A Catholic and French King

The Arrêt le Maistre of 1593 made two things very clear and confirmed two principles as being part of the Fundamental Laws: The king must be Catholic and French.

That the fundamental laws of this kingdom be kept and the judgments given by the said court for the declaration of a Catholic and French king executed; and that it is necessary to employ the authority which has been committed to him to prevent that, under pretext of religion, be transferred in foreign hands against the laws of the kingdom; and to provide as quickly as possible for rest at the relief of the people, for the extreme necessity in which it is reduced; and yet, at the present time, 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.

The Wars of Religion devastated France, leading to the deaths of 3 million.  One of them would be Henri III of France.  This meant that Henri IV was now the nominal King of France.  The new king, however, was a Protestant, and many of the Catholics did not accept him.

The Catholic League fought against Henri IV.  King Henri, despite numerous attempts, could not capture Paris in a military victory.  He soon announced his intention to convert to the Catholic faith.

The Duke of Mayenne, under Spanish influence, attempted to have the Estates-General acknowledge Infanta Isabella as Queen Regnant of France.  The Estates refused: “our laws and customs prevent us from calling forward as king any prince not of our nation.1

Women were already excluded by the French laws of succession, but this was not the reason for the rejection of Infanta Isabella.  The reason given is that she is foreign.

This is perfectly consistent with the views of jurist Pierre de Belloy, a supporter of Henri IV:

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…

A French Prince

A French prince is:

  1. One who is of the Blood of France;
  2. One who has remained in France;

As Belloy stated:

Indeed, it must be considered that the reason for the law of France and other kingdoms, which the Salic law is kept, which excludes the female sex from the succession of the crown, is not only tested on the imbecility, and infirm condition of the sex, which is too often found also to the male sex: But mainly to prevent, that it does not fall in foreign hands, and that the kingdom is governed by other than by a Frenchman, who has the blood and origin of his father, and who has a notable interest, and a natural affection for the preservation of his country.

This is, of course, opposed to a foreign prince — a prince who is a foreigner.  The Parlement de Paris made it very clear that no foreign prince could take the throne of France, saying it was “contrary to the Salic law.”

The Spanish Bourbons are Foreign Princes

Comte de Chambord, de jure Henri V of France. Last of the Elder Bourbons of France.

Despite being senior by agnatic primogeniture, the Spanish Bourbons had become foreigners by 1883, the year the last elder Bourbon died in France.

Let us look at the Spanish Bourbons:

Carlos III.  Born in Madrid, Spain.  Died in Madrid, Spain.

Carlos IV.  Born in Portici, Naples.  Died in Rome, Papal States.

Infante Carlos (de jure Carlos V of Spain).  Born in Aranjuez, SpainDied in Trieste, Austria.

Juan, Count of Montizon (de jure Juan III of Spain).  Born in Aranjuez, Spain.  Died in Hove, England.

As we can see, they were all born and raised outside of France.  Based on the rules of the Old Regime, the Spanish Bourbons had become foreign princes.  This meant that the Salic law and the Fundamental Laws excluded them from the succession.

The Royal House of France

This means that the senior French branch of the House of Bourbon are the Bourbon-Orleans.  This, according to the Fundamental Laws, renders the Bourbon-Orleans as the de jure Royal House of France, headed by HRH the Count of Paris, titular Jean IV of France.



  1. David Buisseret. Henry IV: King of France.