Apanages in the French Monarchy


Origins and Early History

This first paragraph needs reworking. The early history of the apanage is somewhat more complex.

An apanage is a portion of the demesne of the Crown which is given by the sovereign to a younger son.

The origin of the apanage can be found either in the old Frankish custom of dividing the inheritance between the sons (a custom which feudalism replaced with the "partage noble" in which the eldest son received most of the estates); or in the fact that, at its origins, the Capetian monarchy was relatively weak, and the principle of succession by the eldest son was not secure until the late 12th century.

The division between sons had proved to be the downfall of the Carolingian Empire. After his accession to the French throne in 987, Hugues Capet began the practice of associating his eldest son to the throne in his own lifetime, a practice continued until Philippe Auguste in 1179 (if not to Louis IX in 1226: shortly before his father died, the bishops and barons of the kingdom took an oath of loyalty to him "both as our lord and as king of France"). The practice was soon adopted by the feudal barons (Nevers in 1015, Vendome in 1016, the county of Burgundy in 1049) and eventually became the basis for inheritance by primogeniture. But while customary law provided for the younger sons, by placing obligations on the eldest son toward them and assigning a part of the inheritance to them, no such rule developped for the monarchy. Yet the pressure to endow younger sons existed. When Robert II died in 1031, his two sons Henri and Robert fought over the succession; the eldest Henri won, but had to cede Burgundy to his brother. Later, Louis VII gave Dreux to his son Robert, in 1137, Philippe Auguste gave Domfront and Mortain to his younger son Philippe Hurepel (who had also become count of Boulogne by marriage). The last two cases were not under the same kind of duress, but probably reflect the same desire to ward off quarrels.

By the time of Louis VIII (d. 1226), the king had enough resources (thanks to Philippe Auguste's conquests of large parts of the Plantagenet domains) to provide for younger sons, but also his power was strong enough that he was able to impose restrictions on these grants. Louis VIII's confirmation of the grant of Domfront and Mortain to Philippe Hurepel in Feb 1224, as well as his own will of June 1225 (in which he gave Artois, Anjou and Maine, Poitou and Auvergne to his 2d, 3d and 4th son), introduced for the first time the restriction that the lands return to the Crown in the absence of direct heir. The restriction was not consistently inserted in the actual letters patent at first, but the Parlement of Paris in 1284 denied Charles d'Anjou's right to inherit his brother's domain of Poitou as collateral heir. Thus the apanage was born.

The practice of granting apanages became constant thereafter. Louis IX gave Orleans to his eldest son, Alencon to Pierre, Valois to Jean Tristan, Clermont-en-Beauvaisis to Robert, all with reversion clauses. Philippe III gave Valois to his second son Charles (later increased by Philippe IV with Alencon, Perche and Chartres) and Beaumont-sur-Oise to his third son Louis (later increased by Philippe IV with Évreux). Philippe IV gave Poitou to his second son Philippe and La Marche and Angoulême (increased by Philippe V; La Marche was exchanged for Clermont with Louis de Bourbon) to his third son Charles.

Philippe IV (reigned 1285-1314) introduced three major innovations to the apanage system. First, he made apanagists to the rank of peers. By 1328, all apanagists had been made peers: Charles de Valois and Robert d'Artois in 1297, Philippe de Poitiers in 1315, Louis d'Évreux and Charles de La Marche in 1317, Louis de Bourbon in 1327, Robert d'Artois for Beaumont-le-Roger in 1328.

The second innovation, which appeared in 1297 and was henceforth applied to all royal grants and not just apanages, was a clause reserving for the king "superioritas et resortum": the latter being appellate jurisdiction, the former being sovereignty, meaning that the king's regalian rights (the right to pass laws, to mint coins, etc) remained intact.

The third, more important innovation was the introduction of a clause restricting inheritance of the apanage to male heirs. This was done in a charter of November 29, 1314 and in the case of his second son's apanage of Poitiers. This clause did not become standard for some time. The last and most important counter-example was the grant of the duchy of Burgundy in 1363, which only specify "haeredes suos" (his heirs; the word is masculine, but it is grammatically possible to construe it as heirs male or female). In 1477, when Charles the Bold died leaving only a daughter, the king of France argued that Burgundy was part of the French crown, and had the Estates of Burgundy sign a treaty handing over the duchy (Jan 25, 1477); later he confiscated the duchy on the grounds of the last duke's treasonous behavior, though no trial was held (see Faussemagne 1934). The ambiguity remained, with Charles' daughter Marie and later her heirs claiming the duchy. The treaty of Madrid of 1526 had France return Burgundy to the Emperor Charles V (grandson of Marie), but the treaty of Cambrai annulled that clause and returned to the status quo ante, Charles V reserving the right to pursue his claims peacefully. This reservation of the rights to the duchy of Burgundy was renewed in the Treaty of Vervins of 1598 (art. 21-22) and that of the Pyrenees of 1659 (art. 89-90).

Banner of Burgundy (from Lycos Image Gallery)

After Burgundy, the restriction to male heirs became standard (it is mentioned in an ordinance of Charles V in 1374), but was not formalized until the Edict of Moulins in 1566.

Titles and Apanages in the Early Modern Era (16th-18th c.)

For the modern period, a clear distinction must be made between the titles given as names to the children of France, and actual apanages. French princes were given a title at birth which had nothing to do with an apanage, or ownership of anything. Many princes were given titles: Bourgogne, Bretagne, Aquitaine, Normandie, Artois, Provence, etc. (H. Druon, Histoire de l'éducation des princes dans la Maison des Bourbons de France. Paris, 1897; vol. 1, p. xxiv). Thus, the duke of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV, never owned Anjou or collected any revenue from it. Ordinarily, the king waited until the prince had reached adulthood and was about to marry before endowing his house with an apanage. The purpose of the apanage was to provide him with an income sufficient to maintain his rank. The fief given in apanage might or might not be the one corresponding to the prince's nominal title.


From 1515 to 1789, only seven apanages were actually created, for:

  • Charles, second son of François I
    Born 22 Jan 1522. Titled duc d'Angoulême ca. Sep 1531, then duc d'Orléans Aug 1536. Received the duchies of Orléans, Angoulême and Châtellerault, the counties of Clermont-en-Beauvaisis and la Marche (letters of 12 June 1540, reg. 14 Aug). Further received as accroissement d'apanage the duchy of Bourbon (letters of 5 Feb 1544, reg. 28 Feb). Extinct on his death without issue 9 Sep 1545.
  • Henri, duc d'Anjou, brother of Charles IX
    Henri, titled duc d'Angoulême at birth, then (Dec 1560) duc d'Orléans, received the duchies of Anjou and Bourbonnais, county of Forez (letters of 8 Feb 1566, registered 21 March). He later received the duchy of Auvergne (letters of 17 Aug 1569, reg. 24 Nov). All titles became extinct at his accession on 30 May 1574.
  • François, duc d'Alençon, brother of Charles IX
    Born 1555. Received the duchies of Alençon and Château-Thierry and the counties of Perche, Mantes, Meulan (letters of 8 Feb 1566, registered 21 March). Later received the county of Dreux as augmentation d'apanage (Oct 1569, reg. 22 Nov.), the duchy of Évreux (Oct 1569, reg. 2 Dec), the county of Maine (?), the duchies of Anjou, Touraine and Berry (letters of May 1576, reg. 24 May 1576). Extinct by his death without issue on 10 June 1584.
  • Gaston, brother of Louis XIII
    Born 25 Apr 1608. Titled at birth duc d'Anjou. Married on 6 Aug 1626 Marie de Bourbon-Montpensier. Received the duchies of Orléans, Chartres, the county of Blois (letters of July 1626, reg. 14 Dec 1626). Further received as augmentation d'apanage the duchy of Valois (letters of Jan 1630, reg. 6 Feb). The duchies of Montpensier and Saint-Fargeau were held jure uxoris and passed to his daughter at the death of his first wife in 1627. Extinct at his death without male issue on 2 Feb 1660. LI>
  • Philippe, brother of Louis XIV
    Born 21 Sept. 1640. Titled duc d'Anjou. Married on 31 March 1661 Henrietta Ann of England. Received the duchies of Orléans, Chartres, Valois (letters of March 1661, reg. 10 May). Further received the duchy of Nemours as supplément d'apanage (letters of 24 Apr 1672, reg. 3 Sep). The duchy of Montpensier was inherited from his cousin Anne-Marie-Louise d'Orléans, and raised to a duchy-peerage (letters of March 1695, reg. 20 Apr), but it was not an apanage.
  • Charles, grandson of Louis XIV
    Born 31 Aug 1686. Titled at birth duc de Berry (he received on 30 June 1710 a brevet of the king allowing him to continue the use of this title, his newly formed apanage notwithstanding). Married on 6 July 1710 Marie Louise Elisabeth d'Orléans. Recieved the duchies of Alençon and Angoulême, and the county of Ponthieu (letters of June 1710, reg. 10 July 1710). Extinct by his death without surviving issue on 4 May 1714.
  • Louis, brother of Louis XVI (future Louis XVIII)
    Born 17 Nov 1765 and titled comte de Provence at birth. Married to Marie Josèphe Louise de Savoir on 21 April 1771. Received the duchy of Anjou, counties of Maine, Perche, Senonches (edict of April 1771, reg. 3 May). Further received the duchy of Alençon (edict of Dec 1774, reg. 7 Jan 1775). The marquisate of Brunoy, raised to a duchy-peerage (letters of Apr 1775, reg. 5 May 1778) was a purchase of the comte de Provence and thus not an apanage. He gave the nue-propriété of that duchy to his nephew the duc de Normandie, second son of Louis XVI.
  • Charles, brother of Louis XVI (future Charles X)
    see below

The disappearance of the major medieval apanages (by 1525, only Bourbon remained) coincided with the emergence of a new attitude toward the monarchy. Humanist jurists thought it appropriate to affirm the supremacy of the king as absolute ruler, and to preserve in law the unity of the nation against the tradition of apanages. The letters patent of 1540 and 1566 were almost identical; their stipulations, along with the Edict of Moulins of 1566 on the Royal Domain, defined the legal framework of the apanage until the Revolution.

Article 1 of the Edict of Moulins declared that the Royal Domain (defined in article 2 as any estate managed by the crown for more than 10 years) could not be alienated, except in two cases: by engagement, in case of financial emergency, with a perpetual option to repurchase the estate; and to form an apanage, which must revert to the Crown upon extinction of the male line in its original condition. The apanagist could not, therefore, dispose of his apanage in any way.

The apanagist was given a certain number of fiefs. That meant that he was put in place of the king as feudal lord owner of the real estate of the fief, as well as owner of feudal and seigniorial rights. According to the letters patent of 1540, which were copied by subsequent acts, these rights included:

  • the right to have vassals do homage
  • the right to seize a vassal's fief if he failed in his obligations (saisie féodale, forfaiture)
  • a tax on the sale of a vassal's fief, usually 20% (quints, requints)
  • a tax on the sale of a tenant's land (lods et ventes)
  • the right to confiscate the inheritance of foreigners (aubainages)
  • the right to appoint parish priests (collations de bénéfices)
  • the right of justice: the local judges (baillis, sénéchaux) were appointed by the apanagist, exercised jurisdiction in his name, and collected fines on his behalf.

In principle, the king retained a number of rights for himself, in particular:

  • the right to appoint bishops
  • jurisdiction in final appeal in the king's Parlement
  • the protection of cathedrals, royal churches
  • the right to appoint fiscal officers for royal taxes
  • the right to appoint judicial officers of first appeal (officiers des présidiaux)
  • the right to appoint officers in charge of law enforcement (maréchaussée).

Royal taxes (in particular the aides, gabelles, tailles) were normally collected for the king, although starting in 1650 the revenues of some royal taxes collected within the apanage were given to the apanagist (see below). Likewise, the comte de Provence was granted the right to appoint abbots and priors and fiscal judges, but only for his lifetime. Other regalian rights, such as minting coins, also remained with the king. Moreover, the apanagist was responsible for a proper management of his estates. He was to set up a court of accounts, which would submit its accounts to the king's Chambre des Comptes every three years. Later, the Ordonnance of August 1669 placed the forests included in the apanages under the same regime as the royal forests, strictly controlled by a special administration that was in charge of the management and exploitation of the forests.

The apanage was supposed to provide a certain level of income: 100,000 livres per year until 1630, 200,000 livres after; in practice, the evaluation of the revenues of the lands was under-estimated, either accidentally or wilfully, and apanage supplements were often granted in later years.

The apanage was not the only source of income of royal princes. The households of the fils and filles de France were paid for by the Royal Treasury. In 1788, the household of the Dauphin cost 670,000F and the king's two other children 260,000F. The households of the king's brothers each cost 2,296,000F and that of their wives another 1,360,000F; those of the comte d'Artois's two children 400,000F and 300,000F respectively; the king's sister Madame Elizabeth received 283,000F; Louis XV's two surviving daughters Adélaîde and Victoire received about 650,000F each (Louise, a nun in Saint-Denis, received a pension of 24,000F). These sums went mainly to pay for the salaries of the officers and employees of the household (the household of the comtesse d'Artois numbered 200 people). The princes of the blood who did not have apanages received pensions:

  • the prince de Condé received 100,000F as prince of the blood (and an additional 110,000F as colonel-general of the infantery and grand-maître de France)
    • his son the duc de Bourbon 60,000F, his wife the duchesse de Bourbon 54,000F,
    • his daughter Mademoiselle de Condé 50,000F
  • the prince de Conty received 60,000F and his wife 50,000F
  • the duc de Penthièvre 50,000F and his daughter-in-law the princesse de Lamballe 50,000F
  • the "comte de Luzace" (Franz Xaver of Saxony, comte of Lausitz, maternal uncle of the king) 150,000F
The duc d'Orléans received 150,000F in 1775; his son does not appear to have been receiving a pension in 1788.


The most commonly used titles from the 15th to the 18th c. were Anjou, Orléans, Berry, Alençon.

Orléans, when available, became the apanage of the second eldest son. It had been given to Louis, second son of Charles V, whose grandson Louis became Louis XII (house of Valois-Orléans, 1498-1515). It was also given to Henri, second son of François I, and then to the 3d son Charles when Henri became Dauphin by the death of his elder brother François; to Charles, second son of Henri II, then to Henri, third son when Charles became king; to Louis, second son of Henri IV and then to Gaston, third son, when Louis died; and finally to Philippe, second son of Louis XIII when his uncle Gaston died without sons in 1660. The current line of Orléans descends from him. The arms of Orléans (the duchy, as opposed to the city) are France, a label argent.

Under the house of Valois-Orléans-Angoulême (1515-89), Angoulême and later Anjou were the title of the third son: Charles, third son of François I, was made Count of Angoulême at first; Henri, third son of Henri II, was born count of Angoulême and later made duke of Anjou before becoming duke of Orléans, at which point the title of Anjou passed to François, fourth son and initially duke of Alençon. But Angoulême was given to a legitimized son of Charles IX, and under the Bourbons Anjou was the third son's apanage or title. Thus, Gaston, being third son of Henri IV was first called the duke of Anjou, and Philippe, while his uncle was alive, was also known as Anjou. Louis XIV had only one surviving son, but two other sons who died in infancy successively bore the title of duke of Anjou, and later the second son of the Dauphin was known as duke of Anjou until he became king of Spain. Louis, second son of the duke of Burgundy (eldest son of the Dauphin) was known as duke of Anjou, until he became Louis XV. In turn, his second son was given the title. Louis, brother of Louis XVI (later Louis XVIII), was given the duchy of Anjou as apanage, although he retained the title of comte de Provence. The arms of Anjou are France, a bordure gules.

The third title was usually Berry (France, a bordure engrailed gules) or Alençon (France, on a bordure gules 8 plates). The 3d grandson of Louis XIV was titled duc de Berry. The third-born of Louis XV's Dauphin was called duc de Berry (future Louis XVI). Berry was given in apanage to the comte d'Artois, second brother of Louis XVI.

Titles used for eldest sons of eldest sons (who were therefore expected to succeed to the throne and not start their own line) included Bourgogne (eldest grandson of Louis XIV, eldest grandson of Louis XV) and Bretagne (eldest great-grandson of Louis XIV, recalling how Francois I's eldest son was made duc de Bretagne before the union of that province with France in 1532).

By the late 18th century new titles were used for younger sons, such as Aquitaine (second son of Louis XV's Dauphin) and Normandie (second son of Louis XVI, later Dauphin and Louis XVII). The titles of Provence and Artois (fourth and fifth-borns of Louis XV's Dauphin) were novel. Artois was chosen after the attempt on Louis XV's life by Damiens in 1757; Damiens was a native of Artois, and representatives of the province begged that this title be chosen to mark that the king's favor remained with them.

In all these last cases (Bourgogne, Bretagne, Aquitaine, Normandie, Provence, Artois), the arms were Quarterly France and the title's arms (for example, Quarterly France and Burgundy Ancient, which is bendy of 6 or and azure, a bordure gules). The quartering was considered a sufficient mark of difference. In the cases of Provence and Artois, the arms of the province were already a differenced version of France, so quartering made little sense. Later, good sense prevailed and the princes were given bordures as marks of difference.

Multiple Apanages

An apanage often included subsidiary titles, so that the junior branches of the junior branch could themselves be endowed: thus Louis d'Orléans, second son of Charles V, was given Orléans, but also Valois, Dunois, Angoulême, Dreux, Périgord, Beaumont, Soissons, Poitiers, etc. Philippe, brother of Louis XIV, was given Orléans, Valois, Chartres, Nemours, Montpensier. Charles, duc de Berry and grandson of Louis XIV, was given Alençon and Angoulême. Louis-Stanislas-Xavier, grandson of Louis XV (and future Louis XVIII), was given Anjou, Maine and Perche, although he remained known by his title (not apanage) of comte de Provence. Charles, comte d'Artois, received Poitou, Angoulême, Berry, Ponthieu. He remained known as comte d'Artois, but his eldest sons took courtesy titles of duc d'Angoulême and duc de Berry, and he himself used the incognito of comte de Ponthieu in his exile after 1830.

The junior branches created their own traditions: in the Orléans family, from 1674 to 1830 the eldest son of the duke of Orléans was known as duke of Chartres, and his son as duke of Valois. In the Condé family the eldest son was duke of Bourbon, and his eldest son duke of Enghien; and in the Conti family the title was count of Charolais.

Examples of Apanages

The Apanage of Orléans (1540, 1626, 1660)

By letters patent of June 12, 1540, François I gave his second son Charles the duchy of Châtellerault, the county of Clermont-en-Beauvaisis, the Haute and Basse Marche, the duchies of Orléans and Angoulême, the baronnies and lordships of Aulnay, Melle, Chizé, Civray, Usson and Saint-Maixent. (in Actes de François Ier).

In July 1626 an edict created an apanage for Gaston, younger and only brother of Louis XIII. He was given the duchies of Orléans and Chartres and the county of Blois, to which the duchy of Valois was added by letters patent of January 1630. The act was copied on those of 1566, and placed the restrictions described above on the apanagist. Nevertheless the Parlement of Paris did not find these precautions sufficient, and tried (in vain) to add further restrictions. In 1645, as lieutenant general of the kingdom, Gaston added to his apanage the baronny of Amboise, and in August 1650 the lordship of Montargis, along with the revenue from the consumption taxes known as "aides" collected within the apanage, namely in the districts of Orléans, Blois, Romorantin, Pithiviers, Montargis and Chartres to his apanage. He died in 1661 without heirs male.

The same year of 1661, an edict of March simply transferred that apanage to Philippe, younger and only brother of Louis XIV (duchies of Orléans, Chartres, Valois; county of Blois; baronny of Amboise; lordship of Montargis; and the tax revenues). The apanage was increased several times: by declaration of 24 Apr 1672 with the duchy of Nemours, the counties of Dourdan and Romorantin, the marquisates of Coucy and Follembray. Letters patent of February 1692 added the Palais-Royal in Paris, which had been willed to the king by its owner the cardinal de Richelieu; it was to be the main residence of the dukes until 1792 and again from 1814. At some time around 1693 he acquired the viscounty of Auge and the county of Mortain in Normandy, by exchange with the king of other lands he received as part of the Montpensier inheritance. A few minor increases to the apanage were made in the 18th century by virtue of a right which the prince had to redeem perpetual leases of crown lands (domaines engagés) in order to add them to his apanage. Thus, by letters patent of 28 Jan 1751 the county of Soissons and the domains of Laon, Crépy and Noyon (which had been purchased from their lessees or owners by the duke) were added to the apanage. A similar transaction led to the addition of a palace in Paris (the hôtel Duplessis-Chatillon) and the Ourcq canal. (See the report of the National Assembly on apanages, August 1790, in Archives Parlementaires vol. 17, p. 462ff.) Finally, the amount of various taxes created since 1661 collected within the apanage were relinquished to the duke of Orléans.

At the time of the Revolution in 1789, the revenue from the apanage was 5.756 million livres (the total tax revenues of the king were at the time 475 million livres). The largest component consisted in forests located in the duchies: the forests of Orléans, Beaugency, Montargis, Romorantin, Dourdan, Bruadan, Villers-Cotterêts, Laigne, Coucy, La Fère, Marle, Saint-Gobin totalled 167,723 arpents and produced 2.1m livres. Next came income from other lands (farm income as well as feudal dues and rents) at 1.55m livres, then the value of royal taxes collected in the apanage and relinquished to the duke as apanage. The apanage was replaced by an annuity of 4 million livres (see below). The original apanage was returned to the Orléans family on May 20, 1814 by Louis XVIII, and united with the domain of the State with Louis-Philippe's accession on August 9, 1830, at which time it was worth about 2.5 million francs in annual income.

The Apanage of the comte de Provence (1771)

Created by an edict of April 1771, the apanage consisted of the duchy of Anjou, and the counties of Maine, Perche and Senonches except the forest of Senonches. Letters patent of April 1771 also granted him the right to appoint abbots, priors, and other consistorial benefices (but not bishops) and also local judges including tax judges, but for his lifetime only (the right thus would not pass to his successors). The estimation of the income of the apanage being lower than the target 200,000 livres, letters patent of December 1774 added the forest of Senonches (recently acquired from the prince of Conti) and the duchy ofAlençon excepting the county of Montgomery. Letters patent of April 1777 removed the domains of Saint-Silvain-le-Thuis from the duchy of Alençon but added those of Orbec and Falaise, and stated that the estates separated from the duchies of Anjou and Maine to form the duchy of Vendôme extinct in 1712 were part of the apanage. Finally, two buildings were given as apanage: the stables of the Dauphine in Versailles (June 1774) and the palace of the Luxembourg in Paris (edict of december 1778; with a lifetime usufruct for Madame should the count die without male heirs). In 1789 the bulk of the income derived from forests (1.2m livres) with miscellaneous rents and local taxes amounting to 0.3m livres.

The comte de Provence also personally acquired various estates, namely the lordship of Brunoy in Octover 1774, a residence in Versailles bougth from Mme du Barry in 1775, the estate of Grosbois, the forest of Brix in Normandy, and the counties of L'Ile-Jourdain in Gascony and Gray in Franche-Comté.

The Apanage of the comte d'Artois (1773)

Charles-Philippe de France (1757-1836), fourth son of the dauphin and Marie-Josèphe de Saxe, was titled comte d'Artois at birth. He was married on October 24, 1773 to Marie-Thérèse de Savoie. The same month, an edict formed his apanage: the duchies of Auvergne and Angoulême, the vicomté de Limoges (except the marquisate of Pompadour and the Basse-Marche), the duchy of Mercoeur (except for parts leased in 1772 to M. de Lastic; the duchy had been bought in 1770 by the king from the prince de Conti). The edict stated that the net income from the apanage could not be less than 200,000 livres per year. It took a while to form an apanage which actually reached that sum. In March 1774, the marquisate of Pompadour (exchanged with the duc de Choiseul in 1761 for the baronny of Amboise) and the vicomté of Turenne (bought in 1738) were added. An edict of June 1776 took out of the apanage Limoges, Pompadour, Turenne and the forest of Braconne in the duchy of Angoulême, and replaced them with the duchies of Berry and Châteauroux (bought from Condé in 1736), the comté of Argenton (bought in 1770 from the duc d'Orléans), the lordship of Henrichemont (bought in 1766) and the comté of Ponthieu. By an edict of November 1778, the duchies of Auvergne and Mercoeur were taken out and replaced with the comté of Poitou. From 1778 on, the apanage consisted of: Angoulême, Berry, Châteauroux, Agenton, Henrichemont, Ponthieu, Poitou.

The comte d'Artois was also the recipient of an annual sum of 2.2m livres from the Royal Treasury (his wife received 1.3m livres). The apanage was in fact a relatively small source of income. It is not easy to say how much it actually brought him: by 1789, the evaluation of the income from the apanage was not complete; what assessments had been completed, showed the net income to be negative, but it is known that these assessments were grossly biased in order to win increases in apanage from the king. An estimate of 1782 put the net revenue at 250,000 livres. In 1790, it was found to be 534,000 livres, of which the bulk (400,000 livres) came from forests.

The apanagiste could use these funds to purchase real estate, which did not become part of the apanage, and thus did not revert to the royal domain in case of extinction of the main line. The comte d'Artois purchased the chatellenie of Cognac from the duc de La Vauguyon in 1775, the house of Bagatelle in 1775 (now a beautiful rose garden on the outskirts of Paris), the duchy of La Meilleraye in 1776 from the duchess of Mazarin, the marquisat of Maisons in 1777 from the marquis de Soyecourt, the baronnie de Picquigny in 1779, the comtés of Saint-Valery and Roc-de-Cayeux in 1780 from the comte de Rouault, the baronny of Domart in 1782 from the comte de Wargemont, etc.

These purchases, as well as purchases of real estate in Paris (in the paroisse du Roule, erected as a fief under the name of fief d'Artois in 1780) were mainly speculative in nature, and were financed by loans. The comte d'Artois' expenditures exceeded his 2.2m annual pension by 700,000 livres. By 1782, after 9 years, the comte d'Artois' debts totalled over 23m livres. Once the War of American Independence over, the king felt able to spend some of the taxpayers' money to cover his profligate brother's debts: a total of 17m livres was paid to him by the Royal Treasury from 1784 to 1789.

Apanages after the Revolution

The National Assembly of 1789-91 had instituted the principle of the civil list, on the British model. As a consequence, apanages were to be a thing of the past. By a decree of August 13, 1790 all apanages were revoked. They were replaced with an annuity (rente apanagère) paid out by the Treasury to princes aged 25 or above (law of November 22, 1790; also in the Constitution of 1791). By a decree of Dec 20, 1790 the annuity was set at 1 million livres for each head of house formerly endowed with an apanage (the comte de Provence, the comte d'Artois, and the duc d'Orléans). Moreover, the king's brothers were given a life annuity of 1 million livres each, which would end with their deaths (whereas the rente apanagère would pass on to their male successors). Additionally, the comte de Provence was granted a subsidy over 20 years, starting at 500,000 livres and decreasing with time, to help him with his debts; similarly, the government assumed the comte d'Artois's liabilities of 850,000 livres in life annuities which he had sold. Finally, the duc d'Orléans was given 1 million livres per year for 20 years as compensation for the increases and improvements in his apanage which he and his predecessors had made at their expense. The annuities of the comte de Provence and comte d'Artois were sequestered in 1792, as a consequence of the law of Feb. 9, 1792 on the estates of émigrés; the subsidies to pay off their debts were continued.

The law of September 24, 1792 (two days after the abolition of the monarchy) abolished these annuities. Napoleon's senatus-consulte of January 30, 1810 prescribed the creation of apanages for the sons of the Emperor, but none were created. Louis XVIII restored the original apanages of the duc d'Orléans on May 20, 1814 and that of his own brother the comte d'Artois on December 5, 1814. Both reverted to the crown in 1830 and 1824 respectively, and no other apanages were ever created.

The Principle of Reversion to the Crown upon Accession

The components of an apanage were to return to the crown upon extinction of the line of the grantee. They also returned to the crown if the holder became king by extinction of the royal line. This principle, that the property of an individual is merged with the crown's possession or royal domain upon his accession, took a while to gain acceptance, and was resisted or avoided several times.

In 1498, Louis, duc d'Orléans, became king Louis XII at the death of his cousin Charles VIII. His apanage included Orléans, but he also owned domains acquired by purchase or inheritance. Letters patent of 1500 and 1509 announced that these domains, including the counties and lordships of Soissons, Blois (bought in 1391), Coucy and Dunois, would remain "in their original condition, as maternal and female inheritance of the house of Orléans" (comme héritage maternel et féminin de la maison d'Orléans); these domains were to be inherited by the king's only daughter Claude de France. The letters were registered in Parlement but without the opinion of the Procureur général, a detail which casts doubt on their legality. The point became moot when Claude married her cousin, the heir presumptive François d'Orléans-Angoulême, who succeeded as François I in 1515.

The Edict of Moulins of 1566, an important edict on the rules governing the royal domain, prescribed in its article 2 that a specific declaration was required to unite the personal estate of the new king to the royal domain, or else that it be administered by the administration of the royal domain for ten years ( Le domaine de notre couronne est entendu comme celui qui est expressément consacré, uni et incorporé à notre couronne ou celui qui a été tenu et administré par nos receveurs et officiers par l'espace de dix ansd et est entré en ligne de compte.).

The same question arose when the duc de Vendôme and king of Navarre acceeded as Henri IV in 1589. Given the uncertain circumstances of his accession (he was a Protestant as yet unrecognized by parts of France) and his lack of children, he issued letters patent on April 13, 1590 setting his patrimony aside from the royal domain (notre domaine ancien ... fût et demeurât distrait et séparé de celui de notre couronne de France sans pouvoir être compris ni mêlé). The Parlement of Paris, however, refused to register the letters, and so did the Parlement of Toulouse. In the end (and after the birth of an heir and the death of his only sister) Henri IV relented and issued the Edict of July 1607, registered in Paris Aug. 31 and in Toulouse Dec 17, 1617. Part of it reads:

    Nos dits prédécesseurs..., ne voulant rien avoir de distinct et sacré, ont contracté avec la couronne une espèce de mariage communément appelé saint et politique par lequel ils l'ont dotée de toutes les seigneuries qui à titre particulier leur pouvaient appartenir, de celles mouvantes directement d'eux et de celles lesquelles y étaient déjà unies et assemblées, La justification de ce grand et perpétuel dot se peut aisément recueillir... spécialement par la très illustre remarque qu'en fournit la ville capitale de la France, autrefois le domaine particulier du très ancien et très noble tige de notre royale maison. Néanmoins [l'affection que le roi portait à sa famille et notamment à sa soeur, morte en 1604, ainsi que la charge qu'il avait de payer des créanciers auxquels ses prédécesseurs, rois de Navarre et ducs de Vendôme, avaient hypothéqué diverses terres]..., nous ont retenu de déclarer cette union du patrimoine par nous possédé de notre chef. Par Lettres patentes du 13 d'avril 1590 avons ordonné que notre domaine ancien tant en notre royaume de Navarre, souveraineté de Béarn et de Donnezan, que nos duchés et comtés (etc etc) fût et demeurât désuni, distrait et séparé de celui de notre couronne de France sans y pouvoir être compris ni mêlé... Touché de l'affection que nous devons à notre royaume, auquel nous sommes totaltement dédié, et postposant notre particulier au public... faisons savoir que ... avons révoqué nos dites lettres partentes du 13 avril 1590 et en tant que besoin serait confirmé le dit arrêt de notre Cour du Parlement de Paris du 29 juillet 1591. En ce faisant déclarons les duchés et comtés (etc etc) tellement accrues et réunies au domaine de notre couronne que dès lors de notre avènement elles sont devenues de même nature et condition que l'ancien domaine d'icelle couronne.

In 1789, the National Assembly passed a decree (9 May 1790) declaring that, at each accession to the throne, the estate of the prince was to be united to the domain of the Crown. A law of Nov 22, 1790 changed this to the domain of the Nation. The clause was inserted in article 9, chapter II, section IV, title III of the Constitution of 1791.

Napoleon went in the other direction. A senatus-consulte of January 30, 1810 decided that the Emperor would have a private domain, resulting from donations, inheritances and acquisitions subject to the rules of the Civil code, which could only be united to the domain of the State by a senatus-consulte (act of the Senate), even if it were administered by public officials for any period of time.

The Restoration returned to the rules of the old monarchy. A law of November 8,1814 (art. 20), it was specified that upon accession the prince's personal estate was automatically (de plein droit) united to the domain of the State. The kicker was that the article also specified that the debts of the prince became debts of the State: and Louis XVIII had over 30 million francs in personal debts, and his net worth was overwhelmingly negative.... His brother and heir presumptive, Charles, comte d'Artois, gave all his property to his second son the duc de Berry, retaining the usufruct, in 1819. When he and his family left France in 1830, they retained legal possession of part of that domain. Similarly, Louis-Philippe gave to his children (except the eldest) all his personal patrimony (excluding his apanage) on August 7, 1830, right before accepting the crown as king of the French. This patrimony was sequestered in 1848 after his overthrow and united to the domain of the State by a decree of Napoleon soon-to-be-III on January 22, 1852. The decree was rescinded on December 21, 1872 and the estates returned to the Orléans family (their value was estimated at 35 million francs). Louis-Philippe also had a law passed on March 2, 1832 which specified (art. 22): Le roi conservera la propriété des biens qui lui appartenaient avant son avènement au trône; ces biens et ceux qu'il acquerra, à titre gratuit, ou onéreux, pendant son règne, composeront son domaine privé. The argument was that, since the king was on a civil list, a distinction should be made between his private patrimony and the domain of the State.


Much of the details on the apanage of Orléans comes from Gustave Huffel: Économie Forestière. Paris, 1910-26. The early history of the apanages is well discussed in Charles T. Wood: The French Apanages and the Capetian Monarchy, 1224-1328. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Univertiy Press, 1966. The apanage of the comte d'Artois, as well as the legislation of 1566, is in Sandrine Bulla: L'Apanage du comte d'Artois (1773-90). Paris: École des Chartes, 1993. For general treatments of the institutions, see classics like Roland Mousnier's Les institutions de la France sous la monarchie absolue, 1598-1789. Paris, 1974-80 and Lot, Ferdinand and Robert Fawtier: Histoire des institutions francaises au moyen age, Paris, 1957-62.

Other titles worth noting:

  • Dupin, André-Marie-.J.-J.: Traité des Apanages avec les lois sur la liste civile et la dotation de la couronne. Paris, 1835.
  • Faussemagne, Jean: L'Apanage ducal de Bourgogne dans ses rapports avec la monarchie française (1363-1477). Lyon, 1937.
  • Hyslop, Béatrice: L'apanage de Philippe-Égalité, duc d'Orléans (1785-91). Paris, 1965.
  • Lacour, René: Le Gouvernement de l'apanage de Jean, duc de Berry, 1360-1416.  Paris, 1934.
  • Leguai, Andre: Les ducs de Bourbon pendant la crise monarchique du XVe siecle: contribution à l'étude des apanages. Paris, 1962.
  • Maffert, L.-A.: Les apanages en France du XVIe au XIXe siècle. Paris, 1900.
  • Piquart, Georges: Législation apanagère française sous l'Ancien régime. Nancy, 1903.
  • Vaucel, Louis-François du: Essai sur les apanages ou mémoire historique de leur établissement. Paris, 1788.

Customs and Titles of the French Royal Family

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Last modified: Apr 22, 2010