An appanage or apanage is the grant of an estate, titles, offices, or other things of value to the younger male children of a sovereign, who would otherwise have no inheritance under the system of primogeniture. It was common in much of Europe.
The system of appanage has greatly influenced the territorial construction of France and the German states and explains the structure of the flags of many provinces of France.
Appanage also describes the funds given by the state to certain royal families — the annual income, for instance, given to the Swedish and Danish Royal Families. For the Mongols, khubi (share) refers to appanage in the Middle Ages.
Late Latin *appanaticum, from appanare or adpanare ‘to give bread’ (panis), a pars pro toto for food and other necessities, hence for a “subsistence” income, notably in kind, as from assigned land.
History of the French Appanage
An appanage was a concession of a fief by the sovereign to his younger sons, while the eldest son became king on the death of his father. Appanages were considered as part of the inheritance transmitted to the puisne (French puis, “later”, + né, “born [masc.]”) sons; the word Juveigneur (from the Latin comparative iuvenior, ‘younger [masc.]’; in Brittany’s customary law only the youngest brother) was specifically used for the royal princes holding an appanage. These lands could not be sold, neither hypothetically nor as a dowry, and returned to the royal domain on the extinction of the princely line. Daughters were excluded from the system: a now-archaic interpretation of Salic law generally prohibited daughters from inheriting land and also from acceding to the throne.
The appanage system was used to sweeten the pill of the primogeniture. It has traditionally been used to prevent the revolt of younger sons who would otherwise have no inheritance, while avoiding the weakening of the kingdom. Indeed, according to Frankish custom, the inheritance was to be divided among the surviving sons. The kingdom was considered family property, and so many divisions occurred under the Merovingians (the first following the death of Clovis I in 511), and later under the rule of the Carolingians in which the Treaty of Verdun of 843 gave birth to independent territories.
The consequences of equal division (dismemberment of the kingdom, civil wars, conflicts between heirs, etc.) led to the adoption of the appanage system, which has the advantage of diverting the claim of younger sons to the crown, which was the inheritance of the eldest. In addition, over time, the system guarantees the unity of the royal domain to the senior heir.
Hugh Capet was elected King of the Franks on the death of Louis V in 987. The Capetian dynasty broke away from the Frankish custom of dividing the kingdom among all the sons. The eldest son alone became King and received the royal domain except for the appanages. Unlike their predecessors, their hold on the crown was initially tenuous. They could not afford to divide the kingdom among all their sons, and the royal domain (the territory directly controlled by the king) was very small. Most of the Capetians endeavored to add to the royal domain by the incorporation of additional fiefs, large or small, and thus gradually obtained the direct lordship over almost all of France.
King Charles V tried to remove the appanage system, but in vain. Provinces conceded in appanage tended to become de facto independent and the authority of the king was recognized there reluctantly. In particular the line of Valois Dukes of Burgundy caused considerable trouble to the French crown, with which they were often at war, often in open alliance with the English. Theoretically appanages could be reincorporated into the royal domain, but only if the last lord had no male heirs. Kings tried as much as possible to rid themselves of the most powerful appanages. Louis XI retook the Duchy of Burgundy at the death of its last male duke. Francis I confiscated the Bourbonnais, after the treason in 1523 of his commander in chief, Charles III, Duke of Bourbon, the ‘constable of Bourbon’ (died 1527 in the service of Emperor Charles V).
The first article of the Edict of Moulins (1566) declared that the royal domain (defined in the second article as all the land controlled by the crown for more than ten years) could not be alienated, except in two cases: by interlocking, in the case of financial emergency, with a perpetual option to repurchase the land; and to form an appanage, which must return to the crown in its original state on the extinction of the male line. The apanagist (incumbent) therefore could not separate himself from his appanage in any way.
After Charles V of France, a clear distinction had to be made between titles given as names to children in France, and true appanages. At their birth the French princes received a title independent of an appanage. Thus, the Duke of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV, never possessed Anjou and never received any revenue from this province. The king waited until the prince had reached adulthood and was about to marry before endowing him with an appanage. The goal of the appanage was to provide him with a sufficient income to maintain his noble rank. The fief given in appanage could be the same as the title given to the prince, but this was not necessarily the case. Only seven appanages were given from 1515 to 1789.
Appanages were abolished in 1792 before the proclamation of the Republic. The youngest princes from then on were to receive a grant of money but no territory.
Appanages were reestablished under the first French empire by Napoleon Bonaparte and confirmed by the Bourbon restoration-king Louis XVIII. The last of the appanages, the Orléanais, was reincorporated to the French crown when the Duke of Orléans, Louis-Philippe, became king of the French in 1830.
The word apanage is still used in French figuratively, in a non-historic sense: “to have appanage over something” is used, often in an ironic and negative sense, to claim exclusive possession over something. For example, “cows have appanage over prions.”
List of Major French Appanages
**The County of Dreux for the king’s third son Robert.
**The Counties of Domfront and Mortain for the king’s younger son Philippe Hurepel.
Louis VIII, by his 1225 will, granted
**The County of Artois to his second son Robert. Artois was lost by Robert’s male heirs, passing through a female line, and eventually was inherited by the Dukes of Burgundy. Louis XI seized it upon the death of Charles the Bold in 1477, but his son returned it to Charles’s heirs in preparation for his invasion of Italy in 1493.
**The Counties of Anjou and Maine to his third son John. This title returned to the crown when John died without heirs in 1232.
**The Counties of Poitou and Auvergne to his fourth son Alphonse. This title returned to the crown when Alphonse died without heirs in 1271.
Louis IX endowed
**1246 – The Counties of Anjou and Maine to his youngest brother, Charles. These titles passed to Charles’s granddaughter, who married Charles, Count of Valois, the younger son of Philip III, and thence to their son, Philip. When Philip inherited the throne as Philip VI, the titles merged into the crown.
**The County of Orléans to his eldest son, Philip. This title returned to the crown when he succeeded his father in 1270 as Philip III.
**ca. 1268 – The County of Valois to his second son, Jean Tristan. This title became extinct upon Jean Tristan’s death in 1270.
**1268 – The Counties of Alençon and Perche to his third son, Pierre. This title became extinct on Pierre’s death in 1284.
**1269 – The County of Clermont-en-Beauvaisis to his fourth son, Robert. Robert’s son, Louis, was later given the Duchy of Bourbon, which was treated as an apanage, although it was not technically one. Louis later traded Clermont for La Marche with his cousin Charles, Count of Angoulême, younger brother of King Philip V. These titles remained in the Bourbon family until they were confiscated due to the treason of Charles III, Duke of Bourbon in 1527.
**The County of Valois to his second son Charles. Charles was later given the Counties of Alençon, Perche, and Chartres by his brother, Philip IV of France. Valois passed to Charles’s eldest son, Philip upon his death in 1325, and returned to the crown when Philip became King Philip VI in 1328. Alençon and Perche passed to Charles’s younger son, Charles. A descendant was raised to the dignity of Duke of Alençon. These titles returned to the crown upon the extinction of the Alençon line in 1525.
**The County of Beaumont-sur-Oise to his third son Louis. Louis was later given the County of Évreux by his brother Philip IV. These titles returned to the throne upon the death of Queen Blanche of Navarre in 1441.
Philip IV endowed
**the County of Poitou for his second son, Philip. This title returned to the throne when Philip became king in 1316.
**the Counties of La Marche and Angoulême for his third son, Charles IV. Charles later traded La Marche for the County of Clermont-en-Beauvaisis with the Duke of Bourbon. These titles returned to the throne when Charles became king in 1322.
Philip VI endowed the
**the Duchy of Normandy for his elder son John. This title returned to the throne when John succeeded his father in 1350.
**the Duchy of Orléans for his younger son Philip. This title returned to the throne when Philip died without issue in 1375.
John II the Good, on his departure to England in 1360, granted
**the Duchies of Anjou and of Maine to his second son Louis. This title returned to the throne upon the death of duke Charles IV, Louis I’s great-grandson, in 1481.
**the Duchies of Berry and of Auvergne to his third son John. These titles returned to the throne upon John’s death without male issue in 1416.
**In 1363, John II granted the Duchy of Burgundy to his fourth son Philip. Upon the death of Philip’s great-grandson Charles the Bold in 1477, King Louis XI claimed the reversion of Burgundy and seized the territory. It continued to be claimed, however, by Charles’s daughter Mary and her heirs. When Mary’s grandson Emperor Charles V defeated and captured Francis I at the Battle of Pavia in 1525, he forced Francis to sign a treaty recognizing him as Duke of Burgundy, but Francis disavowed the treaty when he was released, and the cession was revoked by the Treaty of Cambrai four years later. Charles and his heirs reserved their claims, however, and this reservation was repeated as late as the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, when Philip IV of Spain continued to reserve his rights to the Duchy.
Charles VI granted
**the Duchy of Orléans and the County of Angoulême to his brother Louis in 1392. The Duchy of Orléans returned to the crown when Louis I’s grandson became Louis XII of France in 1498. The County of Angoulême returned to the crown when Louis I’s great-grandon became Francis I of France in 1515.
Louis XI granted
**the Duchies of Normandy, Berry, and Guyenne to his younger brother Charles. These titles returned to the crown when Charles died in 1472.
**Francis I granted
the Duchies of Orléans, Angoulême, and Châtellerault and the Counties of Clermont-en-Beauvaisis and La Marche to his second surviving son, Charles in 1540. To this was added the Duchy of Bourbon in 1544. These titles returned to the crown when Charles died without issue in 1545.
Charles IX granted
**the Duchies of Anjou and Bourbonnais and the County of Forez to the older of his two brothers, Henry, in 1566. He added the Duchy of Auvergne to these holdings in 1569. The titles returned to the crown when Henry succeeded his brother in 1574.
the Duchies of Alençon and Château-Thierry and the Counties of Perche, Mantes, and Meulan to his youngest brother, Francis in 1566. To this he later added the Duchy of Évreux and the County of Dreux in 1569. Francis’s other brother, Henry III, increased his holdings still further in 1576, granting him the Duchies of Anjou, Touraine, and Berry and the County of Maine. All these titles returned to the crown upon Francis’s death without issue in 1584.
Louis XIII granted
**The Duchies of Orléans and Chartres and the County of Blois to his younger brother Gaston in 1626. To this was added the Duchy of Valois in 1630. These titles returned to the crown on Gaston’s death without male issue in 1660.
Louis XIV granted
**The Duchies of Orléans, Chartres, and Valois to his brother, Philippe in 1661. To this was added the Duchy of Nemours in 1672. These titles passed to his descendants and were abolished during the Revolution in 1790. They were restored to the heir at the time of the Restoration in 1814. The heir, Louis Philippe III, duc d’Orléans, took the throne (usurping it in Legitimist theory, legitimately ascending by popular will under Orléanist theory) in 1830 following the July Revolution, and the titles may at this point be considered to have merged in the crown; given the extinction of the line of Louis XV with the death of Henri, comte de Chambord (Henri IV by Legitimist reckoning) and the forfeiture of the junior line of Louis XIV, most Legitimists would accept the merger of the duchy into the (defunct) crown in 1883.
**The Duchies of Alençon and Angoulême and the County of Ponthieu to his third grandson, Charles, duc de Berry in 1710. These titles returned to the crown upon his death without surviving issue in 1714
Louis XV granted
**The Duchy of Anjou and the Counties of Maine, Perche, and Senonches to his second surviving grandson, Louis Stanislas, comte de Provence in 1771. Louis was further given the Duchy of Alençon by his brother Louis XVI in 1774. These titles were abolished during the Revolution in 1790. When the monarchy and apanages were restored in 1814, Louis had inherited the throne as Louis XVIII, and his titles merged into the crown.
**The Duchies of Auvergne, Angoulême and Mercœur and the Viscounty of Limoges to his youngest grandson Charles, comte d’Artois in 1773. To this was added in 1774 by his brother, Louis XVI the Marquisate of Pompadour and the Viscounty of Turenne. In 1776, Louis XVI deprived Charles of Limoges, Pompadour, and Turenne, and gave him in exchange the Duchies of Berry and Châteauroux, the Counties of Argenton and Ponthieu, and the Lordship of Henrichemont. In 1778, the apanage was further reshaped, with Auvergne and Mercœur removed and replaced with the County of Poitou, leaving Charles with a final apanage consisting of the Duchies of Angoulême, Berry, and Châteauroux, the Counties of Argenton, Ponthieu, and Poitou, and the Lordship of Henrichemont. These titles were abolished during the Revolution in 1790, but were restored at the time of the Restoration in 1814. They merged into the crown when Charles became king in 1824.
Although Napoleon restored the idea of apanage in 1810 for his sons, none were ever granted, nor were any new apanages created by the restoration monarchs.
Western fFeudal Appanages Outside France
Appanages Within the British Isles
English and British monarchs frequently granted appanages to younger sons of the monarch. Most famously, the Houses of York and Lancaster, whose feuding over the succession to the English throne after the end of the main line of the House of Plantagenet caused the Wars of the Roses, were both established when the Duchies of York and Lancaster were given as appanages for Edmund of Langley and John of Gaunt, the younger sons of King Edward III.
In modern times, the Duchy of Cornwall is the permanent statutory appanage of the monarch’s eldest son. Other titles have continued to be granted to junior members of the royal family, but without associated grants of land directly connected with those titles, or any territorial rights over the places named in the titles.
The defunct Kingdom of Strathclyde was granted as an appanage to the future David I of Scotland by his brother William the Lion. Remnants of this can be found within the patrimony of the Prince of Scotland, currently Charles, Duke of Rothesay.
Kingdom of Jerusalem
In the only crusader state of equal rank in protocol to the states of Western Europe, the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the County of Jaffa and Ascalon was often granted as an appanage.
With the installation of the House of Braganza on the Portuguese throne, in 1640, an official appanage was created for the second eldest son of the monarch, the House of the Infantado. The Infantado included several land grants and palaces, along with a heightened royal pension.