"Kinge of Ffrance"

Many of the documents in Charter Six begin with the preamble,

“This indenture made the _____ daie of
______ in the _______ yeare of the rainge of
our soverainge Lord Charles by the grace of god of
England Scotland Ffrance and Ireland kinge defender
of the faith…”

It is understood that Charles I was King of England, Scotland and technically Ireland– but France? I am fairly certain this dapper fellow would argue with that claim:

Louis VIII, King of France 1610-1642 (1)

Louis the VIII was firmly in power as the King of France. So why would Charles I make a claim to the throne of France? It all goes way way back to his great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great (that is eight “greats”) grandfather, Edward III of England through the female line (his great-great-grandmother was Henry VIII’s sister, Margaret; his mother Queen Mary of Scotland.)

Edward III, King of England 1327-1377 (2)

In 1340 Edward III decided to start signing himself as the King of France. Twelve years earlier, in 1328, Count Philip of Valois was crowned King of France, though Edward believed himself to have a claim to the throne because of his mother Isabella who was a daughter of the previous King, Philip IV. However, French law (“Salic Law”) prohibited the crown passing to a woman or any man whose only claim was through the female line. 

My rendition of Charles I abridged family tree
 stretching back to the dubious claim to the French throne.

Now at first Edward III is peachy-keen with this until his ego was inflated by his victory in Scotland. This is when he made is claim to the French throne and started the Hundred Years War… yet by 1360 just went the prize (the French throne) was within his grasp he accepted the Treaty of Brétigny which allowed him to maintain the territories he’d won in France if he renounced his claim to the French throne.

But a tradition was born: until the French Revolution English (and then British) Kings and Queens styled themselves as King/Queen of France because they refused to acknowledge the French Salic Laws prohibiting the female lines from succession thereby passing over Edward III.

  1. De Champainge, Philippe. Louis XIII Crowned by Victory (Siege of La Rochelle, 1628). 1635. Oil on Canvas. Musée Du Louvre, Paris.
  2. Edward III, Bronze Effigy from Westminister Abbey. Digital image. Wikipedia. N.p., 16 Sept. 2012. Web. 11 July 2014.

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