House of Montillet

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The House of Montillet is the reigning house of the Principality of Mantua. It was founded by Louis de Montillet y Artoix as a cadet branch of the House of Artoix before he was deposed and replaced as head of the house and Duke of Mantua by his younger brother, Joaquin de Montillet. The current head of the house and reigning sovereign of Mantua is Princess Fabiola of Mantua. She is the first female head of the princely house.

Background

Following the Mantuan Collapse in 1632, the Duchy of Mantua was seized by King Louis XIII of Alexandria when the Cavaletta family fell into dispute over the headship of the family. King Louis XIII granted the duchy to his cousin, Louis de Montillet, the son of Louis XIII's aunt Princess Jocasta and her husband, the 6th Baron Montillet. The Montillets were wealthy landowners but had little political power. When Louis's father Salvador died in 1630, he was accepted at court as a kinsman of King Louis XIII and distinguished himself as a loyal aide. In 1650, Louis XIII faced pressure to pay back his large debts to parliament and levied high taxes on Alexandrian nobles which Louis refused to pay. In a plea written to the King, Louis proclaimed his loyalty but said that his wealth belonged to the Mantuan people and not to the Alexandrian King. Louis responded angrily and withdrew the grand of the Duchy of Mantua from Duke Louis and granted it to the second of the Montillet brothers, Joaquin. Joaquin was married the sister of Louis XIII, Princess Donata but as the marriage had been unequal Joaquin was unable to access Donata's personal fortune until he was raised to the rank of a Duke which legitimised their marriage. He was concerned that the sons of Duke Louis (now exiled) may attempt to press their claims and take Mantua. In return for half of Donata's fortune, Louis XIII entered into a treaty with Joaquin which guaranteed the Joaquin line ownership of Mantua in perpetuity in exchange for an appanage of 400E a year to be paid to the Alexandrian Crown. Joaquin had successfully disinherited his nephews and proclaimed the foundation of the House of Montillet upon his accession as Duke.

List of Heads of the House of Montillet

*Between 1825 and 1831, Prince Amalio I's mother Princess Elena acted as regent but was not considered head of the princely house.

Members

The Decree on the Princely House of 1710 decrees who is and who is not considered to be a member of the Princely House. Strict criteria were introduced by the first sovereign Prince, Fabio. The Decree states that:-

  • All members of the Princely House must marry Roman Catholics unless a papal dispensation is obtained to legitimise the marriage.
  • All members of the Princely House must marry 'equally', that is to a member of another reigning or non-reigning house of the same rank or higher. Exceptions were made for some noble families.
  • All members of the Princely House were forbidden from divorce until 1970. Divorce immediately saw the forfeiture of all dynastic rights and expulsion from the Royal House.
  • All members of the Princely House were forbidden from marrying without the Prince's permission.

Several members of the Princely House failed to maintain the requirements laid down by the 1710 Decree and as a result lost their princely rank, title and style. In 1887, Prince Amalio II, made it possible for members to do so with royal approval by contracting morganatic marriages. Though the permission of the head of the princely house was still required, a morganatic marriage allowed the individual to retain membership of the princely house and their place in the line of succession with certain restrictions. Those who married morganatically lost their princely rank but were entitled to retain some standing of nobility. Instead of the style of Serene Highness, they were entitled to use the more junior style of 'Highness' and could still draw an appanage at 1/3 of the value of their original allowance. Their children were not entitled to succession rights to the throne of Mantua but could inherit their father's estates or personal fortunes and were entitled to inherit their father's title. This did not apply to female members until 1985 when the Decree on the Princely House was replaced with a new proclamation, the Decree on Princely Rights and Inheritances.

Expelled Members

Until 1950, Amalio III's heir was his younger brother Prince Carlos, Baron de San Pablo (1895 - 1970) as the strict succession laws of the principality laid down by Prince Joaquin II did not allow females to inherit. Amalio III and his wife Sofia had two daughters and it was felt unlikely that the Princess would have any more children. According to the 1740 Decree on Succession to the Principality, Amalio and Sofia's eldest daughter Fabiola was to be passed over for her uncle, Prince Carlos and the National Council passed a law recognising this proposal with no challenge from the Sovereign Prince. However, in 1946, Prince Carlos' wife Yvetta was killed in an air crash and by 1949, he wished to marry again. Whilst his fiancée claimed noble birth, this could not be proven. Moreover, she was a divorcee and neither Amalio III nor the National Council were willing to change the house laws to enable the marriage to take place. Carlos married Margarita da Silva privately and without permission on 7 July 1949. He was expelled from the royal house and lost his place in the line of succession. He was stripped of his princely rank, title and style but was allowed to retain his junior title of Baron de San Pablo. In 1950, the house laws were amended to allow for female succession and in 1978, Princess Fabiola succeeded her father as Head of the House of Montillet.

In 2010, the eldest daughter of Princess Fabiola, Princess Renata, divorced her husband Count Alfonso Mardomingo. Whilst house laws on divorce had been amended since the case of Prince Carlos which allowed Princess Renata to retain membership of the princely house, this did not extend to continued membership for her ex husband. Though he was allowed to keep honours granted to him since his marriage in 1986, Mardomingo was formally expelled from the princely house though he had never been afforded princely rank. His children remain members of the princely house with full succession rights, though it was also announced in 2010 that they would now use Montillet y Mardomingo as their official surname and not 'Mardomingo' alone as they had when Renata and Alfonso were married.