Famille de Guise

 

 

The original family of Guise stems from a younger son of Duke René II of Lorraine.  He was Claude, 1496-1550, and his father gave him his estates in France.  Principal amongst these was the county of Guise, from which Claude took his name.  Other properties included the county of Aumale, the marquisates of Elbeuf and Mayenne, and the barony of Joinville. 

Claude went on to be a successful general in the service of France and was rewarded by seeing his county elevated to the rank of duchy, 1528.

Among his children was Marie de Lorraine, Queen of both France and Scotland, and mother of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Claude's youngest son was René, 1536-1566, whose title was Marquis d'Elbeuf.  He married Louise de Rieux, daughter of the Count of Harcourt, a title she thus brought into the Elbeuf branch.  René died at a relatively young age and was succeeded by his son Charles I, who was created a Peer and Duke of Elbeuf.

Charles was succeeded in his turn, by Charles II, 1620-1692.  It is with his second son, François-Louis, that we are concerned.  He was, known by the name of  Count of Harcourt and his dates are 1623-1694.  Before he married, the Count had an illegitimate son, Henry, who did not rank in the succession and the title went to another son, Alphonse-Henri, who was known as the Prince d'Harcourt.  It was the custom in the Lorraine family that, even though some of the members were technically counts, they were still known as princes.

                        Larrouse etc

         Larrouse, Andrivau,  J Rowe

Henry was not welcome at the Lorraine court but he fared better in Paris.  In 1698, he was recognised and legitimated by the King of France.

 

                        Archives Nationales, Paris

The standing accorded by the French King is emphasised by the following extract from the Archives Nationales in Paris.  All male members of the Lorraine family are referred to as "Prince".  Apparently His Majesty tried to reconcile this father and son couple with the elder's half-brother, Henry but, it seems, without success.

 

                            Archives Nationales, Paris

The son of the (Alphonse-)Henri de Lorraine, mentioned above and usually known as Prince d'Harcourt, was Anne-Marie-Joseph.  He married an immensely rich, if somewhat less beautiful, woman.  He petitioned the Duke to create a new county for him, carrying the name of Guise

                        Archives Ducales, Nancy

Although technically a count, Anne-Marie-Joseph was universally referred to as the Prince de Guise and his estates took on the quality of a princely-county.  He died in 1739, his son in 1747 and his two brothers - Princes of Montlaur and Maubec - had already disappeared at an early age.  Thus, this branch of the family died out.

Meanwhile the legitimised Henry tried hard to be accepted by his Lorraine family and to be accorded a Lorraine title.  He was completely unsuccessful and died a broken-hearted man -  nobody seems to know where or when.  The mantle descended onto the shoulders of his son, François, who received several promises but no concrete results.  He, in turn, left the burden to his daughter, Marie-Jeanne, born 1728.

By the time she was ready to restart her efforts, the last Duke of Lorraine had left his country to marry Maria-Teresia of Austria and to become Holy Roman Emperor.  He also exchanged his Duchy of Lorraine for the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

Marie-Jeanne approached the son of the Emperor, then known as the Grand Duke of Tuscany, to explain her case.  For a change, she received a sympathetic hearing and the Grand Duke agreed that her side of the family had not been well treated.  He promulgated an Ordonnance, agreeing that she should be accepted as a full member of the family, with all the rights and styles involved.  He also accorded her the Guise titles, on the condition that she acquire at least a representative portion of the county - which she did.  This was to accord with the clause "ayant cause", see above.

                        Private

Marie-Jeanne had been a sought-after bride but she stepped between two contestants in a duel and was slashed on the face.  She thus became known as Scarface, like the illustrious third Duke of Guise.  It did not help her marital prospects.  Finally, and quite late in life, she married a Chevalier de Roussel.  Together they settled for a very quiet life in the country and almost disappeared from view.

Slowly the fortunes of the family declined.  Sometimes known as de Roussel, sometimes as de Guise Roussel, they lived an increasingly anonymous existence, while still keeping their pretensions alive.  By the time we get to Claude-Sarin, they had even dropped the particule.  Pierre emigrated to New Zealand, to try to rebuild his fortunes but is thought to have died in France.

He succeeded, to the extent that his daughter, Marie-Jeanne, did prosper and he handed over the family documents to her.  She experimented with the restoration of the name de Guise Roussel - registered at the Public Trustee's Office in Wellington - but this tended only to attract ridicule.  However, when she died, the local Auckland newspaper carried the simple banner headline, across the full page, Madame is Dead.

Meanwhile, she had heard that she had a grandson, in England,  was interested in heraldy etc.  She sent the papers on to him, with her final wish that he try to restore the family to its once-held position.

After taking suitable heraldic and legal advice, the grandson changed his name, in 1958, to that of his maternal family.  This was regularised at the Supreme Court of Judicature, in London;  he also assumed the titles; though these are not used except for charitable purposes.

He now lives in France and is usually known as André de Guise, rather than Andrew.

The family home in Lorraine

To help further his grand-mother's desires, he has resurrected and restructured the Order of the Lévrier Blanc (White Greyhound), as an international charity.  See www.levrierblanc.org, www.levrierblanc.net or www.craftsofeurope.eu.  

 

 

 

 

 

  The above is countersigned by the official Herald for Moldova, Dr Tabac..

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