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Tales of a Ricardian Traveler – Gruyères Castle

If we thought that Richard III had a horrific end to his life, just take a look at the death of Charles the Bold.


Lady on Horseback Lady on Horseback, mid-15th c., British Museum

It is tempting to think that the British Isles contain all the sites associated with Richard III’s life. Of course, that’s not true. Richard lived abroad twice, first in 1461 and again in 1470-1. On both occasions, he had fled England in order to save his life and wound up living in lands controlled by the Duke of Burgundy.  The Duke, a descendant of a junior branch of the French royal house of Valois, maintained the most glamorous and sophisticated court in all of Europe.  So powerful were the Valois-Burgundian dukes that when Edward IV became king, he betrothed his sister Margaret to the heir of that duchy.

Charles the Bold Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy (1433-1477). His third marriage was to Margaret of York, Edward IV’s and Richard III’s sister. He would be the last of the Valois dukes of Burgundy.

Margaret’s intended husband…

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Tests using ground-breaking new DNA technology are commencing on the clothing of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia. For years it has been rumoured that Masaryk might have been the illegitimate son of Emperor Franz Josef, who was of the House of Hapsburg. Tests will be undertaken first on living relatives of Masaryk’s legal father, and if there is no match, on items belonging to the Hapsburg family.

Masaryk’s mother had been the cook on one of Frank Josef’s estates; finding herself pregnant, she quickly married a man of lower status, who was ten years her junior. In itself, a hasty marriage under such circumstances would be nothing unusual, but Tomas’s subsequent rise into important positions from such inauspicious beginnings fuelled the rumours of possible royal parentage…and patronage.

However, there is no hard evidence his mother Theresia even met the Emperor, let alone slept with him.

Czech historians are not particularly happy at the idea of the DNA testing, believing it is ‘disrespectful’ and citing that Masaryk always spoke of his mother’s husband, Joseph, as his father and that they had a close relationship. However, that could still be true even if Tomas was not Joseph’s biological son.

There seems a strong resistance from Czech historians against potentially having to rewrite certain elements of history in a way they did not anticipate. This reluctance to change accepted belief could, of course, apply to many historians in the U.K. too, who cling to a number of outmoded legends and seem to have no desire to challenge them. DNA could help solve some of those ‘mysteries’ too…


Clearing up a French genealogical mystery

It can be said that every country that has ever had a monarch still has a hypothetical monarch, to whom the same selection rules apply, unless the whole family in question has been extirpated. The latter is almost impossible to achieve, as the cases of Russia and Ethiopia prove. There are probably collateral descendants of the first (Julio-Claudian) Roman Emperors alive today, although it must be exceedingly difficult to identify them.

France should provide us with a much easier case although it had three distinct monarchies during the nineteenth century before expiring in 1870. The House of Bourbon had ruled, interrupted only by the Revolution, from 1589 to 1830. The House of Orleans, a cadet branch, ruled until 1848 and the Bonapartist Emperors from 1800-15 and 1852-70. Succession in the first two cases was governed by the Salic Law, precluding the succession of female claimants or of a male claimant through the fame line. Descent of the Imperial title is governed by preferences expressed in the will of Napoleon I.

The male lines of Orleans and of Bonapartist have thrived and these two claimants can easily be identified. The difficulty lies with the Bourbon line in that the last three active Kings were all brothers. Of these, Louis XVI had two sons who both died in childhood, Louis XVIII had none and (d. 1836) Charles X’s elder son pre-deceased him, whilst his only legitimate male-line grandson Henri lived until 1883 and his other son Louis Antoine to 1844. Louis XIV’s male line descendants expired then as Henri died without issue and many of the Sun King’s other sons and grandsons died in infancy.

There is one loophole in that his grandson Phillip d’Anjou ascended the Spanish throne in 1700, as confirmed under the Treaty of Utrecht, by which he and his family renounced their rights to the French throne, a renunciation that Bourbon legitimists no longer recognise. However, the King of Spain and the hypothetical King of France are still not the same man because some of the former have disclaimed the French title. “Louis XX” is actually General Franco’s great-grandson.

The pedigreee is by “Bourbon-Wiki” by The original uploader was Muriel Gottrop at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by RandomStringOfCharacters using CommonsHelper.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 1.0 via Commons –

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