Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Interesting Birthdays

Philip V, King of Spain, Naples and Sicily
A glance at Wikipedia shows today had some interesting historical birthdays.
Today in 1746, Philip V, first Bourbon King of Spain, (second son of Louis, le grand dauphin), was born at Versailles. Grandson of Louis XIV, King of France, Philip was Duke of Anjou at birth, and never expected to be a King. However, the last Habsburg King of Spain, Charles II, was childless, and a little French persuasion got Philip named as heir to the throne in the Spanish King's will, which had all kinds of implications for the European balance of power. There were other candidates with more-or-less comparable genealogical claims, so naturally, there was some objection, and it took the terrible War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) -- the first real world war --to secure Philip his throne. The present King, Juan Carlos I, is Philip V's (and Louis XIV's) direct descendant.
Another interesting Bourbon, Princess Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte, Duchess of Angoulême, was born today in 1778. Despite her high birth, the Princess had a difficult life: child of the unfortunate Louis XVI and his Queen, Marie Antoinette, she moved from the palace of Versailles to prison with her family during the French Revolution. Her father, mother and brother were killed by the Revolution.
Left alone in prison, she was not told what had happened to her family. Exiled after the Reign of Terror ended, she spent the next twenty-odd years in exile. To keep all the claims to the throne in the family, she was married off to her cousin Louis-Antoine by decree of her uncle, Louis XVIII. The Princess and her husband returned from exile in 1814 -- only to be chased out again when Napoléon I made his brief re-appearance in 1815. Back to Paris again in 1815, and then chased out for good in 1830, after being Queen of France for about twenty minutes. The Princess died in 1851 in exile, and is today buried in Slovenia. The French called her "Madame Rancune" or "Lady Resentment." I suspect she had her reasons.
Oh yes, Leonid Brezhnev was born today in 1906. I find him uninteresting, or at least unpleasant, so you can read about that fellow yourself. Better he had stayed obscure.


louielouie said...

king of spain, naples, & sicily???
that must have been in the days of nation cities or something of the sort.
looking ahead to interesting birthdays.......january 19 comes to mind. two interesting people born on that day. dolly parton.

El Jefe Maximo said...

Naples was one of the more interesting monarchies of Europe -- most of Italy south of Rome, plus the island of Sicily. It existed, in one form or another, from the 1200's right up to the 1860's (as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies). At one time, among other characters, Napoleon's brother Joseph was its king.

The place was a major European war-breeder during almost its whole existence, because it was such a good little bauble to bestow on whichever European royal house was momentary top dog -- thus hacking off all the others.