From the 1340s to the 19th century, excluding two brief intervals in the 1360s and the 1420s, the kings and queens of England and Ireland (and, later, of Great Britain) also claimed the throne of France. The claim dates from Edward III, who claimed the French throne in 1340 as the sororal nephew of the last direct Capetian, Charles IV. Edward and his heirs fought the Hundred Years' War to enforce this claim, and were briefly successful in the 1420s under Henry V and Henry VI, but the House of Valois, a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty, was ultimately victorious and retained control of France. Despite this, English and British monarchs continued to prominently call themselves kings of France, and the French fleur-de-lis was included in the royal arms. This continued until 1801, by which time France no longer had any monarch, having become a republic. The Jacobite claimants, however, did not explicitly relinquish the claim.
The title was first assumed in 1340 by Edward III of England, the Kingdom of England being ruled by the Plantagenet dynasty at the time. Edward III claimed the throne of France after the death of his uncle Charles IV of France. At the time of Charles IV's death in 1328, Edward was his nearest male relative through Edward's mother Isabella of France. Since the election of Hugh Capet in 987, the French crown had always passed based on male-line relations (father to son until 1316). There was no precedent for someone succeeding to the French throne based on his maternal ancestry, nor had there been a need to. There had been no shortage of sons for more than three centuries from the inception of the House of Capet until the early 14th century, when new precedents concerning female inheritance finally had to be introduced. On the death of Philip IV the Fair's son Louis X in 1316, immediately followed by that of his son John I the Posthumous, it had to be decided whether his young daughter Joan or his brother Philip would succeed to the throne. Philip arranged for his coronation, and became Philip V of France. He was challenged by the supporters of the Princess Joan, daughter of Louis X, on the basis of his right to the throne. In response, he convened an assembly of prelates, barons, and burgesses at Paris, who acknowledged him as their lawful king, and declared that "Women do not succeed to the throne of France." This was later said to have been based on the 5th century Salic law, but it is now known that the Salic Law was only rediscovered later and used by the lawyers of the Valois kings to fortify their masters' title with an additional aura of authenticity.
Claimants to the French throne in 1328:
|Royal families involved in the Hundred Years' War|
At the time of Charles's death in 1328, there was once again a dispute over the succession. Although it had come to be accepted that a woman could not possess the French throne in her own right, Edward III, the nephew of the deceased king and thus the nearest adult male relative, based his claim on the theory that a woman could transmit a right of inheritance to her son. This claim was rejected by French jurists under the principle Nemo plus juris ad alium transfere potest quam ipse habet (no one can transfer a greater right to another than he himself has), and the throne was given to the male line heir, Philip, Count of Valois, a first cousin of the deceased king. At the time, Edward paid homage to Philip VI for his Duchy of Aquitaine. In 1337, however, Edward, in his capacity as Duke of Aquitaine, refused to pay homage to Philip. The French king's response was to confiscate what was left of lands in English-held Aquitaine, namely Gascony, thus precipitating the Hundred Years' War and Edward's revival of his claim to the throne and title of King of France in 1340.
The decision to assume the title of "King of France" was made at the solicitation of his Flemish allies, who had signed a treaty that they would no longer attack the French king. They said that if Edward took the French royal title, then the Flemish would be able to keep their honour, since they would not be attacking the "true King of France" (Edward III).
Edward continued to use this title until the Treaty of Brétigny on 8 May 1360, when he abandoned his claims in return for substantial lands in France. After the resumption of hostilities between the English and the French in 1369, Edward resumed his claim and the title of King of France. His successors also used the title until the Treaty of Troyes on 21 May 1420, in which the English recognised Charles VI as King of France, but with his new son-in-law King Henry V of England as his heir (disinheriting Charles VI's son, the Dauphin Charles). Henry V then adopted the title Heir of France instead.
Henry V and Charles VI died within two months of each other in 1422, and Henry V's infant son (Charles VI's grandson) Henry VI became King of France. He was the only English king who was de facto King of France, rather than using the style as a mere title of pretense. By 1429 Charles VII, with the support of Joan of Arc, had been crowned at Reims and begun to push the English out of northern France. In 1435, an end to the French civil war between Burgundians and Armagnacs allowed Charles to return to Paris the following year, and by 1453 the English had been driven out of their last strongholds in Normandy and Guyenne. The only French territory left to the English was Calais which they held until 1558 and the Channel Islands.
Following a year-long episode of catatonia on the part of Henry VI of England in 1453 and the subsequent outbreak of the Wars of the Roses (1455–87), the English were no longer in any position to pursue their claim to the French throne and lost all their land on the continent, except for Calais (and, off the mainland but within ancient France, the Channel Islands).
Calais was ruled by eight more English Kings and Queens of France until 1558:
No treaty has ever explicitly taken the Channel Islands out of the Kingdom of France. The treaty of Paris of 1259 separated the islands from the duchy of Normandy but reaffirmed the fact that the king of England was holding them "as peer of France".
The Kings of France maintained a claim over the islands. But they remained under the control of the English kings who ruled them in their quality of "kings of France" until 1802 (Treaty of Amiens).
There was a few attempts from the French to take the islands but they all failed, the most notorious being the battle of Jersey in 1781.
Ill feeling between the two nations continued well into the 16th century. Calais was captured by French troops under Francis, Duke of Guise on 7 January 1558. Mary and Philip continued, however, to be styled Queen and King of France for the rest of her reign, as did Mary I's half-sister and successor Elizabeth I, despite her abandonment of her claims to Calais in the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis of 1559. Elizabeth I revived England's claims to Calais and took the French port of Le Havre in 1561. French forces ejected the English in 1563, and the Treaty of Troyes (1564), recognised French ownership of Calais, in return for payment to England of 120,000 crowns.
Elizabeth died childless. Her successor was her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots’ son James VI of Scotland. The thrones of England and Scotland were joined in a dynastic union until 1707. The seven monarchs of this period continued to use the style King/Queen of France, though their claim was merely nominal. None of them was willing to engage in military campaigns for France against the actual Kings of France Henry IV, Louis XIII and Louis XIV of France. Indeed, Charles I married a sister of Louis XIII, and his son Charles II spent much of his exile during the Interregnum in France (at which time, even if not formally abandoning his claim for its throne, he certainly did not emphasise it).
The Act of Union 1707 declared the joining of the Kingdom of England with the Kingdom of Scotland to a new Kingdom of Great Britain. The Kingdom had four Monarchs until 1801. They also styled themselves Queen/King of France; however, none of them made any official move to depose Louis XIV and his successors, Louis XV and Louis XVI:
The French Revolution overthrew and abolished the monarchy on 21 September 1792 and replaced it with the French Republic. In the War of the First Coalition British–French negotiations were held in Lille from July to November 1797. The French demanded dropping the title; James Harris, 1st Earl of Malmesbury was prepared to omit it from the king's signature to the envisaged peace treaty but had not conceded further by the time the talks collapsed.In the Commons' discussion of the negotiations, Sir John Sinclair called the demand "frivolous" and "hardly worth contending for"; William Pitt the Younger called the title "a harmless feather, at most, in the crown of England"; French Laurence called it an "ancient dignity" the ceding of which would lose honour and bring disgrace. In 1800, the Act of Union joined the Kingdom of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland to a new United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. George III chose this opportunity to drop his claim to the now defunct French throne, whereupon the fleurs-de-lis, part of the coat of arms of all claimant Kings of France since the time of Edward III, was also removed from the British royal arms. Britain recognised the French Republic by the Treaty of Amiens of 1802. Dropping the French claim resulted in a change of status for the Channel Islands: The constitutional relationship of the Islands with Great Britain has never been enshrined in a formal constitutional document. Until 1802 this link existed through the Crown's French claim. Starting in 1802 the islands became British Crown dependencies.
Although the fleurs-de-lys were completely removed from the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, they were later included in the arms of Canada, the British dominion, where they symbolise the heritage of the French Canadians, rather than the former British claim to the French throne.
While the position of King of France was restored in 1814 (and later abolished for the final time in 1848) subsequent British monarchs did not pursue the claim to the French throne.
The change was not acknowledged by Jacobite claimants.
The Jacobite pretenders were the deposed James II of England and his successors, continuing to style themselves "Kings of England, Scotland, France and Ireland" past their deposition in 1689. All four pretenders continued to actively claim the title King of France as well as that of King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1689 until 1807:
James II for the last twelve years of his life and his son, the Old Pretender, until the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, were actually pensioners of Louis XIV at the very time they were claiming his title.[ citation needed ]
The Jacobite succession has continued since 1807 but none of the eight subsequent holders of the claims has actively pursued it. They continue to be customarily known as "King (or Queen) of France" by the Jacobites.
The heir presumptive of the Jacobite claim is Franz's younger brother
In addition two failed claimants to the throne of England were also styled King of France. They are usually omitted from regnal lists.
Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart was the elder son of James Francis Edward Stuart, grandson of James II and VII, and the Stuart claimant to the throne of Great Britain after 1766 as "Charles III". During his lifetime, he was also known as "the Young Pretender" and "the Young Chevalier"; in popular memory, he is "Bonnie Prince Charlie". He is best remembered for his role in the 1745 rising; his defeat at Culloden in April 1746 effectively ended the Stuart cause, and subsequent attempts failed to materialise, such as a planned French invasion in 1759. His escape from Scotland after the uprising led to his portrayal as a romantic figure of heroic failure.
James Francis Edward Stuart, nicknamed The Old Pretender by Whigs, was the son of King James II and VII of England, Scotland and Ireland, and his second wife, Mary of Modena. He was Prince of Wales from July 1688 until, just months after his birth, his Catholic father was deposed and exiled in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. James II's Protestant elder daughter, Mary II, and her husband, William III, became co-monarchs and the Bill of Rights 1689 and Act of Settlement 1701 excluded Catholics from the English throne and, subsequently, the British throne.
The House of Valois was a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty. They succeeded the House of Capet to the French throne, and were the royal house of France from 1328 to 1589. Junior members of the family founded cadet branches in Orléans, Anjou, Burgundy, and Alençon.
Duke of York is a title of nobility in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. Since the 15th century, it has, when granted, usually been given to the second son of English monarchs. The equivalent title in the Scottish peerage was Duke of Albany. However, King George I and Queen Victoria granted the second sons of their eldest sons the titles Duke of York and Albany and Duke of York respectively.
The Duke of Aquitaine was the ruler of the ancient region of Aquitaine under the supremacy of Frankish, English, and later French kings.
The Treaty of Troyes was an agreement that King Henry V of England and his heirs would inherit the French throne upon the death of King Charles VI of France. It was formally signed in the French city of Troyes on 21 May 1420 in the aftermath of Henry's successful military campaign in France. It forms a part of the backdrop of the latter phase of the Hundred Years' War finally won by the French at the Battle of Castillon in 1453, and in which various English kings tried to establish their claims to the French throne.
The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 12 July 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, until 1 May 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Kingdom of England was among the most powerful states in Europe during the medieval period.
A pretender is someone who claims to be the rightful ruler of a country although not recognized as such by the current government. The term is often used to suggest that a claim is not legitimate. The word may refer to a former monarch or a descendant of a deposed monarchy, although this type of claimant is also referred to as a head of a house.
The precise style of British sovereigns has varied over the years. The present style is officially proclaimed in two languages:
Early modern Britain is the history of the island of Great Britain roughly corresponding to the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Major historical events in Early Modern British history include numerous wars, especially with France, along with the English Renaissance, the English Reformation and Scottish Reformation, the English Civil War, the Restoration of Charles II, the Glorious Revolution, the Treaty of Union, the Scottish Enlightenment and the formation and collapse of the First British Empire.
The Jacobite succession is the line through which Jacobites believed that the crowns of England, Scotland, and Ireland should have descended, applying primogeniture, since the deposition of James II and VII in 1688 and his death in 1701. It is in opposition to the line of succession to the British throne in law since that time.
This is a timeline of the Hundred Years' War between England and France from 1337 to 1453 as well as some of the events leading up to the war.
The Lancastrian War was the third and final phase of the Anglo-French Hundred Years' War. It lasted from 1415, when King Henry V of England invaded Normandy, to 1453, when the English lost Bordeaux. It followed a long period of peace from the end of the Caroline War in 1389. The phase was named after the House of Lancaster, the ruling house of the Kingdom of England, to which Henry V belonged.
British history provides several opportunities for alternative claimants to the English and later British Crown to arise, and historical scholars have on occasion traced to present times the heirs of those alternative claims.
The Hundred Years' War was a series of conflicts between the kingdoms of England and France during the Late Middle Ages. It originated from disputed claims to the French throne between the English royal House of Plantagenet and the French royal House of Valois. Over time, the war grew into a broader power struggle involving factions from across Western Europe, fueled by emerging nationalism on both sides.
The dual monarchy of England and France existed during the latter phase of the Hundred Years' War when Charles VII of France and Henry VI of England disputed the succession to the throne of France. It commenced on 21 October 1422 upon the death of King Charles VI of France, who had signed the Treaty of Troyes which gave the French crown to his son-in-law Henry V of England and Henry's heirs. It excluded King Charles's son, the Dauphin Charles, who by right of primogeniture was the heir to the Kingdom of France. Although the Treaty was ratified by the Estates-General of France, the act was a contravention of the French law of succession which decreed that the French crown could not be alienated. Henry VI, son of Henry V, became king of both England and France and was recognized only by the English and Burgundians until 1435 as King Henry II of France. He was crowned King of France on 16 December 1431.