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The Restored Bourbon Monarchy (1815-1848) Notes
THE RESTORED BOURBON MONARCHY (1815-48) NOTES
© 2017, Brian Maregedze (Masters of Arts in African History candidate, B. A Special Honours in History [UZ], B.A major in History and Religious Studies [UZ]),
Teaching Assistant-Department of History, University of Zimbabwe,
High School Consultant
Email; [email protected]
Soon after the downfall of Napoleon, European statesmen from Britain, Russia, Prussia and Austria met in Vienna the Austrian capital with the main objectives of deciding various issues related to restoration of peace in Europe, preventing the French aggression, redrawing the map of Europe among others. Prince Metternich of Austria became the dominant figure in deliberations which followed as far as the future of Europe was concerned especially on the case of France which was accused of being trouble makers in the European continent. A return to the old order in France that is the 1789 era prior to Napoleonic wars, conquest was imposed upon France by the victors that is the four major states who had formed, initiated the Vienna settlement in 1814. Questions which are vital and in need of attention will not only be focusing on the individuals who came to rule France by virtue of decisions made by the deciding powers, the big four as they are sometimes called but also to do challenges they encountered as a result of responses from the people of France who had experienced the merits of the French revolutionary ideals that is the tripartite of liberty, equality and fraternity. David Thomson refers to the reign of the Bourbon monarchy during this era as new wine in old bottles. There is however, the need to interrogate what D. Thomson meant by new wine in old bottles and to what extent the Bourbon monarchy fit into this categorisation. These notes will also equip readers with a necessary account of key aspects on the Restored Bourbons (1815-1848), focusing on their background, successes and failures.
Louis XVIII and the Charter
Just as in Italy and Spain the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo saw the resurrection of the Bourbon rule in France in the name of the Louis XVIII. He was a brother to Louis XVI and in attempt to ignore the period 1795-1814 refereed to 1814 as “the 19th year of our reign”. He implied that he had been ruling since 1795(the year in which Louis XVI’s son died in prison). He was to rule France for ten years and succeeded by his brother Charles X, who ruled until 1830.
Various groups of people in France felt that the return of the bourbon monarchy in France meant that the gains of the revolution and the Napoleonic period were under threat. The most important among then were the following;
Royalists/ultra-royalists- made up of the catholic clergy and the rich landed aristocracy and the émigrés. According Wilmont, the royalists because were loyal to the monarchy were intent on reasserting their former, authority and influence and regain their former status. They were led by Comte de Artois (Charles X), a royalist of the deepest age (A. Ramm), a hard-core royalist (Thomson), an ultra of the ultras (Richards), a royalist of the highest forum.
Liberals-these sought to defend all liberal concessions (constitutional rights, legal rights, all forms of liberties). These had been gained during the revolution and napoleon. They also after 1815 sought to prevent by any means necessary to prevent a return to the monarchical and absolutism rule in France.
Bonapartistes (the supporters of Napoleon and the Empire) who sought to reassert the empire and therefore called for the return of the empire. These had the nostalgic feeling of the Napoleonic Empire and the laglore it had brought to France. They were led by Louis Blanc and later Louis Napoleon later to become Napoleon III. Napoleon III was the first to challenge the cornerstones of the Vienna settlement in the 1860’s.
The republicans-like the liberals, republicans wanted to secure the constitutional and legal rights from the revolution and Napoleon I. on top of that and more importantly, they tasted republicanism during the revolution. They thought a republic as the best form of government and called for a return to republicanism.
Worrying characteristics of Louis XVIII
He was the king by the grace of the God. When he stated that 1814 was the year of our reign the rest of the groups thought that he was doing away with the gains of the revolution and napoleon. He said the preamble of the constitution was granted, “Voluntarily and by the free exercise of our royal authority”. This meant that he believed in the Divine rights of the kings and absolute rule, what the revolution had tried to abolish.
He adopted the title of the king of the French and Navarre thus he emphasized the traditional title and customs of his ancestors. He regarded the constitutional charter as a concession to the French people and not as a something that they so enjoy as a natural right.
He was faced with various groups with divergent interests. His main task was to adopt a conciliatory approach in which he would compromise the interest of these groups. In pursuing this middle of the road approach, he kept his motives about Devine rule away from the public and at the same time as a moderate constitutional monarchy hence breaking a new ground.
By ruling with a constitution, he represented a major breakthrough from tradition and thus silencing his critiques who that the return of the bourbon meant the return of the 18th century absolutism.
Charter of 1814
The policy document was drafted by the powers of Europe as a means of preventing the rise of a dominant force in France. It was enshrined with some of the very ideas that the revolution stood for amongst them the following: Equality before the law; civil liberties; freedom of conscience, arbitrary arrest and trial, worship and expression; political opinions and actions prior to 1814 must not be investigated; taxation according to wealth and not status, equality of opportunities in employment.
It was bi-cameral having the chamber of deputies and of peers. The deputies were elected by voters. For one to be a voter the following were mandatory. One had to be over 39 years, pay 300 francs as direct taxes thereby giving francs a total of 90,000 voters. In order to be candidate one had to be forty years and above, pay 1000 francs as directly taxes and 12,000 citizens qualified. These provisions were heavily attacked by the republicans who demanded universal suffrage. They attacked it for creating a franchise which excluded the majority of the French out of political matters.
He was the head of the executive. He was the solitary factor in proposing laws; chose ministers to form the government; could dissolve the chamber of deputies; commander of the armed forces; appointed judges; could declare war; could alter the electorate; could declare state of emergency and could create peers. The vote was restricted for the wealthy section of the populace. The king’s excessive executive powers were reduced with. D Thomson observes that the major weakness of French democracy after 1814 was France’s relative inexperience with working parliamentary institutions. This made France to be different from Britain. France parliamentary trades were only 25 years old in 1815.
The White Terror
When Napoleon escaped Elba in late 1815 and returned to France, most people especially the Bonapartists supported him. After his defeat in 1815 at Waterloo, the royalist carried a White Terror against those who had supported Napoleon. This violence and reprisal continued into 1816.The bourbon were really unable to restrain their supporters or even become part of the violence. As a result of the white terror, there was 29 peers chased away from the chamber, about 3.300 arrests without trial, 250 terror linked deaths and 18 Bonaparte’s generals were shot. In Paris Marshal Ney one of Napoleon’s generals “the bravest of the brave’’ was executed. In Avignon Marshal Bruce, another Napoleon general was shot. At his funeral his coffin was smashed open and his body was thrown into the river (Rhine) in France. In Marseilles, 50 Bonapartists were brutally butchered following news of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo.
The Chamber was populated with extreme Royalists who passed new press laws (November 1815) which made liberal newspapers liable prosecution. In May 1816 there was a Bonapartistes outbreak in Grenoble against these Ultra-excesses and Britain and Russia were concerned about events in France. This is when Louis XVIII decided to act. He dissolved the chamber in September 1816 and held fresh elections.
Between 1816 1nd 1820 the King with his Chief Ministers Richelieu who had replaced Talleyrand and after 1818 Decazes, adopted a moderate course between the subversive intentions of the Ultra Royalist (on the right) and the Extreme Liberal on the left. He had seen that the policy of the ultras of re-inventing the nation would lead the country into civil war and unrest.
Achievements of Louis XVIII
The handling of the nation’s finances was skilful and it enabled France to pay, off indemnity. Because of this achievement, the army of occupation was withdrawn. Under Decazescensorships of the press was relaxed and the army was reformed along democratic lines .in 1817 the number of people who could vote were increased and this enabled the liberals to make electoral fanning. France was admitted into the Quintuple alliance.1823- French troops successfully restored Ferdinand VII to his throne.
The death of Duc du Berry
In February 1820 Duc de Berry a nephew of Louis XVIII, who was to succeed Louis XVII was stabbed to death (by a lunatic outside the Opera House in Paris) the murderer Louvel, was a Bonapartists. The event was an outrage to the ultras. They blamed Decazesfor his moderate policies. The king was forced to dismiss Decazes and recall Richelieu. With Richelieu in office, policies moved once more from the left to the right as press censorship, political suspects for more than three months went to trial, electoral laws were passed in favour of the rich, secondary education was placed under the supervision of the church.
Richelieu was forced to resign in 1821 and was replaced by Villele who tightened press laws further. For example, it was a criminal offence to write or publish any article which had the chance of provoking public disturbance. In the election of 1824, more seats in the chamber of deputies fell from 110 to 19.In 1824 Louis XVIII died without fulfilling his desires of reconciling the royalists and liberal opinion. He found it difficult to restrain Artois and the forces of reaction. At least by the time of his death France had revived from the setbacks of the settlement and the terror.
Charles X, 1824-1830
Louis XVIII’s failure to contain the ultras notwithstanding, his reign was a great success. The success was due to the good sense when he appointed ministers in accord with their swings of opinion reflected in the charter; while at the same time managing to avoid the extremes of political emotion. He was succeeded by his brother Charles x who was 67 years old. He inherited a stable and prosperous country in which the immediate difficulties of the bourbon had been effectively weathered.
D Thomson comments that he was succeeded by an ‘unstatesman like brother’ who relinquished the throne after a six year reign. Charles was to fall in 1830 not only because of the revolution but also by a combination of Ultra-Royalist principles and extreme religious policies which violated the constitution. Charles X showed that he had learnt nothing from the revolution and Napoleon. He was a catholic at heart and a well-known reactionary. He insisted on being crowned at Rheims Cathedral for five hours in 1825. This was a traditional and medieval tradition which had not been employed since in 1775. Thus he was recalling the ancient relationship between the crown and the church, a tradition the revolution of 1789 had fought to destroy.
Unlike Louis XVIII who sought to compromise, he adopted a conciliatory policy; Charles X was bent on repairing the “massive damage done by the Revolution and Napoleon”. He is reported to have said that, “It will never be my intention to compromise. Over my dead body, compromise brought down my brother Louis XVI”.
His first task was to encourage Villele to start to restore the ancient tradition of authority of the church. As a result sacrilege was a crime punishable by death. As a contrast to Napoleon’s rule the church was given back its tight control of education and the Jesuits.
Liberals critics were attacked and silenced; publishers and journalists were prosecuted and imprisoned. The émigrés received compensation for their lost lands and those who had gained the lands of the nobilities and church were taken away. The middle class and liberals were angered when Villele introduced the censorship in 1827; the gaggling of the press. Again the fact that the émigrés had been compensated with public money was outrageous to many French especially the taxpayers. This influenced an inflationary environment angering the middleclass businessmen and sacred away the investors.
The new elections resulted in a majority that was hostile to Villele. Charles responded by dismissing Villele in 1828 and chose Martignac who was more moderate and was dismissed before he could celebrate his first anniversary as chief minister. He was replaced by Polignacin 1829. This appointment meant that the king could overthrow the constitution. He is reported to have said, “I would rather chop wood than rule in the fashion of the king of England”.
According to Thomson and Watson not only was Polignac an ultra of the extravagant type, therefore a natural enemy of the liberals, but he claimed to have seen the visions of virgin Mary who guided his policy .this was strongly detested by the anti-clerical. In 1830 the assembly decided that Polignac should resign, Charles responded by dismissing the assembly and suspending the constitution. Opposition against Charles and his government grew towards1830. Liberal publication condemned catholic revival. Church buildings and anti-clerical demos were widespread.
After suspending the constitution, Charles issued the ordinance of St Cloud (July 1830) which was a set of his intended solutions to the crisis. The ordinance spelt out even stricter censorship of the men. A new assembly was to be elected by very few rich people. Only about 0.1% of the population qualified to vote. Therefore got out of hand a few days after issuing the ordinance and he abdicated the throne.
An analysis of the Bourbon Monarchy
While Louis XVIII had the political; foresight, his brother Charles lacked political imagination. Thomson has referred the bourbon monarchy as an example of new wine in old bottles. Another cause for the failure of the bourbon monarchy was the quality of the ministers who served them. They were men of the old order for example Richelieu, Martignac, Polignac. While it is true to a larger extent that the bourbon had learnt nothing and forgotten nothing, though the statement is not wholly justifiable. To a larger extent Charles X had learnt nothing. He had not learnt the lesson that in the 19thcentury constitutional liberties and representative government was not to be substituted with material progress. Louis VXIII had learnt that Napoleon was popular.
Louis XVIII had learnt that Napoleon I was popular because he comprised. He had also learned that there was need to reconcile the monarchical rule/ royal power and parliamentary/constitutional democracy. He thus chose able ministers who brought economic recovery unlike Charles whose ministers destroyed it. Charles had learned that sound policy was cemented with an advantageous foreign policy. He completed the conquest of Algeria in 1830(the beginning of the colonial empire in Africa).
The bourbon monarchy collapsed because it sought to find comfort in nationalism and not liberalism. Charles X and his minister Polignac lacked the vision or capability of the political requirements of their positions. His chief mistake was that he alienated the traditional classes with his traditional coronation at Rheims and his extreme pro-catholic policies and the compensation of the émigrés and the gaggling if the press. His fatal error was to first create a reactionary ministry with Polignac and secondly to issue the Ordinance of Saint Claud which proved to be the last kicks of the dying horse.
One historian, W Fortescue, Revolution and the Counter Revolution in France (1988) states that, “through his political incompetence, Charles X lost one of Europe’s most glorious throne and most beautiful kingdom”.
Liberal revolution of 1830
The year 1830 was the year of revolution in France, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Spain and Portugal. They were different from the events of the 1820’s which were merely national risings led by military groups while the in the 1830’s were never liberal revolts led by broader elements of wealthy middle class. They were directed towards the reactionary conservative policies after 1815. They had two things in common, they sought to overthrow and bring the government closer to the people.
i. Compare and contrast Louis xviii and Charles X’s policies between 1815 and 1830.
ii. Why was Louis xviii more successful that his Brother Charles X?
iii. Examine the reforms of Charles X between 1824 and 1830.
iv. What were the causes of the 1830 revolution in France?
The July Revolution in France
The 1830 revolution in Paris
The major cause of the revolution in France was the Ultra-Conservative government of Charles X. The immediate cause was the issuing of the five Ordinances of Saint Claud in July of that year. The Paris working class responded by erecting barricades, waved the tri-0color of the revolution and sang revolutionary songs. They were led by Adolph Thiers, Guizot and Lafitte. On 24 July demonstrators seized the Hotel de Ville. The soldiers proved powerless and fell to the revolutionaries.
At that time no-one wanted the Bourbon Monarchy anymore. Many demanded the setting up of the Republic as they remembered the republic of 1792 that disposed the monarchy of Louis VXI. Charles X abdicated in favour of his grandson Comte de Chambord (King Henry V) but none wanted him. According to Thomson the fall of the Bourbon Monarchy was achieved without the shading any drops of blood. It was a bloodless revolution just like the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
After the fall of the monarchy the revolutionaries were divided as to what form of the government was to be adopted. The bourgeoisie wanted to set up a constitutional monarchy. They did not want a republic and the equality with the masses, under the leadership of Lafayette (74 years). Liberals under Thiers wanted a liberal government and to make the Duke of Orleans king. They feared that if France was to turn to Republicanism the powers of Europe would intervene to restore the bourbon monarchy.
Louis Phillipe agreed to rule as a constitutional monarchy. He was the descended from a young brother of Louis VXI. This would mean that he would satisfy the republic ideas and the royalists. His background also attracted the poor as he had known poverty and exile. He promised that he would be a citizen king and observe the constitutional liberties. He was proclaimed, “The king of the French by the Grace of God and the Will of the Nation”. He was to compromise between royalist authority and republican ideas and also divergent demands of various other political groups. The reign was marked with contradictions from the start; on one hand as the citizen king as promised while on the other hand professed royal authority (meaning that he would require all his abilities to balance both tracts).
Revolution in Belgium
The July revolution in France stimulated revolt in Belgium. The Belgians revolted against the Dutch in a complete rejection of the Vienna settlement. The revolt was driven by the national desire for self-rule (independence) against the rule of William I. The Belgians main source of discontent included’
a) They wanted equal representation in the parliament yet they outnumbered the Dutch by 2:1.
b) Dutch interest was given priority over the Belgian even though the Dutch were the minority.
c) The Dutch were Protestants while the Belgians were Catholics.
The Dutch troops were driven away by the Belgians and in October 1830 the provisional government was proclaimed with the independence of Belgium. A new constitution was established in 1831(the most liberal in Europe. the parliament was to choose the king who became Leopold I who ruled for thirty four years with skill. The Dutch invaded Belgium in 1831 but were repulsed by the forces of Louis Philippe.
Reign of Louis Philippe
Why Louis’ government was a benefit of the doubt
He was accepted because it was felt that he represented the interests of the broad section of the French society. He had true hereditary claim to the throne, monarchist found him to be a good alternative to the bourbon monarchy. He was associated with the revolution therefore pleasing the revolutionaries and the Bonapartist. He had participated at the battle of Jemappes against the Austrians. He was a seasonal critic of the appointment of Charles X and therefore a favourite of the liberals. He retained his name Louis Philippe than being labelled Louis XIX or Philippe VII. Historical habits and appearance associated him with the middle class a factor that was to make his reign knotty.
In education the government did make some sound achievements. In 1833, a law was passed by Guizot whereupon primary schools were set up in every commune and colleges to train teachers. Schooling was made free, but not compulsory so that by 1847, the number of primary schools increased from 33,000 to 43,000. In order to please the Catholics could now teach but secondary education was anti-clerical. It was a preserve of the state.
The Constitution of 1830 was revised. In the new constitution the king had the right to suspend laws taken and rule by decree, the parliament could now propose laws. The number of voters was revised giving France a franchise of 200 000 voters. However this change was not enough since only 3 % of population could vote. Therefore Louis’ intention by increasing the franchise was to please the liberals and republics, but failed to meet their demands.
Freedom of worship was guaranteed and censorship of the press was abolished. He wanted to do away with the old tradition of giving Catholicism a privilege also wished to please anti clericals. This meant that Catholicism was no longer the religion of the state as it used to be, but was now merely taken as a religion “practiced by the majority of the Frenchmen”.
The advantage of Louis from the beginning was that he tried to do away with absolutism and pro-clerical tendencies typical of the Bourbon Monarchy. At the same time he guaranteed civic liberties and order. To a reasonable extent his regime managed to hold a balance between liberty and order on one hand and constitutionalism and authority on the other.
Like the ministers of Charles X, those who served Louis were moved by malice, greed and self-interests. According to Watson, the ministers showed little interests, if any, in the problem facing the Frenchmen. The middle class and liberals were bitter that the vote was not extended to reasonable levels.
Louis economic policy under Guizot was of lasses faire (non interference with activists of employers and businessman). The factory law (1841) had little ripple effects as the government was given no legal basis to inspect factories. As a result most workers suffered (poor working conditions and low wages). Lack of the government intervention resulted in extreme corruption, graft, exploitation and political “chickenery”. While the laissez faire policy pleased the middle class and businessman, it was a hell on earth to the working class. In a period of prosperity the working suffered as proved by the poor living standards. This gave an impetus to the ideas of socialism to thrive in France.
Bored by the policies of Louis many political groups rose against him. Following the footsteps of his predecessors, he thought that repression was the best method, press censorship was re-introduced (1834) and trade unionism was repressed. The Bonapartists strongly opposed him and drew their inspiration from the Napoleonic legend. They looked back to the glorious days of Napoleon I and contrasted it to the inactive and unadventurous foreign policy. Louis lacked political insight when he brought back the remains of napoleon back to France from St Helena. He thought this would please them but reawakened Bonaparte’s in the country.
The legitimists regarded Louis as a sell-out who could be replaced by a bourbon king. They tried but failed in 1832 to rise against Louis. The republicanism received a wider appeal from the poorer classes. To these people, it offered social justice and addressed labour problems which Louis was failing to do. In 1831, workers demonstrated against Louis as unemployment, inflation and poor working conditions. In Lyon, it was reported that industrial workers were earning eating their shoes and work suits according to T.K. Derry.
Frustration forced that people to act against the king. No less than six attempts were made on his life. Wilmot observed that political frustration was one of the factors which brought down Louis Philippe. But to a smaller extent Guizot’s economic policy promoted some degree of economic problems. Though there was vigorous railway construction and industrial expansion.
Louis’ domestic policy reveals massive contradictions which characterized his eighteen year reign. All French were bored by his conduct and even his habits of lightening his own fire, shaving his own beard and walking in the streets with nothing serve for his umbrella. His problems were twofold; he tried to please various political groups but in the end failed to please none. Secondly, he was unfortunate to have ruled during the era of massive economic problems hence the people shouted that, “he was worse than Charles X”.
Like the domestic policy it was disastrous as it failed to please anyone. Only in Algeria did he attempt to make a bid to bring glory to France. The Bonapartists were thirsty for a ruler who would follow the footsteps of Napoleon I and bring back military greatness. The inglorious foreign policy led to his downfall. He followed a peaceful policy for the benefit of the middleclass. It was also targeted at befriending the major powers like Britain. In doing so his demise was spelt out.
Louis and Algeria
The conquest of Algeria was started by Charles X. In the 1830’s the French fought against the Byes of Algeria. Louis was to complete the conquest. This adventure was meant to silence his critics who believed that would not do what other countries were doing, the attainment colonies. Antony Wood alludes to the effect that the conquest failed to awaken any patriotic or nationalistic feeling. It actually fuelled opposition due to the war expenses, the viciousness of the fighting i.e. the death of troops. In any event few had any desire towards colonies at that time. Most people regarded colonies as burdensome and expensive to maintain. Colonies were to be essential in 1880’s. Lamartine a poet commented that, “France is bored”.
Louis and Mahomet Ali of Egypt
For those who were hungry for foreign glory, the Mahomet affair was another serious blow. Ali was ruling Egypt on behalf of the Turks hence a vassal of Turkey. Ali stepped in to help his Turkish overlords on condition that he would be given Syria as compensation. His army had been trained by the French, who sought to protect Egypt. The French were fascinated by Egypt since Napoleon I fought there in the 1790’s. So the French had common interests in Egypt which was a traditional French sphere.
In 1839, war between Ali and Turkey broke out. Turkish armies were defeated at Belen Pass and Konia. The British under Palmerstone showed little interests in intervening in the near east. With no help coming from the English Channel. The Sultan looked to Russian tsar Nicholas I who send his troops to Turkey. Watson commented that Britain and France became too worried about the Tsar’s intentions, pressed the sultan to come to terms with Ali and send the Russians home. In the Kuala Treaty, Ali was given Syria but Ali was to respect the Sultan’s over lordship. Ali was not pleased with the treaty. He wanted complete independence from the Sultan. War broke out again, Turkey was defeated, seeing that their interests were threatened Russia and Britain stepped in to help. France refused to join the coalition and went ahead supporting Ali. Theirs who was chief minister wanted war against the coalition if they continue with their object ruining Ali. Palmerstone ignored this as an empty threat and continued to work with tsar and defeated Ali.
The conflict was part of the ongoing Eastern Question. It showed how much Louis was a feeble politician. At the height of the crisis France was isolated and unable to act in defence of his interests and ally. He went on to fire Thiers thus Wilmot stated that he burdened himself with the communication of a resounding diplomatic defeat. He showed that he was too weak to pursue a diplomatic policy and therefore played second fiddle to the British and Russians.
Instead of pleasing those who wanted foreign glory he annoyed them. The events served to illustrate how inconsistent and contradictory Louis’ foreign policy was. Scholars are content that it was shabby, boring, dull and unattractive. After encouraging Ali he withdrew from Egypt when they needed help the most.
Louis and Belgium
The Belgians were against the Dutch in 1830 in attack of the reactionary policies of 1815. To the French thus was a splendid opportunity for Louis to step in and help the Belgians especially the Catholics. Besides the fact that the Belgians were Catholics, they were a traditional sphere of influence after being conquered by Napoleon. Louis refused to annex but sought British aid in working out the independence of Belgium. He even refused to accept the invitation of his son to be the king. Britain jumped in and Leopold I became the king.
It is clear that Louis was adopting a cautious policy, always playing second to the English since he was afraid of annoying the great powers who might work against him. This was to ruin and cost his throne. Therefore he had been described as a little boy under the supervision of his father. By accepting being a yes man he disappointed the French. He refused aid to the polish and Italy in 1831.
Louis and Tahiti
The July monarchy was good at quarrelling. But according to one dictum, good things are better, done than said. In 1843 Louis had a candid talk with the British over the island of Tahiti. He had sent a group of French catholic missionaries and later declared Tahiti a French sphere of influence (protectorate). It was a symbol of his frustration with the English policy under Palmerstone. This led to the arrest of the British missionaries and the consul. The British strongly condemned the act and forced the French to release him as soon as possible and on top of that the payment of damages.
The Tahiti incident reflects how much Louis feared Britain and could do anything to please them. He failed to please anyone except himself, even the intended beneficiaries. Lovers of military glory complained bitterly and even asked the question, who is ruling France, Britain or Louis?
The Spanish marriages 1846
His activities in Spain showed that his foreign policy had no strategy and ideas. Palmerstone had done everything to humiliate France in general anytime he so wished. In 1848 a new government in London led to improved relations between the two nations. Thiers was replaced by Guizot. Negotiations were proceeding accordingly in search of a husband for the young Queen of Spain. But in 1846 Palmerstone returned to office and intended to arrange the marriage of Isabella and Infanta. Isabella was to marry someone directly linked to the British crown, hence attempted to obstruct the French candidate.
In order to outmanoeuvre the English Louis arranged that one of his twelve sons Antoine to marry the queen’s young sister Infanta with Isabella marrying her cousin. The cousin was an ageing Spaniard believed to be impotent. Louis hoped that in the future an Orleanist monarchy would rise and rule Spain since Isabella was expected to have no children. At that time it seemed as if Louis Phillipe had scored and French deserved the diplomatic points. The marriages according to Watson, the marriages were the last activity of Louis’ foreign policy. The diplomatic victory proved to be hollow as Isabella wedded separately and was to have nine children including Alfonse XVI who gained the throne in 1875 ensuring the continuation of her family line.
Louis and Charles compared
Both lost due to failure to adhere to the wishes of the masses hence lost out on their support and confidence of a significant sector of the population mostly the middle class. They were caught off guard by the strength of the outburst of opposition. But Charles had lees excuse since he attempted a coup de tat, whereas Guizot had only forbidden the reform banquets.
The two rulers had sought to escape in abdication in favour of a grandchild, neither of who was to rule. However the working class in1848 was more powerful and very articulate than they had been in 1830. The economy was far more developed in the 1840’s that during the reign of Charles X.
Collapse of the July Monarchy
a) Economic conditions
Louis Phillipe had inherited a crumpling economy which had been messed by the radical policies of Charles X. Economic recession had begun in 1826, persisted till 1832 or later. There were grain shortages, rising inflation and unemployment. For the commons transition from Bourbon rule to the Orleanist rule did not bring any significant changes. Various groups failed to achieve their aims hence were in consistent conflict with government of Phillipe for example the workers strikes in La Vendee as they demanded reforms.
b) Demands of the working class
The working class was the most aggrieved by the stagnant economic policies which satisfied the middle classes. The workers called for lower prices, higher wages, and shorter working hours. The attempted national workshops were half hearted as they ended in total failure. The government responded by revoking oppressive laws which banned unlawful assembly and unleashing the army and police on strikes and demonstrations. Instead the government should have found ways of improving the plight of the worker. His failure proved to be a fundamental point to his downfall.
c) Growth of Republicanism and Liberalism
They employed scathing propaganda to attack the government of Louis and its supporters. Republicanism grew and gained support mainly from workers suffering economic recession. But new repressive laws silenced the republicans. The workers were inspired by the work of Louis Blanc the editor of the L’Organisation du Travail, a socialist newspaper which preached the need for reform. The liberals were demanding the extension of the civil liberties while republicans wanted increase in the franchise and a republican state. Other influential socialist writers were St Simon and Proudhon who advocated for various means of dealing with the increasing unemployment by the state taking control of the means of production.
d) Poor harvests of 1846-7
The harvest failures showed how France was vulnerable to economic recession. Hungry thugs and mobs demonstrated increasingly against the government. The workers were the most active since their wages were no longer able to sustain a decent lifestyle. So it was a period of economic progress yet there was dwindling living standards. The poor harvests prove the old adage that a hungry man is an angry man.
e) Reform banquets
During the 1840’s almost all the disgruntled groups within France were now in favour of republicanism. In the streets people gathered clamouring for a number of reforms. The workers were driven by the failure of the national workshops introduced following the ideas of Louis Blanc. The program led to increased taxation thereby becoming unpopular. Richards sums up the situation as the offering the working classes to join the revolution or form an army against the government. Louis resorted to use repressive measures by unleashing the National Guard under General Cavaignacupon the reformers. This led to the outbreak of the 1848 Revolutions hence Seaman concludes that, “the 1848 revolution in France began by incident and elsewhere by excitement”.
Faced with these problems Louis abdicated in favour of his cousin by the revolutionaries adopted a republican state. The Bonapartists were affected by the inglorious foreign policy, Liberals wanted a further extension of civil liberties, Republicans desired for the widening of the electorate with the removal of voter qualifications, Monarchist and Legitimist wanted a real bourbon leader and also argued that Louis was not the legitimate ruler. All these factors and an unpopular foreign policy made his downfall inevitable. A provisional government was put in place and drafted a new constitution which made France a republican.
i. How liberal was the government of Louis Philippe?
ii. Louis Philippe had nothing but good intentions for France. If this was so, why did he fell from power in 1848?
iii. Evaluate the domestic and foreign policies of Louis Philip end up to 1848?
iv. It was not what he did but what he failed to that brought about his end. Is this a valid assessment of the downfall of the July monarchy in 1848?
v. Examine why all the opposition groups in France against Philippe voted for a republic in 1848?
vi. Discuss the main causes of the revolution of 1848 in France?
Author, historian & columnist