Illegitimate royal children who were the designated heirs to a throne

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,357
SoCal
Which illegitimate royal children (or people who were descended from an illegitimate royal line) were there who were the designated heirs to a throne? For the record, I am not talking about an illegitimate royal child conquering a country and installing himself as the king or queen based on the sheer power and force of his or her troops (like what William the Conqueror did in England). Rather, I am talking about illegitimate royal children (or people who were descended from an illegitimate royal line) being the designated heirs to a throne--as in, the existing monarch would designate them as his heirs. Which cases of this have there been throughout history?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,357
SoCal
I know that Louis XIV tried to install his illegitimate but subsequently legitimized sons into the line of succession for the French throne but that this action was swiftly reversed by the parlement of Paris after Louis XIV's death in 1715 due to the logic that princes du sang (as in, royal dynasts) could only be born and not made.
 
Oct 2018
1,731
Sydney
Constantine I of Rome is a possible example. Several ancient authors regard him as being Constantius I's bastard (Jerome, Philostorgius, the Chronica Gallica of 452, Zosimus, the Paschal Chronicle), and while others do consider him legitimate (inscriptions from the reign of Constantine that honour his mother Helena Augusta, the Origo Constantini Imperatoris, Aurelius Victor, Eutropius, Jerome (a different passage from before), the Epitome de Caesaribus, the Chronica Gallica of 452 (a different passage from before)), Constantine would have sought to suppress claims of illegitimacy. Scholars are divided on the question. Both Philostorgius and Zosimus were hostile towards Constantine or used hostile sources, but both the Origo and the Kaisergeschichte (the common source used by Victor, Eutropius, Jerome and the Epitome) were written during or soon after Constantine's reign by pro-Constantinian authors. Helena was certainly of relatively humble birth, as, for instance, the Origo and Ambrose relate. Augustus’ lex Iulia de maritandis ordinibus and lex Papia Poppaea prohibited marriage between people of highly disparate social status, and in the 270s Constantius was an equestrian officer rising through the ranks. These laws were difficult to enforce, since marriage did not require a formal ceremony, but one also wonders why the ambitious Constantius should have married someone like Helena when concubinage was an option. A Constantinian cover-up could explain why the Kaisergeschichte falsely claims that Constantius, when in 293 he became Caesar, divorced Helena in order to marry Maximian's step-daughter Theodora. In reality, Constantius had already married Theodora in c. 288. So, while it's far from certain, it's possible that Constantine was indeed illegitimate.

But then we have the issue of his accession. According to the following texts, in 306 a dying Constantius chose Constantine as his successor or recommended him to his troops: Panegyrici Latini 7(6) (from 307); Panegyrici Latini 6(7) (from 310); Lactantius, De Mortibus Persecutorum; Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica; Eusebius, Vita Constantini; Julian, Oration 1; Orosius; Zonaras. This is not claimed in the accounts of the Origo Constantini Imperatoris, Aurelius Victor, the Epitome de Caesaribus and Zosimus. For instance, the Epitome records that, after the death of Constantius, Constantine succeeded his father at the urging of those present, including the Alemannic king Crocus (41.3), and Zosimus claims that the soldiers chose Constantine to rule after deeming his younger and legitimate half-brothers unworthy (2.9.1).

Ultimately, it is possible that Constantine was born illegitimate and that Constantius had made him his successor, but neither of these points are certain. The scenario is certainly possible. After all, the imperial leadership was not governed by any laws of succession. Regardless, Constantine may have thought his birth a matter worth covering up, since illegitimate sons did not occupy an established legal position on the matter of paternal inheritance, and, at least with the advent of Christendom if not earlier, stigma was attached to illegitimate children. Zosimus appears to assume an inferior claim to imperium when he has the soldiers consider Constantine as an alternative to his younger half-brothers, and he assumes similar when he also claims that Maximian's son Maxentius chafed at Constantine's accession, asking why should the son of an ignoble woman become emperor and the son of the great emperor Maximian should not (2.9.2).
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,357
SoCal
Thanks for this information! That said, though, I was looking for something more recent--as in, after the year 1000. Maybe I should have made that part clearer. I mean, what you wrote here is still interesting, but I was looking for something sometime in the second millennium.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,571
Las Vegas, NV USA
Here's some lists which may or may not be accurate. Queen Victoria banned all "Royal Bastards" (any illegitimate child or descendant of a sovereign) from Court saying they best be forgotten.

Which bastards became kings?
 
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Lord Fairfax

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,426
Changing trains at Terrapin Station...
Which illegitimate royal children (or people who were descended from an illegitimate royal line) were there who were the designated heirs to a throne? For the record, I am not talking about an illegitimate royal child conquering a country and installing himself as the king or queen based on the sheer power and force of his or her troops (like what William the Conqueror did in England). Rather, I am talking about illegitimate royal children (or people who were descended from an illegitimate royal line) being the designated heirs to a throne--as in, the existing monarch would designate them as his heirs. Which cases of this have there been throughout history?
Henry VII
 
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MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,975
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
MY answer to this question: Why couldn't bastards inherit titles? lists a large number of European monarchs who were of Illegitimate birth, and monarchs who were accused of being illegitimate, and cases were persons were barred from inheriting thrones because they were allegedly illegitimate, and attempts to make illegitimate children heirs to thrones, etc., etc. All except the first four were after AD 1000. The latest person of illegitimate birth to become the legal heir to a European throne was born as recently as 1898.
 
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