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Morganatic marriage

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Morganatic marriage

In the context of royalty, a morganatic marriage is a marriage between people of unequal social rank, which prevents the passage of the husband's titles and privileges to the wife and any children born of the marriage. Now rare, it is also known as a left-handed marriage because in the wedding ceremony the groom traditionally held his bride's right hand with his left hand instead of his right.[1]

Generally, this is a marriage between a man of high birth (such as from a reigning, deposed or mediatised dynasty) and a woman of lesser status (such as a daughter of a low-ranked noble family or a commoner).[2][3] Usually, neither the bride nor any children of the marriage have a claim on the bridegroom's succession rights, titles, precedence, or entailed property. The children are considered legitimate for all other purposes and the prohibition against bigamy applies.[3][4] It is also theoretically possible for a woman to marry a man of lower rank morganatically.

After Almanach de Gotha (which categorised princely families by rank until it ceased publication after 1944) by inserting the offspring of such marriages in a third section of the almanac under entries denoted by a symbol (a dot within a circle) that "signifies some princely houses which, possessing no specific princely patent, have passed from the first part, A, or from the second part into the third part in virtue of special agreements."[5] The Fürstliche Häuser series of the Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels has followed this lead, likewise enrolling some issue of unapproved marriages in its third section, "III B", with a similar explanation (Die in dieser Abteilung nachgewiesenen Familien besitzen kein besonderes Diplom, sondern sind nach besonderer Übereinkunft aus der 1. und 2. Abteilung übernommen worden).[6]

Variations of morganatic marriage were also practised by non-European dynasties, such as the Royal Family of Thailand, the polygamous Mongols as to their non-principal wives, and other families of Africa and Asia.

Morganatic marriage is not, and has not been, possible in jurisdictions that do not permit restrictive encumbrances with regard to the marriage contract, as it is an agreement containing a pre-emptive limitation to the inheritance and property rights of the spouse and the children.


  • Etymology 1
  • Examples 2
  • History 3
    • Denmark 3.1
    • France 3.2
    • German-speaking Europe 3.3
    • Luxembourg 3.4
    • Russia 3.5
    • Transkei 3.6
    • Travancore and Cochin 3.7
    • United Kingdom 3.8
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


Morganatic, already in use in English by 1727 (according to the Du Cange as, "a marriage by which the wife and the children that may be born are entitled to no share in the husband's possessions beyond the 'morning-gift'".[7][8]

External links

  • Crawford, Donald. Michael and Natasha, Scribner (1997). ISBN 0-684-83430-8.

Further reading

  1. ^ Stritof, Sheri & Bob. "Left-Handed Marriage". Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  2. ^ a b Webster's Online Dictionary. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Diesbach, Ghislain de. Secrets of the Gotha (translated from the French by Margaret Crosland). Chapman & Hall, Ltd., London, 1967. pp. 18, 25–26, 35, 179–182, 186–187.
  4. ^ "Hugh Chisholm, editor. Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition. Volume 18. Morganatic Marriage. University Press, 1911, p. 835.
  5. ^ a b c Almanach de Gotha (Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1944), pages 43, 363–364, 529. French
  6. ^ Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Fürstliche Häuser XIV. C.A. Starke Verlag, 1991, p. 565. ISBN 3-7980-0700-4.
  7. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd Edition
  8. ^ a b Philological Society. A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles. Morganatic. Clarendon Press, 1908. p. 663.
  9. ^ Meyers Konversations-Lexikon 4th Edition
  10. ^  
  11. ^ Bricka, Carl Fredrik and Laursen, Laurs. Dansk Biografisk Lexikon. Julius af Glucksborg. Gyldendalske Boghandels Forlag, 1894. Volume 8, p. 617. Danish.
  12. ^ History of Roskilde. Royal House: Rosenborg. Retrieved 2012/5/2. Danish.
  13. ^ de Montjouvent, Philippe. Le comte de Paris et sa descendance. Introduction sur la Maison royale de France. Du Chaney Eds, Paris, 1998, p. 11. French. ISBN 2-913211-00-3.
  14. ^  
  15. ^ a b c de la Roque, Gilles-Andre. Traite de la Noblesse. Du Gentilhomme de nom et d'armes. Etienne Michalet, Paris, 1678, pp. 5, 8-10.
  16. ^ Blet, Pierre. Le Clergé de France et la Monarchie, Etude sur les Assemblées Générales du Clergé de 1615 à 1666. Université Grégorienne, Rome, 1959, pp. 399-439.
  17. ^ Degert, (Abbé). "Le mariage de Gaston d'Orléans et de Marguerite de Lorraine," Revue Historique 143:161-80, 144:1-57. French.
  18. ^ Pothier, Robert. Traité des successions, Chapitre I, section I, article 3, § 4. French.
  19. ^ "Hugh Chisholm, editor. Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition. Volume 16. Lippe. University Press, 1911, pp. 740-741.
  20. ^ Velde, Francois. The 1895-1905 Succession Dispute. 2 December 2005. Retrieved 2012/5/2.
  21. ^ London Times. Düsseldorfer Nachrichten excerpt. 1918/11/5. p. 8.
  22. ^ de Badts de Cugnac, Chantal. Coutant de Saisseval, Guy. Le Petit Gotha. Nouvelle Imprimerie Laballery, Paris 2002, p. 37 (French) ISBN 2-9507974-3-1
  23. ^ a b Velde, Francois. Succession in Nassau and Luxemburg. 22 June 2011. Retrieved 2012/5/2.
  24. ^ Edward Hertslet.
  25. ^ a b c d e f Beeche, Arturo. The Grand Dukes., Berkeley, California, 2010. pp. vi-x, 24, 158. ISBN 978-0-9771961-8.
  26. ^ a b Enache, Nicolas. La Descendance de Pierre le Grand, Tsar de Russie. Sedopols, Paris, 1983. pp.43, 127. French. ISBN 2-904177-01-9
  27. ^ a b c d e f Willis, Daniel. The Descendants of King George I of Great Britain. Clearfield, Baltimore, 2002. pp. 114, 580, 601, 607, 717. ISBN 0-8063-5172-1.
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h Crawford, Rosemary and Donald. "Michael and Natasha". Scribner, New York, 1997. pp. 111, 131, 147, 182, 204, 228, 389. ISBN 0-684-83430-8.
  29. ^ a b c  
  30. ^ Mafela, Munzhedzi James (October 2008). "The revelation of African culture in Long Walk to Freedom". Indigenous Biography and Autobiography.  
  31. ^ "Swaziland prince and princess attend Boston University". WGBH Boston. 13 May 1987. Retrieved 27 October 2008. 
  32. ^ Travancore State Manual Vol ii 1940 by TK Velu Pillai
  33. ^ Travancore State Manual Vol ii 1940 by TK Velu Pillai and TSM Vol II 1906 by V Nagam Aiya
  34. ^ Staff Correspondent (19 November 2014). "Seeking royal roots".  
  35. ^ Somervell, Sir Donald. Memorandum, Attorney General to Home Secretary, 14 April 1937, National Archives file HO 144/22945.
  36. ^ "Introducing the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge url=".  
  37. ^ "TRH The Prince of Wales & The Duchess of Cornwall". The Royal Family. Retrieved 2009-01-11. After the wedding, Mrs. Parker Bowles became known as HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. If and when The Prince of Wales accedes to the throne, she will be known as HRH The Princess Consort. 
  38. ^ "Biography".  
  39. ^ "'"Camilla 'will be Charles' queen.  
  40. ^ HRH The Duke of Windsor. A King's Story. 1951. London: Cassell and Co., p. 332.
  41. ^ Bloch, Michael (1982). The Duke of Windsor's War. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-77947-8, p. 346
  42. ^ Windsor, p. 354
  43. ^ Statute of Westminster 1931 c.4, The UK Statute Law Database, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  44. ^ Taylor, A.J.P., English History, 1914-1945, Oxford University Press, 1965, p. 401.
  45. ^ Williams, p. 130
  46. ^ Éamon de Valera quoted in Bradford, p. 188
  47. ^ Williams, p. 113
  48. ^ See, for example, Williams, pp. 138–144
  49. ^ Beaverbrook, p. 68; Broad, p. 188 and Ziegler, p. 308
  50. ^ Ziegler, p. 308 and the Duke of Windsor, p. 373
  51. ^ The Duke of Windsor, p. 361
  52. ^ Casciani, Dominic (30 January 2003), King's abdication appeal blocked, BBC News, retrieved 2 May 2010 
  53. ^ Edward VIII, Broadcast after his abdication, 11 December 1936 (PDF), Official website of the British monarchy, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  54. ^ Diary of Neville Chamberlain quoted in Bradford, p. 243
  55. ^ Attorney General to Home Secretary (14 April 1937) National Archives file HO 144/22945
  56. ^ Home Office memo on the Duke and Duchess's title, National Archives, retrieved 2 May 2010 
  57. ^ Ziegler, Philip (2004) "Windsor, (Bessie) Wallis, duchess of Windsor (1896–1986)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/38277, retrieved 2 May 2010 (subscription required)
  58. ^ See also, Bloch, Michael (ed.) (1986), Wallis and Edward: Letters 1931–1937,   cited in Bradford, p. 232
  59. ^ Ziegler, p. 349
  60. ^ Higham, p. 232
  61. ^ Van der zee and Van der zee, 1688: A Revolution in the family. Viking, Great Britain: 1988. p 52


See also

The Royal Marriages Act of 1772 made it illegal for all persons born into the British royal family to marry without the permission of the Sovereign, and any marriage contracted without the Sovereign’s consent was considered illegal and invalid. This led to several prominent cases of British princes who had gone through marriage ceremonies, and who cohabited with their partners as if married, but whose relationships were not legally recognised. As a result, their partners and children (the latter considered illegitimate) held no titles, and had no succession rights. This differs from morganatic marriages, which are considered legally valid.

It has been suggested that Anne Hyde, was a commoner and a lady-in-waiting to William's mother, Princess Mary. It was by his mother, a sister of Charles II and the Duke of York, that William claimed the throne, because, to his mind, the son of a princess had a stronger claim than the daughter of a commoner. It was to shore up his own claim to the throne that he agreed to marry his first cousin, Princess Mary. When James II fled at the Glorious Revolution, William refused to accept the title of king consort (which Philip II of Spain had been granted under Queen Mary I in the 1550s) and insisted on being named King in his own right. The compromise solution involved naming both to the crown as had rarely happened in the past (see for example King Henry II and his son Young King Henry, who both ruled England simultaneously).

[60] However, within the household of the Duke and Duchess, the style "Her Royal Highness" was used by those who were close to the couple.[59] The new King's firm view, that the Duchess should not be given a royal title, was shared by Queen Mary and George's wife,

  1. We incline to the view that on his abdication the Duke of Windsor could not have claimed the right to be described as a Royal Highness. In other words, no reasonable objection could have been taken if the King had decided that his exclusion from the lineal succession excluded him from the right to this title as conferred by the existing Letters Patent.
  2. The question however has to be considered on the basis of the fact that, for reasons which are readily understandable, he with the express approval of His Majesty enjoys this title and has been referred to as a Royal Highness on a formal occasion and in formal documents. In the light of precedent it seems clear that the wife of a Royal Highness enjoys the same title unless some appropriate express step can be and is taken to deprive her of it.
  3. We came to the conclusion that the wife could not claim this right on any legal basis. The right to use this style or title, in our view, is within the prerogative of His Majesty and he has the power to regulate it by Letters Patent generally or in particular circumstances.[55]

Ultimately, Edward decided to give up the throne for "the woman I love,"[53] whereupon he and his descendants were deprived of all right to the Crown by Parliament's passage of letters patent dated 27 May 1937, which re-conferred upon the Duke of Windsor the "title, style, or attribute of Royal Highness", specifically stated that "his wife and descendants, if any, shall not hold said title or attribute". This decree was issued by the new king and unanimously supported by the Dominion governments,[54] The king's authority to withhold from the lawful wife of a prince the attribute hitherto accorded to the wives of other modern British princes was addressed by the Crown's legal authorities: On 14 April 1937, Attorney General Sir Donald Somervell submitted to Home Secretary Sir John Simon a memorandum summarising the views of Lord Advocate T. M. Cooper, Parliamentary Counsel Sir Granville Ram, and himself:

Baldwin and the British Cabinet blocked the speech, saying that it would shock many people and would be a grave breach of constitutional principles.[52]

Neither Mrs. Simpson nor I have ever sought to insist that she should be queen. All we desired was that our married happiness should carry with it a proper title and dignity for her, befitting my wife. Now that I have at last been able to take you into my confidence, I feel it is best to go away for a while, so that you may reflect calmly and quietly, but without undue delay, on what I have said.[51]

Backed by Churchill and Beaverbrook, Edward proposed to broadcast a speech indicating his desire to remain on the throne or to be recalled to it if forced to abdicate, while marrying Mrs Simpson morganatically. In one section, Edward proposed to say:

[50] The King estimated that the newspapers in favour had a circulation of 12.5 million, and those against had 8.5 million.[49] [48] The letters and diaries of working-class people and ex-servicemen generally demonstrate support for the King, while those from the middle and upper classes tend to express indignation and distaste.

The second option had European precedents, including Edward's own maternal great-grandfather, Duke Alexander of Württemberg, but no unambiguous parallel in British constitutional history. William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister of Canada), Joseph Lyons (Prime Minister of Australia) and J. B. M. Hertzog (Prime Minister of South Africa) opposed options 1 and 2. Michael Joseph Savage (Prime Minister of New Zealand) rejected option 1 but thought that option 2 "might be possible ... if some solution along these lines were found to be practicable" but "would be guided by the decision of the Home government".[45] Thus the majority of the Commonwealth's prime ministers agreed that there was "no alternative to course (3)".[46] On 24 November, Baldwin consulted the three leading opposition politicians in Britain: Leader of the Opposition Clement Attlee, Liberal leader Sir Archibald Sinclair and Winston Churchill. Sinclair and Attlee agreed that options 1 and 2 were unacceptable and Churchill pledged to support the government.[47]

  1. Edward and Mrs. Simpson marry and she become queen (a royal marriage);
  2. Edward and Mrs. Simpson marry, but she not become queen, instead receiving some courtesy title (a morganatic marriage); or
  3. Abdication for Edward and any potential heirs he might father, allowing him to make any marital decisions without further constitutional implications.

On 16 November 1936 [40] Baldwin expressed his belief that Mrs. Simpson would be unacceptable to the British people as queen, but agreed to take further soundings. The prospect of the marriage was rejected by the British Cabinet.[41] The other Dominion governments were consulted[42] pursuant to the Statute of Westminster 1931, which provided in part that "any alteration in the law touching the Succession to the Throne or the Royal Style and Titles shall hereafter require the assent as well of the Parliaments of all the Dominions as of the Parliament of the United Kingdom."[43][44] Baldwin suggested three options to the prime ministers of the five Dominions of which Edward was also king: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Irish Free State. The options were:

For example, Prince William and his wife Catherine Middleton, a commoner, became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge upon their marriage on 29 April 2011.[36] Camilla Parker Bowles, second wife of The Prince of Wales, legally holds the title "Princess of Wales" but at the time that the engagement was announced it was declared that she would be known by the title "Duchess of Cornwall" and, in Scotland, Duchess of Rothesay (derived from other titles her husband holds as heir apparent) in deference, it has been reported, to public feelings about the title's previous holder, the Prince's first wife Lady Diana Spencer. It was simultaneously stated that at such time, if any, that her husband accedes to the throne, she will be known as "Princess Consort" rather than 'Queen', although as the king's wife she would legally be queen.[37][38][39]

As in nearly all European monarchies extant in the 21st century, most approved marriages in the Sir Philip Mountbatten who, by birth, had been a prince of Denmark and Greece. Wives of British peers are entitled to use the feminine form of their husbands' peerages under English common law, while wives of royal princes share their husbands' styles by custom unless the Sovereign formally objects.[35]

Another link in the English succession involving marriage with a commoner was between John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford. When they married after co-habiting for several years all children born previously were subsequently legitimated by Act of Parliament. King Henry IV later declared that they could not inherit the crown, but it is not clear that he had the right to do this. This marriage was important, as King Henry VII was descended from it, but Parliament declared that he was king by "right of conquest", so some issues remained unresolved.

The concept of morganatic marriage has never clearly existed in any part of the United Kingdom, and historically the English crown descended through marriages with commoners as late as the 17th century. Only two of the six marriages Henry VIII made to secure an heir were with royal brides, and Elizabeth Woodville, queen of Edward IV of England was also a commoner.

United Kingdom

The Cochin Royal family followed the system of Matrilineal succession known as Marumakkatayam. Traditionally the female members of the family married Namboodiri Brahmins while male members marry ladies of the Nair class. These wives of the male members are not royalty or didn't received any royal titles or power as per the matrilineal system but instead get the title of Nethyar Amma. Their position ceases when the Maharaja dies. The children born to Neytharammas will be known by their mother's caste and hold no key royal titles. Currently the family marries mostly within the Kerala Kshatriya class. [34]

In the erstwhile Sambandhams wherein the children gained their mother's caste and family name, due to Marumakkathayam. Although they could not inherit the throne, they did receive a title of nobility, Thampi(son of the Maharajah) and Kochamma(daughter of the Maharajah). These were the members of the Ammaveedus and their titles ensured a comfortable lifestyle and all other luxuries. The descendants of these Ammaveedu members were simply called Thampi and Thankachi and they didn't get any other distinguishing privileges. [33]

Travancore and Cochin

Mandela, a nobleman by birth of the Xhosa Thembus that reside in the Transkei region of the Cape coast, was nevertheless unable to ascend the throne of the Kumkani (or king) of the entire Thembu tribe, even though he descended in the legitimate, male line from the holders of this title. Nearly two centuries ago, Ngubengcuka (d. 1832), who ruled as the Kumkani of the Thembu people, married and subsequently left a son named Mandela, who became Nelson's grandfather and the source of his surname. However, due to the fact that Mandela was only the Inkosi's child by a wife of the Ixhiba lineage, a so-called "Left-Hand House", the descendants of his cadet branch of the Thembu royal family remain ineligible to succeed to the Thembu throne,[30] which is itself one of the several traditional seats that are still officially recognized by South Africa's government. Instead, the Mandelas were given the chiefdom of Mvezo and made hereditary counsellors to the Kumkani (i.e., privy counsellors) in deference to their royal ancestry. Following the loss of this chiefdom (which has since been restored to the family) in the Apartheid era, the Mandelas retained their positions as nobles of the Transkei. This status entailed, however, a degree of subjugation to the head of the dynasty, in particular in the matter of marital selection, which proved so onerous an issue to Nelson Mandela that it prompted the departure to Johannesburg that eventually led to his political career. Like the House of Battenberg in Europe, Mandela's family has since rehabilitated its dynastic status to some extent: Mandela was still in prison when his daughter Zenani was married to Prince Thumbumuzi Dlamini in 1973, elder brother of both King Mswati III of Swaziland and Queen Mantfombi, Great Wife of Goodwill Zwelithini, King of the Zulus.[31]

Standards of social classification and marital rules resembling the traditions of Nelson Mandela, the late leader of South Africa.


[29] for further details of the controversy).Line of succession to the Russian throne, as the rightful heir to the Romanov dynasty. (see Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna As a result, some factions within Russia's monarchist movement did not support the couple's daughter, [29] After the murder of Nicholas II and his children, the Imperial Family's morganatic marriages restricted the number of possible heirs.

Nicholas II forbade his brother, Russian nobility under the surname "Brassov" in 1915: nonetheless he and his mother used the comital title from 1915, only being granted a princely prefix in exile by Cyril Vladimirovich, Grand Duke of Russia in 1928.[26][28] In the throes of the First World War, Nicholas II allowed his sister Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia to end her loveless marriage to her social equal, Duke Peter Alexandrovich of Oldenburg, and quietly marry commoner Colonel Nikolai Alexandrovich Kulikovsky.[28] Both Michael's and Olga's descendants from these marriages were excluded from the succession.

Less fortunate among the Romanovs was Grand Duke Paul Aleksandrovich, who went into exile in Paris to marry a commoner, Olga Valerianovna Karnovich in 1902.[25][28] Paul returned to serve in the Russian army during the First World War, and Nicholas II rewarded his uncle's loyalty by elevating Olga and her children as Princess and Princes Paley in 1915.[28] Paul's patriotism, however, had sealed his fate, and he died at the hands of Russia's revolutionaries in 1919. One of his daughters, Princess Irene Pavlovna Paley (1903–1990), was married while in exile in 1923, to her cousin, Prince Theodor Aleksandrovich of Russia, (1898-1968).[28]

Beginning a novel tradition, one of that couple's daughters, Princess Olga Aleksandrovna Yurievskaya (1873–1925), in 1895 married the child of an 1868 morganatic marriage in the House of Hesse which had settled in England and inter-married to descendants of Queen Victoria.[27]

One emperor, Ekaterina Mihailovna Dolgorukova, Alexander's second bride, had previously been his long-term mistress and the mother of his three legitimised children, the Princes and Princesses Yurievsky.[27]

Princess Catherine Dolgorukova photo by Sergei Lvovich Levitsky and Rafail Sergeevich Levitsky 1880. (The Di Rocco Wieler Private Collection, Toronto, Canada)
Tsar Alexander II. photo by Sergei Lvovich Levitsky 1881. (The Di Rocco Wieler Private Collection, Toronto, Canada)

An early victim of the Pauline laws was noblewoman Countess Joanna Grudna-Grudzińska, in Warsaw on 24 May 1820, who was elevated to the title "Princess of Łowicz" upon marriage, which produced no children.[25][26]

Succession to the Danish throne followed the specifications of the Christian IV of Denmark to noblewoman Kirsten Munk. Kirsten was titled "Countess of Schleswig-Holstein" and bore the King 12 children, all styled "Count/Countess of Schleswig-Holstein". King Frederick VII married the ballerina Louise Rasmussen, who was raised to the rank of "Countess Danner" in 1850. There were no children of this marriage. When Christian IX of Denmark's brother, Prince Julius of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg married Elisabeth von Ziegesar in 1883, the king granted her the title "Countess af Røst".[11]

Until 1971, Danish princes who married women who did not belong to a royal or noble family were refused the Sovereign's authorization, renouncing their right of succession to the throne and royal title (Danish nobility.

None of the children of Queen Margrethe II has married a person of either royal birth or of the titled aristocracy. Members of the Royal Family may still lose their place in the line of succession for themselves and their descendants if they marry without the monarch's permission.


Morganatic marriage was not recognized in French law.[13] Since the law did not distinguish, for marital purposes, between ruler and subjects, marriages between royalty and the noble heiresses to great fiefs became the norm through the 16th century, helping to aggrandize the House of Capet while gradually diminishing the number of large domains held in theoretical vassalage by nobles who were, in practice, virtually independent of the French crown: by the marriage of Catherine de' Medici to the future King Henry II in 1533, the last of these provinces, the county of Auvergne, came to the crown of France.[14]

Antiquity of nobility in the legitimate male line, not noble quarterings, was the main criterion of rank in the ancien régime.[15] Unlike the status of a British peer's wife and descendants (yet typical of the nobility of every continental European country), the legitimate children and male-line descendants of any French nobleman (whether titled or not, whether possessing a French peerage or not) were also legally noble ad infinitum.[15] Rank was not based on hereditary titles, which were often assumed or acquired by purchase of a noble estate rather than granted by the Crown. Rather, the main determinant of relative rank among the French nobility was how far back the nobility of a family's male line could be verifiably traced.[15] Other factors influencing rank included the family's history of military command, high-ranking offices held at court and marriages into other high-ranking families. A specific exception was made for bearers of the title of duke who, regardless of their origin, outranked all other nobles. But the ducal title in post-medieval France (even when embellished with the still higher status of "peer") ranked its holder and his family among France's nobility and not, as in Germany and Scandinavia (and, occasionally, Italy, viz. Savoy, Medici, Este, della Rovere, Farnese and Cybo-Malaspina) among Europe's reigning dynasties which habitually intermarried with one another.

Once the Bourbons inherited the throne of France from the House of Valois in 1589, their dynasts married daughters of even the oldest ducal families of France — let alone noblewomen of lower rank — quite rarely (viz., Anne de Montafié in 1601, Charlotte Marguerite de Montmorency in 1609 and, in exile from revolutionary France, Maria Caterina Brignole in 1798). Exceptions were made for equal royal intermarriage with the princes étrangers and, by royal command, with the so-called princes légitimés (i.e., out-of-wedlock but legitimised descendants of Henry IV and Louis XIV), as well as with the nieces of Cardinal-prime ministers (i.e., Richelieu, Mazarin). Just as the French king could authorize a royal marriage that would otherwise have been deemed unsuitable, by 1635 it had been established by Louis XIII that the king could also legally void the canonically valid, equal marriage of a French dynast to which he had not given consent (e.g., Marguerite of Lorraine, Duchess of Orléans).[16][17]

Moreover, there was a banns, in private (with only a priest, the bride and groom, and a few legal witnesses present), and the marriage was never officially acknowledged (although sometimes widely known). Thus, the wife never publicly shared in her husband's titles, rank, or coat of arms.[18] The lower-ranked spouse, male or female, could only receive from the royal spouse what property the king allowed.

In secret marriage, Louis XIV wed his second wife,

German-speaking Europe

The practice of morganatic marriage was most common in the German-speaking parts of Europe, where equality of birth (Ebenbürtigkeit) between the spouses was considered an important principle among the reigning houses and high nobility.[8] The German name was Ehe zur linken Hand ("marriage by the left hand") and the husband gave his left hand during the wedding ceremony instead of the right.[3]

Perhaps the most famous example in modern times was the 1900 marriage of the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and Bohemian aristocrat Countess Sophie Chotek von Chotkowa. The marriage was initially resisted by Emperor Franz Joseph I, but after pressure from family members and other European rulers, he relented in 1899 (but did not attend the wedding himself). The bride was made Princess (later Duchess) of Hohenberg, their children took their mother's new name and rank, and were excluded from the imperial succession. The Sarajevo assassination in 1914, during which the couple was killed, triggered the First World War.

Although the issue of morganatic marriages were ineligible to succeed to their families' respective thrones, children of morganatic marriages have gone on to achieve dynastic success elsewhere in Europe.[3] Descendants of the 1851 marriage of Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine to the German-Polish noblewoman Countess Julia von Hauke (created Princess of Battenberg) include Alexander, sovereign prince of Bulgaria, queen-consorts of Spain (Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg) and of Sweden (Louise Mountbatten), and, in the female line, Charles, Prince of Wales.

Likewise, from the morganatic marriage of King George V.

Occasionally, children of morganatic marriages have overcome their non-dynastic origins and succeeded to their family's realms. House of Zahringen died out. The son of Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Baden, by his second wife Louise Caroline Geyer von Geyersberg, who belonged to the minor nobility, Leopold became a prince in 1817, at the age of 27, as the result of a new law of succession. Baden's grand-ducal family faced extinction, so Leopold was enfranchised by international treaty and married to a princess, ascending the throne in 1830. His descendants ruled the grand duchy until the abolition of the monarchy in 1918.

Other reigning German families adopted similar approaches when facing a lack of male heirs. In 1896 the Princely Friedrich Günther, Prince of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, as a Prince of Schwarzburg and heir to the two principalities.

The senior line of the dynasty ruling the Diet (Reichstag), which instead created a panel of jurists selected by the King of Saxony to evaluate the evidence concerning the historical marital rules of the House of Lippe and render a decision in the matter, all parties agreeing to abide by their judgment. In 1897 and 1905 panels ruled in favour of the dynasticity of the challenged ancestresses and their descendants, based largely on the fact that, although neither had been of dynastic rank, the Lippes had historically accepted such marriages when approved by the Head of House.[19][20]

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a few families considered in Germany to be morganatic were considered for crowns elsewhere, constituting unexpected rehabilitation of their status.[3] The first of these was Prince Alexander of Battenberg, who in 1877 was agreed upon by the Great Powers as the best candidate for the new throne of Bulgaria. He was, however, unable to hold onto his crown, and was also unable to obtain the hand in marriage of Princess Victoria of Prussia despite the efforts of her imperial mother and grandmother.

Kingdom of Württemberg in the 1890s, as the senior agnate by primogeniture when it became likely that King William II would die without male descendants, leaving as heir Duke Albrecht of Württemberg, a more distantly related, albeit dynastic, royal kinsman; the Principality of Albania in 1913; the Principality of Monaco at turn of the 20th century, as the next heir by proximity of blood following the Hereditary Prince Louis, until the Monaco succession crisis of 1918 was resolved as the First World War ended; the prospective Grand Duchy of Alsace-Lorraine in 1917;[21] and his abortive election by the Taryba as King Mindaugas II of Lithuania in July 1918. In the event, Duke Wilhelm obtained none of these thrones.

Relying upon the Almanach de Gotha to ukase


When the counts von Merenberg proposed themselves as heirs, being the last legitimate descendants in the male line of the House of Nassau. Grand Duke William IV, however, chose to confirm the law of succession stipulated in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna to allow a female descendant in the Nassau male line to become successor to the throne (his own daughter Marie-Adélaïde) instead.[23][24]


In the former Royal Family of Saxony Ruediger von Sachsen, and his three sons.

[22] #5868 on 24 March 1889 amending article #63 of the Statute on the Imperial Family in the Pauline laws. By ukase #35731, dated 11 August 1911, Nicholas II amended the amendment, reducing application of this restriction from all members of the Imperial Family to grand dukes and grand duchesses only. This decree allowed marriages of the princes and princesses of the Blood Imperial with non-royal spouses, on the conditions that the emperor's consent be obtained, that the dynast renounce his or her personal succession rights, and that the Pauline laws restricting succession rights to those born of equal marriages continue in force.[25]



Royal women who married morganatically:

Royal men who married morganatically:


The morning gift has been a customary property arrangement for marriage found first in early medieval German cultures (such as the Lombards) and also among ancient Germanic tribes, and the church drove its adoption into other countries in order to improve the wife's security by this additional benefit. The bride received property from the bridegroom's clan. It was intended to ensure her livelihood in widowhood, and it was to be kept separate as the wife's discrete possession. However, when a marriage contract is made wherein the bride and the children of the marriage will not receive anything else (than the dower) from the bridegroom or from his inheritance or clan, that sort of marriage was dubbed as "marriage with only the dower and no other inheritance", i.e., matrimonium morganaticum.

. matutinus is the German word for morning, while the Latin word is Morgen, to limit, to restrict, occasioned by the restricted gifts from the groom in such a marriage and the morning gift. morgjan as a combination of the ancient Gothic [9]

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