Bourbon (family), name of a family of French origin, members of which became rulers of several European countries. The chief family seat was the castle and town of Bourbon, the first capital of the former province of Bourbonnais in central France. It is now a village of Bourbon-l'Archambault, Allier Department, about 24 km (about 15 mi) west of Moulins. The present name is derived from the name of an early Bourbon seigneur, Archambaud I (died about 1034).
The earliest documented member of the Bourbon family was a French feudal lord, Aimar or Adhémar, who became baron of Bourbon in the late 9th century. In 1276 a Bourbon heiress, Béatrix de Bourbon (died 1310), a direct descendant of Aimar, married Robert de France, comte de Clermont, sixth son of the Capetian king Louis IX. Robert's son Louis (1279-1342) was created 1st duc de Bourbon in 1327. Louis had two sons; the eldest founded a branch of the family that acquired through marriage the countship of Montpensier and that became extinct in 1527 with the death of Duc Charles de Bourbon, constable of France.
Henry IV, king of France, who was also Henry III of Navarre, was the first member of the house of Bourbon to achieve royal rank. He was descended through his father, Antoine de Bourbon (1518-62), duc de Vendôme, from the younger son of Louis, 1st duc de Bourbon. With the death in 1589 of the last member of the Valois branch of the Capetian kings, Henry of Navarre, claiming his descent from Louis IX, became king of France.
Henry, who was succeeded as king by his son Louis XIII, had linked the house of Bourbon, through his daughters, with three major royal houses of Europe. Elizabeth (1602-44) was married to Philip IV, king of Spain, Christina (1606-63) to Victor Amadeus I of Savoy, and Henrietta Maria to Charles I, king of England.
Louis XIII was succeeded by his son Louis XIV, whose direct descendants continued to rule France as the elder line of the house of Bourbon. A brother of Louis XIV, Philippe I (1640-1701), duc d'Orléans, was the founder of the collateral branch of Bourbons known as the house of Orléans. A grandson of Louis XIV, Philippe, duc d'Anjou, became Philip V of Spain, the founder of the Spanish house of Bourbon.
Both the son and eldest grandson of Louis XIV died before that monarch's reign ended; he was succeeded by his great-grandson, Louis XV; this king also outlived his son and was succeeded by his oldest grandson, Louis XVI. Louis XVI and his only son, Louis Charles de France, sometimes known as Louis XVII, although he never reigned, lost their lives during the French Revolution. After the defeat of Napoleon, in 1814, a brother of Louis XVI became king as Louis XVIII, and on his death a younger brother, Charles X, reigned as the last Bourbon king of France.
After the overthrow of Charles X in the July Revolution of 1830, Louis Philippe, duc d'Orléans, was proclaimed king of the French by the Orleanists, a party that supported the claim of the house of Orléans to the throne of France. A group known as the Legitimists, however, continued to view the representatives of the elder line of the house of Bourbon as the rightful rulers of France; the Legitimists thus recognized the eldest son of Charles X, Louis, duc d'Angoulême, as Louis XIX, although he had renounced his right to rule. After Louis Philippe was deposed in 1848, Louis's nephew, Henri, comte de Chambord, was proclaimed King Henry V by the Legitimists. At his death in 1883 the elder line of Bourbons became extinct, and the Legitimists accepted the comte de Paris as the Bourbon successor.
The Spanish house of Bourbon was founded by Philippe, duc d'Anjou, a grandson of King Louis XIV of France and great-grandson of Philip IV of Spain. King Charles II, the only son of Philip IV, was childless; he named Philippe as his successor. The death of Charles precipitated the War of the Spanish Succession, after which Philippe became King Philip V of Spain. He was succeeded by his sons, Ferdinand VI and Charles III. Charles III had two sons, the elder of whom became King Charles IV of Spain; the younger son founded the Neapolitan house of Bourbon. Napoleon deposed Charles IV in 1808, but the Bourbons were restored to the Spanish throne in 1814 under the son of Charles, Ferdinand VII, who was succeeded by his daughter, Isabella II. Her succession was disputed by Ferdinand's brother, Don Carlos María Isidro de Borbón, as a violation of the Salic law prohibiting inheritance through the female line; those supporting Carlos and his descendants became known as Carlists. Isabella abdicated in 1870 in favor of her son, Alfonso XII, who was in turn succeeded by his son Alfonso XIII; the latter was deposed in 1931. In 1969, Prince Juan Carlos de Borbón y Borbón, the grandson of Alfonso XIII, was named legal successor to the dictator of Spain, Generalissimo Francisco Franco; he ascended the throne as Juan Carlos I in 1975.
The Italian house of Bourbon was founded by two sons of Philip V of Spain. In 1734 Carlos de Borbón, later Charles III of Spain, conquered Naples and Sicily and became Charles IV, king of the Two Sicilies. Acceding to the Spanish throne in 1759, Charles made his younger son King Ferdinand IV of Naples. Ferdinand became king of Sicily in 1806, and, as Ferdinand I, king of the Two Sicilies in 1816. In successive generations the throne passed to Francis I, Ferdinand II, and Francis II. Francis II abdicated in 1860, and his kingdom became part of the kingdom of Italy in 1861.
In 1748, at the end of the War of the Austrian Succession, the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle assigned the duchies of Parma and Piacenza to Philip, younger brother of Charles III, king of Spain. Philip was succeeded by his son Ferdinand; Ferdinand's son Louis was made king of Etruria (Tuscany) in 1801 by Napoleon, who had appropriated the duchies of Parma and Piacenza. Louis's son, Charles Louis, was driven from Etruria by the French in 1807, but at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 he was given the duchy of Lucca. Napoleon's widow, Austrian archduchess Marie Louise, was made duchess of Parma. At her death Charles Louis regained the duchies of Parma and Piacenza as Charles II, duke of Parma. He was succeeded by his son Charles III, duke of Parma (1823-54), and grandson Robert, who lost the duchy in 1859, shortly before it was annexed to Italy.
See also Austrian Succession, War of the; Carlists; Spanish Succession, War of the.