Elias, Duke of Parma

Elias, Duke of Parma and Piacenza (Italian: Elia di Borbone-Parma; 23 July 1880 27 June 1959) was the head of the House of Bourbon-Parma and pretender to the defunct throne of Parma between 1950 and 1959. From 1907 to 1950 he served as regent for the claims of his two older disabled brothers.

Duke of Parma
Head of the House of Bourbon-Parma
Tenure7 January 1950 27 June 1959
PredecessorDuke Joseph
SuccessorDuke Robert Hugo
Born(1880-07-23)23 July 1880
Died27 June 1959(1959-06-27) (aged 78)
Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria
(m. 1903; died 1940)
Full name
Elias Robert Charles Maria
FatherRobert I, Duke of Parma
MotherPrincess Maria Pia of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Early life

Elias was born at Biarritz, the youngest son of the deposed Duke Robert I of Parma and his first wife Princess Maria Pia of Bourbon-Two Sicilies (daughter of King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies).

Despite the loss of the throne, His father Robert enjoyed considerable wealth. They owned castles at Schwarzau am Steinfeld near Vienna in Austria, Villa Pianore near Viareggio in Italy, and the magnificent Château de Chambord in France (up until its confiscation in World War I).

Marriage and family

On 25 May 1903 at Vienna, Elias married Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria (1882–1940), daughter of Archduke Friedrich, Duke of Teschen, and a niece of Queen Maria Cristina of Spain. Elias and Maria Anna had eight children, but only one of them did marry and had issue:

  • Princess Elisabetta of Bourbon-Parma (17 March 1904 – 13 June 1983); she died unmarried.
  • Prince Carlo Luigi of Bourbon-Parma (22 September 1905 – 26 September 1912); he died of poliomyelitis.
  • Princess Maria Francesca of Bourbon-Parma (5 September 1906 – 20 February 1994); she died unmarried.
  • Robert Hugo, Duke of Parma (7 August 1909 – 15 November 1974); he died unmarried.
  • Prince Francesco Alfonso of Bourbon-Parma (14 June 1913 – 29 May 1939); he died unmarried.
  • Princess Giovanna Isabella of Bourbon-Parma (8 July 1916 – 1 November 1949); she never married and was killed in a shooting accident in La Toledana, Spain.
  • Princess Alicia of Bourbon-Parma (13 November 1917 – 28 March 2017); she married Infante Alfonso, Duke of Calabria, and had issue.
  • Princess Maria Christina of Bourbon-Parma (7 June 1925 – 1 September 2009); she died unmarried.

Through his fourth daughter, Princess Alicia, he is great-grandfather of Prince Pedro, Duke of Calabria, one of two claimants to the thone of the Two Sicilies.

Regent for his brothers

In 1907 Elias' father Robert died and was succeeded in his ducal claims of Parma by his son Enrico who was mentally disabled. Less than four months later the Grand Marshal of the Austrian court declared Enrico and five of his siblings legally incompetent. Elias became regent for Enrico's claims and guardian for his disabled siblings.

In 1907 Elias was made a knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece by the Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria.

In 1910 Elias came to an agreement with his half-siblings, his father's children by his second wife, about the division of their father's estate. Elias was to have half of the estate in order to support his rank as head of the family; this half included the château de Chambord.

In 1915 Chambord was sequestered by the French government as alien property, since Elias held a commission in the Austro-Hungarian Army.[1] 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. Elias' half-brothers, 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. 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 an 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.

In 1939 Enrico died and was succeeded in his ducal claims of Parma by his brother Giuseppe who also was mentally disabled. Elias continued to act as regent.

In 1950 Giuseppe died and Elias succeeded as pretender of Parma.

Elias died at Friedberg, Styria in 1959. He and his wife are buried in the nearby village of Mönichkirchen.



  1. "Demands Seizure of Bourbon Estate", The New York Times ( 21 April 1915): 1; "France Takes Chambord", The New York Times ( 25 April 1915): 3.
Elias, Duke of Parma
Cadet branch of the House of Bourbon
Born: 23 July 1880 Died: 27 June 1959
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Duke of Parma
Reason for succession failure:
Annexed by Kingdom of Italy
Succeeded by
Robert Hugo
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