Duke of Valentinois
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Duke of Valentinois (French: Duc de Valentinois; Italian: Duca Valentino), formerly Count of Valentinois, is a title of nobility, originally in the French peerage. Though the duchy was once associated with administrative authority as well as possession of manors in Valence in France's Ancien Régime, those noble prerogatives were whittled away and by the 20th century it was a nominal dukedom consisting of a hereditary title descending in the male line.
It was created at least four times: on August 17, 1498, for Cesare Borgia, in 1548 for Diane de Poitiers, in 1642 for Honoré II, Prince of Monaco, and most recently in 1715 for Prince Jacques I of Monaco. Despite the fact that Jacques I's descendants became extinct in the male line in 1949, the dukedom is still used as a subsidiary title by the Prince of Monaco.
The county of Valentinois was a fief within the Dauphiné of Viennois and part of the Holy Roman Empire since 1032. Its owners were powerful lords during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. During the fifteenth century, the dauphins from the House de La Tour du Pin engaged in several conflicts on behalf of the Valois kings of France. The last dauphin, Humbert II de la Tour-du-Pin, depleted his treasury funding an unsuccessful crusade to conquer the Holy Land and sold his lands to the highest bidder after his only son's death. Philip VI of France bought the Dauphiné in 1349 for 400,000 écus and an annual pension. To keep up appearances however, the sale was referred to as a "transfer". In order to prevent the title from going extinct, Humbert instituted a statute whereby the Dauphiné was exempted from many taxes. This statute was subject to much parliamentary debate at the regional level, as local leaders sought to defend their autonomy and privilege against the state.
From 1349 the Dauphiné became an eponymous title borne by each subsequent heir to the French throne. In 1498 Louis XII of France divided the lands of the Dauphiné and gave Valence, Diois and Grenoble as a dukedom to Cesare Borgia.
Cesare was an illegitimate but recognized son of Pope Alexander VI Borgia and Vannozza dei Cattanei. He was created Duke of Valentinois by royal patent signed by Louis XII of France on August 17, 1498. Both the Italianized form of this title and his previous appointment as Cardinal Valencia led to common attribution to him of the nickname, "Il Valentino".
Creation of the dukedom of Valentinois had been the consequence of sustained territorial negotiations between the Holy See and France. Valence and Diois belonged to the former Kingdom of Arles; to which belonged the territories of Provence, Vivarais, Lyonnais, Venaissin and Dauphiné, guaranteed to the Papacy by the Empire since Pepin the Short, King of the Franks, and by France since the time of Philip IV of France. It was Alexander VI who, after centuries of diplomatic discussions between France and the Papacy, proposed a formula to end the dispute over the suzerainty of those lands.
Alexander VI proposed to Louis XII to annul his marriage with Jane of France, to allow a marriage with Anne of Brittany, strengthening the union between Brittany and France. In return, Louis XII granted to Cesare Borgia the old papal territories that France had acquired, naming him Count of Diois, Duke of Valentinois and peer of France. To this arrangement was added the marriage of Cesare and Charlotte d'Albret, whereby Cesare, besides becoming a duke in the French peerage, came to enjoy the prerogatives of a prince étranger. All the papal territories in France, with the exception of Venaissin that continued to belong to the Papacy until the French Revolution, were definitively bound to French territory
In 1499, a royal patent signed by Louis XII and brought by Louise de Villenueve to Rome on August 7, 1498, were sanctioned by the Apostolic Authority and the College of Cardinals, incorporating the countship of Diois and dukedom of Valentinois into the Papal nobility of the Holy See. After Cesare's death in 1507, his daughter Louise Borgia became Duchess of Valentinois.
Despite the fact that Louise Borgia lived until 1553, Henry II of France created his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, Duchess of Valentinois in 1548. Although Diane had two daughters by her husband, neither inherited the Valentinois, as the dukedom created for her was not hereditary.
The third dukedom of Valentinois resulted from negotiations between Honore II Prince of Monaco and Louis XIII of France through Cardinal Richelieu, according to the correspondence between Louis XIII and Honoré II. Louis XIII created the title by letters patent, signed in May 1642 and registered on 18 July 1642, converting into a peerage a conglomeration of several estates in the French province of Dauphiné which he had previously given to Honoré II, Prince of Monaco, who became the first recipient of the duché-pairie.
On Honoré's death it passed to his son Prince Louis I, and thence to Louis's son Antoine. However, since the title's inheritance was restricted to male heirs, and because Antoine had only daughters and no sons, it was due to pass to his brother, Honoré Grimaldi (1669 – 1748), but became extinct on 22 July 1715 when Honoré forfeited his right to succeed Antoine, having taken holy orders preparatory to becoming Archbishop of Besançon.
Fourth creation jure uxoris
On 20 October 1715, Antoine's eldest daughter and heiress Louise-Hippolyte Grimaldi married Jacques-François de Goyon-Matignon, who had signed a contract on 5 September 1715 by which he was obliged to take the surname Grimaldi. Louis XV thereupon recreated the ducal peerage of Valentinois by letters patent, signed in December 1715 and registered on 2 September 1716, for Jacques, who would also succeed his father-in-law Antoine as Prince Jacques I; like the previous creation, its inheritance was restricted to male heirs.
After Jacques's abdication in 1733, the title passed uninterrupted for several generations from reigning prince to prince: from Jacques to Honoré III, Honoré IV, Honoré V, Florestan I, Charles III and Albert I.
Louis II, who succeeded his father Albert I in 1922, never used the title of Valentinois himself. On 15 November 1911, Albert I had issued a sovereign ordinance approving and confirming Louis' legal declaration of paternity of Charlotte Louvet, designating her therein as "Mademoiselle de Valentinois", and stipulating in article 3 of that decree, "In the event our beloved son, the Hereditary Prince Louis, should die without children born in legitimate marriage, Mademoiselle de Valentinois shall be able to succeed him in all his rights, titles and prerogatives."
On 16 May 1919 Prince Albert I styled his granddaughter Charlotte, "Duchess of Valentinois", on the occasion of her legal adoption that day by his only son Louis, Charlotte's natural father. She was officially recognized by Albert as Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois on 20 May 1919. On 20 March 1920, shortly after Charlotte's marriage to Pierre de Polignac, he took the title of Duke of Valentinois jure uxoris, having already changed his surname to Grimaldi.
Despite Charlotte's use of the Valentinois title as her father's adopted heiress, by right of succession the French dukedom remained with Louis and his legitimate, agnatic, male descendants. Consequently, on his death without a male heir in 1949, it became extinct in French law.
Nonetheless, his successor, Rainier III, continued to include the dukedom among the titles borne by the reigning prince, possibly in the belief, as suggested by François Velde, that it was "implicitly recreated for Charlotte by the French Republic in 1919 when her adoption was approved", an act which had taken place in a French legation in the presence of President Raymond Poincaré. However, the various French Republics have never acknowledged creating nor re-creating any dukedom. Nor does France any longer recognize the existence of titles of nobility per se: French courts have held that the concept of nobility is incompatible with the equality of all citizens before the law as proclaimed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man of 1789, which remains part of the Constitution of 1958. However, a hereditary title is not, ipso facto, a mark of nobility in France. On the basis of the decree of 24 January 1852 by Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, then President, in repealing policies of the French Second Republic embodied in the Decree of 29 February 1848 and Article 10 of the November 1848 constitution, "The nobility as an order is abolished in the Republic of France and in that sense, no one in France can create or authorize or transmit any title". French courts have, nonetheless, subsequently recognized and protected the right to the legal use of hereditary titles as accessories to the family name.
Moreover, Chapter II Article 16 of the Monegasque constitution reserves to the monarch unilateral authority to confer titles of nobility, and does not stipulate that this may only be done by letters patent.
With the death of Prince Rainier on 6 April 2005, the title was taken up by his son, now Albert II, Prince of Monaco.
Dukes of Valentinois
- Diane de Poitiers (1548–1566)
- Honoré II, Prince of Monaco (1642–1662)
- Louis I, Prince of Monaco (1662–1701)
- Antoine, Prince of Monaco (1701–1715)
- Jacques I, Prince of Monaco (1716–1733)
- Honoré III, Prince of Monaco (1733–1793)
- Honoré IV, Prince of Monaco (1814–1819)
- Honoré V, Prince of Monaco (1819–1841)
- Florestan I, Prince of Monaco (1841–1856)
- Charles III, Prince of Monaco (1856–1889)
- Albert I, Prince of Monaco (1889–1922)
- Louis II, Prince of Monaco (1922–1949)
- Rainier III, Prince of Monaco (1949–2005)
- Albert II, Prince of Monaco (2005–present)
References and notes
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- Thomas Wright. The History of France: From the Earliest Period From the Present Time, Volume 1. Printed by: The London Printing and Publishing Company, Bayerische Staatsbiblioteck München
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- Velde, Francois. "Monaco". Heraldica. Retrieved March 27, 2005.
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