Friday, November 3, 2017

Les Comtes Royales

For some people, the title of Count conjures up images of Transylvanian vampires. For others, Medieval warriors. The image for most people, though, is typically something far, far less exotic. It is in fact an old title dating back to the Roman Empire. Today it comes in many forms. It can be a middle or high level of nobility. When held by a royal person, it usually is among the highest of all titles. 

Count Jean de Bourbon-la Marche

Count translates as Comes in Latin, meaning companion. It was used for high officials of the imperial court and for provincial rulers, for they were "companions of the Emperor." In the time of the early Holy Roman Empire, it became a common title for many rulers. In Italy, for example, some of the independent states were ruled by Counts, including Etruria (Tuscany). The last ruler of Tuscany in the ancient Holy Roman Empire was Countess Matilda, Margravine of Tuscany. She was a princess of the houses of Canossa, Lorraine, and Bar. 

In the Middle Ages, the Count of Flanders was one of the most powerful sovereigns in Europe. In the Kingdom of France, it was common for some of the royal family to hold the title of Count and were known as such. For example, some of the brothers of King St. Louis IX of France were Count Robert of Artois, Count Alphone of Toulouse, and Count Charles of Anjou. Count Charles later became the King of Sicily and Naples. Later royal counts of the House of Bourbon included Count Louis I of Vendome, Count Jean I de la Marche, and Count James I de la Marche, son of Louis I, Duke of Bourbon. Duke Louis I was the son of Count Robert of Clermont, a son of King St. Louis IX. 

Count Henri de Chambord

After the House of Bourbon lost rule of France in the July Revolution of 1830, Count Henri of Chambord, the grandson of King Charles X, became the "Legitimist" claimant to the throne. There began a division among the House of Bourbon for the French throne. The Orléanist pretender to the French throne was Count Philippe of Paris, son of the Prince Royal of France.  Count Don Juan of Montizón, son of Carlos V, Count of Molina and the "Carlist" claimant to the Spanish throne, was both the claimant to the Spanish throne and the Legitimist claimant to the French throne. 

A few of the royal counts of today include: Mgr. the Count of Paris (Orléanist claimant to the French throne), Mgr. the Count of Gevaudan (Merovingian claimant to the French throne), HRH the Count of Valais (Grand Prince of Etruria), Mgr. the Cardinal Count of Sainte Animie (Patriarch of St. Stephen), Mgr. the Count-Marquis of Marmande (titular Elector of Trier), Mgr. the Count of Römerberg (titular Elector of Mainz).