Monday 14 November 2022

Game of Gay Thrones 7: Byzantium, Korea, England and Baden

Here we are again with another group of lgbt royal wannabes. Included are a couple of spouses who, for one reason or another, were prevented from sitting beside their spouses. I never stop being surprised by the number of queer claimants and disinherited heirs to thrones past and present there have been, not to mention their spouses. There are even more to come next year.

Imperial symbol adopted by the Byzantine emperors

1) Basiliskianos (pre-846- after 866); named as a possible Emperor of Byzantium, 866.

The throne of Byzantium has seen more than its fair share of dethronements, assassinations and claimants. Basiliskianos became a pawn in the power struggle between Emperor Mikhael III (840-866) and his lover and co-Emperor Basileios (c.830-886). I explain the emperors’ relationship in more detail here. Briefly, Mikhael spotted Basileios at a sporting event and became besotted with him. He later made him co-emperor.

In 866 Mikhael began to show more than a casual interest in a young courtier called Basiliskianos. After Mikhael won a chariot race Basiliskianos gave him a lot of enthusiastic praise. The emperor was wearing the imperial red boots, and he told Basiliskianos to remove them and wear them himself. This angered co-emperor Basileios and a bit of an argument ensured. Mikhael said to him “I made you emperor, and do I not have the power to create another?” He later added, “I am ready to make Basiliskianos emperor”. He never did, but the possibility was always there and it upset Basileios enough to assassinate Mikhael. There’s no record of what happened to Basiliskianos after Mikhael died.

Imperial emblem on the Joseon kingdom

2) Crown Princess Sun-Bin Bong (1414-after 1436); consort of the future king of Josean.

Sun-Bin was a member of the aristocratic Haeum Bong clan. In 1429 she married Crown Prince Hi Hyang of the Joseon kingdom in Korea. The marriage, however, was not a very congenial one, and it is reported that the king himself told the Crown Prince to take more interest in his new bride. It didn’t help the marriage, and it deteriorated even more when Princess Bong got angry after one of the Crown Prince’s concubines became pregnant.

Another stumbling block in the marriage was Princess Bong’s habit of giving clothes from the royal wardrobe to her own family. But what really put an end to the marriage, and any chance of her sitting on the Korean throne with her husband in the future, was her blatant over-friendliness towards her female servants, in particular a maid with whom she confesses to having been intimate with on more than one occasion.

This was too much for the king and he banished Sun-Bin Bong from court, annulled the marriage, and reduced her to the rank of commoner. As with Basiliskianos above, there’s no real record of what happened to her after that.

Coat of arms the Mervyn, Earl of Castlehaven

3) Mervyn Tuchet, 2nd Earl of Castlehaven (1594-1631); consort of the legal heir to King Henry VIII of England.

Before the 1701 Act of Settlement defined the order of succession to the British throne it was sometimes decided by the last will of the previous monarch. King Henry VIII’s will of 1546 decreed that after the extinction of his own descendants the throne should pass to descendants of his younger sister, not his elder sister as would have been the case under primogeniture rules.

After the last of Henry VIII’s children, Queen Elizabeth I, died in 1603 the heir to the throne under his will was Lady Anne Stanley (1580-1647), who should have become Queen Anne. However, parliament decided to ignore the will and gave the throne to the primogeniture heir, the gay King James VI of Scotland. Some people considered Anne to be the rightful monarch though she never pressed her claim.

It is Anne’s second husband, the Earl of Castlehaven, who is our lgbt royal wannabe. Their marriage was disastrous. I wrote about it several years ago and it is best to read about it here because it’s a bit complicated. Thankfully, the whole sordid affair ended in 1631 when the earl was executed and he never got the chance to be the prince consort to the lawful (under King Henry’s will) queen of England.

Coat of arms of the Pinces Sanguszko-Lubartowicz

4) Prince Janusz Sanguszko-Lubartowicz (1712-1775); bloodline heir of King Harold II of England.

The most famous date in English history is 1066 – the year of 4 kings and 2 invasions. King Edward the Confessor died and was succeeded by King Harold II. Harold faced an invasion led by William of Normandy. Harold was killed in battle, but before William could take the throne as the victor one of King Edward’s nephews was declared king. He quickly abdicated in William’s favour.

Several sites online track Harold’s bloodline to determine who is his direct heir. None match my own research, which I believe is accurate. Harold’s bloodline passed through his daughter to the Kievan royal family, then to the Princes of Warsaw, and finally to the Counts Potocki, the present heirs. On the way several senior bloodlines became extinct and switched to surviving junior branches. One such senior line ended with Prince Janusz Sanguszko-Lubart.

Janusz became Harold’s heir at the age of 17 on the death of his mother, the previous bloodline heir. Janusz was a bit of a party animal and squandered his inheritance on parties and his many gay lovers. In contrast, he was also a great benefactor to local religious institutions. In 1730 he entered a dynastic marriage, but he showed little interest in performing his dynastic duty by fathering an heir. His wife soon left him, and Prince Janusz spent the rest of his life trying unsuccessfully to have his marriage annulled.

In 1748 his openly gay lifestyle was forced temporarily into the closet when his father imprisoned his lover for fraud. Two years later, his father died and Janusz had another vast inheritance to squander away. Although not interested in politics the king of Poland-Lithuania appointed him a Court Marshal, among other offices.

When Janusz died in 1775 he was in debt and there were no close living relatives on his mother’s side, King Harold’s bloodline, to succeed him. It had to go back to descendants of his great-grandfather’s younger brother, from which it has passed to today.

Coat of arms of the Grand Dukes of Baden

5) Prince Maximilian von Baden (1876-1929); heir presumptive to the Grand Duchy of Baden.

The Grand Duchy of Baden was one of the sovereign states within the Holy Roman Empire and the German Empire until it was abolished in 1918. The last Grand Duke was Prince Friedrich II (1857-1928). He was childless and his cousin Prince Maximilian was his nearest living male relative and heir presumptive.

In the 1890s the British Queen Victoria attempted to marry Maximilian to her grand-daughter, Princess Alexandra von Hessen. Alexandra wasn’t interested because she was already in love with the future Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. I wonder how history would have been different if Alexandra had married Maximilian. After all, it was Alexandra’s relationship with Rasputin that was one of the causes of the Russian Revolution.

In 1900 Prince Maximilian did marry into the British royal family. His wife was Princess Marie Louise, one of Queen Victoria’s cousins and a member of the “old Royal Family” (i.e. junior descendants of King George III), the Cumberlands. This branch of the family still exists, but most of them sided with Germany in World War I and were deprived of their British royal titles, Princess Marie Louise included.

Before his marriage Prince Maximilian was listed in Berlin police records as a homosexual. This fact was only revealed in a biography of him in 2013. Maximilian and Marie Louise had two children, both of whom have interesting connections. Their son married the late Duke of Edinburgh’s sister (he was named after Prince Philipp von Hessen, heir presumptive of Finland). Maximilian’s daughter married Philipp von Hessen’s twin brother.

In September 1918, when it seemed Germany would lose the war, the Kaiser appointed Prince Maximilian as Chancellor of Germany. The following day the Kaiser offered an armistice to the Allies and Maximilian advised him to abdicate. Once armistice was accepted a political “rebellion” against the Kaiser’s appointments forced Maximilian to resign. A republic was declared, royal titles were abolished, and Maximilian spent the rest of his life in retirement. On his cousin’s death in 1928 he became the head of the abolished Baden royal family, and claimed by monarchists as the rightful Grand Duke of Baden. He died the following year.

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