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House of Lorraine
Blason Lorraine.svg
Armorial of Lorraine
Country Lorraine, Tuscany, Austria, Bohemia, Hungary, Flanders, Brabant, Luxembourg, Mexico, Modena and Parma
Final ruler Francis III (in Lorraine), Francis II (in the Holy Roman Empire, Luxembourg, Brabant, and Flanders), Marie Louise (in Parma), Leopold II (in Tuscany), Francis V (in Modena), Maximilian (in Mexico), and Charles I & IV (Austria, Hungary and Bohemia)
Current head Otto von Habsburg-Lothringen
Ethnicity French, Austrian, German, Italian
Cadet branches House of Habsburg-Lorraine, House of Austria-Este, House of Hohenberg

The House of Lorraine (also known as the House of Habsburg-Lorraine) is one of the most important and longest-reigning royal houses in the history of Europe.[1] During the last 87 years the house has been headed by Otto von Habsburg-Lothringen, the titular Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Galicia and Lodomeria, Illyria, as well as the titular King of Jerusalem.[2]


House of Ardennes–Metz

The house claims descent from Gerard, Count of Paris (died 779) whose immediate descendants are known as the Girardides. The Matfredings of the 10th century are thought to have been a branch of the family;[3] at the turn of the 10th century they were Counts of Metz and ruled a set of lordships in Alsace and Lorraine. The Renaissance dukes of Lorraine tended to arrogate to themselves claims to Carolingian ancestry, as illustrated by Alexandre Dumas, père in the novel La Dame de Monsoreau (1846);[4] in fact, so little documentation survives on the early generations that the reconstruction of a family tree for progenitors of the House of Alsace involves a good deal of guesswork.[3]

What is more securely demonstrated is that in 1048 Emperor Henry III gave the Duchy of Upper Lorraine first to Adalbert of Metz and then to his brother Gerard whose successors (collectively known as the House of Alsace or the House of Châtenois) retained the duchy until the death of Charles the Bold in 1431.[5]

Houses of Vaudemont and Guise

After a brief interlude of 1453-1473, when the duchy passed in right of Charles's daughter to her husband John of Calabria, a Capetian, Lorraine reverted to the House of Vaudemont, a junior branch of House of Lorraine, in the person of René II who later added to his titles that of Duke of Bar.[6]

The French Wars of Religion saw the rise of a junior branch of the Lorraine royal family, the House of Guise, which became a dominant force in French politics and, during the later years of Henri III's reign, was on the verge of succeeding to the throne of France.[7] Mary of Guise, mother of Mary, Queen of Scots, also came from this family.

Under the Bourbon monarchy the remaining branch of the House of Guise, headed by the duc d'Elbeuf, remained part of the highest ranks of French aristocracy, while the senior branch of the House of Vaudemont continued to rule the independent duchies of Lorraine and Bar. Louis XIV's imperialist ambitions (which involved the occupation of Lorraine in 1669-97) forced the dukes into a permanent alliance with his archenemies, the Holy Roman Emperors from the House of Habsburg...

House of Habsburg–Lorraine

Otto von Habsburg has been the head of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine since 1922.

Following the failure of Emperor Joseph I and Emperor Charles VI to produce a son and heir, the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 left the throne to the latter's yet unborn daughter, Maria Theresa. In 1736 Emperor Charles arranged her marriage to Francis of Lorraine who agreed to exchange his hereditary lands for the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (as well as Duchy of Teschen from the Emperor).

At Charles's death in 1740 the Habsburg lands passed to Maria Theresa and Francis, who was later elected Holy Roman Emperor as Francis I. The Habsburg-Lorraine nuptials and dynastic union precipitated, and survived, the War of the Austrian Succession. Francis and Maria Theresa's daughters Marie Antoinette and Maria Carolina became Queens of France and Naples-Sicily, respectively; while their sons Joseph II and Leopold II succeeded to the imperial title.

Apart from the core Habsburg dominions, including the triple crowns of Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia, several junior branches of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine reigned in the Italian duchies of Tuscany (until 1860), Parma (until 1847) and Modena (until 1859). Another member of the house, Archduke Maximilian of Austria, was Emperor of Mexico (1863-67).

In 1900, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria (then heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne) contracted a morganatic marriage with Countess Sophie Chotek. Their descendants, known as the House of Hohenberg, have been excluded from succession to the Austrian-Hungarian crown, but not that of Lorraine, where morganatic marriage has never been outlawed. Nevertheless, Otto von Habsburg-Lothringen, the eldest grandson of Franz Ferdinand's younger brother, is universally regarded as the current head of the house.[8] It was at Nancy, the former capital of the House of Vaudemont, that the crown prince married Princess Regina of Saxe-Meiningen in 1951.[2]

The medieval Ducal Palace in Nancy.

Family tree

The genealogical history of the house is securely documented from the early 11th century but may tentatively be traced in male line to the 8th century:[3]

  1. Gerard, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1028 - 1070
  2. Theodoric II, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1055 - 1115
  3. Simon I, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1080 - 1138
  4. Matthias I, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1110 - 1176
  5. Frederick I, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1140 - 1207
  6. Frederick II, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1165 - 1213
  7. Matthias II, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1192 - 1251
  8. Frederick III, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1230 - 1303
  9. Theobald II, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1260 - 1312
  10. Frederick IV, Duke of Lorraine, 1282 - 1328
  11. Rudolph, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1310 - 1346
  12. John I, Duke of Lorraine, 1346 - 1390
  13. Frederick of Lorraine, 1346 - 1390
  14. Antoine of Vaudémont, c. 1395 - 1431
  15. Frederick II of Vaudémont, 1417 - 1470
  16. René II, Duke of Lorraine, 1451 - 1508
    Francis of Lorraine with his family.
  17. Antoine, Duke of Lorraine, 1489 - 1544
  18. Francis I, Duke of Lorraine, 1517 - 1545
  19. Charles III, Duke of Lorraine, 1543 - 1608
  20. Francis II, Duke of Lorraine, 1572 - 1632
  21. Nicholas II, Duke of Lorraine, 1609 - 1679
  22. Charles V, Duke of Lorraine, 1643 - 1690
  23. Leopold, Duke of Lorraine, 1679 - 1729
  24. Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor, 1708 - 1765
  25. Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor, 1747 - 1792
  26. Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor, 1768 - 1835
  27. Archduke Franz Karl of Austria, 1802 - 1878
  28. Archduke Charles Louis of Austria, 1833 - 1896
  29. Archduke Otto Francis of Austria, 1865 - 1906
  30. Blessed Charles I of Austria, 1887 - 1922
  31. Crown Prince Otto von Habsburg, 1912 -
  32. Archduke Karl of Austria, 1961-
  33. Ferdinand Zvonimir, 1997-

Notes and references

  1. ^ Benjamin Arnold. Princes and Territories in Medieval Germany. Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN 0521521483. Pages 263-264.
  2. ^ a b Gordon Brook-Shepherd. Uncrowned Emperor: the Life and Times of Otto von Habsburg. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2003. ISBN 1852854391. Pages XI, 179, 216.
  3. ^ a b c Lorraine, in Foundation for Medieval Genealogy
  4. ^ See Chapter XXI.
  5. ^ William W. Kibler, Grover A. Zinn. Medieval France: an Encyclopedia. Routledge, 1995. ISBN 0824044444. Page 561.
  6. ^ Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages (ed. by André Vauchez). Routledge, 2000. ISBN 1579582826. Page 1227.
  7. ^ Robert Knecht. The Valois: Kings of France 1328-1589. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2007. ISBN 1852855223. Page 214.
  8. ^ Brook-Shepherd also notes that morganatic alliances were not forbidden by ancient Magyar laws. See Brook-Shepherd 179.

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