The English Position of the Throne of France
This was, using a bit of paraphrase, how the English kings presented their position on the French throne, a dispute that led to the Hundred Years War and kept it going for over a century.
We here set forth the genealogy of the Kings of France and why we, Edward III claim justly, and why Philippe VI claim unjustly the Throne of France.
The Valois Family Tree
Good Philippe III, of the House of Capet, King of France, had three sons. And on his death the throne passed to his eldest son, Philippe IV.
Philippe IV having issue, at his death the throne passed not to his younger brothers but to this issue, and the branch of the Capetian tree from which springs our current Philippe was then passed over.
This issue of Philippe IV included three sons, and each ruled in turn (as well, briefly, as the son of the eldest, who though crowned as Infant King died before the end of his first year of life). These brothers were Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV. And now, all Philippe IV's sons have died, and none of these sons have left him a living grandson.
But Philippe IV had also a daughter, and this daughter, Isabella , has issue via Charles of Valois. And this son of hers is the only living grandson of Philippe IV, and the sister of France's last previous Capetian king and this son is the only living nephew of his three sons, three Kings of France. And this daughter of Philippe IV Capet is our own mother and this son of hers, grandson of Philippe and Capetian heir is OURSELF, EDWARD III PLANTAGENET.
But why should Philippe VI claim that now this vital trunk of the Capetian Tree, which produced in our grandfather, our uncles, and our cousin the last five kings of France be now disregarded? And why should he claim that the throne should pass not directly to us through our mother, but back through several generations and younger sons to that long bypassed twig of which he is the meager fruit?
He calls upon the ancient "Salic Law" of King Pharamond.
"In terram Salicam muliers ne succedant"
(In Salic lands no woman shall inherit)
This "law Salique" to which Philippe appeals has no bearing on our claim of France for five reasons:
1)This law is not written for France, but for lands outside France's borders. The Land Salique lies not in France, but between the rivers Sala and Elbe, in the German Province of Meisen. Our claim is for the throne of France. If Philippe's claim be based upon this law he be at most, the baron of a small forested waste along the Elbe, to which he is welcome.
2) This law was written not for France, but for the Barbarous Frankish Kingdom which preceeded France. Pharamond, author of the law, died in the year of our Saviour 426 (342 Years before the reign of Charlemagne). This law is irrelevant to the Kingdom of France, being written by another government, before the Monarchy of France which we claim was ever founded. Consider Philippe's reasoning: He tries to bar us by a law written before France existed for a land outside France's borders. If a man steals a cow this day in Kent, Our English courts would not let him justify theft by appeal to a tribal law of fifth century Norway.
3) This law was written for pagan lands. Salic law was written by King Pharamond when this part of Germany was only partially Christianized, to protect Christian colonists who married local woman with pagan leanings. We hold that in Christian lands such law, based upon pagan lands and considerations, holds not. We, as a Christian King, hold rather that our Law should be based on God's Will as he revealed it to us in the Book of Numbers of His Holy Scripture: "When the man dies, let the inheritance descend unto the daughter."
4) This law, were it to apply to the Throne of France (which it does not), would disbar not only ourself, but Philippe equally as well, and all Kings of France for the last 600 years! Many times previously the throne of France has passed through the female line. Hugh Capet and Pepin III (the Short) did so inherit, as just two examples. Recall that Pepin's rule in these circumstances was confirmed by the Pope, Zacharias, and that Pepin's son who succeeded him, Charlemagne, is considered at least by most (though apparently not Philippe) to be a true French Monarch, and not a usurper. Does Philippe want to tell us that Pope Zacharias erred and that he, Philippe is of greater authority in such matters than the Pope? Does Philippe really mean to tell us Charlemagne was never in truth a French King? We differ from him in this and we do claim Charlemagne as our ancestor. Further, this line of reasoning would lead to the discreditation of every succeeding monarch since Charlemagne's father, and the crowning of some unknown Chur who squats in his hovel, distantly but unknowingly related through some preposterous chain of distant male cousins and uncles! Louis IX, that holy King of France, was canonized by Holy Mother the Church as one of her revered Saints. This means the Church (which we, Edward, hold to be guided constantly by the Holy Spirit and thus incapable of Error in the instruction of the Faithful) did duly and formally investigate every aspect of his life, and by canonization did declare his life to be a model on which the faithful should pattern their own lives to insure the salvation of their souls. Yet the Sainted Louis, like all of us, was concerned about the justice of his claim to the throne. He did investigate the Justice of his claim, since certain of his ancestors had inherited through the woman, and since he, a Holy man, wished at all cost to avoid any sin including that of usurpation. And Louis did satisfy himself that his claim and his Rule were Just. If Philippe VI wishes us to believe it usurpation to claim the throne of France through the Female Line, then he not only calls Saint Louis a usurper, but must also claim the Church has erred in holding Louis up as a Sainted Example of a Christian Monarch.
5) The French themselves do not believe this law. In land disputes within France, nobles renowned for their knowledge of heraldry and geneanlogy, do proudly point to their female lineage as proof of their right to title in these very lands.
One must either hold that Our claim of France is Just, or hold with Philippe's reasoning. But to hold with Philippe one must also:
a) Feel that the Kingship of France is not a Mighty Honor and Responsibility which like a flooding river should come straight to us through our mother, but rather a tiny meandering brook which wanders back through generations and bypasses second sons to "trickle down" to Philippe.
b) Appeal to the Laws of a time and place which are not France.
c) Favor Laws of Pagan Lands over Laws based upon God's Word Revealed to Us.
d) Discredit not only our claim but also that of Philippe, Charlemagne and his father Pepin, and many other Kings of France as well, not the least of which is the Sainted King Louis.
e) Deny the authority of noted French nobles in matters of genealogy when they have testified in formal court proceedings denying the existence of any such bar.
Thus we, Edward III Plantagenet, having diligently and thoughtfully put forth our claim, do rightfully claim that Throne of France which is ours from our Valois mother, her father, her brothers and her nephew, the last Five Kings of France.
By my Hand at Westminster-
|, EDWARD III PLANTAGENET,
BY THE GRACE
OF GOD, KING OF ENGLAND, FRANCE, IRELAND
Who Was Edward III: (b. 1312, d. 1377.)