The Royal Palace of Caserta was begun in 1754 by the French Bourbon Kings of Naples as a country escape just a few miles outside of the congested city. It is the largest of the many palaces inspired by the great Chateau of Versailles that were built all over Europe by monarchs that wanted to recapture the expression of absolute power and influence that Louis XIV and his heirs commanded from Versailles. From St Petersburg to Madrid dozens of such copies were built in Baroque splendor with varying degrees of success, many falling short due to thier creators emphasis on size and to be larger than the original. Caserta is massive in every measure except warmth, charm or comfort. The enormous scale of the state rooms is the same as its private chambers and its gardens. All the unnecessary space left me with a feeling of emptiness and waste when I visited last year. The monumental Grand Staircase was worth the visit however and is one of the most beautiful creations of architectural majesty I had ever stood upon. It is impossible to not to be impressed standing in this regal staircase, a true masterpiece of Baroque Architecture. Adding to the sadness of the palace was the fact that most of the building is unfinished, unused and falling into ruin perhaps due to the lack of tourists but more likely due to the financial burden of keeping up the colossal edifice even by the modern republican government of Italy absent a monarch and purpose.
One of her friends wrote: “She did not stop crying. For six months, a deep sadness, great sufferings without certain causes weakened her each day more.”A last blow hit her when they were forced to announce to her this horrible news: on October, 16th, 1793, Marie-Antoinette had been beheaded in Paris. This was the true beginning of Madame de Polignac’s agony. She could not survive the queen, and she herself died on December, 9th, 1793, one month and a half, precisely, after her friend.
Alexander III of Macedon: king of Macedonia, he created one of the largest empires of the Ancient world, stretching from Greece to Egypt into northwest India and modern-day Pakistan. Undefeated in battle, he is widely considered one of history’s most successful military commanders. Military academies throughout the world still teach his tactics. He is often ranked among the most influential people in human history.
Cleopatra VII Philopator: last active pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt, she was a politically astute ruler who fought for the independence of her country, while understanding the need for an implication in Roman affairs, leading to her relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Despite the efforts of a lifetime, Egypt became a province to the newly-established Roman Empire after her death.
Anne of Brittany: last Sovereign Duchess of Brittany and twice anointed Queen consort of France (1491-1498 and 1499-1514), she was a central figure in the struggle for influence that led to the union of Brittany and France. She is highly regarded in Brittany as a conscientious ruler who defended the Duchy - the safeguarding of Breton autonomy and the preservation of the Duchy outside the French crown being her life’s work.
Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk: lifelong friend of Henry VIII, courtier and general, he married for love Mary Tudor in 1515, risking his head in the process and losing the royal favor temporary. Much appreciated at court, he spent his life as a trusted and beloved courtier to the king, who payed for his burial in 1545.
François I: first king of the House of Valois, he was a prodigal patron of the arts, who initiated the French Renaissance. His reign saw important cultural changes, the rise of absolute monarchy in France, as well as the spread of humanism and Protestantism. For his role in the development and promotion of a standardized French language, he became known as “le Père et Restaurateur des Lettres” (the “Father and Restorer of Letters”).
Mary Tudor, Queen of France: sister to Henry VIII, she became the third wife of Louis XII of France in 1514. At his death in 1515, she married Charles Brandon for love, against the wishes of her brother and his council. The couple were eventually pardoned, after having paid a heavy fine. She was the maternal grandmother of Lady Jane Grey.
Mary I of England: first queen regnant of England, she wielded the full powers of a king and paved the way for her female successors. She is mostly remembered for her restoration of Roman Catholicism and her unpopularity at the time of her death. Although her reign (1553-1558) was quite short, she started the policies of fiscal reform, naval expansion, and colonial exploration that were later lauded as Elizabethan accomplishments.
Louis XIV, the “Sun King”: one of the most powerful French monarchs, he consolidated a system of absolute monarchical rule, turned France into the leading European power of his time, encouraged and benefited from the work of prominent political, military, and cultural figures. His reign, by its length and achievements, has been dubbed “Le Grand Siècle” (“the Great Century”).
“As days bled into years, the prince and his servants were forgotten by the world, for the Enchantress had erased all memory of them from the minds of the people they loved.”
Forgotten by the world.
Forgotten by the whole world.
Thought #1 - holy hell, Agathe is a lot more powerful than she lets on…so tell me again why she lives in a fallen tree?
Thought #2 (main thought) - Wait…so that means that everyone who the staff, musicians and the prince had affected in any way just…up and forgot?
That’s a lot more than just a small village.
All of the other monarchs of France and beyond who would have established (or had already established) any relationship with the prince and his family forgot that they even existed. Were they making plans for something? Well, not anymore. Any young princesses that were hoping to gain Adam’s hand in marriage for some sort of war alliance? Nope. Oh, and what about the other villages that probably lived around that area, that were probably getting mad at the prince’s family for taxing them so much? Did life suddenly become beautiful for them when they forgot about the castle?
And it wasn’t just the memory of the prince that got taken from people…if any of the staff had affected anyone’s lives at any point…well, too bad, I guess. Lumiere’s a Parisian; how many people had he made an impression on before he was hired on as a servant? And how many of those people had been inspired by him or knew him personally? Are his parents still alive? What do they remember?
Oh, and what about Madame de Garderobe and Maestro Cadenza, who performed the world over and were praised for their talents? Wasn’t the Madame referred to as “the toast of Europe” at one point in the stage musical? How many lives did they touch with their music, only to have people forget about them all over the world? How many people did they inspire? I imagine at least one or two children wanted to learn to sing or play an instrument after seeing them perform…only to lose their reasoning when they were just starting out.
The curse didn’t just affect the people inside that castle or the people that lived in the village. It affected every single life that the prince, the servants, and the musicians had affected, no matter how small.
Assuming something drastically changed and France went back to being a monarchy, who would be the legitimate heir of the throne of current day France?
Well, doesn’t that depend on who you ask. What it comes down to today are essentially three competing branches: the Legitimists, the Orleanists, and the Bonapartists. Each branch saw at least one of its line rule France for varying periods of time, and consequently each thinks its descendants are the rightful rulers of France today.
The Legitimists are the followers of the senior male line of the Bourbon dynasty. The Bourbons had ruled France from the time of Henry IV to the French Revolution, in which Louis XVI died. In 1814, when the monarchy was restored, the dead king’s next-youngest brother took the throne as Louis XVIII (recognizing Louis XVI’s young son, who had died in poor conditions in prison, as “Louis XVII”). He, having no children, was in turn succeeded by his younger brother, who ruled as Charles X until the July Revolution of 1830 finally ousted the Bourbons from power. Charles himself had two sons - the extremely short-reigning (a disputed 20 minutes!) Louis XIX and the younger, the Duke of Berry - and while the elder had no children, the Duke of Berry’s wife had a posthumous son, acclaimed by Legitimists as Henry V. The Count of Chambord, as he preferred to be known, was the last legitimate, male, male-line descendant of King Louis XV of France; unfortunately for the hopes of the Legitimists, Henry died childless in 1883.
This is where things started to get rather more complicated. For the Legitimists, the new heir was Juan, Count of Montizón. If he sounds Spanish, that’s because he was: Juan was the younger son of Carlos, Count of Molina, second son of King Charles IV of Spain. His French connection came from Juan’s great-great-grandfather, Philip V of Spain, who had been born a French prince and grandson of Louis XIV. Charles II, the tragically inbred last Habsburg King of Spain, had nominated his great-nephew to be his heir, and the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 confirmed him as King of Spain. For the Legitimists, the unwritten fundamental laws of the French crown meant that the next legitimate male-line male heir of the Bourbon line had to be the King of France, no ifs, ands, or buts about it; with all the eligible heirs of the first son of Louis Le Grand Dauphin (only legitimate son of Louis XIV) gone, the next king had to come from the line of the second son - that is, Philip V. Juan, as the senior male male-line descendant of Philip V, was therefore the heir (and, according to some, the heir to Spain as well, but that’s Carlism and that’s it’s own separate complicated subject). The Carlist pretenders to the throne of France continued until 1936, when the last male of the legitimate male line, Alfonso Carlos, died without children. The French claim then passed to the deposed Alfonso XIII of Spain, the heir of Charles IV’s third son, and then to his second son, Jaime, Duke of Segovia. Since 1989, the heir along this Legitimist line has been Jaime’s grandson Louis Alphonse, the self-styled Duke of Anjou (and, if he were to reign, Louis XX).
For the Orleanists - descendants of Louis XIV’s younger brother, Philippe, Dule of Orleans - the Spanish branch of the Bourbon family should never have come into the equation. Under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht, Philip V was required to surrender his rights to the French throne as a condition of keeping the Spanish one. To the Orleanists, this meant that Philip and his descendants had surrendered any right to claim the crown later, what’s more, in the eyes of the Orleanists the Spanish Bourbons become foreigners, with no intention of returning to France or subjecting themselves to the French king’s laws, and therefore unacceptable as candidates to the French throne. They, the next heirs of Louis XIII after the line of Louis XIV died out or was excluded, would be the rightful kings of France (and indeed, the Count of Chambord seemed to agree, calling the Orleans princes “my sons” and recognizing himself as the last of Louis XIV’s line).
The Orleanists had themselves briefly enjoyed the rule of France when, in 1830, Louis Philippe, Duke of Orleans, was acclaimed King of the French and accepted the crown after Charles X had been overthrown. Louis Philippe’s father had been the infamous Philippe Egalite, the First Prince of the Blood whose eager support for the French Revolution led him to vote for the death of his cousin Louis XVI (which didn’t in the end save his own head from the guillotine). For these two deeds, as you might suspect, die-hard Legitimists would never forgive the House of Orleans, and while early in the Third Republic the Legitimists and Orleanists in the Assembly were willing to come to a sort of compromise (the Orleanists recognizing the Count of Chambord as King of France, with the childless Count then naming the Count of Paris, the head of the House of Orleans, as his heir), the Count’s own refusal to assert his rights on anything but his own terms (particularly the restoration of the old royalist flag over the revolutionary tricolor) meant that true fusion between the two lines foundered. Still, when the Count died, the majority of Legitimists recognized the Count of Paris as the rightful heir to France. The current Orleanist pretender today is Henry, Count of Paris, the great-great-great grandson of Louis Philippe.
The third branch of French pretenders today are the Bonapartists, whose founder needs no introduction. Napoleon’s only legitimate son, the King of Rome, died childless, a prisoner of his Austrian cousins, but the Emperor’s nephew Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (yes, he who had possibly the most farcical invasion attempt in French history) eventually restored the “imperial dignity” of France with himself as Emperor Napoleon III. He was in turn overthrown in 1870, the last monarch France ever saw, and when he died three years later his son Louis was acknowledged by Bonapartists as Napoleon IV. Unfortunately, “Lou-Lou”, as his father had affectionately called him, died childless after a skirmish with Zulus in 1879. His will named his second cousin Victor - the son of Prince Napoleon and grandson of Jerome Bonaparte, the youngest of the General’s brothers - as his heir (infuriating Prince Napoleon in the process). More disputes arose when Victor’s son, the so-called Napoleon VI, died in 1997 and his will revealed that he nominated as his successor his grandson, Jean-Christophe Napoleon, over his son Charles - despite the latter’s furious protestations that he is still the rightful successor to the “moral heritage” of the Bonaparte line.
If this all seems a lot of flummery, given that France hasn’t had a monarch in almost a century and a half and doesn’t look to be welcoming one anytime soon … well, it is. But monarchists need something to keep themselves occupied when there are no more kings around.
On May 14th, 1610, Henry IV was assassinated by François Ravaillac,
who stabbed the King to death while his carriage was stopped in traffic
caused by his wife’s coronation festivities. He was succeeded on the
throne by his eight year old son, who reigned as Louis XIII.
33 years later, on May 14th of 1643, Louis XIII would die of
tuberculosis in Paris. He was succeeded on the throne by his then just
four year old son, who would rule as the infamous Louis XIV and would go
on to become the longest reigning monarch in European history, ruling
France for 72 years, 110 days.
On May 14th, 1610, Henry IV was assassinated by François Ravaillac, who stabbed the King to death while his carriage was stopped in traffic caused by his wife’s coronation festivities. He was succeeded on the throne by his nine year old son, who reigned as Louis XIII.
Exactly 33 years later, on May 14th of 1643, Louis XIII would die of tuberculosis in Paris. He was succeeded on the throne by his then just four year old son, who would rule as the infamous Louis XIV and would go on to become the longest reigning monarch in European history, ruling France for 72 years, 110 days.