Legitimists

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Legitimists are Royalists in France who believe that the King of France and Navarre must be chosen according to the simple application of the Salic Law. They are adherents of the elder branch of the Bourbon dynasty, overthrown in the Revolution of 1830. The death of the comte de Chambord in 1883 effectively dissolved the parti légitimiste as a political entity in France.

In the 1870s a deal had been made between the legitimist party and the Orleanists for fusion whereby the childless comte de Chambord would be recognised as King and the Orleanist claimaint, Philippe, Comte de Paris, would succeed him. As a result many monarchists regard the Orleanist claimaint to the throne as the legitimate pretender.

A remnant, known as the Blancs d'Espagne, by repudiating the act of renunciation through which Philippe de Bourbon had become king of Spain in 1700, upheld the rights of the eldest branch of the Bourbons, now however represented by the line of Anjou. This means that the current legitimist claimant is Spanish Louis-Alphonse de Borbón, styled duc d'Anjou. By contrast, the other party of French monarchists, the Orléanists, were the adherents of Louis-Philippe, (reigned 1830-1848), and of his heirs.

The word légitimiste was not admitted by the Académie française until 1878; but meanwhile it had spread beyond France, and in English 'legitimist' is now applied to any supporter of monarchy by hereditary right, as against a parliamentary or other title.

For other 'legitimists' compare British Jacobites, Spanish Carlists and Portuguese Miguelistas.

Legitimist claimants to the throne of France


In the history of Nicaragua the liberals (called Democrats) were opposed by the conservatives (called Legitimists), who expelled the Democrats from the constitutional assembly in 1853, driving them underground or into exile, and promulgated a constitution of 1854. Under its terms Fruto Chamorro was elected Presidente. The Democrats rejected the constitution and the Chamorro government and returned from exile to fight against it, with help from the governments of Honduras and El Salvador. Civil war broke out in 1854, in which the American adventurer William Walker played a major role.

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