Friday, August 07, 2009

Question from Alex - Tudors use of "France" in their titles

I've read in difference places the Tudor's being referenced as King/Queen of England, Ireland, Wales, and France. Why were they considered monarchs of France when there were already French kings and queens? Thank you.


Lara said...

The short answer is that, until the reign of Mary, England did still have control of a part of France - Calais. Although it was lost during Mary's reign, "France" remained part of the monarch's extended title until George III's reign (if I recall correctly).

The reason that England controlled a part of France has a much longer history, since the Kings of England had, at times, large holdings in France.

PhD Historian said...

If I may expand on Lara's answer:

Toward the end of the Hundred Years War between England and France and under the terms of the Treaty of Troyes (1420), Henry V of England was recognized by France as the heir to its Crown upon the death of Charles VI of France. Henry V was made Regent of France during the remainder of Charles's lifetime because Charles suffered frequent bouts of insanity. Henry V married Charles's daughter Catherine in order to strengthen the deal.

But Henry V and Charles VI both soon died within weeks of each other, leaving Henry's infant son, Henry VI, as King of England. The French then signed the Treaty of Amiens (1423) recognizing Henry VI as rightful King of France. He was formally crown King of France at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris in 1431 at age 10.

Charles's son, also named Charles, was disinherited under both treaties, but he refused to accept it. He raised an army and waged war against both the English and his own countrymen. Joan of Arc entered the picture in 1429 and with her help Charles went on to defeat the English and their French allies. Charles reclaimed the crown of France and became Charles VII. Over the next 20 years, Charles continued to wage war against the English on French soil and successfully reclaimed most of what is today France, Calais being the major exception. It remained in English hands until the 1550s.

In the meantime, Henry VI also began suffering bouts of insanity, probably inherited through his mother Catherine from his grandfather Charles. As a result, the so-called Wars of the Roses began in England, distracting the English from the situation in France. Unable to fight a foreign war while fighting a civil war at home, the English lost France. When Charles VII died in 1461 (the same year that Edward IV defeated and deposed Henry VI in England), the Crown of France passed to Charles's son Louis XI with little or no real opposition.

The English continued to claim the Crown of France until after the French Revolution of 1789 had ended the French monarchy. George III finally dropped the English claim to the non-existent crown of France in 1800, and Great Britain officially recognized the Republic of France under the Treaty of Amiens of 1802. The French fleur-de-lis was thereafter removed from the English royal arms.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the responses!