Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Bourbon Restoration

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Preceded by
Napoleonic era

Followed by
July Monarchy

Bourbon Restoration

Treaty of Fontainebleau First Restoration Charter of 1814 Hundred Days Second White Terror Invasion of Spain Invasion of Algiers July Ordinances July Revolution

Louis XVIII Charles X Louis XIX (de jure) Henry V (de jure)

The Bourbon Restoration was the period of French history following the fall of Napoleon in 1814 until the July Revolution of 1830. The brothers of executed Louis XVI of France reigned in highly conservative fashion, and the exiles returned. They were nonetheless unable to reverse most of the changes made by the French Revolution and Napoleon. At the Congress of Vienna they were treated respectfully, but had to give up all the territorial gains made since 1789.


King Louis XVI of the House of Bourbon had been overthrown and executed during the French Revolution (1789–1799), which in turn was followed by Napoleon as ruler of France. A coalition of European powers defeated Napoleon in the War of the Sixth Coalition, ended the First Empire in 1814, and restored the monarchy to the brothers of Louis XVI. The Bourbon Restoration lasted from (about) 6 April 1814 until the popular uprisings of the July Revolution of 1830. There was an interlude in spring 1815—the "Hundred Days"—when the return of Napoleon forced the Bourbons to flee France. When Napoleon was again defeated they returned to power in July.

During the Restoration, the new Bourbon regime was a constitutional monarchy, unlike the absolutist Ancien Régime, and so it had some limits on its power. The period was characterized by a sharp conservative reaction, and consequent minor but consistent occurrences of civil unrest and disturbances. It also saw the reestablishment of the Catholic Church as a major power in French politics.

Permanent changes in French society

The eras of the French Revolution and Napoleon brought a series of major changes to France which the Bourbon Restoration did not reverse. First of all, France became highly centralized, with all decisions made in Paris. The political geography was completely reorganized and made uniform. France was divided into more than 80 departments, which have endured into the 21st century. Each department had an identical administrative structure, and was tightly controlled by a prefect appointed by Paris. The complex multiple overlapping legal jurisdictions of the old regime had all been abolished, and there was now one standardized legal code, administered by judges appointed by Paris, and supported by police under national control. The Catholic Church lost all its lands and buildings during the Revolution, and these were sold off or came under the control of local governments. The bishop still ruled his diocese (which was aligned with the new department boundaries), and communicated with the pope through the government in Paris. Bishops, priests, nuns and other religious people were paid salaries by the state. All the old religious rites and ceremonies were retained, and the government maintained the religious buildings. The Church was allowed to operate its own seminaries and to some extent local schools as well, although this became a central political issue into the 20th century. Bishops were much less powerful than before, and had no political voice. However, the Catholic Church reinvented itself and put a new emphasis on personal religiosity that gave it a hold on the psychology of the faithful. Education was centralized, with the Grand Master of the University of France controlling every element of the entire educational system from Paris. New technical universities were opened in Paris which to this day have a critical role in training the elite.

The old aristocracy had returned, and recovered much of the land they owned directly. However they completely lost all their old seigneurial rights to the rest of the farmland, and the peasants were no longer under their control. The old aristocracy had dallied with the ideas of the Enlightenment and rationalism. Now the aristocracy was much more conservative, and much more supportive of the Catholic Church. For the best jobs, meritocracy was the new policy, and aristocrats had to compete directly with the growing business and professional class. Anti-clerical sentiment became stronger than ever before, but was now based in certain elements of the middle class and indeed the peasantry as well. The great masses of the French people were peasants in the countryside, or impoverished workers in the cities. They gained new rights, and a new sense of possibilities. Although relieved of many of the old burdens, controls, and taxes, the peasantry was still highly traditional in its social and economic behavior. Many eagerly took on mortgages to buy as much land as possible for their children, so debt was an important factor in their calculations. The working class in the cities was a small element, and had been freed of many restrictions imposed by medieval guilds. However France was very slow to industrialize, and much of the work remained drudgery without machinery or technology to help. France was still localized, especially in terms of language, but now there was an emerging French nationalism that showed its national pride in the Army and foreign affairs.

Political overview

In April 1814, the Armies of the Sixth Coalition restored Louis XVIII of France to the throne; he was called the "Bourbon pretender" by historiographers, especially by those unfavorable to the restoration of the monarchy. A constitution, the Charter of 1814, was drafted. It presented all Frenchmen as equal before the law, but retained substantial prerogative for the king and nobility and limited voting to those paying at least 300 Francs a year in direct taxes.

Louis XVIII was the supreme head of the state. He commanded the land and sea forces, declared war, made treaties of peace, alliance and commerce, appointed to all places of public administration, and made the necessary regulations and ordinances for the execution of the laws and the security of the state. Louis was more liberal than his successor Charles X, choosing many centrist cabinets.

Louis XVIII died in September 1824. He was succeeded by his brother, Charles. Charles X pursued a more conservative form of governance than Louis. His ultra-reactionary laws included the Anti-Sacrilege Act (1825–1830), which saw his popularity plummet. The king and his ministers attempted to manipulate the outcome of a general election in 1830, through their July Ordinances. The ordinances sparked a revolution against Charles's coup attempt; by 2 August 1830, Charles had fled Paris and abdicated in favour of his grandson Henri, Count of Chambord. Henri's theoretical reign was ended on 9 August when the Chamber of Deputies declared Louis Philippe d'Orléans, who was currently ruling France as regent, King of the French, thus ushering in the July Monarchy.

First Restoration (1814)

Louis XVIII's restoration to the throne in 1814 was effected largely through the support of Napoleon's former foreign minister, Talleyrand, who convinced the victorious Allied Powers of the desirability of a Bourbon Restoration. The Allies had initially split on the best candidate for the throne: Britain favoured the Bourbons, the Austrians considered a regency for Napoleon's son, François Bonaparte, and the Russians were open to either the duc d'Orléans, Louis Philippe, or Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, Napoleon's former Marshal, who was in line for the Swedish throne. Napoleon was offered to keep the throne in February 1814, on the condition that France return to its 1792 frontiers, but he refused. The feasibility of the Restoration was in doubt, but the allure of peace to a war-weary French public, and demonstrations of support for the Bourbons in Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille, and Lyons, helped reassure the Allies.

Louis, in accordance with the Declaration of Saint-Ouen, granted a written constitution, the Charter of 1814, which guaranteed a bicameral legislature with a hereditary/appointive Chamber of Peers and an elected Chamber of Deputies – their role was consultative (except on taxation), as only the King had the power to propose or sanction laws, and appoint or recall ministers. The franchise was limited to men with considerable property holdings, and just 1% of people could vote. Many of the legal, administrative, and economic reforms of the revolutionary period were left intact; the Napoleonic Code, which guaranteed legal equality and civil liberties, the peasants' biens nationaux, and the new system of dividing the country into départments were not undone by the new king. Relations between church and state remained regulated by the Concordat of 1801. However, in spite of the fact that the Charter was a condition of the Restoration, the preamble declared it to be a "concession and grant", given "by the free exercise of our royal authority".

After a first sentimental flush of popularity, Louis' gestures towards reversing the results of the French Revolution quickly lost him support among the disenfranchised majority. Symbolic acts such as the replacement of the tricolore flag with the white flag, the titling of Louis as the "XVIII" (as successor to Louis XVII, who never ruled) and as "King of France" rather than "King of the French", and the monarchy's recognition of the anniversaries of the deaths of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were significant. A more tangible source of antagonism was the pressure applied to possessors of biens nationaux by the Catholic Church and returning émigrés attempting to repossess their former lands. Other groups bearing ill sentiment towards Louis included the army, non-Catholics, and workers hit by a post-war slump and British imports.

The Hundred Days

Napoleon's emissaries informed him of this brewing discontent, and, on 20 March 1815, he returned to Paris from Elba. On his Route Napoléon, most troops sent to stop his march, including some that were nominally royalist, felt more inclined to join the former Emperor than to stop him. Louis was forced to flee Paris to Ghent on 19 March. He returned after Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Waterloo and sent again into exile.

In Louis's absence, a small revolt in the traditionally pro-royalist Vendée was put down, but there were otherwise few subversive acts favouring the Restoration, even though Napoleon's popularity began to flag.

Second Restoration (1815)

Talleyrand was again influential in seeing that the Bourbons reigned, as was Fouché, Napoleon's minister of police during the Hundred Days. This Second Restoration saw the beginning of the Second White Terror, largely in the south, when supporters of the monarchy sought revenge against those who had supported Napoleon's return, killing 200–300 and forcing thousands to flee. The perpetrators were often known as the Verdets because of their green cockets, which was the colour of the comte d'Artois – this being the title of Charles X at the time, who was associated with the hardline ultra-royalists, or Ultras. After a period in which local authorities were powerless to stop the violence, the King and his ministers sent out their own officials to restore order.

A new Treaty of Paris was signed on 20 November 1815, which had more punitive terms than the 1814 treaty. France was ordered to pay 700 million francs in indemnities, and the country's borders were reduced to their 1790 status, rather than 1792 as in the previous treaty. France was occupied by 1.2 million foreign soldiers; occupation continued until 1818, by around 200,000 soldiers under the command of the Duke of Wellington, and France was made to pay the costs of their accommodation and rations, on top of the reparations. The promise of tax cuts, prominent in 1814, failed to actualize because of these payments. The legacy of this, and the White Terror, left Louis with a formidable opposition.

Louis's chief ministers were at first moderate, including Talleyrand, the Duc de Richelieu, and Élie, duc Decazes; Louis himself followed a cautious policy. The chambre introuvable, elected in 1815 and given the nickname "unobtainable" by Louis, due to the overwhelming ultra-royalist majority, threw out the Talleyrand-Fouché government and sought to legitimize the White Terror, passing trial against enemies of the state, sacking 50,000–80,000 civil service members, and dismissing 15,000 army officers. Richelieu, an émigré who had left in October 1789, who "had had nothing at all to do with the new France", was appointed Prime Minister. The chambre introuvable, meanwhile, continued to aggressively uphold the place of the monarchy and the church, and called for more commemorations for historical royal figures. Over the course of the parliamentary term, the ultra-royalists increasingly began to fuse their brand of politics with state ceremony, much to Louis' chagrin. Decazes, perhaps the most moderate minister, moved to stop the politicization of the National Guard (many Verdets had been drafted in) by banning political demonstrations by the militia in July 1816.

Owing to contrasting standpoints of the chamber and the King, the ultra-royalists began to assert the Chamber of Deputies' rights. This resulted in a concession from the government that the chamber had the right to approve state expenditure, granted after the ultra-royalists attempted to obstruct the 1816 budget. However, they were unable to gain a guarantee from the King that his cabinets would represent the majority in parliament.

In September 1816, the chamber was dissolved by Louis for its reactionary measures, and electoral manipulation resulted in a more liberal chamber in 1816. Richelieu served until 29 December 1818, followed by Jean-Joseph, Marquis Dessolles until 19 November 1819, and then Decazes (in reality the dominant minister from 1818 to 1820) until 20 February 1820. This was the era in which the Doctrinaires dominated policy. The following year, the government changed the electoral laws, resorting to gerrymandering, and altering the franchise to allow some rich men of trade and industry to vote, in an attempt to prevent the ultras from winning a majority in future elections. Press censorship was clarified and relaxed, some positions in the military hierarchy were made open to competition, and mutual schools were set up that encroached on the Catholic monopoly of public primary education. Decazes purged a number of ultra-royalist prefects and sub-prefects, and in by-elections, an unusually high proportion of Bonapartists and republicans were elected, some of whom were backed by ultras resorting to tactical voting. The ultras were strongly critical of the practice of giving civil service employment or promotions to deputies, as the government continued to consolidate its position.

By 1820, the opposition liberals, who with the ultras made up half the chamber, proved unmanageable, and Decazes and the king were looking for ways to revise the electoral laws again, to ensure a more tractable conservative majority. The assassination of the Duc de Berry, the ultrareactionary son of Louis' ultrareactionary brother and heir-presumptive, the future Charles X, by a Bonapartist in February 1820, triggered Decazes' fall from power and the triumph of the Ultras.

Richelieu returned to power for a short interval, from 1820 to 1821. The press was more strongly censored, detention without trial was reintroduced, and Doctrinaire leaders, such as François Guizot, were banned from teaching at the École Normale Supérieure. Under Richelieu, the franchise was changed to give the wealthiest electors a double vote, in time for the November 1820 election. After a resounding victory, a new Ultra ministry was formed, headed by Jean-Baptiste de Villèle, a leading Ultra who served for six years. The ultras found themselves back in power in favourable circumstances: Berry's wife, the duchesse de Berry, gave birth to "miracle child", Henri, seven months after the duc's death; Napoleon died on Saint Helena in 1821, and his son, the duc de Reichstadt, remained interned in Austrian hands. Literary figures, most notably Chateaubriand, but also Hugo, Lamartine, Vigny, and Nodier, rallied to the ultras' cause. Both Hugo and Lamartine later became republicans, whilst Nodier was formerly. Soon, however, Villèle proved himself to be nearly as cautious as his master, and, so long as Louis lived, overtly reactionary policies were kept to a minimum.

The ultras broadened their support, and put a stop to growing military dissent in 1823, when intervention in Spain, in favour of Spanish Bourbon King Ferdinand VII, and against the Liberal Spanish Government, fomented popular patriotic fervour. Despite British backing for the military action, the intervention was widely seen as an attempt to win back influence in Spain, which had been lost to the British under Napoleon. The French army, called the Hundred Thousand Sons of Saint Louis, was led by the duc d'Angoulême, the comte d'Artois's son. The French troops marched to Madrid and then to Cadiz, ousting the Liberals with little fighting (April to September 1823), and would remain in Spain for five years. Support for the ultras amongst the voting rich was further strengthened by doling out favours in a similar fashion to the 1816 chamber, and fears over the charbonnerie, the French equivalent of the carbonari. In the 1824 election, another large majority was secured.

Louis XVIII died on 16 September 1824, and was succeeded by his brother, the comte d'Artois, who took the title of Charles X.

Charles X, 1824–1830

The ascension to the throne of Charles X, the leader of the ultra-royalist faction, coincided with the ultras' control of power in the Chamber of Deputies; thus, the ministry of the comte de Villèle was able to continue, and the last "restraint" (i.e., Louis) on the ultra-royalists was removed. As the country underwent a Christian revival in the post-Revolutionary years, the ultras saw fit to raise the status of the Roman Catholic Church once more. The Concordat of 11 June 1817 was set to replace the Concordat of 1801, but, despite being signed, it was never validated. The Villèle government, under pressure from the Chevaliers de la Foi, which many deputies were members of, voted on the Anti-Sacrilege Act in January 1825, which punished by death the theft of consecrated hosts as parricide. The law was unenforceable and only enacted for symbolic purposes, though the act's passing caused a considerable uproar, particularly among the Doctrinaires.

On 29 May 1825, Charles was crowned in Reims, in an opulent and spectacular ceremony that was reminiscent of the royal pomp of the coronations of the Ancien Régime. Some innovations were included upon request by Villèle: although Charles was hostile towards the 1814 Charter, commitment to the "constitutional charter" was affirmed with four of Napoleon's generals in attendance. The Reims Cathedral was decorated to portray the union of Altar and Throne, and Charles Percier, the architect, adorned the building with Neo-Gothic décor, in a style that evoked the Middle Ages, rather than the Roman-influenced "Empire style" for which he was renowned. Charles was anointed with the sacred oil said by tradition to have been brought from heaven by a dove in 496; he prostrated himself before the altar; and received the ring, sceptre, hand of justice and then the crown. Charles even touched some people ill with scrofula, a few of whom were reported to have recovered. Hugo, Lamartine and Rossini lauded over the ceremony, while critics saw cause for alarm; Béranger notoriously mocked the king in a song, titled "The Coronation of King Charles the Simple". Others went as far as to accuse Charles of being a crypto-Jesuit.

In the months preceding the ceremony, the chambers passed legislation that paid an indemnity to émigrés, who had suffered by the confiscation of their lands during the Revolution. The chambers also approved the requirement that all children would inherit an equal share of land thus ending the law of primogeniture. Although this law had been engineered by Louis, Charles was influential in seeing that it was passed. A bill to finance this compensation, by converting government debt (the rente) from 5% to 3% bonds, which would save the state 30 million francs a year in interest payments, was also put before the chambers. Villèle's government argued that rentiers had seen their returns grow disproportionately, compared to their original investment, and that the redistribution was just and would reconcile émigrés to post-Revolutionary France; whereas, the opposition accused the ultras of taking money from small investors for disloyal nobles. The bill was eventually defeated in the Peers, where there was still a liberal contingent sitting, mainly appointees of Decazes. When the bill to reimburse émigrés went through in April, at a cost to the state of approximately 988 million francs (le milliard des émigrés), it was financed by government bonds at a value of 600 million francs, at an interest rate of 3%. Around 18 million francs were paid to the émigrés per year.

The state's payments were slower than expected, as the market value of the bonds fell; a quarter of those reimbursed received only 250 francs a year. Ironically, the main beneficiaries were perhaps the owners of biens nationaux, numbering around one million, as their property had been guaranteed as one of the conditions for the act's passing, which subsequently led to a rise in the value of their land.

In 1826, Villèle introduced a bill reestablishing the law of primogeniture; at least, it would be automatic for owners of large estates, unless they chose otherwise. The liberal Peers and press rebelled, as did some dissident ultras, such as Chateaubriand. The forcefulness of this criticism prompted the government to introduce a bill to restrict the press in December, having largely withdrawn censorship in 1824; this, however, only aggravated the ultras' opponents more, and the bill was withdrawn.

The Villèle cabinet faced increasing pressure in 1827 from the liberal press, including the Journal des débats, which hosted Chateaubriand's articles. Chateaubriand, the most prominent of the anti-Villèle ultras, had combined with others opposed to press censorship laws (a new law had reimposed it on 24 July 1827) to form the Société des amis de la liberté de la presse; Choiseul-Stainville, Salvandy and Villemain were among the contributors. Another influential society was the Société, Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera, which worked within the confines of legislation, banning the unauthorized assemblage of more than 20 members. The group, emboldened by the rising tide of opposition, was of a more liberal composition (it was associated with Le Globe) and included members such as Guizot, Rémusat, and Barrot. Pamphlets were sent out which evaded the censorship laws, and the group provided organizational assistance to liberal candidates against pro-government state officials in the November 1827 election.

In April 1827, the King and Villèle were confronted by an unruly National Guard. The garrison which Charles reviewed, under orders to express deference to the king but disapproval of his government, instead shouted derogatory anti-Jesuit remarks at his devoutly Catholic niece, Marie Thérèse, Madame la Dauphine. Villèle suffered worse treatment, as liberal officers led troops to protest at his office. In response, the Guard was disbanded. Pamphlets continued to be proliferated, which included accusations in September that Charles, on a trip to the northern départments, was holed up in Saint-Omer, was colluding with the Pope and planned to reinstate the tithe, and had suspended the Charter under the protection of a loyal garrison army.

By the time of the election, the moderate royalists (constitutionalists) were also beginning to turn against Charles, as was the business community, in part due to a financial crisis in 1825, that was blamed on the government's passing of the law of indemnification. Hugo and a number of other writers, dissatisfied with the reality of life under Charles X, also began to criticize the regime. In preparation for the 30 September registration cut-off for the election, opposition committees worked furiously to get as many voters as possible signed up, countering the actions of préfects, who began removing certain voters who had failed to provide up-to-date documents since the 1824 election. 18,000 voters were added to the 60,000 on the first list; despite préfect attempts to register those who met the franchise and were supporters of the government, this can mainly be attributed to opposition activity. Organization was mainly divided behind Chateaubriand's Friends and the Aide-toi; the Aide-toi backed liberals, constitutionnels, and the contre-opposition (constitutional monarchists).

The new chamber did not result in a clear majority for any side. Villèle's successor, the vicomte de Martignac, who began his term in January 1828, tried to steer a middle course, appeasing liberals by loosening press controls, expelling Jesuits, modifying electoral registration, and restricting the formation of Catholic schools. Charles, unhappy with the new government, surrounded himself with men from the Chevaliers de la Foi and other ultras, such as the Prince de Polignac and La Bourdonnaye. Martignac was deposed when his government lost a bill on local government. Charles and his advisers believed a new government could be formed with the support of the Villèle, Chateaubriand, and Decazes monarchist factions, but chose a chief minister, Polignac, in November 1829 who was repellant to the liberals and, worse, Chateaubriand. Though Charles remained nonchalant, the deadlock led some royalists to call for a coup, and prominent liberals for a tax strike.

At the opening of the session in March 1830, the King delivered a speech that contained veiled threats to the opposition; in response, 221 deputies (an absolute majority) condemned the government, and Charles subsequently prorogued and then dissolved parliament. Charles retained a belief that he was popular amongst the unenfranchised mass of the people, and he and Polignac chose to pursue an ambitious foreign policy of colonialism and expansionism, with the assistance of Russia. France had intervened in the Mediterranean a number of times after Villèle's resignation, and expeditions were now sent to Greece and Madagascar. Polignac also initiated French colonization in Algeria; victory was announced over the Dey of Algiers in early July. Plans were drawn up to invade Belgium, which was shortly to undergo its own revolution. However, foreign policy did not prove sufficient to divert attention from domestic problems.

Charles's dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies, his July Ordinances which set up rigid control of the press, and his restriction of suffrage resulted in the July Revolution of 1830. The major cause of the regime's downfall, however, was that, while it managed to keep the support of the aristocracy, the Catholic Church and even much of the peasantry, the ultras' cause was deeply unpopular outside of parliament and with those who did not hold the franchise, especially the industrial workers and the bourgeoisie.

Charles abdicated in favor of his grandson, the Comte de Chambord, and left for England. However, the liberal, bourgeois-controlled Chamber of Deputies refused to confirm the Comte de Chambord as Henri V. In a vote largely boycotted by conservative deputies, the body declared the French throne vacant, and elevated Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans, to power.

Fall of the Bourbons 1827–1830

There is still considerable debate among historians as to the actual cause of the downfall of Charles X. What is generally conceded, though, is that between 1820 and 1830, a series of economic downturns combined with the rise of a liberal opposition within the Chamber of Deputies, ultimately felled the conservative Bourbons.

Between 1827 and 1830, France faced an economic downturn, industrial and agricultural, that was possibly worse than the one that sparked the Revolution of 1789. A series of progressively worsening grain harvests in the late 1820s pushed up the prices on various staple foods and cash crops. In response, the rural peasantry throughout France lobbied for the relaxation of protective tariffs on grain to lower prices and ease their economic situation. However, Charles X, bowing to pressure from wealthier landowners, kept the tariffs in place. He did so based upon the Bourbon response to the "Year Without a Summer" in 1816, during which Louis XVIII relaxed tariffs during a series of famines, caused a downturn in prices, and incurred the ire of wealthy landowners, who were the traditional source of Bourbon legitimacy. Thus, between 1827 and 1830, peasants throughout France faced a period of relative economic hardship and rising prices.

At the same time, international pressures, combined with weakened purchasing power from the provinces, led to decreased economic activity in urban centers. This industrial downturn contributed to the rising poverty levels among Parisian artisans. Thus, by 1830, multiple demographics had suffered from the economic policies of Charles X.

While the French economy faltered, a series of elections brought a relatively powerful liberal bloc into the Chamber of Deputies. The 17-strong liberal bloc of 1824 grew to 180 in 1827, and 274 in 1830. This liberal majority grew increasingly dissatisfied with the policies of the centrist Martignac and the ultra-royalist Polignac, seeking to protect the limited protections of the Charter of 1814. They sought both the expansion of the franchise, and more liberal economic policies. They also demanded the right, as the majority bloc, to appoint the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.

Also, the growth of the liberal bloc within the Chamber of Deputies corresponded roughly with the rise of a liberal press within France. Generally centered around Paris, this press provided a counterpoint to the government's journalistic services, and to the newspapers of the right. It grew increasingly important in conveying political opinions and the political situation to the Parisian public, and can thus be seen as a crucial link between the rise of the liberals and the increasingly agitated and economically suffering French masses.

By 1830, the Restoration government of Charles X faced difficulties on all sides. The new liberal majority clearly had no intention of budging in the face of Polignac's aggressive policies. The rise of a liberal press within Paris which outsold the official government newspaper indicated a general shift in Parisian politics towards the left. And yet, Charles' base of power was certainly toward the right of the political spectrum, as were his own views. He simply could not yield to the growing demands from within the Chamber of Deputies. The situation would soon come to a head.

The Four Ordinances

Technically, the Charter of 1814 had made France a constitutional monarchy. While the King retained extensive power over policy-making, as well as the sole power of the Executive, he was, nonetheless, reliant upon the Parliament to accept and pass his legal decrees. The Charter also fixed the method of election of the Deputies, their rights within the Chamber of Deputies, and the rights of the majority bloc. Thus, in 1830, Charles X faced a significant problem. He could not overstep his constitutional bounds, and yet, he could not preserve his policies with a liberal majority within the Chamber of Deputies. Stark action was required.

A final no-confidence vote by the liberals, in March 1830, spurred the king into action, and he set about to alter the Charter of 1814 by decree. These decrees, known as the "Four Ordinances", or the "Ordinances of Saint-Cloud", were:

  1. Dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies
  2. Restriction of the Press Laws
  3. Restriction of the franchise to only the wealthiest within France
  4. Immediate new elections based upon the new electorate

Word spread quickly of the king's intent. On 10 July 1830, before the king had even made his declarations, a group of wealthy, liberal journalists and newspaper proprietors, led by Adolphe Thiers, met in Paris to decide upon a strategy to counter Charles X. It was decided then, nearly three weeks before the Revolution, that in the event of Charles' expected proclamations, the journalistic establishment of Paris would publish vitriolic criticisms of the king's policies in an attempt to mobilize the masses. Thus, when Charles X made his declarations on the 25 July 1830, the liberal journalism machine mobilized, publishing articles and complaints decrying the despotism of the king's actions.

The urban mobs of Paris also mobilized, driven by patriotic fervor and economic hardship, assembling barricades and attacking the infrastructure of Charles X. Within days, the situation escalated beyond the ability of the monarchy to control it. As the Crown moved to shut down liberal periodicals, the radical Parisian masses defended those publications. They also launched attacks against pro-Bourbon presses, and paralyzed the coercive apparatus of the monarchy. Seizing the opportunity, the liberals in Parliament began drafting resolutions, complaints, and censures against the king.

The king finally abdicated on 30 July 1830. Twenty minutes later, his son, Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême, who had nominally succeeded as Louis XIX, also abdicated, having lasted what is believed to be the shortest reign on record. The Crown nominally then fell upon the son of Louis Antoine's younger brother, Charles X's grandson, who became Henri V, with Louis-Phillippe, Duc d'Orléans, as Lieutenant-General of the realm. However, the newly empowered Chamber of Deputies declared the throne vacant, and on 9 August, elevated Louis-Philippe, to the throne. Thus, the July Monarchy began.

Louis-Philippe and the House of Orléans

Louis-Philippe ascended the throne on the strength of the July Revolution of 1830, and ruled, not as "King of France" but as "King of the French", marking the shift to national sovereignty. The Orléanists remained in power until 1848. Following the ousting of the last king to rule France during the February 1848 Revolution, the French Second Republic was formed with the election of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte as President (1848–1852). In the French coup of 1851, Napoleon declared himself Emperor Napoleon III of the Second Empire, which lasted from 1852 to 1870.

Political parties under Restoration

Political parties saw substantial changes of alignment and membership under the Restoration. The Chamber of Deputies oscillated between repressive ultra-royalist phases and progressive liberal phases. Opponents of the monarchy were absent from the political scene, because of the repression of the White Terror. Individuals of influence who had different visions of the French constitutional monarchy clashed.

All parties remained fearful of the common people, whom Adolphe Thiers later referred to by the term "cheap multitude". Their political sights were set on a favoritism of class. Political changes in the Chamber were due to abuse by the majority tendency, involving a dissolution and then an inversion of the majority, or critical events; for example, the assassination of the Duc de Berry in 1820.

Disputes were a power struggle between the powerful (royalty against deputies) rather than a fight between royalty and populism. Although the deputies claimed to defend the interests of the people, most had an important fear of common people, of innovations, of socialism and even of simple measures, such as the extension of voting rights.

The principal political parties during the Restoration were:


Constitutionnels were mostly rich and educated middle-class men: lawyers, senior officials of the Empire, and academics. They feared the triumph of the aristocracy, as much as that of the democrats. They accepted the charter, because it guaranteed freedom and civil equality and created a barrier to the popular masses who were considered unable, because of their ignorance, to be involved in the management of public affairs. Important personalities were Pierre Paul Royer-Collard, François Guizot, and the count of Serre. Their newspapers were Le Courrier français and Le Censeur.


Doctrinaires promoted a return to a moderate monarchy and were opposed to the extremists in the early period of the Restoration. The most prominent Doctrinaire newspaper was Le Courrier français.


Independents were mostly lower middle class: doctors and lawyers, bourgeoisie, men of law, and, in rural constituencies, traders of national goods. They rejected the charter, considering it too conservative. They rejected the treaties of 1815, the white flag and the pre-eminence of clergy and of nobility. Important personalities were parliamentary monarchist Benjamin Constant, officer of the Empire Maximilien Sebastien Foy, republican lawyer Jacques-Antoine Manuel and Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette. Their newspapers were La Minerve, Le Constitutionnel and Le Globe.

Liberal royalists

Liberals appeared as a party in the last years of the Restoration. Liberal royalists preached movement towards more liberty and openness. They wished to lower the taxable quota to support the middle-class as a whole, to the detriment of the aristocracy. Liberals had profited from the emergence of a new middle-class elite, due to the Industrial Revolution, which upset the aristocratic order.


Facing the representatives of the middle class, the Republicans, then situated on the extreme left, addressed the miserable world of the disenfranchised worker. Workers were neither represented, nor listened to. Their demonstrations were repressed or diverted, causing, at most, a reinforcement of parliamentarism, which did not mean democratic evolution, only wider taxation. For some, such as Blanqui, revolution seemed the only solution. Garnier-Pagès, and Louis-Eugène and Éléonore-Louis Godefroi Cavaignac considered themselves to be Republicans, while Cabet and Raspail were active as socialists. Saint-Simon was also active during this period, and made direct appeals to Louis XVIII before his death in 1824.


Ultra-royalists wished for a return to the Ancien Régime, such as before 1789, with a view toward absolutism: domination by the nobility and "other devoted Christians". They were anti-Republican, anti-democratic, and preached Government on High, by a marked noble elite. They tolerated vote censitaire: a form of democracy limited to those paying taxes above a high threshold. Ultra-royalists were interested in preserving aristocracy and promoting absolutism. They found the Charter of 1814 to be too revolutionary. The ultra-royalists wanted a return to absolute monarchy, the re-establishment of privileges, and a king: Charles X.

Prominent ultra-royalists theorists were Louis de Bonald and Joseph de Maistre. Their parliamentary leaders were François Régis de La Bourdonnaye, comte de La Bretèche and, in 1829, Jules de Polignac. Their main newspapers were La Quotidienne and La Gazette; other royalist papers included the Drapeau Blanc, named after the Bourbon white flag, and the Oriflamme, named after the battle standard of France.

The French historical film Jacquou le Croquant, directed by Laurent Boutonnat and starring Gaspard Ulliel and Marie-Josée Croze, is based on the Bourbon Restoration.


  • Les Misérables, Victor Hugo's novel which is set in the 20 years after Napoleon's Hundred Days
  • The Red and the Black, Stendhal's novel set in the final years of the regime
  • La Comédie humaine, a sequence of almost 100 novels and plays by Honoré de Balzac, set during the Restoration and the July Monarchy
  • References

    Bourbon Restoration Wikipedia

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