Henri, comte de Chambord

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Henri, comte de Chambord

Henri Charles Ferdinand Marie Dieudonné, comte de Chambord (September 29, 1820 - August 24, 1883) was the grandson of King Charles X of France. From 1830 until his death he was one of several claimants to the French throne.

Henri was the son of Charles Ferdinand, duc de Berry and of his wife Princess Maria Carolina of the Two Sicilies, daughter of Francis I of the Two Sicilies.

He was born September 29, 1820, in the pavillon de Marsan, part of the Tuileries Palace which still survives in the Louvre in Paris. Henri's father the duc de Berry had been assassinated several months before his birth. At the actual moment of Henri's birth, no member of the French court was present in the room; this enabled the supporters of the duc d'Orléans to claim that Henri was not in fact a French prince.

From his birth Henri was known as the duc de Bordeaux.

On August 2, 1830, in response to the July Revolution, Henri's grandfather Charles X abdicated, and twenty minutes later Charles' elder son Louis-Antoine, Duke of Angoulême also abdicated. Henri was immediately proclaimed Henri V, King of France and Navarre. However, the National Assembly instead decreed that the throne should pass to a distant cousin, the duc d'Orléans, who became Louis-Philippe, King of the French.

Henri and his family left France and went into exile, August 16, 1830. While some French monarchists recognized him as their sovereign, others disputed the validity of the abdications of his grandfather and uncle. Still others recognised the July Monarchy of Louis-Philippe. With the death of his grandfather in 1836, and his uncle in 1844, Henri became the genealogically senior claimant to the French throne. His supporters were called Legitimists to distinguish them from the Orléanists, the supporters of the family of Louis-Philippe.

Henri continued to make his claim throughout the July Monarchy of Louis-Philippe, the Second Republic, and the Second Empire of Napoleon III. In November 1846 Henri married Archduchess Marie Therese of Austria-Este, daughter of Duke Francis IV of Modena and Princess Maria Beatrice of Savoy. Her maternal grandparents were Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia and Maria Theresa of Austria-Este. The couple had no children.

In the early 1870s, as the Second Empire collapsed following its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, the royalists became a majority in the National Assembly. The Orléanists agreed to support Henri's claim to the throne, with the hope that at his death he would be succeeded by their own claimant. However, Henri insisted that he would only accept the crown on condition that France abandon its tricolour flag and return to the use of the white fleur-de-lis flag.

A temporary Third Republic was established, to wait for Henri's death and his replacement by the comte de Paris. But by the time this occurred in 1883, public opinion had swung behind the Republic as the form of government which, in the words of former President Thiers, 'divides us least'.

Henri died August 24, 1883 at his residence in Frohsdorf, Austria. He was buried at Kostanjevica in Slovenia.

At his death, Henri's wife and some of his supporters believed that he was succeeded as rightful king of France and Navarre by his distant cousin the Infante Juan of Spain, conde de Montizon (the senior male of the House of Bourbon). Other supporters of Henri transferred their allegiance to the Orléanist claimant, Philippe, Comte de Paris.

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