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A personal union is the combination of two or more different states who have the same monarch while their boundaries, laws, and interests remain distinct. It differs from a federation in that each constituent state has an independent government, whereas a federal state is united by a central government. The ruler in a personal union need not be a hereditary monarch.
Personal unions can arise for several reasons, ranging from coincidence (a woman who is already married to a king becomes queen regnant, and their child inherits the crown of both countries) to virtual annexation (where a personal union sometimes was seen as a means of preventing uprisings). They can also be codified (i.e., the constitutions of the states clearly express that they shall share the same person as head of state) or non-codified, in which case they can easily be broken (e.g., by the death of the monarch when the two states have different succession laws).
- 1 Aragon, Crown of
- 2 Bohemia
- 3 Brandenburg
- 4 Brazil
- 5 China
- 6 Congo Free State to Belgium
- 7 Croatia (disputed)
- 8 Denmark
- 9 England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom
- 10 Finland
- 11 France
- 12 Hanover
- 13 Holy Roman Empire
- 14 Hungary
- 15 Iceland
- 16 Korea
- 17 Lithuania
- 18 Luxembourg
- 19 Navarre
- 20 Netherlands
- 21 Norway
- 22 Poland
- 23 Portugal
- 24 Romania
- 25 Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Eisenach
- 26 Schleswig and Holstein
- 27 Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt and Schwarzburg-Sondershausen
- 28 Scotland
- 29 Spain
- 30 Sweden
- 31 See also
- 32 References
Aragon, Crown of
In 1162 Alfonso II of Aragon was the first person to bear the titles of King of Aragon and Count of Barcelona, ruling what was called later Crown of Aragon. James I of Aragon later created and added the Kingdom of Majorca and the Kingdom of Valencia to the Crown. Later, Charles of Ghent — Charles I of Spain, Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire— would join Aragon and Castile in a personal union that would become Spain.
- Personal union with Poland 1003 - 1004 (Bohemia occupied by Poles)
- Personal union with Poland 1300–1306 and Hungary 1301–1305 (Wenceslas II and Wenceslas III)
- Personal union with Luxembourg 1313–1378 and 1383–1388
- Personal union with Hungary 1419–1439 (Sigismund of Luxemburg and his son in law) and 1490–1526 (Jagellon dynasty)
- Personal union with Austria and Hungary 1526–1918 (except years 1619–1620)
- Personal union with the Duchy of Prussia from 1618, when Albert Frederick, Duke of Prussia, died without male heirs and his son-in-law John Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg, became ruler of both countries. Brandenburg and Prussia maintained separate governments and seats of power in Berlin and Königsberg respectively until 1701, when Frederick I consolidated them into one government.
- Personal union with Portugal, under Peter I of Brazil (Peter IV of Portugal), from 10 March to 28 May 1826. Peter was the Prince Royal of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves when he declared the independence of Brazil in 1822, becoming its first emperor. When his father (John VI of Portugal) died, Peter also became King of Portugal, but abdicated the Portuguese throne 79 days later in favour of his younger child Princess Maria da Glória.
- Personal union with a Korean kingdom of Goryeo 1308–1313 (King Chungseon)
- As King of Goryeo (高麗國王) and King of Shenyang (瀋陽王) in 1308–1310
- As King of Goryeo and King of Shen (瀋王) in 1310-1313
For more information, see #Goryeo below.
Congo Free State to Belgium
- Personal union with Belgium from 1885 to 1908, when the Congo Free State became a Belgian colony.
Personal union theory
According to one theory, the Kingdom of Croatia and Kingdom of Hungary formed a personal union of two kingdoms in 1102, united under the Hungarian king.  In c.1102, when the Croatian dynasty died out, the Croats joined the Hungarians in a personal union, but the Croatian State kept its political individuality with its ban and its assembly. King Coloman established the personal union of the Kingdom of Croatia and the Kingdom of Hungary by an agreement called Pacta conventa. After King Coloman was crowned as a Croatian king in Biograd, Croatian nobility retained strong powers. Although, the precise time and terms of Pacta Conventa later became a matter of dispute; nonetheless there was at least a non-written agreement that regulated the relations between Hungary and Croatia in approximately the same way.
In the union with Hungary, institutions of separate Croatian statehood were maintained through the Sabor (an assembly of Croatian nobles) and the ban (viceroy). In addition, the Croatian nobles retained their lands and titles. Coloman retained the institution of the Sabor and relieved the Croatians of taxes on their land. Coloman's successors continued to crown themselves as Kings of Croatia separately in Biograd na Moru until the time of Béla IV. In the 14th century a new term arose to describe the collection of de jure independent states under the rule of the Hungarian King: Archiregnum Hungaricum (Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen).[unreliable source?]
It is argued that the medieval Hungary and Croatia were (in terms of public international law) allied by means of personal union until the Battle of Mohács in 1526. On January 1, 1527, the Croatian nobles at Cetin unanimously elected Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, as their king, and confirmed the succession to him and his heirs. However, officially the Hungarian-Croatian state existed until the beginning of the 20th century and the Treaty of Trianon.
Hungarian occupation theory
According to another theory, Croatia was subjugated and incorporated into Hungary. The alleged document of the personal union, the so-called Pacta Conventa is most likely a forgery from centuries later.
Matjaž Klemenčič and Mitja Žagar claim that the Pacta Conventa, the alleged document under which Croatians became vassals of Hungarians never existed, but the story about it was important for the Croatian position in the Habsburg Empire during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when the Croats claimed their right for statehood on the basis of that agreement. Although Croatia ceased to exist as an independent state when Coloman, King of Hungary defeated the last Croatian king, the Croatian nobility retained some powers.
According to the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, the Croats enjoyed their own medieval kingdom for several centuries before a long period of Hungarian rule from 1102 to 1918. Most Croats lived under Hungarian kings until 1526 and under Habsburg monarchs thereafter; the Croats of Bosnia and Hercegovina and Slavonia lived under Ottoman rule for several hundred years; and the Croats of Dalmatia passed from Hungarian to Venetian to Austrian rule. With the help of Roman Catholic clerics, the Croats maintained a strong collective memory of their former statehood despite their centuries of foreign domination.
The actual nature of the relationship is inexplicable in modern terms because it varied from time to time. Sometimes Croatia acted as an independent agent and at other times as a vassal of Hungary. However, Croatia retained a large degree of internal independence. The degree of Croatian autonomy fluctuated throughout the centuries as did its borders.
- Sweyn Forkbeard ruled both Denmark and England from 1013 to 1014. He also ruled Norway from 999 to 1014.
- Cnut the Great ruled both Denmark and England from 1018 to 1035. He also ruled Norway 1028 to 1035.
- Harthacanute ruled both Denmark and England from 1040 to 1042.
- Personal union with Norway 1042–1047 under the Norwegian king Magnus I.
- Personal union with Norway from 1380 to 1814 (the Norwegian Riksråd was abolished in 1536).
- The Kalmar Union with Norway and Sweden from 1389/97 to 1521/23 (sometimes defunct).[vague]
- The kings of Denmark at the same time being dukes of Schleswig and Holstein 1460–1864 (Holstein being part of the Holy Roman Empire, now part of Germany).
- Personal union with Iceland from 1918 to 1944 when Iceland became a republic.
England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom
- Sweyn Forkbeard ruled Denmark from 986 to 1014. He also ruled Norway from 986-995 and 999-1014, and England during 1013-1014.
- Cnut the Great was king of England from 1016 to 1035, of Denmark from 1018 to 1035, and of Norway from 1028 to 1035.
- Harthacnut ruled Denmark from 1035 to 1042, and England from 1040 to 1042.
- William the Conqueror ruled England and Normandy from 1066 to 1087.
- Henry II of England and his successor Richard I ruled England, and much of France (The "Angevin Empire") from 1135 to 1199.
- The Plantagenet kings of England ruled Aquitaine from 1135 to 1453.
- Henry VI of England and France ruled both England and France from 1422 to 1453. (The Royal coat of arms of Great Britain continued to include the French fleurs-de-lis for almost 350 years, until 1800).
- Henry VIII of England appointed King of Ireland, (formerly Lord of the Papal Lordship of Ireland), bringing the Kingdom of Ireland into a personal union firstly, in 1542, with the Kingdom of England and from 1707-1800 with the Kingdom of Great Britain.
- Philip II of Spain was joint king of England with Mary I (this is sometimes disputed) from 1554 to 1558, during which time he was also King of Naples (from 1554) and King of Spain (from 1556).
- Personal union with the Kingdom of Scotland through James Stuart, (James VI, King of Scots, and King James I of England), from 1603 to 1707.
- William III of England was also Stadtholder of the Netherlands and hereditary ruler of some small territories in Germany and southern France.
- The Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Scotland entered into a political union in 1707 to form a unified Kingdom of Great Britain.
- Personal union with Ireland from its inception in 1707 until entering into a political union with Ireland in 1801.
- Personal union with Hanover from the accession of George I in 1714 to union in 1801, when Great Britain became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. (and thereafter until 1837).
- The Kingdom of Ireland entered into a political union with the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1801 to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. At the same time, the nominal English claims to the French throne were finally abandoned in 1800, following the abolition of the French monarchy.
- Personal union with Hanover from 1801 to 1837, when differing succession laws resulted in Queen Victoria ascending the British throne and her uncle Ernest Augustus that of Hanover.
- The status of the Grand Principality of Finland, ruled from 1809 to 1917 by the czar of Russia as the Grand Prince of Finland, resembled a personal union in some aspects and is sometimes described as such by Finns. In accordance with the Treaty of Fredrikshamn, Finland was legally a part of the Russian Empire that was granted autonomy at the sufferance of the czar; the autonomous status was temporarily repealed later. By the 1860s, with the revival of the diet of the estates, Finns grew to consider Finland a constitutional monarchy in real union with Russia. For a time Finland was in fact allowed to act as though it was a separate state. As a result the codification of Finnish autonomy and subordinance to Russian governmental organs from 1899 onwards was not recognized by the Finns and was condemned as unconstitutional.
- Personal union with the Duchy of Burgundy from 1361, when John II of France succeeded to the Duchy, until 1363, when he passed it to his son Philip the Bold.
- Personal union with the Duchy of Brittany from 1491, when Duchess Anne of Brittany married King Charles VIII of France under duress, to 1532 when the Duchy of Brittany was formally annexed to the Kingdom of France.
- Personal union with the Kingdom of Navarre from 1589 to 1620, when Navarre was formally integrated into France.
- Partial personal union with Andorra since 1607 (the French president is one of the heads of state in Andorra)
Note: The point at issue in the War of the Spanish Succession was the fear that the succession to the Spanish throne dictated by Spanish law, which would devolve on Louis, le Grand Dauphin — already heir to the throne of France — would create a personal union that would upset the European balance of power (France had the most powerful military in Europe at the time, and Spain the largest empire).
- Personal union with Great Britain and Ireland from 1714 to 1801
- Personal union with the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1837, when differing succession laws resulted in Queen Victoria ascending the British throne and her uncle Ernest Augustus that of Hanover.
Holy Roman Empire
- Personal union with Spain from 1519 to 1556 under Charles V.
- Personal union with Hungary from 1410 to 1439, 1526 to 1608, 1612 to 1740, and 1780 to 1806.
- Personal union with Croatia (disputed)
- Personal union with Poland and Bohemia 1301–1305.
- Personal union with Poland from 1370 to 1382 under the reign of Louis the Great. This period in Polish history is sometimes known as the Andegawen Poland. Louis inherited the Polish throne from his maternal uncle Casimir III. After Louis' death the Polish nobles (the szlachta) decided to end the personal union, since they didn't want to be governed from Hungary, and chose Louis' younger daughter Jadwiga as their new ruler, while Hungary was inherited by his elder daughter Mary. Personal union with Poland for the second time from 1440 to 1444.
- Personal union with Bohemia from 1419 to 1439 and from 1490 to 1918.
- Personal union with the Holy Roman Empire from 1410 to 1439 and from 1526 to 1806 (except 1608–1612 and 1740-1780).
- Real union with Austria from 1867 to 1918 (the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary) under the reigns of Franz Joseph and Charles IV.
- Personal union with Denmark from 1918 to 1944 when the country became a republic.
- Personal union with Shenyang in Mongolian Yuan Dynasty of China 1308–1313 (King Chungseon)
- As King of Goryeo (高麗國王) and King of Shenyang (瀋陽王) in 1308–1310
- As King of Goryeo and King of Shen (瀋王) in 1310-1313
The King Chungseon reigned as King of Goryeo in 1298 and 1308–1313 and King of Shenyang or Shen in 1307 (according to the History of Yuan) or 1308 (according to Goryeosa)–1316. At that time, Goryeo already became a vassal of Yuan and the imperial family of Yuan and the royal family of Goryeo had close relationship by marriages of convenience. Because he was a very powerful man during Emperor Wuzong's era, he could become the King of Shenyang where many Korean people lived in China. However, he lost his power at the court of Yuan after death of Wuzong, he could not reign as Kings of Goryeo and Shen any longer. Because Yuan Dynasty made Chungseon abdicate the King of Goryeo in 1313, the personal union was ended. King Chungsuk, Chungseon's eldest son, became the new King of Goryeo. In 1316, Yuan Dynasty made also Chungseon abdicate the King of Shen and Wang Go, one of his nephews, became the new King.
- Personal union with the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland from 1386 to 1401, then from 1447 to 1569 (with a break in 1492-1501) - the Polish-Lithuanian Union. In 1569 transformed into a federation of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
- Personal union with Bohemia, 1313–1378 and 1383–1388.
- Personal union with the Netherlands from 1815 to 1890, when King and Grand Duke William III died leaving only a daughter, Wilhelmina. Since Luxembourg held to Salic Law, Wilhelmina's distant cousin Adolphe succeeded to the Grand Duchy, ending the personal union.
- Personal union with France from 1589 to 1620 due to the accession of Henry IV, after which Navarre was formally integrated into France.
- Personal union with Luxembourg from 1815 to 1890.
- Sweyn Forkbeard ruled both Norway and Denmark from 999 to 1014. He also ruled England from 1013 to 1014.
- Cnut the Great ruled both England and Denmark from 1018 to 1035. He also ruled Norway from 1028 to 1035.
- Personal union with Denmark 1042–1047 Magnus I of Norway who died of unclear circumstances.
- Personal union with Sweden from 1319 to 1343.
- Personal union with Denmark from 1380 to 1814; (the Norwegian Riksråd was abolished in 1536).
- The Kalmar Union with Denmark and Sweden from 1389/97 to 1521/23 (sometimes defunct).[vague]
- Personal union with Sweden from 1814 (when Norway declared independence from Denmark and was forced into a union with Sweden) to 1905.
- Personal union with the Kingdom of Bohemia from 1300 to 1306.
- Personal union with the Kingdom of Hungary from 1301 to 1305, 1370 to 1382, and 1440 to 1444 (see Hungary section above).
- Personal union with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from 1386 to 1401, 1447 to 1492, and 1501 to 1569.
- Personal union with the Electorate of Saxony from 1697 to 1706, 1709 to 1733, and 1734 to 1763.
- Personal union with the Russian Empire from 1815 to 1831.
- Iberian Union with Spain from 1580 to 1640, under Philip II (also known as Philip I of Portugal), his son and grandson.
- Personal union with Brazil, under Peter I of Brazil (Peter IV of Portugal), from 10 March 1826 to 28 May 1826. Peter was the Prince Royal of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves when he declared the independence of Brazil in 1822, becoming its first emperor. When his father (John VI of Portugal) died, Peter became also king of Portugal for only a few weeks, after which he abdicated the Portuguese throne in favor of his older daughter, Princess Maria da Glória.
- Personal union between Wallachia and Transylvania from 1599 to 1600 under the rule of Michael the Brave
- Personal union between Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania from 1600 to 1601 under the rule of Michael the Brave
- Personal union between Wallachia and Moldavia from 1859 to 1862 under the rule of Alexandru Ioan Cuza
Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Eisenach
The duchies of Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Eisenach were in personal union from 1741, when the ruling house of Saxe-Eisenach died out, until 1809, when they were merged into the single duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.
Schleswig and Holstein
- The kings of Denmark at the same time being dukes of Schleswig and Holstein 1460-1864. (Holstein being part of the Holy Roman Empire, while Schleswig was a part of Denmark). The situation was complicated by the fact that for some time, the Duchies were divided among collateral branches of the House of Oldenburg (the ruling House in Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein). Besides the "main" Duchy of Schlewig-Holstein-Glückstadt, ruled by the Kings of Denmark, there were states encompassing territory in both Duchies. Notably the Dukes of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp and the subordinate Dukes of Schleswig-Holstein-Beck, Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg and Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.
Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt and Schwarzburg-Sondershausen
The duchies of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt and Schwarzburg-Sondershausen were in personal union from 1909, when Prince Günther of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt succeeded also to the throne of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, until 1918, when he (and all the other rulers of German monarchies) abdicated.
- The Kingdom of Scotland was in a personal union with the Kingdom of France from 10 July 1559 – 5 December 1560 during the reign of Francis II of France, who was married to Mary I, Queen of Scots.
- Scotland was in a personal union with the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Ireland from 1603 until 1707, when James VI, King of Scots, succeeded to the thrones of England and Ireland as King James I. The Kingdom of Scotland and Kingdom of England entered into a political union in 1707 to form a unified Kingdom of Great Britain. The Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland entered into a political union in 1801 to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
- Personal union of the crowns that would later form Spain (Crown of Castile and Crown of Aragon) with the marriage of Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon, known as the Catholic Monarchs. Their daughter Joanna of Castile (often called Joanna the Mad) was judged mentally unstable and Charles became king of Castile and after the death of his grandfather Ferdinand, King of Aragon and subsequently Holy Roman Emperor) became the head of the the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 to 1556. Castile and Aragon remained united from 1556–1707, after which they were formally unified as Spain. The Kingdom of Navarre, also in personal union with the Aragonese throne since 1511, would retain its separate legal and political system until the nineteenth century.
- During the time of the Habsburgs (until 1700, with the death of Charles II without issue), the Spanish kingdoms were also in personal union with the Kingdoms of Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia and the Duchy of Milan in Italy, as well as the Spanish Netherlands and other Burgundian territories in France and the Low Countries.
- Philip II of Spain was joint king of England (with Mary I) from 1554 to 1558
- Iberian Union of all kingdoms in the Iberian Peninsula, including Portugal, from 1580 to 1640, under Philip II (also known as Phillip I of Portugal), his son and grandson. The successful revolt of Portugal in 1640 from Spain established the House of Braganza in Portugal.
- Personal union with Norway from 1319 to 1343
- The Kalmar Union with Denmark and Norway from 1389/97 to 1521/23 (sometimes defunct).[vague]
- Personal union with the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland from 1592 to 1599.
- Personal union with Norway from 1814 to 1905
- List of personal unions
- Dynastic union
- Political union
- Real union
- Constituent country
- Joseph Lalor, ed., Cyclopaedia of Political Science. New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co. Accessed 13 June 2013
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- In the Holy Roman Empire, many prince-bishops had themselves elected to separate prince-bishoprics, that they ruled in a personal union. For example, Joseph Clemens von Bayern (1671-1723) was Prince-Bishop of Freising (1685-1694), Prince-Bishop of Regensburg (1685-1694), Prince-Elector of Cologne (1688-1723), Prince-Bishop of Liège (1694-1723) and Prince-Bishop of Hildesheim (1702-1723).
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