Contents

The Rank/Title of Prince in France

In Old Regime France, the term Prince could refer to a rank or a title. There are four possible meanings of the word prince in France, the first two are ranks, the last two are titles.

Princes du Sang

Jurists considered that the term prince implied a notion of sovereignty, either actual or potential. Hence, it was a rank, and it belonged preeminently to the princes du sang, who were all in line to succeed to the throne (see the page on the French royal family for more on the topic).

Foreign Princes

By the same logic, the rank of prince was allowed to certain foreigners, scions of foreign ruling houses, who settled in France and were admitted by the French king to his court. Examples of the latter include the prince of Orange and the prince of Monaco (whose sovereignties were both recognized in the 15th c.), as well as members of the house of Lorraine (the Guise). At the investiture of knights of the Saint-Esprit in 1688, the members of the house of Lorraine were given rank immediately after the princes of the blood (allegedly to reward the chevalier de Lorraine for having persuaded the king's brother to accept the marriage of his son with an illegitimate daughter of the king; see Duclos, Oeuvres complètes, 10:187).

After the mid-16th century, the concept of "foreign ruling house" was stretched to include French families with claims on foreign sovereignties, however doubtful the claim. Thus, the La Tour d'Auvergne (as sovereign dukes of Bouillon) Likewise, the Rohan family claimed to descend from the sovereign dukes of Brittany, and its members were given ranks as foreign princes in the 16th c. In the late 18th and early 19th c., some foreign titles of prince of the Holy German Empire or the Papacy were recognized in France (Broglie, Polignac), even though they did not correspond to actual sovereignty (in the case of the German titles, they did not carry membership in the Imperial Diet; in any event the French chancery did not treat as sovereign any German prince except the electors and a handful of others).

The Journal de Barbier (1866 ed; vol. 7, p. 345) tells of the following incident that took place after the death of the duke of Bourgundy in 1761, as various princes came to pay their respects to the body of the young prince:
"On sait que m le prince De Rohan-Soubise, aujourd'hui maréchal de France, a prétendu, lors du mariage de sa fille avec M. le prince De Condé [1753], prendre le titre et rang de prince étranger pour lui et pour les princes de la maison De Rohan, à l'instar et à la suite des princes du sang, pour précéder les autres ducs et pairs et avoir un rang séparé, de manière que le prince et maréchal De Soubise n'a pas de cordon bleu, parce qu'ainsi que m le duc De Bouillon, les princes De Rohan voudroient être reçus de droit à un certain âge; les princes du sang ne sont reçus qu'à vingt-sept ans. On s'est douté que MM de la maison De Rohan feroient quelques tentatives pour jeter de l'eau bénite séparément après les princes du sang, ce qui est arrivé; les princes étant entrés et passés, Mm De Rohan et De Guéménée se sont présentés pour entrer dans la chambre ardente; mais sept ou huit ducs et pairs, savoir : m le duc De Chevreuse, le duc De Villeroy, le comte De Lauraguais-Brancas, comme ayant les honneurs de duc ou grand d'Espagne, et autres, se sont emparés de la porte de cette chambre et en ont bouché l'entrée, en disant aux premiers qu'ils ne passeroient pas; cela a fait altercation. M le marquis De Dreux, grand-maître des cérémonies, a dit qu'il ne prendroit rien sur lui, attendu que ce point de rang n'étoit point décidé; et ils ne sont entrés ni les uns ni les autres."

Feudal titles

In some areas (especially in Brittany), the title of prince was traditionally attached to a feudal land which had been considered allodial, i.e., without overlord. In France, almost all lands were feudal, that is, held from some superior, ultimately back to the king. But there were a few allodial lands (allods were more common in northern Italy and in Germany). Such titles of "prince", which appear in early charters, were considered by jurists to have no more meaning than the title of lord; there are dozens of examples. Also, it seems that the term princeps was used as a synonym for "lord of a castle or fortress" in the 11th and 12th c. Examples are found in Du Cange: Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis, 1638 ed., vol. 6, p. 502. Some of Du Cange's examples have no modern counterpart that I know of: princeps Malamortensis castri, princeps Alostensis oppidi, princeps de Arenis, princeps Ranconensis, princeps Wangionis rivi, Peronensis castri princeps, princeps Canomanorum (for William the Conqueror), etc. Du Cange has other examples to show that princeps was occasionally used for counts or other prominent lords.

Many remained completely obscure, such as Yvetot, Longjumeau, Bidache. Some came into prominent families, such as Talmont owned by La Trémoille. And some families took upon themselves to change a title of lord into a title of prince (Condé, Conti). Most often, such changes were carried out by individuals who already ranked as princes, either foreign or of the blood: the princes of Condé and Conti are examples of the first, the Rohan (princes of Soubise, Guéméné, Rochefort) and the Luxembourg (Tingry, Martigues) examples of the second.

La Bruyère, in 1688, mocked the pretensions of the high nobility to become princes:

    Un grand seigneur affecte la principauté, et il use de tant de précautions, qu'à force de beaux noms, de disputes sur le rang et les préséances, de nouvelles armes, et d'une généalogie que d'Hozier ne lui a pas faite, il devient enfin un petit prince.

Border principalities

These cases are a particular subset of the feudal titles, but occur in areas at the boundaries between France and neighboring territories, particularly along the northern border. The lords of these tiny territories called themselves princes but with the sense of sovereignty. These claims were recognized to varying degrees by France. Examples include Monaco, Arches, Dombes, Bouillon, etc.

Charles Loyseau (Traité des Seigneuries; Paris, 1608, chap. 2, num. 95) describes them as follows:

Bref, il y a de petites Seigneuries souveraines, qui n'ont aucun titre particulier, & aussi n'ont pas de Provinces ou pays entiers, ains sont ordinairement des terres de surseance, situées aux limites des grands Estats, qui sont tolerées & maintenuës par le contrepoids & force égale de leurs voisins, qui s'empeschent l'un l'autre de les assubiettir à soy, pource qu'elles leur servent de bornes respectivement. C'est pourquoy ceux qui possedent ces petites terres souveraines, bien qu'en effaict ils usent du mesme pouvoir que les Monarques, si est-ce que hors de leur territoire, ils n'ont aucun rang d'honneur entre les Princes souverains; voire mesme sont precedez ordinairement, non seulement par les Princes subiects, mais aussi par les Ducs & Comtes, qui ne sont point Princes.

Created titles

Although many references claim that there was no formal title of prince ever created or recognized in France, that is simply wrong. Starting in the 16th c., there are creations of titles of prince. Du Cange cites a possible early example of Chalais, followed by Joinville, Porcien, Guéméné, Chalus in Poitou, Soyons in Vivarais, La Roche-sur-Yon, Listenois, Foucarmont, Amblise, Chabanais, Carency, etc. He also lists examples in the Low Countries, beginning with Chimay in 1486, followed by Epinoy (1541), Gaverensis (?) (1553), Ligne (1602), Barbançon (1614), etc.

So far, the following creations of French titles are fairly certain (see also the documents in Archives Nationales, K617, dossier 25):

  • Joinville: letters patent of April 1552, registered May 9, 1552 (AN, X/1A/8617, fol. 396v-398v; AN K617, 25)) for François de Lorraine, duc de Guise
  • Château-Porcien: letters of June 4, 1561, registered in Parliament, for Antoine de Croÿ, marquis de Rivel, comte de Porcien (AN K617, 25)
  • Mercoeur: letters patent of June 1563, registered 21 Sep 1563 (AN, X/1A/8625, fol. 68v-69v) for Nicolas de Lorraine, comte de Vaudemont
  • Tingry: letters patent of January 1587, registered 19 Sep 1587 (AN, X/1A/8639, fol. 42v-44v) for François de Luxembourg, duc de Piney
  • Martigues: created under Henri IV, confirmed letters patent of July 1725
  • Guéméné (or Soubise?): letters patent of March 1667, given at St. Germain-en-Laye, registered 1 July 1667 (AN, K617, 25)
  • Mercoeur: letters patent and registration in Parlement, March 1719 (AN, K617, 25) for Léon de Madaillan de l'Espare, comte de Lassay

Jeahn du Tillet ( Recueil des Roys de France, p. 224) says: "Depuis que ladite couronne de France a commencé à recouvrer son obeissance, ce most Prince, qui est Latin, signifiant premier chef, a esté entendu en ce Royaume de ceux du sang, yssus & capables du premier chef, qui est la couronne. Les autres sortis de maisons souveraines estrangeres , sont appellez Princes, avec adjection de leurs maisons. [...] Ainsy souloit estre en France ou n'y a plus qu'une souvreaineté Royale, & n'y sont Princes, que ceux qui naissent des Princes. Car les Roys ne Princes souverains ne les sçauroient engendrer par lettres patentes d'erection de Duchez, Marquisats, Comtez ou Principautez s'ils ne le sont de naissance. Bien y a des principautez, qui sont dignitez feodales, inferieures, à celles des Comtes, qui ne sont du propos. [...] L'ignorance de ce a faict faire de nos jours les erections de principautez pour les Princes de naissance sans besoing, parce qu'elles les diminueroient plustost que de les honorer."

Charles Loyseau (Traité des Seigneuries, 1608, p. 116), citing Du Tillet, calls princes a "kind of lordship" that is "extraordinary and extravagant." But, in his Traité des Ordres, he gives princes precedence after dukes and before marquis, which is the same precedence they held in the Spanish (after 1713, Austrian) Netherlands.

Napoleon I created several princes and gave them precedence over dukes.

For a discussion of the rank of prince in the French royal family, see the page on that family's customs.

A list of French Princes and Principalities

The following is a list of fiefs or territories which were used with the title of prince, for a variety of reasons, in Old Regime (pre-1789) France. The abbreviation EdlF indicates those cited as principalities in the Etat de la France (1694 or 1718 ed.).

Aigremont

Near Langres, owned by the duc de Luxembourg. (EdlF

Amboise

To the fasmily of Anglure (EdlF 1718).

Anet

In Eure-et-Loir. It had its own lords, then passed to the family of Brézé; Louis de Brézé married Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henri II. She had a splendid castle built there (now gone). Anet then passed to César de Bourbon, duc de Vendôme, in the early 17th c; he used the title of "prince d'Anet et de Martigues". His widow left it to her sister the duchesse du Maine, and it passed to the comte d'Eu and later to the duc de Penthièvre. (EdlF)

Antibes

In the Grimaldi and later the Grasse families.

Arches-Charleville

In the possession of Charles of Gonzaga, duke of Mantua and duke of Nevers (1580-1637), who founded in his own honor the city of Charleville in 1609 (Pere Anselme, 3:713). Coins were minted there in his name and that of his son Charles II (until 1659), with the style "Carolus Gonzaga dux Nivernensis et Rethelensis, Dei gratia princeps supremus Archensis". After the death of the last duke of Mantua Charles III in 1708, Arches passed to Anna Henrietta Julia of Pfalz-Simmern, daughter of Anna Maria of Gonzaga, daughter of Charles, and wife of the prince de Condé; it remained in the Condé family. It should be noted, however, that Arches was considered part of the kingdom in 1789 when the Estates General were called, and its residents elected a representative to what became the National Assembly (Armand Brette: Les limites et les divisions territoriales de la France en 1789, Paris, 1907, p. 51).

Assier

In the house of Uzès since 1567 (Levantal, p. 941). Title of prince used? See also Soyons.

Aumale

Du Cange cites Princeps Albaemarlae in a charter of 1130. Aumale passed to the Lorraine-Guise family.

Baux

Du Cange cites principes de Baucio in a chronicle (Guillaume de Puy-Laurent, chap. 12).

Bédeille

A sovereign principality in Béarn, in the Albret-Miossans family, then passed to the Lorraine-Marsan (see Pons). (EdlF)

Bidache

This territory at the boundaries of Navarre, Labourd and Guyenne was a franc-alleu, belonging to the Gramont family, descended in male line from the kings of Navarre through the viscounts od Dax. They proclaimed themselves sovereign in 1570, when they used the style for the first time in an ordinance on justice of 13 Nov 1570 (mainly because the lord of Gramont wanted to avoid prosecution for murdering his wife). The king did not recognize this move but a compromise was reached in the matter of the murder. The dispute remained unresolved until the Revolution. Cf. J. de Jaurgain and R. Ritter: La Maison de Gramont, 1040-1967, Lourdes 1968, vol. 1, p. 374, n81. (EdlF).

Boisbelle-Henrichemont

The land of Boisbelle, in Berry, was part of the "sirerie" of Sully, which happened to be a franc-alleu. Marie de Sully, heiress, married Charles d'Albret, constable of France (killed at Agincourt in 1415). Their descendant Marie married Charles de Cleves, comte de Nevers in 1528, and their grand-daughter Henriette de Cleves married Louis of Gonzaga, whose son Charles sold Boisbelle and Sully in 1597 to Maximilien de Béthune, the famous minister of Henri IV. Sully was made a duchy-peerage in 1606 (Levantal 915 says that Sully was purchased in 1602 from the duc de Thouars). Its possessor decided to found a new town, and named it Henrichemont (a pun on "Henri" and "riche") to honor his king.

The privileges of sovereignty (including the right to mint coins) were confirmed by Letters Patent of April 1598, September 1608, Dec 1608, September 1635 and January 1644. Letters patent of June 6, 1664 state: "la seigneurie de Boisbelle et Henrichemont est et demeure comme elle a été de tous temps, en titre et prééminence de principauté, sans reconnaissance d'aucun supérieur pour la foi et hommage; de justice souveraine sans appel, sous l'autorité du duc de Sully et de ses successeurs et de tous les autres droits qui appartiennent à seigneurs souverains".

Sully and his son minted coins under the title of "prince souverain d'Enrichemont et de Boisbelle". The land was united to the crown in 1766, after a contract of Sep. 24, 1766 exchanged it for other lands in the king's possession. At that time, the only taxes in Boisbelle were a salt-tax (gabelle) and a tax on tobacco. The population was around 8,000, and the annual income for the duc de Sully was around 30,000 livres (Archives Parlementaires, 1e série, vol. 31, p. 399). The lands ceded in exchange were worth twice as much as Henrichemont, the premium reflecting the value to the king of buying a sovereign land.

click here to see a "double tournois" (French tuppence) minted in 1636 in Henrichemont. The obverse shows the duc de Sully's profile, wearing the ermine-lined mantle of a peer (Source: CGB, Paris, France.)

Buch

Owned by the duc de Foix-Randan.

Carency

Carency, in Artois. The lordship of Carency, held from Béthune, was in the possession of a junior branch of the Bourbon, from Jean, third son of Jean de Bourbon-La Marche. Jean de Bourbon, in the late 15th c., first used the style of prince de Carency. The branch died in male line with his son Bertrand, killed at Marignano in 1515. Bertrand's sister and heiress, Isabelle, married in 1516 François de Perusse d'Escars, seigneur de La Vauguyon. Their son Jean de Perusse d'Escars (d. 1595), knight of the Saint-Esprit in 1578, made comte de La Vauguyon in 1586, continued the use the title "prince de Carency" , and also quartered his paternal and maternal arms: Quarterly Gules a pale vair (Perusse d'Escars) and France on a bend couped gules three lions argent (Bourbon-Carency). His two sons died without issue and their sisters transmitted the quartering to the families of Maure, Stuer and Amanzé. Specifically, ISabeau married Jean d'Amanzé, while Diane married first Charles, comte de Maure and then Louis de Stuer de Caussade (Quarterly Or a saltire gules and Or a fess chequy argent and azure). Their grand-daughter and heiress Marie de Stuer de Caussade married in 1653 Barthélémy de Quélen, and their son Nicolas took the name of Quélen de Stuer de Caussade. Curiously, the lordship of Carency itself was sold to the Toustain family, for which it was made a marquisate in 1665. Nevertheless, the title of "prince de Carency" was used by the eldest son in the Quélen family. In 1722, Nicolas de Quélen, comte de La Vauguyon, asked that the title of prince de Carency be officially recognized for his eldest son and issue, followed by his second son and issue.

Antoine-Paul-Jacques (1706-72), who was made duc de La Vauguyon in 1758, bore: Quarterly 1, per pale argent a saltire gules (Estuer) and Or four bends gules (Caussade); 2 and 3 Bourbon-Carency; 4, Gules a pale vair within a bordure ingrailed argent (d'Escars-Carency); over all Argent three holly leaves vert (Quélen). His son Louis-Paul was made duc-pair in 1818, and died in 1837.

The title has since passed to the Bauffremont.

Some information in Révérend, vol. 6, p. 4. Levantal, p. 705 mentions a Mémoire pour le titre de prince de Carency appartenant au comte de La Vauguion in the Archives Nationales, KK 601, pp. 195-209; comments on this mémoire appear in the Archives des affaires Etrangères, Mémoires et Documents, France 1253, fol. 143 (stating that the use of the Bourbon quartering "did not run counter to usage" but the use of fleurs-de-lys in the coronet was not acceptable, nor was there any ground for his request to be called "cousin" by the king).

Carignan

There is some confusion about this title. Carignano is a town in Piedmont, Italy. Thomas-François (1596-1656), a younger son of Charles-Emmanuel, duke of Savoy, was titled prince of Carignano. He married Marie de Bourbon, daughter of Charles de Bourbon comte de Soissons. His eldest son Emmanuel-Philibert-Amédée (d. 1709) continued the line of Savoy-Carignan, while his younger son Eugène-Maurice de Savoie, received from Louis XIV the lordship of Yvoy, in the French Luxembourg, near Sedan in May 1661. The town's name was changed to Carignan and raised to a duchy in July 1662. For some reason, the inheritance of Eugène-Maurice (d. 1673) passed later to the prince of Carignan's son Victor-Amédée, first prince of the blood of Savoy. This line ultimately ascended on the throne of Sardinia in 1831.
However, the property of Carignan was sold by the creditors of Victor-Amédée (d. 1741) to the duc de Penthièvre in 1751, who gave it to his daughter, wife of the future duc d'Orléans.

Carpègne

Cazerte

To the house of Cossé.  (EdlF 1694, 1718).

Céreste

Chabanais

Chabanais, in Angoumois (Charente). The lords of Chabanais, known in the 10th century, ended with Laure, who married Simon de Rochechouart, lord of Tonnay-Charente; later the lordship passed to Jeanne, married to Miles de Thouars. Their daughter Catherine married Jean de Vendôme, vidame of Chartres, in the 15th c. His son Jean was styled "prince de Chabanais", as was the last of the line, François de Vendôme, in the 1540s; he gave homage to the king for the principality of Chabanais in 1547. Chabanais was sold in the 16th c. to the family of Montesquiou-Montluc, then passed by marriage in the 17th c. to Charles d'Escoubleau, marquis de Sourdis, styled prince de Chabanais, whose heiress Angélique married in 1702 François-Gilbert de Colbert de Saint-Pouange, who styled himself marquis rather than prince de Chabanais, whence issue. (EdlF).

Chalais

Small town in Périgord. Du Cange cites Oliverius Princeps de Chalesio in a charter of 1174. Agnès de Chalais, daughter and heiress of Olivier de Chalais, married Élie de Talleyrand in the 13th century. Charles de Talleyrand was the first to use the title of "prince de Chalais" in the mid-15th c. That family was already using a similar title: Du Cange cites Helias Talairandus Princeps terrae Petragoris (prince of Périgord). Du Cange also cites the creation of a title of prince of Chalais, mentioned in the Historia Arvernensis, proofs, p. 228 and in the Cérémonial de France, year 1513, but he did not find the letters patent. (EdlF).

The children of Daniel de Talleyrand, who became comte de Grignols and marquis d'Excideuil in 1613, formed two branches. The eldest branch inherited Chalais and acquired a grandeeship of Spain in 1714; the line became extinct in 1757 with Louis-Charles-Jean de Talleyrand, marquis d'Excideuil. His daughter married in 1744 the head of the second branch, Gabriel-Marie, comte de Grignols (1726-95), and Chalais passed to that branch. Their son Hélie-Charles (1754-1829) was made duc-pair de Périgord in 1818. His male line became extinct with his eldest grandson in 1883; Chalais passed to the only daughter of his other grandson, Céciule-Charlotte-Marie (1854-90), who married in 1873 Laure-Henri-Gaston de Galard-Béarn de Brassac (d. 1893), whence Louis-Elie-Joseph-Henri de Galard-Béarn de Brassac, prince de Chalais, grandee of Spain.

Château-Porcien

This simple lordship near Rethel was sold in 1268 by Raoul de Porcien to Thibaut de Navarre, count of Champagne, whose possessions were inherited by his nephew Jeanne, wife of Philippe IV of France (1268-1314). Made a county in 1303, it was given to Gaucher de Châtillon, whose descendant Jean II sold it to Louis d'Orléans in 1395. Charles d'Orléans sold it in 1439 to Antoine de Croÿ. It was erected into a principality on June 4, 1561 for Antoine de Croÿ (so says La Chesnaye-Desbois). The Croÿ family sold it in 1608 to Charles of Gonzaga, duke of Nevers. It was sold in 1659 to cardinal Mazarin, and followed that inheritance.

In spite of the title of "prince", it was not sovereign, since the dukes of Mazarin gave homage to the king for the principality of Château-Porcien in the 17th and 18th c. The title is currently used by the Grimaldi family of Monaco.

Château-Regnault or Château-Renaud

The town of Château-Renaud, now called Bogny-sur-Meuse, was part of the territory of Arches, purchased from Jacques de Monchalons, by Louis of Flanders, count of Nevers and Rethel. It was originally part of the diocese of Liége and, as such, a part of the Holy Roman Empire, but later came to be seen as sovereign territory. The town itself was founded in 1330 by Hugues de Rethel. The estaes of Rethel were later dismembered, and it passed at some time to François de Cleves, first duc de Nevers, count of Rethel. His daughter Catherine de Cleves, widow of Antoine de Croÿ, prince of Porcien, married in 1570 married Henri de Lorraine, duc de Guise (d. 1588), who became lord of Chateau-Regnault jure uxoris. His daughter Louise-Marguerite, (1588-1631), inherited Château-Regnault; she was married in 1605 to François de Bourbon, prince de Conti, first cousin of Henri IV of France (d. 1614 without issue). In 1629, she ceded Château-Regnault to the king of France in exchange for Pont-sur-Seine. The sovereignty of Château-Regnault included Linchamp, la Tour-à-Glaire, Macaucourt, Mohon, Montcy-Notre-Dame.

Acquisitions by France in the Ardennes

In 1575, Henri de Lorraine had his council render the following opinion, which is interesting in that it lists what were thought to be the prerogatives of sovereignty: "Nous disons qu'à mondit seigneur, à cause de sa principauté et seigneurie souveraine de Château-Regnault, compète et appartient les dignités, prééminences, autorités et puissances, droits et domaines: à savoir de se pouvoir dire et nommer roi ou empereur desdictes terres, y ayant autorité d'y porter couronne d'or ou d'acier; reconnaissant tenir de Dieu seul, et non d'hommes ou supérieurs quelconques. Appartient aussi à mondit seigneur seul, en sesdites terres souveraines, droit, puissance et autorités, de faire édits, règlemens, lois, ordonnances, homologuer et approuver coutume, d'établir ou instituer gouverneur, lieutenans généraux, chancelier, maistres des requêtes, président, conseiller, etc. par toutes sesdites terres, sans que lesdits officiers puissent exercer leurs charges, office, état, que préalablement ils n'ayent fait et prêté le serment en tel cas requis et accoutumé, à monseigneur, ou à autres à ce députés. A droit aussi mondit seigneur de convoquer et faire convoquer les gentilshommes et autres hommes de fief des pays de sa souveraineté, à ban et arrière-ban, pour les employer selon que la nécessité et sûreté publique peuvent le requérir. Peut mondit seigneur seul, en sesdits pays et terres souveraines, faire bâtir villes, châteaux et forteresses, et forger monnaie au coin de ses armes, faire lever gens de guerre, ordonner tailles, subsides, emprunt, impôt, etc. Semblablement, mondit seigneur a seul droit, en sadite souveraineté, de décerner toutes lettres patentes, octroyer grâce, rémission, pardon … lettres de sauvegarde, de sauf-conduit, de passeport et de neutralité, anoblissement, légitimation, affranchissement d'exemption de tailles et subsides, de priivlèges et dispenses d'âge, etc."

In practice, since Château-Regnault is so small (it had 1200 inhabitants in the mid-19th c.), the substantial prerogative was the right to mint coins. As with a number of other principalities sitting on international borders, a main source of revenue in the 16th and 17th centuries was the large-scale minting of imitations of neighboring coins; something which would be called counterfeiting if the perpetrators were not sovereign. A number of coins were minted by François and later by his widow, in their name (with, e.g., the style "Lud[ovica] Marg[arita] a Loth[aringia] D[ei] G[ratia] sup[rema] pr[incipessa] C[astri] Regi[naldi]"), but also many imitations of neighboring coins. The contract of the mint of Château-Regnault of 1625 (as well as much of the information in this note) is published in Revue numismatique, 2e série, vol. 10, pp. 322-43 (1865).

click here to see a "double tournois" (French tuppence) minted after 1614 in the name of François de Bourbon-Conti by his widow. (Source: CGB, Paris, France.)

Châtelaillon

Located in the Aunis region, along the Atlantic coast.  This castle was originally owned by the counts of Poitou and became the personal possession of a family in the 10th c.  It passed by inheritance to the Mauléon (12th c.) and later to the Larchevêque-Parthenay families (13th c.).  In the 17th c. the barony of Châtelaillon is held by the family Green de Saint-Marsault.  (EdlF).

See an interesting article (in French) by Jacques Duguet.

Commercy

See Harcourt.

Condé

Condé-en-Brie, is near Château-Thierry (departement of the Aisne) and 50 miles east of Paris (in the châtellenie of Château-Thierry, bailliage of Vitry-en-Perthois, Champagne). As a fief, it was a dependency of the Château-Thierry ("mouvant de"). It originally belonged to the sires of Avesnes, then to the Luxembourg-Saint-Paul family. When Marie de Luxembourg, heiress, married François de Bourbon, count of Vendôme (1470-1495) in 1487, Condé entered the Bourbon family and stayed there. François' son Charles (1489-1537) became head of the house of Bourbon in 1527, after the death of Charles, duc de Bourbon. He had several sons: the eldest surviving son Antoine fathered Henri IV, the youngest son Louis (1530-69) received Meaux, Nogent and Condê as his share (later augmented with Soissons). Louis was the ancestor of the houses of Condé and Conti. Sometime after his marrriage in 1551, he changed his title to "prince de Condé". The first time the title is used is in the official account of a lit de justice on 15 Jan 1557. He gave Soissons, but also Condé to one of his sons, Charles (1566-1612), comte de Soissons. Charles' only son Louis (1604-1641) died without issue, and his inheritance (including Soissons and Condé) was divided between his sister Marie (1606-92), wife of Thomas-François de Savoie, prince de Carignan, and Marie d'Orléans-Longueville, heiress of his other sister Louise (1603-37) and Henri II d'Orléans-Longueville.

See the web page of the castle of Condé.

There is some confusion as to whether the title was not attached instead to another lordship owned by the family, that of Condé-sur-Escaut. I follow the opinion of the editors of the Hommages rendus à la Chambre des comptes.

Conti

Conty (now spelled Conti) is in the Somme, between Amiens and Beauvais, 60 miles North of Paris; it was part of the comté and bailliage of Clermont-en-Beauvaisis. The original lords of Conti died out in the late 14th c., at which point the land passed by marriage to the the family of Mailli. In 1551, Eleonore de Roye, heiress to the county of Rouci by her father Charles and the lordship of Conti by her mother Madeleine de Mailli, married Louis de Bourbon (1530-69), seigneur de Condé and uncle of the future Henri IV. Conti was given to François (1558-1614), younger son of Louis, but he died s.p. The split between Condé and Conti occurred three generations later, when Armand (1629-66), son of Henri II de Bourbon-Condé (1588-1646), received Conti as his title. Curiously, the land of Conti had been sold by Henri II to Maximilien de Béthune, duc de Sully, on Feb. 23, 1628. It stayed as a marquisate in the Sully family, but the Bourbon-Conti styled themselves as princes de Conti.

Other titles in the family include that of duc de Bourbon (created 1661), used by the head of the family after 1709 in preference to that of prince de Condé, and duc d'Enghien. Enghien (now in Belgium) was also part of the inheritance of Marie de Luxembourg, but was later sold to the Ligne family, by Henri IV. In 1633 the lordship of Montmorency, in the possession of the prince de Condé, was raised to a dukedom and renamed Montmorency-Enghien, later still renamed Enghien for short. Montmorency, a small town a few miles north of Paris, reverted to its original name, probably after the Revolution. But the nearby lake kept the name of Enghien. Sulfurous springs were discovered there in 1766, and in 1821 a thermal establishment was founded; the location became a township in its own right under the name of Enghien-les-Bains, with a renowned casino.

Courtenay

The house of Courtenay was descended from Louis VI, king of France in the 12th century. They were the next branch of the Capetians after the Bourbons, but never enjoyed the rank of princes of the blood. The last branch of Courtenay, the lords of Chevillon, styled themselved princes de Courtenay in the 17th c. The last male, Charles-Roger, died in 173?, leaving a sister Hélène, married in 1712 to Louis-Bénigne de Bauffremont, marquis of Listenois, of Lorraine nobility. For this reason the Bauffremont have used the title of prince de Courtenay, as well as a number of other dubious princely titles, such as Listenois, which came to them by marriage to Anne de Vienne, dame de Listenois in 1525. Their title of prince of the Holy Roman Empire conferred in 1757 was authorized in France the same year.

Delain

In Franche-Comté.  To the house of Montglat in 1694, the comte de Chiverny in 1718 (EdlF).

Déols

Déols (Indre), near Châteauroux. To the duc de Bourbon in 1718 (EdlF 1718)

Dombes

Dombes (la Dombes in French, and not a plural as often written) is a small area in the East of France, comprising Trévoux, Thoissey, Lent, Saint-Trivier, Villars-les-Dombes, limited to the West by the Saône river and the Beaujolais (see a small 17th c. map of the Dombes). The total area was about 1,100 km2. A fragment of the old kingdom of Burgundy, the principality of Dombes (with Trévoux as its capital) belonged was part of the lordship of Villars. Agnès de Villars married in 1200 Étienne de Thoire. The Thoire family became extinct in 1424; the last male, Humbert, had sold Dombes in 1402 to Louis, duc de Bourbon. The same had received in June 1400 other lands from Édouard de Beaujeu (in exchange for helping him avoid prosecution for the rape of a young woman). Louis de Bourbon united these territories together. These territories were inherited by Suzanne de Bourbon and her cousin and husband, Charles de Bourbon. Suzanne's first cousin Louise de Savoie, mother of king François Ier, disputed the inheritance, which was sequestered in August 1522 pending resolution. Charles de Bourbon saw that he would not get a fair hearing and betrayed the king of France, entering the service of Charles V. On Jan 16, 1523 he was declared guilty of leze-majesty, his feudal possessions forfeited to the crown and his personal estate confiscated. Dombes was taken over by edict of January 1532.

Dombes remained a separate possession of the crown, and retained the Parlement created by François I. But the heirs of Charles de Bourbon disputed the confiscation; in fact, the matter had been raised by the Emperor Charles V and promises to review the matter inserted in the treaties of Madrid and Cambrai (1529); in both treaties, it was specified that the Dombes was outside of the jurisdiction of France. The French king finally relented, and the Dombes was given on Sep. 27, 1560 to the Bourbon-Montpensier "pour jouir paisiblement du pays de Dombes et de tous droits de souveraineté, tels que les avaient Anne de France et Charles de Bourbon, sans aucune chose y retenir ni réserver, fors la bouche et les mains seulement". This last clause was interpreted by a declaration of March 1682 to mean "le devoir d'une moindre souverain à un plus puissant" rather than feudal submission. When France acquired Bresse and Bugey from Savoie in 1601, the Dombes became an enclave in the French kingdom. Dombes passed by Marie's death in 1608 to her husband Gaston d'Orléans, brother of Louis XIII, and then to their only daughter Marie-Louise, the Grande Mademoiselle. Louis XIV forced her to cede Dombes to his legitimized son, the duc du Maine, in exchange for the freedom of her imprisoned lover, the duc de Lauzun (Feb 6, 1681; letters patent of Mademoiselle of Oct 24, 1681, registered in the Parlement of Dombes on Nov 19; the donation was to take effect after her death). The duc du Maine, by his will of 1705, left his possessions to his children and in default to the children of his brother the comte de Toulouse (will registered in the parlement of Dombes on May 28, 1736). Accordingly his eldest son the prince de Dombes succeeded him and, in 1755, his second son the comte d'Eu followed. The comte d'Eu exchanged Dombes for Gisors on March 28, 1762, at which point Dombes was united to the French crown. Dombes was united to the Bresse by edict of December 1781 (many details come from the Archives Parlementaires, 1e série, vol. 31, p. 403f). The revenues of the Dombes were estimated at 360,000 livres, and the lands ceded in exchange to the comte d'Eu were worth twice as much; the premium reflecting the value of the sovereignty of the Dombes.

The princes of Dombes minted coins, especially the Montpensier and Orléans, mainly copper coinage but also silver and gold. The duc du Maine did not mint any coins. They styled themselves "princes souverains de Dombes". Freedom from French censorship explains a thriving publishing industry, set up in 1696 by the duc du Maine (the periodical le Journal de Trévoux was well known).

See a 17th c. map of the principality of Dombes with the arms of Anne-Marie-Louise d'Orléans in the top-left corner.

The prince de Dombes conferred titles: letters patent of the duc du Maine of 10 June 1721 raised the lordship of Cibeins to a county for its owner Pierre de Chollier (sold at Drouot, Nov. 26, 2003, catalog n. 102, sale by Choppin de Janvry & associés, expert cabinet Honoré d'Urfé).

Elbeuf

See Harcourt.

Fénétrange

Foucarmont

To the house of Brézé.  (EdlF).

Guéméné

Land (terre et châtellenie) sold by Jean, sire de Longueval in 1377 to Jean, vicomte de Rohan. It was given to Jean's younger son Charles, founder of the line of Rohan-Montbazon or Rohan-Guéméné. Raised to a principality by letters patent of September 1570 for Louis VI de Rohan, comte de Montbazon (registered in Rennes in 1571). The county of Montbazon was raised to a dukedom in 1588 and again in 1594. This branch was granted rank of foreign prince by brevet of 1649. The title of prince de Guéméné was commonly used by the eldest son of the duc de Montbazon. The descendants in male line are settled in Austria.

Harcourt

It is claimed that Bernard, a companion of Rollo, first duke of Normandy, was given Harcourt and other lands in Normandy. Harcourt became a county in 1338. The Harcourt inheritance passed to the Lorraine family by the marriage of Marie d'Harcourt to Antoine de Vaudémont in 1440. His posterity inherited the duchy of Lorraine, and the lands of the Harcourt inheritance (Lillebonne, Elbeuf, Aumale) were given to Claude de Lorraine, first duc de Guise (d. 1550) who endowed various younger sons. Claude settled in France and from him are descended the French branches of the Lorraine family. In the 16th c. they obtained rank of foreign princes at the French court, and began to use the style of "prince of" with various lands they happened to own, which explains a number of princely titles.

Of Claude's sons, François (d. 1588) inherited Guise; Claude (d. 1573) was given Aumale, made a dukedom in 1547. René (d. 1566) was given Elbeuf, Lilebonne, Brionne aand received Rieux and Harcourt from his wife Louise de Rieux. Their son Charles I (1556-1605) was made duc d'Elbeuf in 1581. The house of Guise ended in 1675. Mayenne, descended from Charles younger son of the 3d duc de Guise (d. 1611, made duc de Mayenne 1573) ended with his son Henri (d. 1621) and the duchy of Mayenne passed to the children of his daughter Catherine (d. 1618), wife of Charles of Gonzaga, duke of Mantua. The house of Aumale ended with Charles (d. 1630) whose estates passed to his daughter Anne, wife of Henri de Savoie-Nemours.

Charles I, duc d'Elbeuf, had two sons, Charles II (1596-1657) and Henri (d. 1666). From Charles II descended Charles III (1621-92), who styled himself prince d'Harcourt around 1650 before succeeding his father, Henri (1661-1748) styled prince de Lillebonne and prince d'Elbeuf in his marriage contract of 1677, and the last of the line Emmanuel-Maurice (1677-1763), styled prince d'Elbeuf around 1705; the line of the comte de Lillebonne, damoiseau de Commercy, whose younger son was styled prince de Commercy; the line of the self-styled princes d'Harcourt, for whom the village of Acraigne in Lorraine was renamed Guise-sur-Moselle and made a county in 1718 by the duke of Lorraine (the younger son used the style of prince de Guise); From Henri, comte d'Harcourt and Brionne, descended the line of the comtes d'Armagnac (to whom this county was given by Louis XIV in 1645), whose eldest sons took the style of prince de Lambesc, and who acquired the duchy of Elbeuf from their cousin in 1752; and the line of the comte de Marsan, who took the styles of princes de Mortagne and prince de Pons.

The Guise branch bore Lorraine a label gules; Mayenne bore quarterly Guise and Este-Ferrara; Aumale bore Quarterly Guise and Bourbon. The Elbeuf branch bore Guise a bordure gules, the Harcourt, Lillebonne, Armagnac-Brionne and Marsan-Pons bore Guise a bordure gules besanty.

Isle-sur-Montréal

In the house of Mailly-Nesle.

Joinville

The barony of Joinville (Haute-Marne) belonged to the family of Joinville which appears in the early 11th c. With Geoffroy III (d. 1188) the family acquired the hereditary title of steward (sénéchal) of Champagne. His wife Félicité de Brienne was the widow of Simon de Broyes; with their son Geoffroy IV appear the arms of Joinville featuring the canting broyes. Joinville passed by the marriage of Marguerite de Joinville (1354-1417), comtesse de Vaudémont, to Frédéric, younger son of the duc de Lorraine (d. 1415 at Agincourt). It was created a principality for the house of Lorraine by letters of April 1552, registered on May 9, 1552 (AN, X/1A/8617, fol. 396v-398v) for François de Lorraine, duce de Guise et d'Aumale (1520-63). The title of prince de Joinville was born by the ducs de Guise (Henri I, d. 1588; Charles d. 1640; Henri II d. 1664; Louis-Joseph d. 1671; and François-Joseph d. 1675). At the death of François-Joseph de Lorraine, duc de Guise in 1675, his paternal great-aunt Marie de Lorraine (1615-88), sister of Henri II de Guise, inherited Joinville, which she left to Charles de Stainville, comte de Couvonges, with a remainder to the younger sons of the duke of Lorraine's younger sons and their heir males. The act was voided by the Parlement de Paris in 1689. Guise passed to Anna Henrietta Julia Palatine of Bavaria (1648-1723), wife of Henri Jules de Bourbon, prince de Condé, daughter Eduard of Pfalz-Simmern and Anna Gonzaga. It was through her mother, daughter of Charles de Gonzague, duc de Nevers and Catherine de Lorraine, herself daughter of Charles de Lorraine duc de Mayenne, that the princesse de Condé was second-cousin once removed and closest heir of the deceased. The Condés henceforth owned Guise. The castle of Joinville, however, as well as 2/3 of the principality, passed to Mlle de Guise's half-niece, Anne-Marie-Louise d'Orléans, Mademoiselle de Montpensier (whose mother Marie was born of Catherine-Henriette de Joyeuse's first marriage to the duc de Montpensier, while Marie de Lorraine was born of her second marriage to the duc de Guise). La Grande Demoiselle died in 1693 and left most of her inheritance to her cousin the duc d'Orléans. In May 1714 (registered 21 Jan 1715) the principality was "confirmed" for the duc d'Orléans (AN, X/1A/8713, fol. 122r-124v).

Du Cange cites a charter of 1180 with Guido de Juncivilla Princeps. It's not clear which member of the family that would refer to.

Lamballe

In Brittany, capital of the duchy of Penthièvre, used as title for the eldest son of the duc de Penthièvre.

Lambesc

In Provence, in the house of Lorraine, used as title by the eldest son of the comte de Brionne (Lorraine with a label and a bordure gules besanty). See Harcourt.

Léon

Saint-Paul-de-Léon in Brittany, a viscounty passed to the Rohan in 1372. Title of prince de Léon used since the 16th c. (EdlF)

Lillebonne

See Harcourt.

Listenois

Style used by the Beauffremont (see Courtenay).

Longjumeau

Luxe

Sovereign land in Béarn, passed to Montmorency-Boutteville by marriage in 1593.  Also styled "comte souverain".  (EdlF)

Marsillac

This lordship in Angoumois passed to the La Rochefoucauld family (Barry of ten argent and azure three chevrons gules, the one in chief écimé) in the 15th c. François de La Rochefoucauld (d. 1533), who was made comte de La Rochefoucauld in 1528, was the first to call himself prince de Marsillac. After the title La Rochefoucauld was raised to a duchy-peerage in 1622, Marsillac became the courtesy title of the eldest son of the duc de La Rochefoucauld. (EdlF).

Martigues

City built near the mouth of the Rhône by Raimond Berenger, count of Provence, in 1232. It was given as a viscounty in 1382 to Jacques d'Arcussia, chamberlain of Jeanne of Provence, and returned to the count of Provence in 1463. Charles d'Anjou, count of Provence, left it in his will to his cousin François de Luxembourg, seneschal of Provence. His descendant Sebastien, first duc-pair de Penthièvre, killed in 1569, left a daughter Marie (1563-1623), for whom Martigues was reportedly made a principality by Henri IV. She had married Philibert-Emmanuel of Lorraine, duc de Mercoeur (d. 1602). Their daughter Françoise (d. 1669) brought Martigues to her husband César de Bourbon-Vendôme (d. 1665), legitimated son of Henri IV. Louis-Joseph gave homage for, inter alia, the principality of Martigues to the king on 18 June 1686 (Nouveaux Hommages, vol. 2, p. 94). The widow of the last duc de Vendôme sold it in 1714 to Louis-Hector, duc de Villars (1653-1734; Azure three pierced mullets or, on a chief argent a lion passant gules). Letters patent of July 1725, registered the same year, extended the title of principality attached to the viscountcy of Martigues for the duc de Villars (AN X/1A/8730, fol. 256v-266v; cited in Levantal p. 973). His son died without issue in 1770 and the heirs sold the viscountcy in 1772 to the Galliffet. (EdlF 1718).

Maubuisson

Maubuisson, near Saint-Ouen-l'Aumône, Val d'Oise. Title of prince de Maubuisson used by Hercule-Mériadec, duc de Rohan-Rohan.

Mercoeur

the barony of Mercoeur was given by François I of France to Renée de Bourbon-Montpensier and her husband Antoine, duc de Lorraine in 1529 (letters patent registered 6 Sep 1533). It was raised to a principality for Nicolas, second son of that marriage, by letters patent of June 1563, registered 21 Sep 1563 (AN, X/1A/8625, fol. 68v-69v, or K/617, no 25/9 or no 25/10; cited in Levantal, p. 306 and p. 758). It was later raised to a duchy peerage, by letters of Dec 1569, registered in 1576, with remainder to heirs male and female. It passed by marriage to César de Bourbon-Vendôme, legitimated son of Henri IV, to the 6th duc de Mercoeur, Louis-Joseph de Bourbon-Vendôme (d. 1712). In 1719, the heirs of the last duc de Mercoeur sold the principality to Léon de Madaillan de Lesparre, comte de Lassay on 15 March 1719 (strictly speaking it was sold to John Law for 810,000 livres but he immediately declared having acted on behalf of the comte de Lassay), and the title was confirmed to him by letters of May 1719 registered 16 June 1719. However, in november 1719 Louis-Armand de Bourbon, prince de Conti exercised the right of "retrait lignager" which gave kinsmen the right to purchase the main family estates out of an inheritance before it was sold outside of the family. A lawsuit followed, lost by the comte de Lassay (21 June 1720). In July 1723, Mercoeur was again raised to a duchy-peerage. Louis-Armand's son sold Mercoeur to the king on 9 Oct 1770 (Levantal 556-8).

Meurs

In the family of Croÿ.

Montauban-de-Bretagne, Montbazon

Counties in the possession of the Rohan-Guéméné family. Marie de Montauban married Louis de Rohan (d. 1457). In the late 17th century, when the Rohan family was granted rank of foreign prince, various younger sons took the habit of calling themselves "prince de Montauban" or "prince de Montbazon".

Montlaux

In the family of Créquy.

Montsoreau

Du Cange cites Gautier, lord of Montsoreau, who signs "principis christianissimus" in a charter under Robert II (ca. 1000).

Mortagne

In Gironde. It belonged to the viscounts of Aunay, then to several families. Charles de Coetivy is styled prince of Mortagne in 1487. His daughter married Charles de La Trémoïlle, who already called himself prince de Talmond. It passed later to the Goyon-Matignon family, which sold it to Lomenie, who in turn sold it to the cardinal de Richelieu, whence to the Plessis-Richelieu family, which used the style of "prince de Mortagne". (EdlF)

Orange

Orange, a county (made a principality of the Holy Roman Empire in 1181), was a relic of the old kingdom of Burgundy, and was originally dependent of the count of Provence or the count of Dauphine. By the 13th century, however, the counts of Orange were claiming sovereignty on their coinage: "princeps Aurasicensis" and "deo gratia princeps Auraice" (the phrase "by the grace of God" indicating that they did not hold their land from anyone).

Orange has been owned by a variety of families: Giraud-Ademar until 1180; then Baux, until Raymond IV (d. 1393) whose younger daughter Marie de Baux (d. 1417) married Jean III de Chalon, lord of Arlai (d. 1418), in 1386. They had children (see Paul theroff's file Ivrea):

  • Louis II de Chalon (1390-1463),
  • Jean de Chalon, sire de Vitteaux (d. 1462)
  • Hugues de Chalon, sire de Cuiseaux (d. 1426 s.p.)
  • Alix de Chalon, dame de Bussy (d. 1457)
  • Marie de Chalon, dame de Cerlier (d. 1465)

Marie de Baux brought to her husband the principality, but by her will it was to pass to her son and his heirs male, with a remainder to her eldest daughter Alix and her heirs. (Alix received the barony of Baux, which, later united to the crown, was then given in 1641 to Honore Grimaldi, hence its present-day use as title of the heir apparent in Monaco).

Jean de Chalon's descendants ruled over Orange, whose independence was confirmed by Louis XI in 1475: Louis II de Chalon (1390-1463), his son Guillaume de Chalon (d. 1475), the latter's son Jean IV (d. 1503). Jean's only son, Philibert de Chalon (1502-30), was the last male descendant of Jean III, and left his estates to the son of his only sister Claude (d. 1521), René of Nassau (1518-44). The latter left the principality to his paternal uncle's son William of Nassau, the Silent (1533-84), in violation of the remainder, since he was unrelated to Marie de Baux. The principality should have passed to the heir of Alix de Chalon.

Alix had married Guillaume de Vienne, seigneur de Saint-Georges, whose daughter Marguerite married in 1449 Rudolf of Baden-Hochberg, lord of Neufchâtel and Rothelin (1427-87). They had Philip (d. 1503) whose only surviving child Johanna (d. 1543) married in 1504 Louis I of Orleans, duc de Longueville (1450-1516) whose descendants were thus the claimants of Orange until their extinction in male line in 1694. They protested and obtained court decisions in their favor, but given William the Silent's high profile as leader of the Dutch revolt against Spain (and given France's enmity with Spain), the French kings decided not to enforce the courts' decisions and left the principality in the hands of the Nassau-Orange family.

One of the rights that successive houses of Orange had enjoyed was the right to strike coins, and one finds coins in the name and arms of various individuals "by the grace of God prince of Orange, count of Nassau" down to the late 17th c. Some were scandalous imitations of French coins (even showing the arms of France, with a little bugle-horn somewhere in the design).

Finally, in 1673 Louis XIV confiscated the principality on William of Orange during the war against Holland. William (who became king of England in 1688) died without children in 1702. His closest heir was king Frederic I of Prussia, son of his aunt Luise Henriette of Nassau and Friedrich Wilhelm Elector of Brandenburg. However, by a will dated 28 Oct 1695, he had made his universal heir his distant agnate Johan Willem Friso of Nassau-Dietz (who was, however, a less distant relation in female line: the king of Prussia descended from the eldest paternal aunt of William III, while Johan WIllem Friso descended from the next aunt).

The three-way dispute between France, Prussia and Nassau-Dietz was resolved slowly. The King of Prussia ceded his rights to Orange to the king of France by the Treaty of Utrecht of 11 Apr 1713 (art. 10) (p. 125) and Orange was finally annexed to France, although the king of Prussia was allowed to retain the title of prince of Orange: "au surplus il sera libre au dit Sr roy de Prusse, de revestir du nom de Principauté d'Orange la partie de la Gueldres qui luy est cédée par Traité fait aujourd'huy et d'en retenir le Titre et les Armes" (As late as 1918, the Emperor Wilhelm II styled himself prince of Orange). The part of Gelderland in question (in Dutch, Pruisisch Opper-Gelre) consisted of the city of Geldern, Straelen and Wachtendonk with their bailliwicks, Krickenbeck including Viersen, the land of Kessel, the lordships of Afferden, Arcen-Velden-Lomm, Walbeck-Twisteden, Raay and Klein-Kevelaer, Well, Bergen and Middelaar.

By the treaty of Berlin of 14 May 1732 between Nassau and Prussia, Prussia received the claims over Orange and the lordships of the succession of Châlon and Chastel-Belin, in exchange for a number of territories. By art. 4, the king promised to solicit the king of France on behalf of the prince of Nassau, that the latter might retain the use of the title and arms of the principality of Orange, and give its name to one of his domains. By art. 8, they agree to jointly use the titles and arms of the Orange succession, except for Meeurs and Lingen (reserved for Prussia) and Terveer and Flessingen (reserved for Nassau). The Dutch royal house (descended from Johan Willem Friso) has been using the title of prince of Orange to this day, currently as title of the heir apparent. The Dutch constitution of 1815 specified in its article 36: "De oudste van des Konings zonen, of verdere mannelijke nakomelingen, die de vermoedelijke erfgenaam is van de Kroon, is des Konings eerste onderdaan, en voert den titel van Prins van Oranje." (This article does not appear in the current constitution of 1983).

Meanwhile, the last male Longueville, Jean-Louis-Charles, had died in 1694. The only surviving sibling of Jean-Louis-Charles de Longueville was Marie, widow of the duc de Nemours, died childless in 1707. The Longueville claim (descended from Alix de Chalon) fragmented into multiple claims. Marie had adopted as heir an illegitimate child of Louis de Bourbon, comte de Soissons, named Louis Henri de Bourbon (1640-1703). He left a daughter Louise Léontine Jacqueline (1696-1721), who married Charles Philippe d'Albert, duc de Luynes (d. 1758) who made a claim for the inheritance. Marie's father was Henri, none of whose siblings left surviving issue. To find more heirs, one has to return to her grandfather Henri's sister Antoinette (1571-1618), who married in 1587 Charles de Gondi, and Eleonore (b. 1573), who married in 1596 Charles de Matignon, comte de Thorigny (1648), whence the house of Matignon; then his great-grandfather Leonor's sister Eléonore (1549-1601), who married Louis de Bourbon, prince de Condé, whence the houses of Condé and Conti. In 1714, Orange (or rather the "domaine utile", or usufruct) was given to the prince de Conti. After the latter's death in 1727, by arrangement with his heirs, Orange was united to France in 1731.

But there was a third child who left issue, namely Jean de Chalon, sire de Vitteaux (d. 1462). His eldest son Charles left a daughter and heiress Charlotte, married in 1480 Adrien de Sainte-Maure, comte de Nesle (d. 1507) and in second marriage to François de Tourzel d'Alègre, lord of Precy. There was issue from both marriages, and claims in both issues. From the second marriage of Charlotte de Chalon were born two daughters, the eldest Anne married Antoine Duprat, whence claims by the Duprat and Alègre families (their daughter Antoinette married Christophe d'Alègre). From the first marriage the representation passes through their son Jean (d. 1526) to his daughter Louise, married to Gilles de Laval (d. 1559), to their daughter Gabrielle married in 1540 to François aux Épaules (d. 1593), to their son René (d. 1650), to his daughter Madeleine married to Bertrand-André de Monchy, to their daughter Jeanne (1628-1713) married to Louis-Charles de Mailly (1618-1708). Their eldest son Louis de Mailly (1662-99) left a son Louis (1689-1764) who saw his claims to the principality confirmed by an Arrêt du Conseil of 25 Jan 1706. This was ignored when Orange was awarded to the prince de Conti. Louis de Mailly-Nesle left only five daughters (famous for having been the mistresses of Louis XV in succession) and a sister Charlotte married but without surviving issue. At his death the title passed to his first cousin Louis de Mailly, seigneur de Rubempré (1696-1767), whose descendants continue to use the title (see the death announcement of "Jean Arnoult Auguste Marquis de Mailly-Nesle, Prince d'Orange" in Le Figaro, 14 October 2001). The canting arms of Mailly are Or three mallets vert.

A number of the claimants manifested themselves in official protests against the terms of the treaty of Utrecht of 1713 (cited in Mably, Le droit public de l'Europe, fondé sur les traités 1761; vol. 2, p. 152):

  • the house of Luynes (protest, 14 Apr 1713)
  • the house of Matignon (protest, 15 Apr and 2 Jun 1713)
  • Paule-Françoise-Marguerite de Gondi de Retz, duchesse douairière de Lesdiguières, and the house of Villeroy (16 Apr 1713; also claimants to Neufchatel and Valengin)
  • the house of Allegre (protest, 15 Apr 1713)
  • the house of Duprat (protest, 15 Apr 1713)

The homophony of the town's name with the fruit is a coincidence, and the arms of the principality originally showed a bugle-horn, supposedly derived from the first prince's surname "au Courb-nez" (curved-nosed or perhaps short-nosed), transformed into "au cornet" (with the bugle). The Orange-Nassau bore en-surtout an escutcheon used a quartering of Chalon and Orange, either as grand-quarter or en-surtout (see a testoon or a gold double pistole of Frederic-Henri, who reigned 1625 to 1647); although, as king of England, William III simply used an escutcheon of Nassau.

See a 1627 map of the principality of Orange.

Phalsbourg

Poix

Poix, in Picardie (near Abbeville; present-day Somme), belonged to the Tyrel family, who used the title of "prince de Poix". (Du Cange: Gualterus Tyrellus dominus et princeps de castello de Poix, 1159). Marguerite de Poix, daughter and heiress of Jean IV Tyrel, married Thibault de Soissons, prince of Chimay. Later Jossine de Soissons, heiress of Jean, married Jean de Créquy. Their grand-daughter Marie married Gilbert de Blanchefort, lord of Saint-Janvrin, whose eldest son Antoine took the name and arms of Créquy (Or a créquier vert). His great-grandson Charles de Créquy had Poix raised to a duchy under the name of Créquy in 1652, but the title died with him in 1687. Poix became a principality again and passed through his only daughter Marguerite (d. 1707) to Charles-Belgique-Hollande de La Trémoïlle, duc de Thouars. He sold Poix in 1718 to the widow of Jean-François, marquis de Noailles. The principality then stayed in the Noailles family, where it became the title of the second son (starting with Philippe de Noailles, b, 1715, second son of Adrien Maurice de Noailles; Philippe's wife Anne-Claude-Louise d'Arpajon had the singular privilege of being received as grand-cross of Malta in 1745, her great-grandfather having saved the island from a Turkish invasion in 1645).

The arms of Poix are gules a bend between six crosses crosslets argent.

The letters patent of creation of duchy in 1652 only speaks of "seigneurs dudit Poix" (Levantal 316). When homage was given to the king in 1718, it was called "la terre et seigneurie de Poix". It comprised Equesnes, Agnières, Blangy, Croixrault, Frettemolle and Cempuis (Levantal 317).

Pons

Pons in Saintonge. Antoinette, heiress of Antoine, sire de Pons, married Henri d'Albret-Miossans, a bastard line of Albret, in the late 16th c. Her grandson Charles-Phoebus died in 1676, his daughter and heiress Marie-Françoise died in 1692 leaving her estates to her husband Charles de Lorraine, comte de Marsan. His son Louis (1696-1755) was styled prince de Pons. See Harcourt.

Revel

A lordship in the Broglie family, who were made princes of the Holy Roman Empire in 1759. The junior line descended from Auguste-Joseph de Broglie (1762-95) is called Broglie-Revel.

Rochefort

Style used by a cadet branch of the Rohan-Montbazon family (they became the eldest line in 1846).

La Roche-sur-Yon

In the house of Beauvau; passed by marriage in 1454 to Jean II de Bourbon, comte de Vendôme; his second son Louis received La Roche-sur-Yon and his descendants assumed the style of prince de La Roche-sur-Yon. The branch (Bourbon-Montpensier) became extinct in male line in 1608.  Title used by the prince de Conti in the 17th c. (EdlF).

Sedan

The town of Sedan was originally a fief of the abbey of Mouzon, itself a fief of the bishop of Reims. Its avoués (trustees) turned it into an independent fief. It was ceded to Charles V of France in 1379, who gave it to his son Louis d'Orléans; the latter sold it in 1413 to Guillaume de Braquemont, whose son-in-law Eberhard of La Marck bought it in 1424. Charlotte of La Marck married in 1591 Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne. She died without issue in 1594, and the two claimants were her paternal uncle Charles-Robert de La Marck, comte de Maulévrier, and her maternal cousin Henri de Bourbon-Montpensier. But Henri IV ruled that Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne was to keep the inheritance, consisting of Sedan, Raucourt and the claim to Bouillon (held by the bishop of Liége and not successfully regained until the Neimegen peace of 1678). The dukes of Bouillon styled themselves "prince souverain de Sedan et Raucourt". By contract of March 20, 1651, the duc de Bouillon exchanged Sedan and Raucourt for the duchies of Albret and Château-Thierry, the counties of Auvergne and Évreux, and other lands. The formalities of the exchange were never fully carried out, although the exchange itself occurred immediately. A decree of April 27, 1794 confirmed by decree of January 3, 1809 cancelled the exchange, but did not restore sovereignty (see more details in the page devoted to Bouillon).

See a nice map of the principality of Sedan, part of an excellent suite of historical pages on Sedan with many illustrations.


Le Mainate

Soubise

The lordship of Soubise (arrondissement of Rochefort, canton of Saint-Aignant, Charente-Maritime) was brought into the Rohan family by the marriage of Catherine de Parthenay-Larchevesque with René II, vicomte de Rohan. Their sons were Henri (d. 1638), created duc de Rohan in 1603, and Benjamin (d. 1641), sire de Soubise (created duc de Frontenay in 1626 but the letters patent were never registered), unmarried (in contemporary documents, he is called "sire de Soubise"). The first and only duc de Rohan left a daughter, Marguerite, who married in 1645 Henri Chabot, comte de Sainte-Aulaye, made duc de Rohan-Chabot in 1648. Their son Louis continued the line of Rohan-Chabot, their daughter Anne (1648-1709) married in 1663 François de Rohan, comte de Rochefort (1630-1712) younger son of Louis de Rohan, duc de Montbazon. The sirerie of Soubise was raised to a principality by letters patent of March 1667 (LCDB 9:517). Their son Hercule-Mériadec (1669-1749) was made duc de Rohan-Rohan in 1714. He also used the title of prince de Maubuisson. The male line of Rohan-Soubise becoming extinct with his son the second duke Charles (1715-87), who used the title of prince d' Epinoy.

Soyons

A small town in the Vivarais (near Saint-Péray, Ardèche), among the lands of the Crussol d'Uzès family. The title of prince de Soyons or Soyans is used by the ducs d'Uzès since 1570 (Levantal, p. 939, who cites L d'Albiousse, Histoire des ducs d'Uzès, Paris 1887, p. 79). Du Cange says the title was created. (EdlF).

The title was disputed between them and the bishops of Valence; it may have been a joint lordship, like Andorre between Foix and Urgel.

Talmond

In Vendée. Belonged to the Thouars, then Amboise; Marguerite d'Amboise married Louis de La Trémoille in 1446, and their descendants called themselved princes de Talmont. Du Cange cites Willelmus Talemontis castri princeps et dominus.
The La Trémoïlle family claimed princely rank for the following reason. Ferdinand (1423-94), bastard son of Alfonso of Aragon, king of Two Sicilies, reigned as king of Naples. His son Alfonso II was dispossessed by the French in 1494. A daughter of Alfonso II, Carlotta, married Guy de Montmorency, comte de Laval, and a younger daughter Anne married in 1521 Louis de La Trémoïlle. By this connection the La Trémoïlle claimed the title of prince of Tarente, along with the inheritance of Montmorency-Laval (it had passed to the Rieux family on the death of Guy XVI in 1531, then through Claude de Rieux, comtesse de Laval et Montfort, to François de Coligny in 1547, and on the death in 1605 of his grandson Guy XX, to the La Trémoïlle). Henri-Charles (1599-1674), duc de Thouars, was granted the rank of foreign prince in 1651; he bore Quarterly Or a chevron gules between three eagles azure (La Trémoïlle), France, Bourbon-Montpensier and Montmorency-Laval. His eldest son Charles-Belgique-Hollande (1655-1709) bore Quarterly France and Two-Sicilies, over all La Trémoïlle, the younger son Frédéric-Guillaume (d. 1739) was titled prince de Talmond; he acquired in 1730 the lordship of the duchy of Châtellerault and had it raised to a dukedom for his son in 1730, but the latter died without issue in 1759 and the title of Talmond returned to the eldest branch. The 13th and last duke of Thouars, 13th prince of Tarente and 17th prince of Talmond died in 1933.

Arms, Thouars castle
Arms, ceiling of the Archives, Thouars castle. The arms on the left are La Trémoïlle, those on the right are La Tour d'Auvergne. (at dexter: quarterly France, Montmorency-Laval, Sicily, Bourbon, over all La Trémoïlle, at sinister: quarterly La Tour, Boulogne, Bouillon, ?; over all per pale Auvergne and per fess Nassau and Orange; collar of St. Michel and St. Esprit, princely crown.). These arms seem to be those of Henri de La Trémoïlle, 3d duc de Thouars (1598-1674), chevalier des ordres du Roi 1633, and Marie de La Tour d'Auvergne, daughter of Henri de La Tour and Elisabeth de Nassau (d. 1665). Note the unusual crown alternating the strawberry leaves of a duke and the fleurs-de-lis of a royal prince.

Tancarville

Tingry

The barony of Tingry, in the Boulonnais (Pas-de-Calais, canton of Samer), was raised to a principality by letters patent of January 1587, registered 19 Sep 1587 (AN, X/1A/8639, fol. 42v-44v; cited in Levantal p. 843) for François de Luxembourg, duc de Piney in 1576 and peer in 1581 (d. 1613), a younger son of Antoine de Luxembourg, comte de Brienne. His son Henri died in 1616 leaving two daughters, Marguerite-Charlotte and Marie-Louise. The estates were divided between the two sisters on July 13, 1620.

Marguerite-Charlotte married twice, having by Léon d'Albret, lord of Brantes, a son Henri-Léon who renounced his rights in 1660 to become a clergyman; and by Charles-Henri de Clermont-Tonnerre (d. 1630), titled duc de Piney although never received in Parliament, she had Madeleine-Charlotte-Bonne-Thérèse de Clermont-Tonnerre (d. 1701). The latter, heiress of Piney and Tingry, married François-Henri de Montmorency, comte de Luxe and Boutteville, of a junior branch of the Montmorency family. He was received as duc de Piney in 1661, was created duc de Beaufort-Montmorency in 1688, and maréchal de France, one of Louis XIV's best generals. His third son Christophe-Louis (d. 1746) inherited Tingry, which passed to his son Charles-François-Christian in 1734, whose daughter Louise-Françoise-Pauline (b. 1732) married the duc de Montmorency.

I'm not sure yet who Marie-Louise married. By the early 18th c., however, the principality had been divided into various parts, owned some by the Talon family, some by the Estrées.

The arms of the Montmorency-Luxembourg were Or, a cross gules between sixteen eaglets azure (Montmorency), en surtout Argent a lion gules langued and crowned or (Luxembourg).

Tonnay-Charente

In Saintonge. Purchased by the Rochechouart-Mortermart family in 1511. Louis-Victor, second duke of Mortemart (d. 1688), maréchal de France, was the first to style himself prince de Tonnay-Charente. The arms of the family were: Quarterly of eight in two rows of four: 1, Gules a crescent vair (Maure); 2, France a baton couped gules (Bourbon); 3, Gules nine mascles or in three rows of three (Rohan); 4, barry of ten argent and azure three chevrons gules the one in chief écimé (La Rochefoucauld); 5, argent a serpent erect in pale azure vorant a child gules (Milan); 6, Navarre; 7, gules a pale vair (Escars); 8, Brittany; over all barry undy of six argent and gules (Rochechouart).

Turenne

Possessors of the vicomté de Turenne, in Auvergne, called themselves "par la grâce de Dieu vicomte de Turenne" since the 12th c. It passed in the 14th c. to Bernard de Comminges, then to the house of Beaufort comte d'Alais. Anne de Beaufort married Agne de La Tour, seigneur d'Oliergues (d. 1489). La Tour d'Auvergne became duc de Bouillon and prince de Sedan in 1591. The vicomté de Turenne was sold to Louis XV on May 8, 1738 for 4.2 millions.

See a 1670 map of the vicomté of Turenne.

Vergagne

Vergagne is really Vergano Novarese, in Piedmont (Italy). It was in the family of Spinola. Maria Anna Spinola, daughter of Giambattista Spinola, prince of Vergano, married in 1709 Philippe-Jules Mazarini-Mancini, duc de Nevers. The title of prince de Vergagne was used by the eldest son of the duc de Nevers.

Yvetot

In Normandy. In 1406, Pierre Le Bègue was sieur de Villaines, Yvetot and Tourny. In the late 17th c., it belonged to the Crevant-Cingé family, which had bought it from Marie-Jeanne de Bouville, widow of Marc Antoine Saladin d'Anglure du Bellai de Savigny, who had inherited it from his paternal grandmother Marie du Bellay de Thouarce (LCDB).  In 1728, Camille-Éléonor d'Albon was prince d'Yvetot (Germain Demay, Inventaire des sceaux de la Normandie, 1881, n. 9, p. 3; n. 66, p. 11). (EdlF)

The lord of Yvetot was commonly known as roi d'Yvetot. This strange title is attested in several official documents: a writ of the exchequer of Normandy in 1392, a writ of king François I of 1543. At the coronation of Marie de Medicis, wife of Henri IV, in 1610, the king ordered his master of ceremonies to "give a seat to my little king of Yvetot in accordance with his standing and rank" (cited in Guyot, Traité des Droits, vol. 1, p. 105).

Ecclesiastical titles of prince

A few sees had titles attached to them.

Bishops

  • Apt: bishop of Apt (EdlF)
  • Besançon: bishop of Besançon
  • Châteauneuf-sur-le-Rhône: bishop of Viviers (EdlF)
  • Denain: bishop of Arras
  • Donzères: bishop of Viviers (EdlF)
  • Embrun: bishop of Embrun (EdlF)
  • Grenoble: bishop of Grenoble (EdlF)
  • Lurs: bishop of Sisteron
  • Metz: bishop of Metz (EdlF)
  • Mondragon: bishop of Mondragon or archbishop of Arles (EdlF)
  • Nice: bishop of Nice
  • Salon: archbishop of Arles (EdlF)
  • Sayans: bishop of Valence (disputed with Uzès)
  • Strasbourg: bishop of Strasbourg (EdlF)
  • Tarentaise in Savoie: bishop of Moutiers
  • Tournon: archbishop of Strasbourg?
  • Tourrette: bishop of Apt

Abbots and Abbesses

  • Andlau
  • Lure
  • Murbach
  • Remiremont

Foreign Titles of prince

  • Amblise

  • in Hainaut. Isabelle, dame de Kievrain, married Geoffroi III d'Apremont. Their descendant Gobert was styled prince d'Amblise in 1416. It then passed to the Anglure family by the marriage of Antoinette d'Apremont with René d'Anglure, baron de Bourlemont (Or a semy of grelots (round bells) each above a crescent, all gules). Claude d'Anglure sold Amblise to Florent (d. 1622), eldest son of Lamoral, prince de Ligne (Or a bend gules).
  • Arenberg

  • The Arenberg family form a junior branch of the Ligne family. Jean de Ligne married Anne de La Marck, sovereign countess of Arenberg (between Julich and Cologne, in Germany) in the 16th c. Arenberg was made into a principality in 1576, and also, I think, a duchy in 1674. Pierre d'Alcantara d'Arenberg, a younger brother, was naturalized French under Napoleon, whom he served, and later given a title of duke-peer in 1827, but he did not create the requisite "majorat" before the 1830 revolution and his appointment was cancelled by Louis-Philippe. Strictly speaking, the title of "prince et duc du Saint-Empire" are thus courtesy titles in France.
  • Beauvau-Craon

  • A family from Lorraine, their title of prince of the Holy Roman Empire of 1722 was authorized in France in 1755.
  • Béthune-Hesdigneul
  • Chimay

  • The lordship of Chimay (Hainaut, Belgium) belonged to various families before being sold to Jean de Croÿ in the early 15th c., and made into a county by the duke of Burgundy and count of Hainaut. In 1486, Charles de Croÿ was made prince of the Holy Roman Empire. The principality passed to the house of Ligne-Arenberg in 1612, and in 1686 to the house of Hennin-Lietart, extinct in 1806. The Caraman-Riquet family, heir of the Hennin-Lietard through Marie-Anne-Gabrielle, inherited the title. They received the Dutch title of prince of Caraman-Chimay in 1824.
  • Epinoy

  • This châtellenie was located in Hainaut (Belgium), and belonged since 1327 to the family of Melun (Azure seven bezants and a chief or). François de Melun, hereditary constable and first peer of Flanders, was made comte of Epinoy on November 28, 1514. He then passed to the service of Charles V when the latter acquired Flanders; his son Hugues was made prince of Epinoy in 1545 by Charles V. Louis II de Melun, prince d'Epinoy, was made duc-pair de Joyeuse in 1714. On his death in 1724, the principality passed to the son of his sister Anne-Julie-Adelaide, Charles de Rohan, prince de Soubise, duc de Rohan-Rohan in 1749. Listed among French principalities in EdlF 1718.
  • Grimberghe

  • In the Flemish family of Berghes.
  • Isenghien
  • Marnay
  • Neufchâtel
  • Rache

  • In Hainaut, belonged to the Berghes family. Eugèbe de Berghe had the baronny of Zertrude raised (Namur) to a principality under the name of Rache on 31 Dec 1681 by Carlos II of Spain. He died without heirs. His great-nephew Philippe-Ignace had the lordship of Boubers (Artois) raised to a principality by Louis XIV by letters patent of April 1701 for his heirs male and female. His daughter Marie-Joseph-Isabelle married her uncle Jean-Joseph de Berghes, who became prince de Rache, and had issue. The Berghes Saint-Winoch who were made dukes in France in 1827 belonged to a junior branch. The letters of Louis XIV (and their exceptional character) are mentioned in the Almanach de Gotha.
  • Solre
  • Vallenghin
  • Vaudémont

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Last modified: Jan 21, 2008