Genealogy of the Royal House of Aragon


The Royal House of Aragon was founded by James I of Aragon
(“The Conqueror”) who reigned as King of Aragon 1213 – 1276.
The Kingdom of Aragon was one of the small Christian states
which arose in the Iberian peninsula following the gradual
expulsion of the Moors, who had held sway in the area in the
wake of their conquest of the old Visigothic realm of Spain
in the eighth century.

Peter III succeeded his father James I to the throne in
1276, and for many years the succession continued without
problems. But when King Martin I (the Humanist) of Aragon
died in 1410 he had no children to succeed him, and he had
not named any successor. The only written law of succession
was the Will of James I which confirmed the principle of
male primogeniture, but this was not followed. Six claimants
to the throne stepped forward. Through intrigues and
political gerrymandering the law of succession was set
aside, and a group of nine electors was put together to
decide upon the respective claims. They met at Caspe in
Aragon in 1412, and by the very composition of the group a
decision for one of the claimants, Ferdinand of Antequera,
was assured in advance. He thus came to power in a manner
similar to a coup in conflict with the prevailing order of

This point is also stressed by T.N. Bisson, who for many
years was professor of medieval history at Harvard
University. When discussing the “compromise” of Caspe in
his book “The medieval crown of Aragon” he points out that
” … the issuem was (or became) political rather than simply
legal, a utilitarian question of which candidate with some
dynastic claim would make the best king”(op. cit., pp. 135-

When James Count of Urgel, who should have inherited the
throne after Martin I, died in captivity in 1433 the
legitimate line passed to the Duke of Gandia who died
without heir in 1454. The lawful succession thus passed in
1454 to the House of Ayerbe where the Princes of Cassano
were heads of the House until their line became extinct with
the death of Joseph the last Prince of Cassano.

The succession thence passed to the cadet branch of the
House of Ayerbe, the line from Peter, the younger son of
King James the Conqueror in his third marriage. Peter first
Baron of Ayerbe had a son Michael who in turn sired a boy,
Giovanni the Elder born in 1347 and who in 1398 became Vicar
General of the Kingdom of Sicily. Giovanni married Sibilla
Spadafora and from that union descends unbroken the line of
the House of Paternò.

Over the centuries the descent had thrown off numerous
branches, many of which have intermarried. Thus, when the
last Prince of Cassano died, it was not clear who precisely
held the dynastic right to the jus majestatis of the Lands
of the Crown of Aragon and it became urgently necessary that
the question be answered.

A family conclave, on the initiative of the 7th Duke of
Carcaci Don Francesco Paternò Castello e Sammartino, was
called on 14th June 1853, and held in Palermo in the palace
of the Marquis of Spedalotto, head of one of the more senior
branches of the family. After a review of the relevant
evidence and a wide-ranging discussion, it was the finding
of the conclave that the royal rights, which had been the
subject of the debate, should be confirmed as belonging to
Don Mario, son of the Duke of Carcaci’s younger brother Don
Giovanni and his wife Donna Eleonora Guttadauro of Emmanuel
Riburdone, the heiress of the House of Guttadauro. This
conclusion which had received the assent of King Ferdinand
II of the Two Sicilies was reached on the recognition that
Don Mario alone had the royal blood of Aragon in his veins
from two sources, through the separate descents of both his
mother and his father from King James the Conqueror.

A family pact was then signed and registered on 16 June 1853
in the Chamber of Seals and Royal Registers of the Kingdom
of the Two Sicilies. It was decreed that during the minority
of Don Mario, his father Don Giovanni should be Regent.

The sealing of the family pact was but one of a series of
events following the death of the last Prince of Cassano
which determined and confirmed the dynastic rights of the
House of Paternò Castello Guttadauro. The final endorsement
came on 2nd February 1860 when the Royal Commission for
Titles of Nobility recommended to the new king Francis II
that a petition by “Ecc’mo Sig. Don Mario Paternò Castello
Guttadauro dei Duchi di Carcaci be granted. The petition was
that the Prince should receive all confirmation of the
Sovereign’s assent for those “chivalrous distinctions” which
he wished to bestow. On 11th February 1860 the king
approved the recommendation of the Royal Commission and
directed the Secretary of State for Sicilian Affairs to give
effect to his approval.

In 1996, following the abdication of his father, H.R.H. Don
Francesco became Head of the Royal House of Aragon, Majorca
and Sicily as Prince of Emanuel and Duke of Perpignan.

More information about the Royal House of Aragon, Majorca
and Sicily, and their international commitment to chivalric
and charitable work, is available at

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