Touraine - from then until now!

This blog is an attempt to show some of the vast history of Man's prescence in the Southern Touraine.... from first footfall to the present....
especially in and around le Grand Pressigny area.... with special emphasis on life at and around le Moulin de la Forge.
There will also be occasional entries about time before man was here and when the area was at the bottom of a warm, shallow sea...

Saturday, 4 April 2015

A question of family loyalty

Elias (in French, Elie) de Bourbon Parma, Duke of Parma, was a member of the junior branch of the French Capetian royal family. His father was Duke Robert I of Parma, who became king of Parma at six and was deposed at eleven. The family was immensely wealthy, with a private train to take them and their entourage between their magnificent properties of Schloss Schwarzau am Steinfeld near Vienna, Villa Pianore in northwest Italy, and the château de Chambord in France.

To Elias, home was in three different countries. He was the tenth of 24 children by Duke Robert's two wives. His mother, Princess Maria Pia of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, was also a member of the Bourbon family. His childhood must have been pretty miserable: his mother was almost permanently pregnant and she died giving birth to his 11th sibling in 1882 when Elie was only two years old. The last baby was stillborn, two of the others survived less than a month and six of the others had learning difficulties. His father remarried in 1884 and Elie's stepmother, Maria Antonia of Portugal, bore her husband another 12 children.

Elie in uniform, Creative Commons

On 25 May 1903 in Vienna, Elie married Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria. His sister Zita married Emperor Karl of Austria.  Elie was the only son of Robert's first family to be considered capable of taking the reins when Robert died at Villa Pianore on November 16, 1907. The Grand Marshal of the Austrian court declared the six children of the first marriage with disabilities to be legally incompetent. Elie as the oldest of the remaining sons became his father's principal heir, and legal guardian of his siblings. His step-family did badly out of this, and two of them, Sixtus and Xavier, appealed. In 1910 Elias came to an agreement with his siblings (or their lawyers came to an agreement with his lawyers) that he would accede to half his father's estate, as befitting his role as guardian, and the siblings would take the rest. Elias's half included Chambord.

CHAMBORD - City in the sky
At the beginning of WW1, Elie was in difficulty. He was born a Frenchman, in Biarritz, but his close family was all on the wrong side. His wife's father, Archduke Friedrich, was supreme commander of the Austro-Hungarian Army. His beloved older sister was the wife of the man who was to take the Austro-Hungarian imperial throne after Franz Joseph II died in 1916. What was he to do? Elie decided that family came first. He took a commission in the Austro-Hungarian army.

Sixtus and his brother Francis-Xavier, meanwhile, joined the Belgian army.

On 4th April 1915  in an exclusive report by its journalist at the scene, the still unknown newspaper reported a fire in the woods at Chambord. Little damage was done and the fire was confined to about a hundred hectares of woodland [actually quite a big fire!]. The opinion of local people was that the fire started as a result of "malveillance" - out of malice - for it appears to have broken out in four different places at the same time. The journal reminds its readers that as a result of the convention between Elie and his coheritiers mentioned above, that Chambord was the property of Prince Elie de Parme and his wife was the sister of l'Archiduc Frédéric (Friedrich) of Austria.

On 2th April the French government confiscated Chambord as property of an enemy alien. Quoting Wikipedia on the sorry story of a squadron of lawyers all dipping their bread in the gravy:
Liquidation proceedings were started in 1919 in application of the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, which gave the Allies the right to keep such property ["to the victor the spoils"]. Sixtus and Xavier took Elias to court to obtain a greater share of their father's estate. They claimed that the 1910 family agreement violated the French law which mandated equal division between siblings [and still does]. In 1925 the French courts determined that Sixtus and Xavier should have a larger share, but in 1928 this judgement was overturned on appeal. In 1932 the Court of Cassation upheld the appeal on the grounds that there was a valid agreement between the siblings to this unequal division. Elias' rights to the château de Chambord were thereby recognised - but the wartime confiscation was upheld and Elias was financially compensated with 11 million francs.
So the only real winners were the lawyers.... and the link is ....
Gytha our 2CV, an awful lot of other 2CVs and some fat bint at Chambord, 2006

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