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 Royal Consorts

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Melisende
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PostSubject: Royal Consorts   Sun Nov 02, 2008 8:22 am

Medieval Royal Consorts

Typically, a royal consort is either the husband or wife (ie: spouse) of a reigning monarch, whether that monarch is male or female. Titles vary from country to country - but the implication of consort is the same (ie: empress consort). Royal Consorts have no real power, except that which they are able to wield over their spouse. A very shrewd and intelligent consort could wield considerable influence over their spouse - and many have done so.

The royal consort of a King is titled Queen Consort. However, it is slightly different for the male spouse of a reigning female monarch. As the rank of King is higher than that of Queen, the male spouse of a reigning female monarch is usually titled Prince Consort or is elevated to the ranks of the peerage (ie: Duke, Earl, etc).

There have only been three King Consorts in the history of England and Scotland - King Philip II of Spain, husband of Queen Mary I of England; and King Francis II of France, and later Henry Stuart, both husbands of Mary, Queen of Scots. Navarre is a different story as succession is through both the male and female line; therefore a female can succeeded as a Queen Regnant in her own right. There have been no King Consorts in France - just Queen Consorts as succession was governed by "Salic Law". In the case of heiresses, their spouse entered into possession not only of their lands but their titles as well “jure uxoris” - “in right of his wife” (and in some instances, in which the female heiress is the last of her direct family line, her husband may take her surname).

Examples of Sultana / Tsarina / Empress or Queen Consorts:
  • Theophano, Byzantine Princess and wife of Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor.
  • Anna Maria of Hungary, wife of Tsar (Emperor) Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria.
  • Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, wife of King Louis VII of France and then of King Henry II of England.
  • Roxelana, concubine then wife of Ottoman Sultan, Suleyman the Magnificent.
  • Gertrude of Meraine, wife of King Andrew II of Hungary - they were married prior to his accession and she died during his reign.
  • Anna of Foix, wife of King Ladislaus II of Hungary and Bohemia.
  • Eudokia Lopukhina, wife of Tsar Peter I of Russia.
  • Elizabeth of Carinthia, wife of King Peter II of Sicily.
  • Isabella of Taranto, wife of King Ferdinand I of Naples.


Examples of Emperor / King / Prince Consorts:
  • Antoine of Bourbon-Vendôme, duc de Vendôme - in Navarre, which was ruled by Queen Jeanne d’Albret.
  • Philip II of Spain - in England, ruled by Queen Mary I of England.
  • Francis II of France - in Scotland, ruled by Mary, Queen of Scots.
  • King John II of Aragon - in Navarre, ruled by Queen Blanche I.
  • King Philip IV of France - in Navarre (as King Philip I), ruled by Queen Joan / Jeanne I.
  • Philip, Count of Evreux - in Navarre (as King Philip III), ruled by Queen Joan / Jeanne II.
  • Albrecht, Archduke of Austria - Holy Roman Emperor, and King of Bohemia and Hungary by right of his wife, Elizabeth II of Bohemia (who succeeded her father Sigismund, to the Imperial throne).
  • Malik Ikhtiar-ud-din Altunia - Delhi, Sultan by right of his wife, Razia al-Din, originally succeeded her father, becoming the first reigning Sultana in Delhi, but was ousted by her brother, before regaining her throne.
  • Louis of Taranto - Naples, ruled by his wife, Queen Joanna / Giovanna I of Naples and Sicily. He was her second husband and the only one anointed King (she married four times).


A joint rule by two reigning monarchs provides another twist - as in the case of Queen Isabella I of Castile and her husband, King Ferdinand of Aragon. Both reigned over their own Kingdoms as monarchs in their own right. In Castile, Ferdinand ruled equally with its Queen, Isabella; however, in Aragon, Isabella was recognized as a consort only of her husband Ferdinand. Therefore, Isabella’s status was reduced in the country her husband ruled, and she held no actual power; yet Ferdinand could make political decisions with regards to Isabella’s domains.

Upon the death of her spouse, a Queen Consort may find herself assuming the role of Dowager - as such, and especially during a minority reign of any heir from her marriage, she may find herself in a position of power and influence. In China, Korea and Japan, this role is held by the Empress Dowager or Grand Empress Dowager.

  • Anna of Kiev, wife of Henry I, King of France, and regent for their son, King Philip I of France - she was the first queen regent of France.
  • Catherine de Medici, Queen of France, during the minority of her son Charles IX (1560 - 1563).
  • Marie de Medicis, second wife of King Henri IV if France, and regent for her son Louis XIII of France.
  • Mary of Guise, wife of King James V of Scotland, and regent for her daughter Mary, Queen of Scots.
  • Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland, during the minority of her son, James V (1513 - 1514).
  • Anne of Austria, Queen of France, during the minority of Louis XIV (1643 - 1651).
  • Louise of Savoy, Queen of France, during the absence of her son, Francis I, in Italy (1515 - 1516), and then his captivity (1523 - 1526).
  • Isabella of Bavaria, Queen of France during the insanity of her husband and his father-in-law, Charles VI (1417 - 1420).
  • Alix of Champagne, Queen of France and Guillaume de Champagne, Archbishop of Reims (1190-1191), during the absence of her son Philip II on crusade.
  • Blanche of Castile, Queen of France, during the minority of her son Louis IX (1226 - 1234), and with Alphonse, Count of Poitou and Toulouse (1248-1254), during the absence of her sons on crusade.
  • Toregene Khatun, regent of the Mongol Empire for her son, Guyuk Khan (1241 - 1241).
  • Valide Sultans of the Ottoman Empire.


There are a number of examples of instances of where the spouse of a monarch has not been “officially” recognized as a consort:
  • Guildford Dudley - married to Lady Jane Grey, who ruled England as Queen for nine days. Due to the question of the legitimacy of Jane’s “reign”, Dudley was not acknowledged as a consort.
  • James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell - third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. He was given no “royal” title upon his marriage to Mary, the process of which was rather questionable and controversial.
  • Andrew of Hungary - he was married to Queen Joanna / Giovanna I of Naples and Sicily and was to have been crowned King. However, Joanna was crowned alone and he was murdered the following year.
  • James IV of Majorca - he was the third husband of Queen Joanna / Giovanna I of Naples and Sicily. He was not anointed King but instead given the title Duke of Calabria.
  • James of Bourbon, Count of La Marche - he was the second husband of Queen Joanna / Giovanna II of Naples. There is some doubt as to whether he legitimately received a royal title. James was alleged to have forced Joanna to anoint him King; however, he was forced to renounce it the following year (1416). However, Joanna’s coronation took place three years later (1419).


The strange case of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnely, husband to Mary Queen of Scots:
Mary proclaimed Darnley "King of Scots", a title that she could not legally grant him without the consent of Parliament, but which was never formally challenged. However, this title did not grant him any automatic right of rule or of succession to the throne if Mary should die. For that to happen, it was necessary that Mary should grant him the Crown Matrimonial of Scotland. In 1558, the Crown Matrimonial had been granted to her short-lived first husband, Francis II, King of France, with the consent of the Scottish Parliament, which meant that if Mary had died before Francis, Francis would have also become the king of Scotland and Scotland might well have become permanently subject to the French Crown. Mary's marriage to Darnley rapidly became unhappy, and despite Darnley's constant demands for the Crown Matrimonial, Mary never gave it to him. If she had, Darnley would have inherited the throne of Scotland if Mary (and their children, if any) had predeceased him. (Source: Wikipedia)

Upon the death of their female spouse, the male King / Prince Consort ceased to hold the title. However there are a couple of examples to the contrary.
  • Wladyslaw II Jagiello, Grand Duke of Lithuania who became King of Poland upon his marriage to Queen Jadwiga (1385). However, Jadwiga died (1399), and throne of Poland was left without an heir. Wladyslaw himself continued to reign as King till his own death (1434). The throne of Poland passed to his sons by his third wife.
  • Matthew of Alsace, became Count of Boulogne when he married Marie of Boulogne (1160). However, the couple divorced (1170), and Matthew ruled as Count until his death (1173). He was succeeded by their daughter, Ida. Now, why did Matthew continue on as Count and not merely regent for their daughter, Ida. It would seem that Marie was still alive - she had become a nun in France until her own death (1182). I have no answer.
  • Emperor Frederick II - upon the death of his young bride, Yolanda II, Queen of Jerusalem, the throne passed not to Frederick but to their infant son. A Regent - not Frederick - was appointed in Jerusalem. However, Frederick refused to relinquish the title and continued to rule as King for a number of years afterwards.


There are instances where the spouse of a monarch has actually died and was divorced prior to their spouse assuming the throne.
  • Isabella de Clare of Gloucester - first wife of King John of England - divorced (1199) prior to John’s accession to the throne.
  • Mary de Bohun - wife to King Henry IV of England - died (1394) prior to his accession.
  • Agnes of Courtenay - first wife of King Amalric I of Jerusalem - forced to divorce her husband so that he could assume the throne (1162).
  • William, Duke of Austria - died prior to his wife, Joanna / Giovanna II succeeding to the throne of Naples (1406).



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