Posts Tagged ‘Capetians’

Desperate Housewives: 1314

Posted in General, On This Day on February 1st, 2012 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

February 1, 1328:  Charles IV Ends the Family Curse…

His death was the end of the Capetian dynasty and the likely start of a Dan Brown novel.  (The family was said to be cursed by the Grandmaster of the Templars–while he was being burned alive; the man was entitled to be vindictive.)  Charles was the last of three brothers, whose reigns were a total of 13 years.  Between the three–Louis X, Philip V and the aforementioned Charles–they had been married six times.  Yet, they left no living sons.  There were five healthy daughters but they didn’t count–at least in the royal succession.  That was the result of a law in 1316 and a scandal two years earlier.

At the time, Louis had yet to become the Tenth; but he was already known as “The Quarrelsome.”  His wife Margaret obviously was unhappy but not exactly resigned.  There was a good looking Norman lord at court, and a convenient rendez-vous at the Tour de Nesle.  The Paris palais may have been discreet but Margaret wasn’t.  She told her sister-in-law Blanche, the bored wife of Charles, about the therapeutic locale and also recommended a Norman boy toy.  It is possible that the third sister-in-law Jeanne knew about the activities.  If so, she shared the dirty joke without becoming one.  Since I am telling you (and I am not a Norman stud), the secret evidently got out.  The informant was Isabelle, the sister of the cuckolded brothers.  She was married to the King of England, but she was the lesser queen of the two.  Now, if she had to endure a marital travesty, she was not going to let her sisters-in-law enjoy themselves.  Isabelle informed her father, King Philip IV, of the scandal.

The two Norman lovers were arrested, tortured into confessions and then publicly vivisected.  Margaret, Blanche and Jeanne were all accused of adultery; but since adultery requires at least two people, Jeanne had to be acquitted.  Margaret and Blanche did not have that defense.  They were condemned to life in convents.  The scandal as well as 14th century medicine probably hastened the death of King Philip.  Louis the Quarrelsome became king and he was impatient for an annulment.  By a remarkable coincidence, Margaret died the next year.  Louis was probably more surprised when he died in 1316.  The diagnosis was that the 27 year-old caught pleurisy playing tennis, although some sources think that Duchess Jeanne had served wine after the game.  But Jeanne was not Queen yet.  Louis’ new wife and newer widow was pregnant, and she did give birth to a son.  The infant king lived for only five days.  Some sources think that Duchess Jeanne handled the christening robes.

But Jeanne’s husband was still not the certain successor.  Louis ostensibly and his first wife definitely had a daughter.  The four-year had a better claim to the throne–if she was the daughter of Louis.  Her mother was guilty of adultery in 1314, but there was no evidence of any indiscretion two years prior to that.  Since the child was inconveniently legitimate, the only way to disinherit her was to change the law.  Although it was the 14th century, the aspiring Philip V decided that fifth century German law was the correct arbiter of royal succession.  And according to that law, the royal succession was limited to men and only through male descent.  So the princess could grow up and have sons (she did), but they still would be ineligible for the French throne.

Philip was now the rightful king, but with appropriate irony he and Jeanne had only daughters.  So his successor was brother Charles.  He understandably had his first marriage annulled, then married two more times and had a daughter to survive him.  The throne passed to his first cousin, the direct and purely testosterone-linked grandson of Philip III.  But there was still one male descendant of Philip IV, albeit through a daughter.  Edward III of England was the son of Isabelle, the termagent who tattled on her sisters-in-law, and he claimed the throne of France.  He and his descendants would spend the next hundred years in a brutal form of probate.

The French crown never bothered to change its convoluted succession.  Daughters and nieces were disqualified, as were their sons.  In 1589, when Henry III died without an heir, his cousin Henry de Bourbon rightfully claimed the throne because of his uninterrupted male descent from Louis IX, who died in 1270.  But after all that effort to disinherit the daughter of Louis X…Henry IV was also directly descended from her.




Medieval Career Counseling

Posted in General, On This Day on September 1st, 2009 by Eugene Finerman – 10 Comments

September 1st:  the California zoning commission in 1772

It must have been at least two weeks since Father Junipero Serra had built a mission in the territory of California and, with some 15,000 saints in the Church calendar, he was falling behind schedule.  On this day in 1772, Father Serra founded the mission of St. Luis Obispo.

Of course, you expect me to divulge exactly who Luis Obispo was, and why was he so saintly.  I won’t disappoint you.  First, Luis Obispo (1274-1297) was not really Luis, and he was not Senor Obispo either.  In fact, he was a Louis and he didn’t have a surname so much as a dynasty:  Capet.  The family business was ruling France, but Louis’ grandfather was a younger brother and relegated to being a mere Duc d’Anjou.  To his credit, the Duc did not attempt to bump off his older brother, the saintly Louis IX; instead he heard of a vacant throne and so attempted to make himself king of Southern Italy and Sicily.

The Sicilians wouldn’t have him, and the Southern Italians were less than thrilled.  The Royal House of Aragon had extra sons, too, and they were fighting for the same territory.  If the House of Anjou hoped to maintain its precarious throne, every able-bodied male in the family was expected to fight.  Apparently, Louis did not pass the physical.  (Be fair: a full suit of armor would require considerable stamina.)  If a young aristocrat was too frail for war, he obviously would not be encouraged to breed, either:  so Louis was ordained for the Church.

Of course, a scion of a royal line could forgo the drudgery of parish work: he would not be collecting bells for lepers or directing the student production of a morality play.  At the age of 20, Louis was already the Archbishop of Lyons.  It was  irrelevant that he had never attended a seminary or joined a religious order.  Neither had a number of Popes.  Fulfilling such laborious details were left to Louis’ discretion.

But in 1295, a decision was forced upon Archbishop Louis.  His older brother had died and now Louis was the heir to the Kingdom of Naples.  Since he had yet to take Holy Orders, there was nothing to bar him from the succession.  Of course, he didn’t want the responsibility and the family preferred a more robust, younger son as the heir.  So Louis joined the Franciscans.  He certainly had no problem with the order’s chastity and obedience.  Louis could even rationalize the vow of poverty because an archbishop was poorer than a king.

If Louis was no longer heir to a kingdom, as a prince of the Church he was inheriting archdioceses.  In 1297, he was appointed the Archbishop of Toulouse.  Administering both Lyons and Toulouse exhausted him; he was dead within six months.  However, he now was expected to represent the dynasty and French interests in Heaven.  If a sainthood would help his celestial status, that could easily be arranged.  Pope Clement V (born Raymond Bertrand de Got–quel coincidence) proposed Louis’ sainthood  in 1307 , and Pope John XXII (Jacques Dueze, you are noticing a pattern) formally canonized him in 1317.  He was the second saint in the Capetian line.  His great-uncle was St. Louis the King, so he was revered as St. Louis the Bishop.  In Spanish, that would translate to San Luis Obispo.

But why would Junipero Serra named a mission for San Luis Obispo?  Louis was a fellow Franciscan but there was a political motive as well.  Since 1701, the royal family of Spain was the Bourbons.  Yes, surplus French royalty was always looking for an empty throne, and Spain had one.  (They merely had to win the War of the Spanish Succession).  Madrid had basically given the Franciscans all of California to colonize and cultivate; good manners required at least one mission to be named for a French saint, and Louis the Bishop was a cousin of the Spanish Bourbons.

Of course, if the Austrian Hapsburgs had won the War of the Spanish Succession, Father Serra would have named missions for Santa Hildegunde or the Madonna of the Lederhosen.  So California lucked out.