventadour, his governess, who commissioned this painting some years later; busts of Henry IV and Louis XIII in the background.

The reign of Louis XIV was so long that he outlived both his son and eldest grandson. He was succeeded by his great-grandson Louis XV.[1] Louis XV was born on 15 February 1710 and was thus aged only five at his ascension, the third Louis in a row to become king of France before the age of ten. Initially, the regency was held by Philip, Duke of Orléans, Louis XIV's nephew, as nearest adult male to the throne.[1] This Regence was seen as a period of greater individual expression, manifested in secular, artistic, literary and colonial activity, in contrast to the austere latter years of Louis XIV's reign.

Following Orléans' death in 1723, the Duke of Bourbon, representative of the