Refuting Guy Stair Sainty

CC 3.0 – Sodacan

The purpose of this article is to refute Guy Stair Sainty’s so-called “Legitimist” Case.

A. Male Succession

Sainty correctly states that succession to the crown is limited to males in the male line — that is to say the agnates of Hugh Capet.  This became known as the Salic law.  Sainty explains some of the history behind this and how the Salic law emerged in France.

What he doesn’t mention, however, was 16th century justification of the Salic law — keeping the kingdom out of foreign hands.

See the words of Pierre de Belloy:

Now it is quite certain that, without a Salic law, the Crown would have been exploited by an infinite number of non-French Princes [Princes non François], by the marriages of my daughters, daughters of France, who are married in a foreign nation, often in England, Spain, in Germany, in Lorraine, in other provinces of Europe…

[On the Salic Law. P. 86]

And Claude de Seyssel:

And the first specialty that I find good there is that the kingdom goes by male succession, without being able to fall into the hands of a woman, according to the law that the French call “salic”, which is a very good thing. Because, falling in a feminine line, it comes into the hands and power [it can come into power] of a man of strange nation, which is pernicious and dangerous thing: yet that which comes from such a strange nation [the one who comes from strange nation]is other food and condition and has other mores, other language and other way of living than those of the country where it comes to dominate.

B. Primogeniture

Sainty points out that the throne passes by primogeniture.  This is true.  For 800 years the throne passed by primogeniture to the agnates of Hugh Capet.  What Sainty doesn’t mention is that for 800 years all these agnates were French.

Sainty then states that Henri IV was a foreigner.  This is flatly wrong.  Henri IV was a Bearnais, who were ruled to be natural Frenchmen in 1505 by the Parlement of Paris.  The Parlement confirmed this again in 1579.

Sainty also leaves out how the historians of the 16th and 17th centuries viewed the election of Hugh Capet.  It was their view that Capet was a “natural Frenchman” with the “air of France.”  Unlike Charles de Lorraine, whom they considered a foreigner.

See Mézeray:

There remained of the Carolingian race only Charles, Duke of Lorraine.  This Prince was absent [and thus foreign], of little virtue, and very bad in the minds of the French; Hugh Capet, on the contrary, was in the heart of the Kingdom [meaning he was French], Mighty and esteemful…


It could be said that this poor Prince [Charles de Lorraine] had deposed himself by making himself a foreigner, and that this state could not suffer a chief who was a vassal of another king.

Charles de Lorraine was a Carolingian (who thus had the Blood of France), but was rejected for being having become a foreigner.

C. No One Can Divert Succession

That is true under normal circumstances.  This is called Inalienability (or Unavailability) of the Crown.  The crown is not the monarch’s property, and neither he nor anyone else can normally alter the succession.

The Peace of Utrecht, however, was not a normal circumstance, but we will talk about that below.

It is important to mention that the exclusion of foreigners in not inconsistent with this rule, for it is the law itself which excludes foreigners from the throne:

…and that it is necessary to employ the authority which has been committed to him to prevent that, under pretext of religion, [the crown] be transferred in foreign hands against the laws of the kingdom

…said court declares all treaties made and to be made hereafter for the establishment of a foreign prince and princess of null effect and value, as done to the prejudice of the Salic law and other fundamental laws of the state.

D. Foreign Branches of the House of France

Here Sainty makes the bold claim that the Spanish Bourbons and those of Parma and the Two Sicilies constitute as single house, the House of France.  That is not true.  They constitute a singe house: the House of Bourbon, not the House of France.

Sainty mentions various family pacts as proof that the House of France has foreign branches.  The actual treaties, however, used the terms “Maison de Bourbon,” not “Maison de France.”

See Prof. François Velde:

The use of the two terms is not synonymous, and in fact, in the international treaties of the time, the term “maison de France” is never used to refer to the various branches of the house of Bourbon collectively. The term “Maison de France” does not appear anywhere in any of the three pactes de famille. The mistaken belief that it does seems to be due to the use by legitimists [Anjouists] of a draft of the treaty rather than its official version…


Not only is there nothing asserted about unity of the houses or successoral laws, but it is said that, at certain courts, the representative of the sovereign senior in the house of Bourbon has precedence. In the legitimist [Anjouist] theory, that is always necessarily the king of France! But that is not what the treaty says. It specifies “the senior sovereign”, and does not refer to the representative of France as the representative of the “senior sovereign”. In case of accession of the Orléans to the throne, the representative of Spain would gain precedence, as the descendant of Felipe V would be senior to the Orleans king of France. It is obvious that this is exactly the kind of situation foreseen by article 27.

The possibility of extinction of houses is explicitly envisaged by the text of the Treaty, since it mentions the case where “princes of Bourbon cease to occupy the thrones of both monarchies”….

…Thus the treaty, far from proving that the Spanish princes were still members of the house of France, implicitly recognizes the possibility that the Bourbon branch ruling in Spain would be senior to the Bourbon branch ruling in France, a configuration that was impossible unless the Utrecht renunciations were considered binding.

The House of France is not international.  To try and say that it is is contrary to history and the Fundamental Laws.

Belloy again:

For the government of which we all scourge by the testimony of the oldest stories of this kingdom, that our Fathers had nothing ever in greater horror, than to be dominated by other than by a Prince of their nation, hated to death the Lordship, which they have at all times, called foreign tyranny.

[On the Salic Law. P 87.]

E. Nationality of a Dynast

Sainty writes:

Several times in the history of the House of France, Dynasts have succeeded to foreign thrones without forfeiting their rights to the French Throne. Peter, Seigneur de Courtenay, grandson of Louis VI became Emperor of Constantinople and was succeeded as such by his two sons and grandson, while remaining a French Dynast (numerous surviving documents attests to his treatment as such by his cousins in France). Charles, younger son of Louis VIII, became King of Naples in 1265 but retained his French titles and he and his male descendants continued to be treated as French Dynasts until the extinction of his male line in 1414. This branch also occupied the Throne of Hungary until 1382. Later the claim to Naples passed to Louis, Duke of Anjou, a younger son of John II, whose heirs subsequently acquired the Neapolitan Throne but never lost their status as French Dynasts or their French Peerages and titles.

All of these examples are before the Hundred Years’ War; thus, before the creation of the nationality rule.  In fact, the Fundamental Laws weren’t conceived of until the 16th century.

Sainty then mentions Henri III becoming King of Poland.  Firstly, Sainty has an erroneous definition of “foreigner.”  Becoming king of a foreign state did not necessarily make someone foreign.  Secondly, Sainty fails to mention that the declaration and letters patent issued to Henri III confirmed his status as French (regnicole), despite his absence from France.

Sainty mentions the letter of naturalness issued to Felipe V, but he fails to mention they were revoked.

A little later, Sainty writes:

If, however, foreign nationality was sufficient to exclude a dynast then a simple remedy to have settled the issue of the legality or otherwise of the renunciations of 1712 would have been to deprive Philip V of his French nationality upon becoming Spanish King.

Did Sainty conveniently forget about Felipe’s letters of naturalness?

And then Sainty writes:

The grant of nationality is a civil act, and one which (certainly until modern times) could be easily reversed or revoked. When the Third French republic was confronted with powerful monarchist movements, the Law of Exile was passed in 1886 to inhibit monarchist activity, but how much more effective would it have been to revoke the nationality of the various claimants and thereby exclude them and their descendants forever!

The Third Republic was illegitimate, so this argument makes no sense.  It makes even less sense coming from a self-proclaimed Legitimist.

And by the way, the Law of Exile did not apply to the Spanish Bourbons because they were not dynasts.

Further, Arrêt le Maistre says making a foreigner “French” for dynastic purposes would be null and void:

…said court declares all treaties made and to be made hereafter for the establishment of a foreign prince and princess of null effect and value, as done to the prejudice of the Salic law and other fundamental laws of the state.

“Treaty” (Traitémeant and means any sort of legal agreement. This means any legal instrument to declare a foreigner a Frenchman, for the purpose of succession to the throne, would be null and void.

This is consistent with the Inalienability of Crown. Making a foreigner “French” by decree would mean re-ordering the line of succession, a violation of the Fundamental Laws.

Just with making a foreigner a paper “Frenchman,” it would likewise be invalid to make a natural Frenchman “foreign” by decree.  A person becomes foreign through their own actions, like leaving the kingdom without the spirit of return, or through the circumstance of being born in a foreign country by parents who left of their own will.

F. Catholic Marriage

Children must be born of Catholic marriages.  Sainty says this is not an issue at present.  He should tell that to some people.

G. A Prince May Not Renounce

This has to do with Utrecht and the Inalienability of the Crown.  We will simply repeat what we have said previously:

As mentioned, Anjouists claim that the Felipe V’s renunciation is invalid ab initio–that is to say–invalid from the beginning. It is true that under normal circumstances the renunciation of Felipe V would have been invalid, but this was not a normal circumstance. France had been at war with almost all of Europe, and suffered 500,000 to 600,000 causalities, far more than any other party.

France (and Europe) needed peace, and it is the first duty of any king to protect and secure his nation. Louis and Felipe could either accept the peace or continue the war, risking the lives of their countrymen (and the potential survival of their states).

But it would make no sense to do so. By Felipe renouncing the French throne, and keeping Spain, France would no longer be surrounded on both sides by Habsburgs. So a peace would not only save the lives of Louis’s subjects, but would also leave France in a better position than before Felipe became King of Spain.

It is also common sense that the preservation of the state supersedes the laws of said state. The laws, after all, cannot exist without the state.

There is also the legal principle of force majeure. Extreme, unforeseen circumstances can negate the normal requirement to fulfil one’s legally required duty.

Because of the extreme nature of the circumstances, the usual requirement that Inalienability of the Crown be followed was no longer applicable. Thus, this one-time violation became valid (under no circumstances was Inalienability of the Crown abrogated.)

H. The King Must be Catholic


I. Titles of the Dynasty


Sainty’s Summary

Sainty writes:

the foreign nationality of intervening generations cannot stand in the path of a Dynast’s succession any more than it can prevent a foreigner from inheriting a French title.

It was established in the 14th century that one could not pass on a claim one does not have.  This was back when Edward III of England claimed the French throne through his mother.

As we’ve already shown, the Fundamental Laws demand the king be French.  Don Luis’s ancestors were not French.  Therefore, there was no claim for them to pass on.