xxxxxOn his return to power in 1815 Louis XVIII saw the need to play the constitutional monarch. His charter established a parliament, introduced legal and social reforms, granted greater press freedom, and extended the franchise. However, the murder of the Duke de Berry (son of the future Charles X) in 1820 brought a violent reaction by the ultra-
FRANCE: THE JULY REVOLUTION 1830 (W4)
Liberty: Liberty Leading the People, by the French painter Eugène Delacroix (1798-
xxxxxWhen Louis XVIII of France eventually regained his throne following the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, he faced a daunting task. If his dynasty were to survive he had to find some way of satisfying the demands of the ultra-
xxxxxAfter a shaky start these measures produced a workable legislature and a climate favourable to commercial and industrial expansion. Furthermore, foreign occupation came to an end in 1818, and France took its place again amongst the great powers of Europe. But in 1820, with the assassination of the Duke de Berry (son of the future Charles X) there was a violent Royalist reaction, and Louis was virtually forced to approve measures in favour of the nobility and the Church. The franchise was severely restricted, freedom of the press suspended, and education was put into the hands of the clergy.
xxxxxWith the death of Louis in September 1824, his younger brother, the Comte d'Artois, an ultra royalist, came to the throne as Charles X (illustrated) and confrontation became inevitable. A staunch supporter of the aristocracy and clergy, he compensated the emigrés for their loss of land during the Revolution, worked to revive the Church, and sanctioned the return of the Jesuits. At the same time, he at once set about undermining the liberal institutions and the popular rights which had been achieved by the Revolution and shrewdly tolerated by Louis. In particular, he saw freedom of the press, and the liberal opposition in the Chamber of Deputies, as a direct threat to society in general and to his dynasty in particular. He is recorded as saying that he would “rather chop wood than reign after the fashion of the King of England”!
xxxxxThe events which brought matters to a head came about in 1830. In March, when the Chamber of Deputies demanded the dismissal of a number of the king’s ministers, Charles dissolved the legislature, declared the new elections null and void, and followed this up in July with a complete suspension of the freedom of the press. Such repressive measures aroused widespread opposition and violent resistance in Paris. Barricades were erected in the main thoroughfares, manned by students, workers and the petty bourgeoisie, and after three days of strikes and street fighting -
xxxxxOn August 9th Louis Philippe (1773-
xxxxxNot surprisingly, the French revolution of July 1830 sparked off popular uprisings across Europe, particularly in Germany, Italy, Belgium and Poland. As we shall see (1831), some were ruthlessly crushed, as in the case of Germany and Poland, whilst others brought about political change of a lasting nature.
xxxxxIncidentally, in his novel Les Misérables, published in 1862, the French novelist Victor Hugo had this to say about Louis XVIII and Charles X: They believed they were rooted because they were the past. They were mistaken; they were a portion of the past, but the whole past was France. ……
xxxxx…… When Charles X was forced to abdicate he made for England and landed at Weymouth on the south coast. There he was met by a somewhat hostile crowd, and he quickly travelled inland and took refuge with the Welds, a Catholic family living in Lulworth Castle in Dorset. ……
xxxxx…… In the July Revolution the white flag of the Bourbons was replaced by the tricolour, the flag adopted at the start of the French Revolution in 1789. The painting above (top right) -
Charles X and