When did the kings of England/Britain stop claming the throne of France?

It’s a curiosity of history that, even though the English kings eventually lost the 100 Years War and failed in their bid for the French crown, they kept up the pretense for . . . well, a long time. They even quartered the French royal arms (three gold fleur-de-lys on blue field) with the English (three golden lions on red field). (In a few posts some Doper even nerdier than I will be along to correct my heraldic terminology.) I remember that in the Epistle Dedicatory to the King James Bible, James is addressed as “by the Grace of God King of England, Scotland, Ireland and France.” When did they drop it? Since during the wars following the French Revolution, it was British policy to recognize only the Bourbons as lawful sovereigns of France (as opposed to Robespierre or Napoleon), it would have been awkward to keep up the “King of France” claim at that date. Did they keep it up anyway? Does anybody know?
(Footnote: The Jacobites, who recognize Prince Franz von Wittelsbach, Duke of Bavaria, as legitimate heir to the royal Stuarts and rightful king of England, Scotland and Ireland (not of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, because the Stewarts were kicked out in 1688, the Act of Union wasn’t until 1707, and Jacobites don’t recognize its legitimacy) still use a form of the royal arms with the French arms included. See http://www.jacobite.ca/. But whether they also hail Prince Franz as “King of France,” or whether he claims the title for himself, is unclear. If he did, that would make for four lines of pretenders to the French throne – Legitimist, Orleanist, Bonapartist, and Stuart/Wittelsbach.)

Footnote the footnote: Michel Lafosse, “Prince Michael of Albany,” a Belgian who claims to be the real heir of the Royal Stewarts (and also, incidentally and for some reason less importantly, a lineal descendant of both Jesus and Mohammed), styles himself by a great many titles – including “Prince of France,” but not “King of France.”

See the Royal House of Stewart website: http://www.jacobite.ca/

And for balance: The (more conventional) Jacobite take on his claim: http://www.jacobite.ca/essays/lafosse.htm

The Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Michael_of_Albany

Another debunking, by Guy Stair Santy: http://www.chivalricorders.org/royalty/fantasy/stuart.htm

And some more sympathetic articles in Dagobert’s Revenge magazine:





I believe the “King of France” part was dropped only during the XIX° century (during Victoria reign?).

They gave up their claims on being Kings of France as part of the Treaty of Amiens in 1802. This Wikipedia article has some information about it:


Thanx, Anne!

Although it had already been dropped from the royal style the year before, as part of the revision of those titles to mark the Union with Ireland.

Regarding the Jacobite arms, this became a potential problem when James II and his son were in exile in France. Louis XIV was punctiliuous about always treating them as if they were still King of England etc., so it was a bit embarassing that, as King of England, they still claimed to be King of France. Although the French never made any sort of formal protest, the court at Saint Germain-en-Laye do seem to have been aware that this was a sensitive issue and to have used the full Stuart arms only sparingly around what was, after all, a French royal palace.

Edward III dropped the French title in 1360 as a consequence of signing the Treaty of Bretigni but reseumed it again in 1369.
The French title disappears from the coinage in the reign of George III

The Queen is still the Duke (Duc?) Of Normandy though.

Only one king was ever actually King of both (from memory Edward VI)

Does anyone currently hold the title “King of France”? Who has the best claim to the title if no one currently holds it?

Since you mentioned arms, Julian Franklyn’s Shield and Crest states that France modern was dropped from the British arms under George III.

George II bore, like his father, I Per pale England and Scotland, II France, III Ireland, IV Hanover. (The numbers refer to the quarters of a shield. I is (from the viewer’s point of view) top left, II top right, III bottom left, IV bottom right.)

When the Act of Union with Ireland came into effect in 1801 (producing the U.K. of Great Britain and Ireland), George III changed the arms to I and IV, England, II Scotland, III Ireland.

For your reference,

England is Gules three lions passant gardant in pale Or;
Scotland is Or, in a double tressure flory-counter-flory a lion rampant gules;
Ireland is Azure a harp Or stringed Argent;
France is Azure three fleurs-de-lis Or;
and Hanover is (deep breath) Per chevron and in chief per pale, I Gules two lions passant gardant in pale Or, for Brunswick; II Or semé of hearts proper a lion rampant azure armed and langued gules, for Luneburg; III gules a horse courant argent, Westphalia for Saxony; surtout, on an escutcheon of pretence gules, the crown of Charlemagne Or.

The last English monarch to actually rule over a part of France was Mary (1553-58). The port city of Calais was in English hands, but was ceded back to the French during Mary’s reign after an ill-advised war. Ironically, Calais was one of Mary’s favorite vacation spots, and she was heartbroken its loss.

Mary’s last words are alleged to have been “When I am dead, you will find the word ‘Calais’ lying on my heart.” Personally, I doubt it, as “last words” have a way of being cleaned up for posterity’s sake. It was probably something more akin to “Get those leeches off of me” or the like.

Arguably, the current English monarch still rules over part of France – certainly part of Normandy, and certainly also not part of England – i.e., the Channel Islands (“les Isles Anglo-Normandes”).

There is, of course, nobody recognized as “King of France.” As a matter of fact, one of the examples given in semantics to show the distinction between a validly constructed proposition and an accurate proposition is, “The present King of France is bald.”

That said, the person with the claim would be the heir to the House of Bourbon, the male descendant of Louis XIII continuing the Capetian line in the male lineage. (No male descendant of Louis XIV and successors survives.) According to my 20-year-old Brittanica, that would be Henri, Comte de Paris, born in 1908, who may well be dead now, in which case his heirs would be, in order:

  1. His eldest son Henri, Comte de Clermont (b. 1933)
  2. Henri de Clermont’s eldest son Francois (b. 1961)
  3. Clermont’s second son Jean (b. 1965)
  4. Four younger sons of Henri de Paris, in order.

Presumably Francois and/or Jean have married and sired sons who would come immediately after them in the sequence, which is figured by male-line primogeniture. (Salic Law: women cannot inherit nor transmit valid claims.)

Doesn’t the Comte de Paris have a pretty good claim?

Well, as of 1999, he seems to be well dead.

Actually in a strictly technical sense it was Elizabeth that ceded Calais in the treaty of Cateau-Cambresis in 1559 and quite reluctantly at that. The treaty actually called for its cession to France for eight years, after which France had to either return it ( fat chance ) or pay a cash settlement. At that Elizabeth attempted to get it back in the treaty of Hampton Court in 1562 with the Huguenots, in which in a bit of creative extortion she offered desperately needed funding in exchange for the port of Le Havre, later to be exchanged for Calais after the Huguenots won. Unforunately for her the Huguenots and Catholics reconciled just long enough at the Peace of Amboise in 1564, to decide to jointly expel the English from Le Havre.

  • Tamerlane

Actually, there male descendants of Louis XIV. Through his grandson Philipe V, who became king of Spain. The current heir through this line isn’t the current king of Spain, since the rules of succesion for the throne of Spain and the throne of Spain are different (in Spain, the throne can pass to a daughter, the throne of France couldn’t). The current claimant through this line is titled duke of Bourbon and Anjou (I don’t remember his surname) and of spanish birth.

However, there’s an issue with this claim. Following the war of spanish succession, Felipe V took the throne of Spain but in exchange, Louis XIV renounced for him (his grandson) and all his descendants to any claim to the throne of France. However the “supporters” of the duke of Anjou claims that he had no right to do so (and according to me, they’re right : the “fundamentals laws of the kingdom”, which included the rules of succession couldn’t be modified by a king, and besides the tradition, this has been upheld several times by courts under the monarchy).
So there’s a second pretendant. Ignoring the descendants of Felipe V, the last other descendant of Louis XIV in direct male line died towards the end of the XIX° century. So (still ignoring the spanish branch), the claim passed to the descendants of a brother of Louis XIV, the duke of Orleans (hence the name “Orleanists” for the suporters of this branch). The current claimant is indeed titled “Count of Paris”. He happens to be also the direct descendant of the last french king, Louis-Philippe the 1st, who was chosen as king after the 1830 revolution, instead of the son of Charles X, the king who had just been evicted. So, the orleanists add to their claim the fact that they’re are also the inheritors of this last french king (who wasn’t legitimate according to the order of succession, in case you didn’t follow…the throne should have passed to the son of Charles X, then to his grandson, who’s the one who died without inheritor at the end of the XIX° century)
Generally speaking, the Orleans/ Counts of Paris are much more widely known, and would most probably be mentionned if a random french person was asked.

He is dead. He was quite well known, and has been quite active during his (long) life. There are many rumors about De Gaulle having envisionned to restore the monarchy and put him back on the throne. He might actually have at least discussed this idea with the Count of Paris.

He’s probably the current claimant to the throne. I saw him once on TV one or two years ago, during some show about the nobility. He doesn’t seem to have inherited any of the qualities of his father. To say the truth, he seems really stupid. When asked about his claims, or about the advantage of restoring the monarchy, he was really unable to articulate a sensible answer. And I can’t imagine questions about which he could logically have been more likely to give a well-thought answer. After seeing him, I suspected he was mentally retarded. Or at the very least very shy, very inarticulate, and very stupid.
Besides these two, there’s also a number of claimants stating that the son of Louis XVI didn’t die in prison during the revolution, but was kidnapped. Several supposed “Louis XVII” surfaced during the beginning of the XIX° century. Some of their descendants still claim to be the rightful inheritors of the crown of France.

I would add a little factoid. After the fall of the second empire, in 1870, the elections resulted in a strong monarchist majority at the national assembly. However, they were quite divided in particular already between the more liberal “orleanists” and the “legitimists”. They finally came to an agreement. Since the last descendant of Charles X, the count of Chambord, was old and heirless, he would get the throne, then, after his death, it would pass to the Orleans pretender. However, the count of Chambord was extremely reactionnary. He refused to become king if the tricolor flag, too tied for his taste to the revolutions, wasn’t replaced by the white flag of the former kings. Despite many attempts, nobody could convince him otherwise. And this was a deal breaker (besides the republicans, the bonapartists, part of the orleanist and the majority of the population wanted to keep the tricolor).
So, they decided to wait for the death of the stubborn guy. Meanwhile, a monarchist president would be elected to keep the seat ready for the next king. Estimates about the likehood of his death resulted in choosing 7 years for the lenght of the presidential mandate (which is why until the last election, the french presidents were elected for unusually long terms of 7 years). Then came the issue of calling this president president ** of the republic ** or not. The “of the republic” part passed with a majority of one vote (which resulted in a not really acccurate tale about the republic having been proclaimed with a majority of only one vote).

Unfortunately for the monarchists, the guy lived longer than planned, and meanwhile, the monarchist majority was replaced in the next elections by a republican majority. The monarchist president Mac Mahon then resigned, and the republic was definitely in place.
So, France is only a republic because a stubborn old guy didn’t like the color of the flag.

No, Henry VI. In 1420, the victorious Henry V of England forced the French to sign the Treaty of Troyes, by which he would marry Catherine, daughter of Charles VI of France, and be recognized as Charles’ heir, bypassing the Dauphin Charles. The agreement was for a dual monarchy, with one sovereign occupying two separate thrones. In December 1421 Catherine bore a son, Henry, and the Tudor succession to both thrones seemed assured. However, Henry V died in August 1422 and Charles VI did not pass until October 1422. Henry VI was crowned king of England in 1422 and king of France in 1421. But the Dauphin Charles held on to southern France and started fighting back and recovering territory (with the help of Joan of Arc). He was crowned Charles VII of France in Rheims Cathedral and eventually won back all of France except for Calais. The unfortunate Henry VI eventually suffered a mental breakdown and was deposed in 1461 by the Yorkist Edward IV; he was restored in 1470 but soon was deposed again, and murdered in the Tower of London in 1471.

No, no, correction: Henry VI was crowned king of France (at Notre Dame in Paris) in 1431 – two years after Charles VII had staged his own coronation at Rheims. Of course, at that time Henry VI was only ten years old and regents ruled in his stead. He did not assume control of government until 1437, by which time England had lost most of its French territory. So we really can’t say there has ever been any time when England and France were actually, actively ruled by the same king.

That hasn’t been put to rest by the DNA testing that was done? They even had a burial ceremony at Saint-Denis Basilica a while ago.