Illegitimate heirs to thrones

Aug 2013
956
Italy
#1
In most European countries, throughout the centuries, heirs to royal and imperial thrones had to be legitimate and recognized as such. Yet, in many cases the legitimacy of crown princes was suspect, as was the case with the supposed son of James II of England.

Now, that latter child never actually succeeded James; but from Britain to Byzantium, from Scandinavia to Persia and beyond, there were men and women who actually did inherit the throne, in spite of suspicion of illegitimacy.

Can you name some of these?
 
Aug 2015
2,359
uk
#2
Mary I of England was declared a bastard when the legality of Catherines marriage to Henry viii was called into question. Also the princes in the Tower, and Henry Tudor's claim to the throne was also tenuous. In short, lots.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,084
Dispargum
#3
Frankish King Clovis (d. circa 511) had four heirs, one of them, Theuderic, possibly the son of a concubine although our only source, Gregory of Tours, is not the most reliable with these kinds of details.

English King Stephen, son of Henry I, was illegitimate but became king because Henry had no legitimate sons.
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
34,609
T'Republic of Yorkshire
#5
Byzantine Emperor Leo VI was supposedly the son of Basil I, but may, in fact, have been the son of Basil's predecessor Michael III - his mother Eudokia was both Basil's wife and Michael's concubine.
 
Apr 2017
482
the coast
#6
Guillaume le Batard?
Was that the same Guillaume that conquered England in 1066? Was going to mention him...

I remember reading that one of the Archbishops of York (Geoffrey, in the late 12th/early 13th century) was an illegitimate son of King Henry II of England. Not an example of an illegitimate child inheriting a royal throne, but an example of where royals sometimes put their illegitimate children back in the day.
 
Feb 2017
214
Devon, UK
#7
Well, Edward IV of England, according to his brother Richard III (after he was safely dead). Although there were contemporary rumours about his doubtful legitimacy centred about his mother's (Cecily Neville) possible dalliance with one Blaybourne an archer of the garrison Rouen while her husband was away on campaign.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,224
#8
In most European countries, throughout the centuries, heirs to royal and imperial thrones had to be legitimate and recognized as such. Yet, in many cases the legitimacy of crown princes was suspect, as was the case with the supposed son of James II of England.

Now, that latter child never actually succeeded James; but from Britain to Byzantium, from Scandinavia to Persia and beyond, there were men and women who actually did inherit the throne, in spite of suspicion of illegitimacy.

Can you name some of these?
As far as I know, the didn't bother claiming the son of James II of England by his second wife was illegitimate. George I was like 30th in line for the throne, but the first protestant in the succession, so he was picked.
 
Aug 2013
956
Italy
#9
As far as I know, the didn't bother claiming the son of James II of England by his second wife was illegitimate. George I was like 30th in line for the throne, but the first protestant in the succession, so he was picked.
There were plenty of spicy rumours adrift concerning James Francis Edward Stuart, the infant officially claimed to have been born on 10 June 1688 to James II and his second wife Mary of Modena. Wagging tongues said that the child was either the fruit of a liaison with one of James' favourites, or an anonymous waif "smuggled into the palace in a warming pan".

The truth of this matter is unknown.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,224
#10
There were plenty of spicy rumours adrift concerning James Francis Edward Stuart, the infant officially claimed to have been born on 10 June 1688 to James II and his second wife Mary of Modena. Wagging tongues said that the child was either the fruit of a liaison with one of James' favourites, or an anonymous waif "smuggled into the palace in a warming pan".

The truth of this matter is unknown.
Many people were very upset that he had a son by his Italian second wife, who would presumably inherit the throne rather than one of his daughters. The son would be brought up Roman Catholic, and probably Britain would have Roman Catholic monarchs for hundreds of years. That is why these weird stories took hold. Twenty days later William of Orange was sent an invitation to invade and he did invade England that same year.