The Bourbon Restoration (I)

A few questions answered

Large, bright room with armed guards, a king, and his entourage walking from one door to another

Charles X Crossing the Tau Room, Etienne-Joseph Bouhot, 1827

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The Bourbon Restoration

Hold on...Pronounce "Bourbon"

In French, it's boor-bon.

This is Part 1. Part 2 is here.

The "boor" is somewhere between the English words "sewer" and "poor." The "bon" is the common on sound in French, which is nasal and deep.

In North American English, say it just like the whiskey: bur-bin.

Who Were they?

The Bourbons were a "royal house" of France, like the Windsors in England and the Habsburgs in Austria and Hungary. (The houses in Game of Thrones - House Lannister, House Tyrell, House Baratheon, etc - are modeled on the same concept.)

In North American English, say it just like the whiskey: bur-bin.

The first Bourbon king was Henri IV. The head of the House of Orléans (also called the House of Bourbon-Orléans), Louis Philippe I, was the last king in French history.

Magnificent painting of a serious-looking guy in a wig and big white cape

Portrait de Louis XIV, Hyacinthe Rigaud, 1701

The Bourbon kings of France were:

  • Henri IV (reigned 1589-1610)
  • Louis XIII (1610-1643)
  • Louis XIV (1643-1715) "The Sun King"
  • Louis XV (1715-1774)
  • Louis XVI (1774-1792)
  • July, 1789: The start of the French Revolution
  • September, 1792: Hereditary monarchy is abolished by the government
  • Louis XVII (1792-1795) - The oldest living son of Louis XVI and the "enfant du Temple" who died in prison after the Revolution, monarchists consider him a King of France even though he never actually reigned
  • November, 1799: Napoleon Bonaparte stages a coup d'état and overthrows what remains of the Revolutionary government; this is "The Consulate"
  • May, 1804: The French Senate names Napoleon "Emperor of the French"
  • 1804-1814: "The First Empire" (European coalitions, often referred to as "the Allies," are in an almost constant state of war with Napoleon)
  • Louis XVIII (1814-1824) - Many royalists, including Louis himself, claim that Louis XVIII's reign was from 1795 to 1824 (see Louis XVII above)
  • In 1815, Louis XVIII's reign was interrupted for a little over a Hundred Days by Napoleon; the Hundred Days ended after Bonaparte's disastrous loss at Waterloo
  • Charles X (1824-1830)
  • July, 1830: Charles X abdicates during the July Revolution, also known as les Trois Glorieuses (the "Three Glorious Days" of July 27, 28, and 29)
  • Louis Philippe I (1830-1848) - Member of the House of Orléans, also called the House of Bourbon-Orléans, a cadet branch of the House of Bourbon

Bourbons also ruled in Spain and Italy in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Are There Bourbons Today?

Yes. Bourbons live throughout the world, with a concentration in Spain, France, Luxembourg, and Brazil. There are also Bourbons in India.

Although France is a democratic republic, two Bourbons are currently pretenders to the defunct French throne:

Jean IV is an "Orléanist": the heir of Louis Philippe I who was the last king of France. Louis XX, a direct descendant of Louis XIV, the Sun King, is recognized by "Legitimists" as the true head of the House of Bourbon.

Dull man in dark gray suit

Jean IV, pretender to the French throne; photo by Lys-Jaune CC BY-SA 4.0 (Mods)

Young virile man in a black coat and sash, wearing medals

Louis XX, pretender to the French throne; photo by Maclauren CC BY-SA 3.0 (Mods)

Who is the true heir? Louis XX or Jean IV?

It doesn't matter, and probably never will. However, to French royalists - there are more than you might think, I've even partied with some - the answer depends on how they interpret the Treaty of Utrecht.

It's probably best to say there are two pretenders to the defunct throne and leave it at that.

Arriving at a complete answer can be surprisingly difficult. It involves questions of tradition, primogeniture, "foreign-ness," international treaties, and domestic sovereignty. Unless these matters are important to you, it's best to say there are two pretenders to the throne and leave it at that.

Are They Named After Whiskey?

No, it's the other way around. Whether bourbon was specifically named after Bourbon County, Kentucky, or Bourbon Street in New Orleans, both of those places were named after the Bourbon kings.

Read more

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