The Succession Laws of Parma

See also the heraldry of the duchy of Parma.

Introduction

The city of Parma, as many northern Italian towns, was nominally part of the Holy Roman Empire, in practice ruled by its bishops and later by a city government. It fell under the control of Milan in 1346, was ceded to the Holy See in 1511. On Aug 19, 1545, pope Paul III (Alessandro Farnese, 1468-1549) detached Parma and Piacenza from the Papal states and gave them as a duchy for his illegitimate son, Pier-Luigi Farnese, whom he had already made duke of Castro and Ronciglione. The Farnese dynasty, descended from him, ruled in Parma from 1545 to 1731 (see their genealogy).

Pier Luigi (1503-47) was succeeded by his second son Ottavio (1542-86), his eldest son Alessandro (1534-89) being a cardinal. Ottavio's son Alessandro (1545-92) was followed by his son Ranuccio I (1569-1622), the latter's son Odoardo I (1612-46), the latter's son Ranuccio II (1630-94). Of Ranuccio II's sons, the eldest Odoardo died before his father in 1693 leaving only a daughter Elisabetta (1692-1766), the other two sons succeeded as dukes, leaving no children: Francesco I (1678-1727) and Antonio (1679-1731), last male of the Farnese.

As the extinction of the house neared, the question of the succession became prominent. One consequence of the War of Spanish Succession (1701-14) had been to replace Spain with Austria as the dominant foreign power in Italy (Milan and Naples passing to Austria in 1713). Restoring a counterweight to this new power was in the interests of Parma, and its minister in Madrid, Giulio Alberoni, pulled off the marriage of Odoardo's daughter Elisabetta to the widowed king Philip V of Spain in 1714. She bore him four sons (Carlos, Felipe, and Luis Antonio) and three daughters. Alberoni became prime minister of Spain.

At the time, Europe was in the aftermath of the War of Spanish Succession, which had proved to be an exhausting conflict for all parties. It had ended with the treaties of Utrecht of 1713 and Baden of 1714, yet all was not settled. In particular, the two rival claimants to the throne of Spain, king Felipe V of Spain and Emperor Karl VI, had not yet signed a peace. Karl was reluctant to relinquish his rights on the Spanish throne; conversely, Felipe did not want to renounce the former Spanish possessions in Italy or the Low Countries, which the war had left in the Emperor's hands. Furthermore, with his Italian wife, he had added reasons to pursue an aggressive policy in Italy. In 1717, Spain invaded Sardinia, and in 1718 Sicily, and appeared ready to attack the mainland of Italy. To preserve the peace, a defensive alliance was formed between the Emperor, Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands by the treaty of London of August 2, 1718 (Quadruple Alliance): the stick was a threat of war against Spain, the carrot was the offer of the succession to Tuscany and Parma to the infante Carlos.

Spain refused to accept the terms, and a war ensued (1718-19) which Spain promptly lost. Spain acceded to the term of the treaty of the Quadruple Alliance in 1721. The reciprocal renunciations of the Spanish king and the Emperor to their claims were made and exchanged in London in 1721; a final peace treaty between Spain and the Emperor signed in Vienna on April 30, 1725 and ratified by the Empire on June 7, 1725. By the treaty of Seville of 1729 between France, Spain, and Great Britain, it was decided that Spanish garrisons would be placed in Livorno, Porto-Ferraio, Parma and Piacenza to guarantee Don Carlos's rights. The Emperor was displeased by these terms and, when Antonio Farnese died on January 20, 1731 he immediately occupied the duchy; but he relented and agreed to the garrisons by the treaty of Vienna of March 16, 1731, in exchange for British and Dutch recognition of the Pragmatic Sanction. The widow of the last duke, Dorothea Sophie von Neuburg (1670-1748) assumed the regency of Parma in the name of Don Carlos, who arrived in Parma on October 7, 1732, after having received the homage of Tuscan cities on June 24 in Florence.

During the next European War, that of Polish Succession (1733-35), Don Carlos seized the kingdom of the Two-Sicilies in 1734, but had to cede Parma to the Austrians the next year at the peace preliminaries of Vienna, confirmed by the peace treaty of Vienna of Nov. 18, 1736. It now became the objectives of Spanish foreign policy to regain the queen's patrimony, and to ensure an establishment for her second son, the Infante Felipe (1720-65). His marriage in 1739 to a daughter of king Louis XV brought France into these plans.

During the next war, that of Austrian Succession (1740-48), the establishment of Felipe in Italy was Spain's foremost objective. Several attempts were made to conquer Parma and Milan by Franco-Spanish troups. Parma, Piacenza were taken in September 1745, and Milan in December, but were given up in June 1746 after a military defeat at Piacenza. At the general peace of of Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) of Oct. 18-24, 1748, France returned the Austrian Low Countries it had conquered in exchange for the cession of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla (part of the Mantua inheritance confiscated by the Habsburgs in 1707) to the Infante Felipe, whose descendance the Bourbon-Parma reigned from then on (see the genealogy of the dynasty in Paul Theroff's Online Gotha). Note that, by the Treaty of Worms of 1743, Austria had purchased Sardinia's alliance by ceding various territories, including part of the Piacentino: thus Felipe's new realm was composed of Austrian and Sardinian elements.

To be more precise, the peace preliminaries signed between France, Great Britain and the Netherlands on April 30, 1748 ceded these three duchies to Felipe and his male legitimate descent, with reversion of Parma and Guastalla to the Habsburgs, and the Sardinian Piacentino to the king of Sardinia, in two cases: (1) extinction of Felipe's male line or (2) if Don Carlos became king of Spain, the (mistaken) presumption being that Felipe or his successor would then become king of the Two Sicilies. But the diplomats later realized that this would not necessarily happen, and that the Two Sicilies could pass to a younger son of Don Carlos rather than Felipe (as did happen in 1759). The final article changed the second case of reversion to the case that a future ruler of Parma were called to either the throne of Spain or that of the Two Sicilies. This was accepted by Austria and became part of the final treaty (art. 7), but Sardinia did not accept it and the reversion clause for the Piacentino remained the mistaken clause of the peace preliminaries. Thus, after Carlos did ascend the throne of Spain in 1759, Sardinia claimed Piacenza. The matter was settled by a convention of June 10, 1763, whereby the king of Sardinia accepted to change his reversionary rights to the case of the ruler of Parma acceding to either of the other thrones, in exchange for a lump-sum payment representing the value of the revenues from the disputed territory. This clause was modified by the additional article to the treaty of May 20, 1815 between Sardinia and the great powers: Piacenza and a circle of 4km around it would go to Austria and Sardinia would receive a compensation equal in population and revenue. As for the reversionary rights of the Habsburgs, they were relinquished by Maria Theresia in the treaty of Naples of Oct. 3, 1759 between Austria and the Two Sicilies, whereby she received in exchange part of the "Stato dei Presidi" (the Tuscan peninsula of the Argentario which had belonged to Siena and retained by Spain in 1557 after the conquest of Siena by Cosimo de Medici). Formally, Austria ceded Parma and Guastalla to Felipe and his male and female issue, according to an order of succession to be established by Felipe and the Empress; upon extinction of which issue the exchanges and renunciations were to become void. The order of succession was apparently never settled. Felipe entered Parma on March 9, 1749.

Felipe's son Ferdinando (1751-1802) ceded his territories to France by the peace of Lunéville, and they were annexed to France in 1802. The duchies were then granted in 1806 to Cambacérès (Parma) and Lebrun (Piacenza), former colleagues of Bonaparte as Consuls of France (see details here). The Bourbons-Parma (Ferdinando's only surviving son Lodovico) were given Etruria (Tuscany) in exchange from 1801 to 1807.

The treaty of Fontainebleau of 11 April 1814 (art. 5) gave Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla as hereditary domain for Napoleon's wife Maria Luisa of Austria and their only son, while the Bourbons moved to Lucca: Maria Luisa, infanta of Spain and widow of Lodovico (king of Etruria from 1801 to 1803), and her son Carlo II (king of Etruria from 1803 to 1807 under his mother's regency). She ruled Lucca in her name until her death in 1824, while her son was known as the prince of Lucca; he then succeeded her. For a short while, Napoleon's son was styled "principe di Parma". But the treaty of Vienna of June 1815 revised the arrangements and gave Parma to Napoleon's wife only, for her life, leaving the details of the reversion for another treaty; that treaty was signed in Paris on June 10, 1817. It stipulated that arts. 99, 101 and 102 of the Treaty of Vienna would be enforced, and after the death of HM the Archduchess Marie-Louise, the duchies of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla would pass to the Infanta Maria Luisa, her son Carlo and (his or her? The French text is ambiguous) male descendants in direct male line. At the same moment, Lucca was to revert to Tuscany. The reversion of the Piacentino except Piacenza to Sardinia upon extinction of the Bourbon-Parma dynasty (or accession to either the Spanish or the Sicilian throne) was confirmed, but Austria was allowed to garrison Piacenza until that time.

Maria Luisa entrusted the administration of her duchy to her father the Austrian Emperor by letters patent at Vienna of March 31, 1815. By a proclamation of March 7, 1816 given in Milan, Francis I announced that he was restoring the government of Parma to his daughter. She left Vienna on March 7, joined her father in Milan and Verona, and left for Parma on March 25. She used the style "Maria Luigia Principessa Imperiale ed Archiduchessa di Austria, per la grazia di Dio Duchessa di Parma, Piacenza e Guastalla" both on her coins and in her proclamations; and she was styled "Her Majesty the Archduchess Maria Luisa, duchess of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla" (e.g., in the treaty of 1817). She used as arms per pale Farnese (for Parma and Piacenza) and Gonzaga (for Guastalla), overall Habsburg-Lorraine (tierced in pale Habsburg, Austria and Lorraine), with a closed crown and the collar of the Parmesan Constantinian order of St. George.

On her death, on 17 Dec. 1847, Lucca and Parma were united. At that time, some territorial adjustments were made in execution of the treaty of Florence of 28 Nov 1844 betwen the duke of Lucca, Tuscany and Modena: Guastalla and l'Oltrenza (part of Parma) were ceded to Modena, and the Lunigiana was acquired from Modena and Tuscany to Parma (it being specified that the Lunigiana would represent the compensation to Sardinia for Piacenza in case of extinction of the Bourbon-Parma line).

Carlo II abdicated in April 1848, after having proposed a constitution. He was succeeded by his son Carlo III (assassinated in 1854) and his grandson Roberto under the regency of the latter's mother. The dynasty was overthrown in 1859: the duke and regent duchess left Parma on June 9 for Switzerland and made an official protest on June 20 against the Sardinian invasion. Although the peace preliminaries of Villafranca on July 11 between France and Austria called for a return of the duke to his states, this never happened. A representative assembly was elected and voted the destitution of the Bourbon dynasty on September 11, and annexation to Sardinia on September 12. A referendum in March 1860 produced overwhelming numbers for annexation by Sardinia, which took place by decree of March 18, 1860. The duchess protested against the annexation on March 28.

Treaty of Quadruple Alliance, 2 Aug 1718

(source: G. Chalmers, Collection of Treaties London 1790, vol. 1, p. 257).

Art. V.
Whereas, in case the Grand Duke of Tuscany, or the Duke of Parma and Placentia, or their successors, should die without male issue, the pretensions of succession to the dominions possessed by them might kindle a new war in Italy, on account of the different rights of succession whereby, after the decease of the next heirs before her, the present Queen of  Spain, born Dutchess of Parma, claims the said dukedoms to herself on the one part, and the Emperor and empire on the other part. ---To the end that the great disputes, and the evils arising from them, may be timely obviated, it is agreed, that the states and dutchies at present possessed by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Duke of Parma and Placentia aforesaid, shall in time to come be held and acknowledged by all the contracting Powers as undoubted male fiefs of the Holy Roman Empire. His Imperial Majesty on his part doth consent, by himself as head of the empire, that whenever it shall happen that the said dutchies shall lie open for want of heirs male, the first-born son of the said Queen of Spain, and his descendants, being males, born in lawful matrimony, and in default of them, the second-born, or other the younger sons of the said Queen, if any shall be born, together with their male descendants, born in lawful marriage, shall in like manner, succeed to all the provinces aforesaid, To which end, it being necessary that the consent of the empire be also given; his Imperial Majesty will use all his endeavours to obtain it; and having obtained it, he will cause the letters of expectative, containing the eventual investiture for the son of the said Queen, or her sons, and their legitimate male descendants, to be expedited in due form and cause said letters to be delivered to the Catholic King immediately, or at least after two months from the exchange of the retifications; without any damage, nevertheless, or prejudice, to the Princes who now have possession of the said dutchies which possession is to remain entirely of.& to them.

It is farther agreed, between his Sacred Imperial Majesty, and the Catholic, King, that the town of Leghorn may, and ought, perpetually to remain a free port, in the same manner as it now is.

By virtue of the renunciation made by the King of Spain, of all the dominions, kingdoms, and provinces in  Italy, which heretofore belonged to the Kings of Spain, that King shall yield to the aforesaid prince his son, the town of Porto Longone, together with that part of the island Elba, which he actually possesses therein ; and shall deliver the same up to him, as soon as that Prince, on the extinction of the male posterity of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, shall be admitted into the actual possession of his territories.

It is moreover agreed to, and provided by solemn contract, that none of the aforesaid, dutchies or dominions, at any time, or in any case, may or ought to be possessed by a Prince, who at the same time holds the kingdom of Spain; and that no King of Spain can ever take upon him the guardianship of that Prince, or may be allowed to exercise the same.

Lastly,  it is agreed, and thereto all and singular the parties contracting have equally bound themsleves that it never shall be allowed, during the lives of the present possessors of the dutchies of Tuscany and Parma, or of their male successors, that any forces of any country whatsoever, whether their own or hired, shall either by the Emperor, the Kings of Spain and France, or even by the Prince appointed, as above, to the succession, be introduced into the provinces and lands of the said dutchies ; nor shall any, of them place any garrison in the cities, ports, towns, or, fortresses therein situated.

But, that the said son of the Queen of Spain appointed by this treaty to the succession of the Great Duke of Tuscany and the Duke of Parma and Placentia, may be more fully secured against all events, and may more certainly depend on the execution of the succession promised him; and likewise that the fief, constituted as above, may remain inviolable to the Emperor and empire; it is agreed on both sides, that garrisons, not exceeding however the number of fix thousand men shall be put into the principal towns thereof, viz. Leghorn, Porto Ferraro, Parma, and Placentia, be taken from among the Swiss Cantons, which cantons are for this purpose to be paid by the three contracting Powers, who have taken upon them the part of mediators, and the said garrisons are therein to be continued till the case of the said succession shall happen, when they shall be obliged to deliver the towns to the said Prince appointed to the succession ; nevertheless, without any trouble or charge to the present possessors, and their successors, being males, to whom likewise the said garrisons are to take an oath of fidelity, and are to assume to themselves no other authority than only the guard of the cities committed to their charge.

But whereas this beneficial work may be longer delayed than is convenient, before an agreement can be made with the Swiss Cantons about the number, pay, and manner of establishing such a. force; his Sacred Royal Britannic Majesty out of his singular zeal for the said work, and the public tranquillity, and for the earlier obtaining the end proposed, will not in the mean time refuse to lend his own forces for the use above-mentioned, if the rest of the contracting Powers think good, till the forces to be raised in the Swiss Cantons can take upon them the guard and custody of the said cities.

Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, 18 Oct 1748

(source: G. Chalmers, Collection of Treaties London 1790, vol. 1, p. 431).

Article 7.

In consideration of the restitutions that his Most Christian Majesty, and his Catholic Majesty, make by the present treaty, either to her Majesty the Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, or to his Majesty the king of Sardinia, the dutchies of Parma, Placentia, and Guastella shall, for the future, belong to the Most Serene Infant Don Philip, to be possessed by him and his male descendants, born in lawful marriage, in the same manner, and in the same extent, as they have been, or ought to be, possessed by the present possessors; and the said Most Serene Infant, or his male descendants, shall enjoy the said three duchies, conformably and under the conditions expressed in the acts of cession of the Empress Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, and of the king of Sardinia.

These acts of ceffion of the Empress Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, and of the King of Sardinia, shall be delivered, together with their ratifications of the present treaty, to the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Catholic King, in like manner as the Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiaries of the most Christian King, shall deliver, with the ratifications of their Majesties, to the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the King of Sardinia, the orders to the Generals of the French and Spanish troops to restore Savoy and the county of Nice to the persons appointed by that Prince to receive them ; so that the restitution of the said states, and the taking possession of the dutchies of Parma, Placentia, and Guastalla, by or in the name of the most Serene Infant Don Philip, may be effected within the same time, conformably to the acts of cession, the tenor whereof follows.

WE Mary Theresia, &c. make known by these presents : Whereas, in order to put an end to the fatal war, certain preliminary articles were agreed upon, the 30th of April of this year, between the Ministers Plenipotentiaries of the most Serene and most Potent Prince George II.. King of Great Britain, and the most Serene and most Potent Prince Lewis XV. the most Christian King, and their High Mightinesses the States General of the United Provinces, which have been since ratified by all the Powers concerned : the, tenor of the 4th article whereof is conceived in the following manner.

The dutchies of Parma, Placentia, and Guastalla, shall be yielded to the most Serene Infant Don Philip, to serve him as an establishment, with the right of reversion to the present possessors, after that his Majesty the King ofthe Two Sicilies shall have succeeded to the crown of Spain: as also in case the said most Serene Infant Don Philip should happen to die without children.

And whereas a definitive treaty of peace having since been concluded, the several points relating to this affair have been, by virtue of the articles thereof, explained, by the common consent of the parties concerned, in the following manner.

In consideration of the restitutions that his most Christian Majesty and his Catholic Majesty make, by the present treaty, either to her Majesty the Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, or to his Majesty the King of Sardinia, the dutchies of Parma, Placentia, and Guastalla shall, for the future, belong to the most Serene Infant Don Philip, to be possessed by him, and his male descendants born in lawful marriage, in the same manner, and in the same extent, as they have been or ought to be possessed by the present possessors and the said most Serene Infant, or his male descendants, shall enjoy the said three dutchies, onformably and under the conditions expressed in the ads of cession, of the Empress Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, and of the King of Sardinia.

These acts of cession, of the Empress Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, and of the King of Sardinia, shall be delivered, together with their ratifications of the present treaty, to the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Catholic King, in like manner as the Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiaries of the most Christian King and Catholic King shall deliver, with the ratifications of their Majesties, to the Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiaries of the King of Sardinia, the orders to the generals of the French and Spanish troops to restore Savoy and the county of Nice to the persons appointed by that Prince to receive them ; so that the restitution of the said States, and the taking possession of the dutchies of Parma, Placentia, and Guastalla, by or in the name of the most Serene Infant Don Philip, may be effected in the same time, conformably to the said acts of cession,

Wherefore, in order to fulfil those things, to which we have bound ourselves by the articles before inferred, and in the firm hope that the most Christian and Catholic Kings, and the future possessor of the aforesaid three dutchies, and his male descendants, will, on their part, bona fide, and punctually fulfil the tenor of the articles abovementioned, and will likewise restore to us, within the fame time, the states and Places which are to be restored to us in consequence of the second and eighteenth articles of the same preliminaries, we do yield and renounce for us and our successors, under the conditions expressed in the above-mentioned  articles, all rights, claims, and pretensions to, title or cause whatsoever belonging, upon the aforesaid three dutchies of Parma, Placentia, and Guastalla, formerly possessed by us and transfer the same rights, claims, and pretensions in the best and most solemn manner possible, to the most Serene Don Philip Infant of Spain, and his male descendants, to be born in lawful marriage, absolving all the inhabitants of the said dutchies from the allegiance and oath which they have taken to us, who shall be obliged for the future to pay the same allegiance to those to whom we have yielded our rights;  which however is to be understood only for that space of time that either the said most Serene Infant Don Philip, or one of his descendants, shall not have ascended either the throne of the Two Sicilies, or of Spain; for at that time, and in case the aforesaid Infant should die without male descendants, we expressly reserve to ourselves our heirs and successors, all rights, claims, and pretensions, which have heretofore belonged to us, and consequently the right of reversion to the said dutchies.

In witness whereof, &c.

CHARLES Emanuel,&c. The desire we have to contribute, on our part, to the most speedy reestablishment of the public tranquillity, which lately induced us to accede to the preliminary articles, signed the 30th of April last, between the Ministers of his 'Britannic Majesty his most Christian Majesty and the Lords the States General of the United Provinces, which we did on the 31st of May last, by our Plenipotentiary accordingly accede to, inducing us now to accomplish as much as is to be performed on our part in pursuance of them; and particularly for the execu tion of what is contained in the fourth article of the said preliminaries, by virtue whereof the dutchies of Parma, Placentia, and Guastalla, are to be yielded to the. most Serene Prince Don Philip, Infant of Spain, to hold, as an establishment, with the right of reversion to the present possessors, as soon as his Majesty the King of the Two Sicilies shall have succeeded to the crown of Spain, or that the said Infant should happen to die without issue male; we, in conformity thereto, do, by the present act, renounce, yield, and transfer, for ourselves and our successors, to the aforesaid most Serene Infant Don Philip, and to his male issue, and their descendants, born in lawful marriage, the town of Placentia, and the Plaisantine (whereof we were possessed) to be held and possessed by him as Duke of Placentia, renouncing to this end all rights, claims, and pretensions, which we have upon them; reserving, however, expressly, to us and our successors, the right of reversion in the cases above-mentioned.

In witness whereof, &c.

Other Texts

(Cited in Martens, Cours diplomatique, vol. 1, pp. 406ff.)
  • 9 Sep 1720: Decree asking the States of the Empire to consent ot the disposal of Tuscany and Parma (Rousset, 5(app)62, 123).
  • (9 Dec 1722) decision of the Reichstag (Rousset, 5(app)62, 123).
  • Promise by the king of Spain to fulfill the conditions for investiture of the duchies of Tuscany, Parma and Piacenza (28 Feb 1724; Dumont 8:2:80).
  • Decree submitting the new arrangements concerning Tuscany, Parma and Piacenza to the Reichstag (19 May 1731)
  • 14 Jul 1731: decision of the Reichstag
  • 18 Oct 1731: new submission
  • 11 Jan 1732: decision of the Reichstag
  • 4 Feb 1732: ratification by the Emperor (in Rousset, Recueil, 6:268, 274, 347, 351).
  • 21 Nov 1736: diploma of the king of Spain on the cession of Parma and Piacenza and eventual rights to Tuscany to the Emperor (Rousset, Supplément 2:2:599).
  • 11 Dec 1736: cession of Two Sicilies, Tuscany, Parma between the Emperor, the king of Spain and the king of Two Sicilies
  • 18 Nov 1738: Treaty of Vienna between France and the Emperor, and accession by Spain and Two Sicilies (21 Apr 1739)


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