The French Restoration 1815-1830
The Struggles and Ultimate Failure of the Bourbon Restoration
Michael DiMatteo

From the beginning of the eighteenth century to the unification of Germany in 1871, few nations have had an impact on an entire continent as France. Klemens von Metternich (1773-1859) was reported to have said that when France “sneezes, the rest of Europe catches cold.” For much of the eighteenth century, France influenced political thought through the French philosophes, and contributed thoughts on democratic principles, setting Europe alight with revolution, and eventually, with the ascension of Napoleon Bonaparte, conquering it all. During the French Revolution of 1789 much of what were to become democratic principles and ideas would be unleashed on a continent that for so long had been dominated by absolute monarchy. This concept was embraced by Armand Jean du Plessis (Cardinal Richelieu) and the Sun King, Louis XIV. The fabric of France had become so interwoven with the concept of absolutism that it would take a revolution of significantly violent proportions to break from that tradition in favor of representative government. Republicanism was not without its critics as the example of the English Civil War would demonstrate to Europe. While republicanism might have been something to aspire to, the subsequent execution of  King Charles I of England in 1649 would prove that it would come at a price to the existing monarchies of Europe, and a bloody one as well . There was much doubt as to the efficacy and viability of a republican form of government as it had proven to be successful, but on a limited basis. England of the seventeenth century was still in the throes of political upheaval, and while that conflict involved religion, government, land and wealth, it was evidence that simply giving men the right to vote was not the panacea for all political ills.
France was not in a similar position after its Revolution. While the upheaval itself had brought much bloodshed, executed a king, and created a republican government, it was to be a government that would not last long as the ascension of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799 would reveal.  Further, while Bonaparte would establish his own vision of a legitimate monarchy, there was always to be a question of his legitimacy, as there would be once the Bourbons were restored in 1814, and then again in 1815 after the so-called Hundred Days. We must pause to recognize that the crowning of Bonaparte by his own hand was not only the height of hubris for a man of his time, but that it also ended over one thousand years of history. Since Christmas Day 800 when the great European emperor Charlemagne was crowned by Pope Leo III, emperors of Europe had been ceremoniously crowned in like manner. This symbolized the divine power of the monarchy, but also the authority of the papacy as well. It was also meant to symbolize the quasi-symbiotic relationship between the crown and the Church. Despite the Concordat of 1801 which re-established the Church in France after the 1789 Revolution, Bonaparte wished to make a further statement in removing the crown from the altar and placing it upon his own head. He was France, and France was him, with or without papal authority. This three hour ceremony was to leave a mark on France and Europe not soon forgotten. The specter of Bonaparte would loom large over France after his final demise at Waterloo, demonstrating not only the power of Bonaparte and his regime, but most certainly the tenuous position of those that would attempt to rebuild and restore the government.  “”His portentous shadow has crossed every path of private life, and even the persons whom he has not destroyed he has appalled and stunned, – as the wind of a cannon will lay prostrate those whom the ball has never touched.”[1]  It would be this “wind of a cannon” that France and all who would govern her be forced to withstand in the re-creation of a stable French government and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. France during the period of 1815-1830 faced numerous problems in restoring the Bourbons along with the façade of a constitutional monarchy.  Be it the remnants of the Revolution and its ideals, the true legitimacy of the Bourbon family, the occupation of France by the British, or the desire to revisit the salad days of France during the time of Bonaparte, the fifteen year period in France was to be so unstable as to give rise to another revolution in 1830. While the monarchies of Louis XVIII and Charles X were busy attempting to re-establish their hold on the people of France, the ideals from the Revolution of 1789 and the desire for republicanism were simmering among the French population, eventually leading to the overthrow of the traditional Bourbon monarchy in favor of the “King of the People” Louis-Philippe in 1830.  It would be the Second Republic, one of five that France would form as the people chased that seemingly elusive true republic that the Revolution promised in 1789. In order to understand on any level the confusion of that fifteen year period in France, one must come to understand the impact of the Hundred Days in France.
There were a few essential problems that faced France after the Hundred Days, and each one of them would shackle the constitutional monarchy of Louis XVIII with a burden not easily shed. The most pressing problem was the re-establishment of the French army. This was the body that would not only defend France, something not immediately needed as France was occupied, but also the body that would give backbone to the rule of the restored king. In many ways, it was the identity of France, forged during the days of Bonaparte. As such, its loyalty was primarily to Bonaparte as well. This fact was not lost on the new Bourbon king and in 1815 he disbanded it stating that the army “was to be formed according to the principles which constitute a truly national army to form a military force with the liberal nature of our character.”[2] The problem was that the army, both the officer corps and the enlisted men were shattered among their own ranks. Those people loyal to Bonaparte rejected those that fought against them during the period of the Hundred Days. Some rejected the officers who served and remained loyal to Bonaparte, while still others were officers commissioned under the Royalist banner but lacked the experience and credibility to lead.[3] The solution was a rather complicated mixture of conscription by lottery, reduction in time served, and certain rules with regard to promotion that placated the Royalists, liberals, and those that served under Bonaparte. It was not entirely successful, but it did allow a semblance of unity by 1817.
Another problem faced by the restored Bourbon was that of the Ultraroyalists. The Ultras dominated the Chambre Introuvable during the election for the first Chamber of Deputies in 1815. Their agenda consisted primarily of attempting to restore the ancien regime in favor of the aristocracy as well as the clergy. While this initial election sat well with Louis XVIII, it did not sit well with French society who saw it as an attempt to throw away the gains that the Revolution of 1789 had brought to the French nation, those gains primarily being the dissolution of the ancien regime and all of its accoutrements. It is interesting to note that as the period of 1815-1830 wore on, the notion of preserving the legacy of the Revolution was to continue to gain momentum and influence the rule of Louis XVIII as well as Charles X. In a small way, this manifest itself in that by September of 1815, Louis XVIII had no choice but to dissolve this chamber and call for new elections. This issue would be one of a series of problems that the monarchy was to face during its fifteen year restoration. Nora Eileen Hudson states that “Instability had resulted from the effort to disseminate the ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity, a feeling of helplessness from the attempt to destroy an institution which in the past had been a symbol of salvation.”[4] It should be noted that the Ultras did regain the chamber in 1823, but by 1830 Charles X was gone and the Ultras were never again to wield influence in the French state. There is an ancillary problem that the French had to deal with regarding the restructuring of society, and that was the placating of many of the “new” society that had been given access to the upper levels of French society by Napoleon. During the Revolution of 1789, those that made up the nobility were forced to leave France or suffer the guillotine. Janet Byrne points out that “the old nobility had been guillotined or exiled and in their place were many newly titled peers created by Napoleon”.[5] This created a twofold problem. First, those that were to make up the upper classes may not readily accept the Bourbon restoration as they would see it as a challenge to their newly created station in life. Certainly, they would not accept a restoration of the ancien regime in all of its splendor and rigidity. They would be the ones to suffer under it. Indeed, they were the driving force of liberal reforms foisted upon Louis XVIII upon his ascension. Second, there would be those still loyal to Bonaparte and what he represented. They were children of the Revolution, imbued with its ideals which became manifest under Bonaparte, at least until his defeat at Waterloo. They would not willingly submit to the destruction of those ideals. This was not lost on the new monarch, and it does demonstrate the power Bonaparte wielded after his departure. Sheryl Kroen makes note of this fact when she writes “The goal of the regimes mise-en-place campaign was the total eradication of reminders of the Revolution and a purification of the political landscape.”[6] She also mentions that the harder the government tried to eradicate any symbols of the Napoleonic period, the more that they could not. She notes that many people simply “kept their tricolor cockade inside out, allowing them to keep the tricolor in case of a retour.”[7] Whether this was done by the populace just in case there was yet another return to power by Bonaparte, or simply another demonstration of his still looming shadow is not made clear. What is made clear is that the restored Bourbon monarchy was going to have to continue to deal with this shadow and influence while trying to find its way in the new Europe. It would be a continual challenge, and one that would find both Louis XVIII as well as Charles X ill-equipped to handle.
It is interesting to note that with all that was occurring in France, Louis XVIII was very much aware of how he needed to be perceived by the people. Historically, he has been criticized for being too malleable by those that would occupy France, too willing to compromise what France was to become during the Restoration, but upon closer examination, one finds a Louis XVIII that is more politically astute than at first glance. He may not have been the dynamic leader that many would have wished for, but if one should look at the fact that he had to follow one of the two or three largest figures in European history to that point (the other two being arguably Martin Luther and  Louis XIV) , it becomes plain to see that no one could match what he had to follow. To be sure, all we need do to be made aware that this was not lost on Louis XVIII is read what Byrne wrote with regard to his coronation ceremony, or lack of it. She writes that for Louis XVIII to participate in such a grand observance would have been a mistake as it would remind people not only of the failed monarchy of Bonaparte, but would have undermined his constitutional authority. As a result, he declined to engage in this ceremony.[8] This did not sit well with French society as they had become used to all of the pomp as a symbol of regal authority. It should be noted here that the economic situation in France was also not conducive to such an event. Where once France was shown deference with respect to her defeat in 1814, the Grand Alliance was now not so magnanimous. Andre Nicolle writes that after Waterloo, the obligations that were heaped upon France “were redefined and extended to cover all loss or damage of any nature suffered by public or private property as well as compensation for services rendered (art. 9).”[9] This total was approximately seven hundred million francs that would be paid in five yearly installments. This total would also include payment for the troops that would occupy France to both ensure that there would not be a return of Bonaparte as well as to guarantee that the sum would be paid in full.[10] A small acquaintance with numbers will make plain to the reader that this sum would truly be prohibitive of any sort of coronation whether the French populace would have preferred it or not. The fact that the coronation didn’t take place did, however, cause another problem for the restored monarchy, that being its legitimacy.
Legitimacy of the monarchy was one of the key events of the French restoration, and one that would be discussed and bandied about by historians for generations to come. If there was to be no formal coronation of Louis XVIII, how was he to lay claim to the crown of France? Melvin Richter suggests that legitimacy during the revolutionary period, if seen through the eyes of Bonaparte, could consist of Napoleon’s victory at the polls during the plebiscite. He argues that by virtue of his victory at the polls, Napoleon was then able to declare himself the legitimate ruler by popular sovereignty and the national will.[11] It does lack the traditional legitimacy as it “was because Bonaparte’s regime was alleged by royalists and liberals alike to have been the inevitable result of a violent revolution based on a Rousseauistic democratic theory of unlimited popular sovereignty”[12] Nonetheless, Napoleon did lay claim to the title in 1804 by virtue of his crowning, albeit by himself. It is also without question that Napoleon did enjoy popular support during his rule as well as after his removal to Elba and his subsequent return to rule France during the Hundred Days. This may indicate as well that he was accepted as the legitimate monarch of France. Finally, it must again be noted that with regard to claim of legitimacy to the French crown that emblems, flags and other accoutrements had to be banned outright by the restored Bourbon monarchy. That fact would indicate that there was a struggle for the “hearts and minds” of Frenchmen and that the restored monarchy as well as the occupiers felt it necessary to legitimize their claim. Indeed, Sheryl Kroen notes that “Whereas a ‘down with Napoleon’ during the Empire would have earned an offender a sentence somewhere between five to six days to six months, in 1816 a ‘down with Louis XVIII, long live Napoleon’, the waving of the wrong flag, or the trafficking in goods with republican or Bonapartist emblems would have merited between three months and one to five years in prison.”[13] It is under these circumstances that Louis XVIII was charged with not only restoring the Bourbon crown, but also restoring its legitimacy as well. Absent the royal procession that came to mark that legitimacy, having to quash the remnants of the Bonapartist regime in all its forms, accepting the occupation of his nation, and paying back the reparations that were demanded by the Treaty of Paris in 1815, Louis XVIII was faced with more than any of his predecessors could have dreamed. He was accepting of the limits of his power as imposed by the constitution and the Congress of Vienna, and even went so far as to issue the Declaration of Saint-Ouen in which he did say that the sold land of the emigrés would not be confiscated as well as accept representative government. Clearly, it was an attempt to not only recognize the Revolution and its accomplishments, but in doing so, curry favor with the populace. The opening phrase of the declaration might be the most illuminating aspect for the argument of legitimacy as it states “Recalled by the love of our people to the throne of our fathers, illuminated by the misfortunes of the nation we are destined to rule, our first thought is to invoke the mutual trust so necessary to our peace, happiness”[14] This statement was a further attempt to legitimize the rule of the king by the king himself. If one was to participate in the politics of France, as many were jockeying to do, one would have to accept the Bourbon restoration “on the basis of their inherited right.”[15] The key aspect of the rule of Louis XVIII is the precariousness of his hold on the throne either real or imagined. The Hundred Days did little to assuage his fear of another revolution and in fact, may have left a lasting impression that Napoleon and the Revolution were just waiting for the opportunity to present itself to take back what they felt rightly belonged to them. Perhaps it was spoken best by Stephen Holmes when he states that “Perhaps the most striking emblem of the precariousness of Bourbon Legitimacy was the furniture and wall-hangings in the Tuileries, where everyone could see that the lilies had been hastily stitched on top of Napoleon’s bees-so flimsy was the figleaf with which the Legitimists strived to conceal man’s naked, shivering nature. It would obviously require little effort to have this sort of Legitimacy unstitched.”[16] Such was the nature of the rule of Louis XVIII so it must have come as some relief when he passed from this life in 1824, to be succeeded by his brother, Charles X.
If Louis XVIII was the demure, conscientious restored Bourbon king with an eye on frugality, Charles X was the brash, unabashed understudy waiting to make his mark on France. It is difficult to reconcile the actions of Charles X with Louis XVIII as in their approach to the monarchy and its function, they could not be further apart. Where Louis XVIII had his legitimacy questioned due in part to the failure of his authorizing a coronation ceremony, Charles X (Comte d’ Artois) left no question at all. It was to be his moment that was not to be forgotten, calling forth the ghosts of monarchs past, even going so far as to reach into the mists of time and rekindle the memory of the long dead Clovis, the first king of the Franks as well as its first Catholic sovereign. One cannot help but think that this was overreach by the new king. Liberalism in the form of representative government was either present (as in France) or making its way to the courts of Europe. Nationalism, that indefinable force that began to manifest itself in the hopes and dreams of a united Germany and Italy was also present in the Europe of 1815-1830. It is precisely the reason why the lavish coronation of Charles X can only be seen as the attempt to create a feeling that was no longer felt in France. It was clearly an attempt to turn back the clock, and liberalism be damned. An additional issue that plagued Charles X was the fact that he felt almost too comfortable with the Ultras. It might be suggested that this gave him a false sense of security. It was this security that caused him to create a further rift with the liberal populace as he sought to fill his cabinet posts with “members of the nobility, of as ancient lineage as possible.”[17] Clearly, this action alone demonstrates the fact that he was incapable of gauging the public’s feelings toward such a move, or that he was simply ignoring those feelings as his forefathers might have done. In fact, many of his actions as king harkened back to the days before the revolution. The re-establishment of the Catholic Church as the “state church” and the hailing of the Church as the savior of the people from the stain of civil war were also adding energy to those that sought liberal reform. Charles X was bent on ignoring those factions, ignoring his constitution,  and re-imposing what had been fought against since 1789. Further, during the course of his rule, nostalgia for Bonaparte was on the rise. He was again seen as being born of the revolution both in body and ideals. With each successive decision that Charles X made, he moved himself further and further away from the very people that he depended on for his royal existence. Gone were the days in which the kings of France ruled because they were descended from kings. It was the populace that would determine whether or not he would remain on the throne, a fact that his actions indicated he did not grasp.
Amidst that sentiment there was also the feeling that the best thing that could happen to France would be to return to her absolutist roots. This was the feeling of the Ultras as well as Charles X. It was also the feeling abroad, in England. It seemed that wherever there was liberalism with its freedoms for the populace, there was bloodshed, disorganization, and violence. This was something that the Bourbon were keenly aware of, none more so than Charles X. It is this awareness that might explain his insistence on revisiting that state of France prior to the revolution of 1789. Camillus, when writing about the Revolution of 1830 states that “Then, the revolutionary spirit confined to France herself, left the rest of Europe untouched, and the excesses of French liberty soon disabused the party which, in this country, seemed at first desirous to follow her example. Seditious and factious there were then as there are now”[18] This would seem to indicate that France during the rule of Charles X was still in a state of change despite the best efforts of Charles to bring his brand of stability to the nation. However, the more he tried to tighten his fist and re-establish what he felt were his rights by both tradition and history, the more they seemed to vanish right before his eyes. He became an agitator rather than a calming influence, a lightning rod rather than a beacon of hope. This does not mean to say that everyone was opposed to Charles X and his policies. In fact, the very existence of the Ultras and their continued viability in France through the Restoration is ample evidence of that. Nora Hudson points out this fact as well when she states that “The ancient constitution of France was preferable to the unfruitful trials of the revolutionary period, a religion of authority to the doctrines of a Voltaire or a Volney”.[19] There were many that preferred the stability and predictability of a resurgent monarchy, the comfort of tradition. The conflagration of Europe from 1792 until 1815 was enough, stability was the desire. Charles was never able to grasp that  in his desire to bring stability as he knew it, he was actually fomenting change. It was the spirit of the Revolution of 1789 that lingered among the people that aroused their passions. It was his complete inability to understand that his actions were driving the population away from him as king that ultimately led to the end of the House of Bourbon. It should also be mentioned here that politically, Charles X was rather inexperienced and the problems that he faced were almost too much for any one man to cure. Hudson is rather enlightening when she states that “The Restoration had given a new type of government to France, but it had not become firmly established under Louis XVIII, and Charles was less able than his brother to cope with the situation with which he was faced.”[20] There were other factors that contributed to the failure of the Restoration of the Bourbon, the relative ineptness of Charles X notwithstanding. It has been said that once a genie is let out of the bottle, it is almost impossible to put it back in. So it can be said of the liberal ideas that came to fruition during the 1789 revolution and persisted after Bonaparte. It was the relative fragmentation of the liberals, workers and students themselves that not only caused France to become even more splintered, but undercut any opportunity for Charles X to bring the people as a whole under his umbrella. Liberalism was not going to go away despite the best efforts of the crown and those that supported it.
France was deeply divided among those that supported the ideals of liberalism. In his study of the makeup of the populace during the Revolution of 1830 and their relationship with the leaders of the liberal movement, Edgar Leon Newman notes that the common people were “not led by students but were, instead, led by constitutional liberal leaders:  the common people did the fighting and the liberal leaders made the decisions.”[21] This would seem to suggest that the “people” were without rudder, moving at the beck and call of the liberal bourgeoisie, easily malleable and led by a group that had its own vision of what France would be. It would suggest that the people were without a head, giving proof to the conservative members of French society that the people needed to be led in order for France to prosper. As Newman later point out, this was not the case but rather one in which the working class, after having effectively removed Charles X from power were content to let the “savants, as I heard it said in several groups, the bother of reorganizing the state they had saved.”[22] In other words, the people did the heavy lifting but were either uninterested or incapable of reorganizing the government. This does not mean to suggest that they were disengaged, but rather it suggests that there were more pressing concerns for them than reorganizing the government. Throughout his piece, Newman suggests the idea that that the longer the Bourbon rule continued, the more nostalgic people became for the legend of Bonaparte and his version of liberalism. It seems that the further away from Bonaparte the people of France became, the more they were brought back to him. Newman even states that “As the people showed in 1848, they would support a Bonaparte whenever they had a chance to do so. But in the absence of a Bonapartist alternative, the common people accepted the constitutional liberal leaders and their slogans.”[23] This does seem a curious idea to those that would study this period. As has already been shown, the government and those that would lead it did all that they could to stamp out the remnants of Bonaparte. In fact, it has also been shown that the penalties for supporting Bonapartism in any of its forms were more severe than during the period of Bonaparte himself. It does not stand to reason then, that the populace would gravitate back to that which they had left behind or which they were forced to leave behind. To discover the explanation, we must look into the makeup of the crowd during the period just before and during the Revolution of 1830 which brought down Charles X and the House of Bourbon as well as the conditions that existed.
The participants of the revolution were varied and they all had rather marked roles and levels of involvement as the revolution pushed forward. There was a commonly held belief that those who made up the more violent elements of the crowd were those that were less educated, less skilled and therefore more willing to engage in the violence that marked the upheaval. At first glance this might seem to be true, but David Pinkney was able to prove otherwise. In his examination, he states that “a report of a committee organized to aid the wounded in the Third Arondissement stated pointedly that anyone who thought the revolution was made by the ‘last class’ of the people would be mistaken.”[24] This has particular meaning for the student of this period as it shows that all segments of society, indeed, the skilled middle class, were actively involved in fomenting the insurrection against the king. It further shows that the ideals of liberalism were infused in more than the working class segment of society. Involvement was to be found in the shop owning, skilled labor middle class as well. Among the dead were found printers, skilled craftsmen, jewelry makers, locksmiths and tailors. Stonemasons, cabinetmakers, carpenters were also found among the dead.[25] This fact is further evidence that the not only was the revolution broad in scope, but it also mirrored the revolution of 1789 in that it enveloped more than simply one segment of society. Further, this was proof that the revolution had tentacles beyond the working class that would ultimately spell the end of the rule of the Bourbon. This was not lost on David Weisner when he argues that while Louis XVIII had a bent towards those liberal aspects of constitutionalism that were in favor of a constitutional monarchy, it was not acceptable during the rule of Charles X for the “disgruntled group of ultra-royalists, often led by the duc d’Artois, who vociferated in conspicuous fashion for a return to the norms of pre-Revolutionary France.”[26] Further, the fact that the crowd was so diverse in its agitation against the increasingly iron fisted Charles X only augmented the wish for a return to Bonaparte. The memories of the Russian campaign faded into the distance against a backdrop of a return to the days of monarchy, privilege and unfair taxation. Only the memories of faded glory, the exalted position that France played on the European landscape filled the minds of the crowd. Forgotten were the days of occupation of the army of Wellington as a residual of Napoleonic rule, but only the thought of liberty, equality and fraternity remained as in the days of 1789. This observation is borne out when Edgar Newman writes “As the people showed in 1848, they would support a Bonaparte whenever they had a chance to do so. But, in the absence of a Bonapartist alternative, the common people accepted the constitutional liberal leaders and their slogans.”[27] Among the participants that joined in the revolution of 1830, few were able to remember the revolution of 1789. There were those among the many that remained who could remember the Empire itself as well as having served in its forces.[28] Those feelings and memories that remained would be the impetus that would lead to the rejection of Charles X and his attempt to return France to absolutism. The inability of Charles to recognize those feelings among his people is a stunning display of ignorance on his part. That inability belies either a naiveté of a fledgling ruler or a bullheadedness beyond compare. One might say that his attempt to return France to absolutism was clear evidence of how far the idea of monarchy had fallen. To be so obtuse to fail to understand his people or of the time period in which he lived, smacks of incompetence on a level that is not acceptable for any monarch, to be sure, anyone in a leadership position, yet this is precisely where Charles X found himself in 1830. Jo Burr Margadant sums it up best when she says that “the Bourbon sought to legitimate their rule with outdated cultural scripts.”[29] Considering the events leading up to the Revolution of 1830, the political landscape previously described, and the competing forces in France during the period, it would seem a proper analysis.
In order to properly conclude the observations made here about the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy, it is imperative that a look is given at the Revolution of 1830. This revolution was to end for all time the rule of not only the Bourbon line of kings, but the remnants of absolutism in France in the model of the ancien regime. There are a variety of reasons historians give for the uprisings of 1830. One school of thought fosters the belief that it was an Orléanist plot to install Louis Philippe on the throne. Another would argue that it was the intimidated middle class deputies that fomented the revolt in order to save their position. Finally, it has been put forth that the reactionary measures that Charles X was putting forth drove the nation to revolt. Whatever the case, it is clear that the populace of France would no longer submit to the will of a monarch that was either connected to the pre-revolutionary past, or who wished to dissolve his connection to the constitution. It would remain to be seen if the people of France would fully accept a constitutional monarchy, but it is without question that they would not accept a monarchy modeled after the ancien regime. Frederick Artz notes that when Louis Philippe did accept the monarchy, it was not only during the night hours so as not to be seen, but also “Louis Philippe’s acceptance of the title was received with a marked lack of enthusiasm.”[30] This may indicate that there was dissatisfaction with the ascension of another monarch, or possibly dissatisfaction with the choice, but it is without doubt an indication that it was not what all would have hoped for. Arts goes on to further point out that Louis-Philippe appears before the crowd draped in the tricolor alongside Lafayette, symbolizing that the people and the monarchy were to be one.[31] This was not only an armed uprising, but a series of political maneuvers that effectively guaranteed the dissolution of the Bourbon in favor of the House of Orléans which, by all appearances, was to be the best representative of the people. France was still a monarchy, but one that left behind the trappings of the Bourbon and one in which the people felt, either correctly or incorrectly, that they had a hand in crafting.
There were others that had rather strong feelings about the period and were unafraid to state them, such as the great French author Marie Henri Beyle, also known as Stendahl (1783-1842). He seemed to be the conscience of the period and reflected his thoughts on the Restoration in many works including what many believe to be his seminal work, The Red and The Black. Stendahl was to take the position that the restoration in and of itself was counter revolutionary as it was an attempt to return to what once was. To Stendahl, it was the exact opposite of what should have been, and this feeling was reflected in his writings. Speaking on Le Rouge at le Noir (The Red and The Black), Dennis Porter notes that Stendahl  felt that at the core of the revolution “Its ethos was counter-revolutionary, that is, suspicious, fearful and instinctively repressive.”[32] To Stendahl, it was a body that was trying to hold on to what once was during a period that would not and could not accept it. Its time had passed and it should, like all things past their time, die. It should also be noted that Stendahl did not hold a favorable opinion of democracy either as he saw in it a responsibility to participate in its workings, and that participation would take away from the leisure time that he felt one needed in order to be creative. Democracy was an investment in both time and energy that could be put to better use creating. It would seem, then, that he was happy with nothing and critical of everything. While one might be able interpret Stendahl’s feelings that way, it is his view of the regime of the Bourbon that is most interesting. He was a contemporary. He saw it first-hand and preserved it and his feelings through his pen. If one of the ways that a society is reflected is through its creative arts, Stendahl and his commentary on it stand as a view from above. His voice still echoes the crowd as the pages are turned. It is also his view of the Bourbon monarchy that provide an insight into the Revolution of 1830 and quite possibly the most dominant reason why it occurred…its time had passed.    
What are we then to think of the reasons for the failed restoration of the Bourbons? It has been shown that the explanations were great and varied. French society at the beginning of the post-Bonaparte period was reeling from occupation by foreign armies, lack of funding, and a staggering reparations bill of 700 million francs. In addition, there was a reduction in land (back to the borders of 1790 as the borders of 1792 obtained in 1814 were taken away), the forced maintenance of a foreign army some 150,000 strong, and maybe the cruelest insult of all, the restoration of Louis XVIII for a second and final time. S. Holmes states that “Louis XVIII ruled not by the grace of God, but by the allies.”[33] This small phrase begins to tell the tale as to why the rule of the Bourbon was to fail. Looking at the entire period covered here, it is almost as if the allies cleverly planned their restoration, knowing full well that it would not survive. It seems implausible that a simple restoration of a monarchy that had long since been deposed would signal the French people to return to their everyday lives. It is as if the allies failed to understand that no matter who occupied the throne of France after Bonaparte, it would not be enough to make the people forget their revolutionary past. A past rooted in glory, drenched in blood, and forever altered by the events of 1789. Combine that with the ever present shadow of Bonaparte, and the obstacles faced by these two men are almost insurmountable given the circumstances of their reign.
Finally, it does seem as though the Bourbons had a chance, however slim, to reclaim some semblance of their former past. It would have required a complete acquiescence to the constitution that Louis XVIII had committed allegiance to in 1815. In truth, this could not be done by either Louis or Charles. Their roots extended into a France long past, and despite their willingness on the surface to accept that which was foisted upon them to regain their throne, their royal blood spoke louder to them than any constitution or crowd roar ever could. They were imbued with centuries of tradition and a family line that had known greatness until that fateful day in 1793 when their own blood was spilled for the cause of the French Revolution. It is not surprising then, that Charles took the gamble of his family’s life and family line in trying to regain that which he felt in the depths of his soul belonged to him. It is unfortunate that he could not see that time had declared absolutism gone. Napoleon III that said “March at the head of the ideas of your century, and they will sustain you…march against them and they will overthrow you.”[34] It is clear that the Bourbon held to the former, and the result was their end.
Artz, Frederick B. “The Electoral System in France during the Bourbon Restoration, 1815-30.” The Journal of Modern History 1, no. 2 (June 1929): 205-18. doi:10.1086/235451.
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[1] Helen Maria Williams, A Narrative of the Events Which Have Taken Place in France from the Landing of Napoleon Bonaparte on the First of March, 1815, till the Restoration of Louis XVIII. With an Account of the State of Society and Public Opinion at That Period. (Cleveland: Burrows Bros., 1895), 188.
[2] Louis XVIII as quoted in Richard Holroyd, “IV. The Bourbon Army, 1815-1830,” The Historical Journal 14, no. 03 (September 1971): 529, doi:10.1017/S0018246X00007548.
[3] Ibid., 530.
[4] Nora Eileen Hudson, Ultra-royalism and the French Restoration, (New York: Octagon Books, 1973), 3.
[5] Janet S. Byrne, “The Best Laid Plans,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series, 17, no. 7 (March 1959): 183, accessed January 15, 2011,
[6] Sheryl Kroen, Politics and Theater: the Crisis of Legitimacy in Restoration France, 1815-1830 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 60.
[7] Ibid., 61.
[8] Byrne, The Best Laid Plans, 183.
[9] Andre Nicolle, “The Problem of Reparations after the Hundred Days,” The Journal of Modern History 25, no. 4 (December 1953): 343, doi:10.1086/237635.
[10] Ibid., 343.
[11] M. Richter, “II. Toward a Concept of Political Illegitimacy: Bonapartist Dictatorship and Democratic Legitimacy,” Political Theory 10, no. 2 (1982): 185, doi:10.1177/0090591782010002003.
[12] Ibid., 186.
[13] Kroen, Politics and Theater, 43.
[14] Louis XVIII. “Declaration of St. Ouen 1814.” The Napoleon Series. Accessed February 18, 2011.
[15] Richter, “Political Legitimacy”, 194.
[16] S. Holmes, “I. Two Concepts of Legitimacy: France after the Revolution,” Political Theory10, no. 2 (1982): 169, doi:10.1177/0090591782010002002.
[17] Pamela M. Pilbeam, Themes in Modern European History: 1780-1830 (London, NY: Routledge, 1995), 119.
[18] Camillus, “Reform without Revolution, or Thoughts on the Present State of the Country, in a Letter to His Grace the Duke of Wellington,” Bristol Selected Pamphlets, 1830, 4, accessed January 16, 2011,
[19] Nora Eileen Hudson, Ultra-royalism and the French Restoration, (New York: Octagon Books, 1973), 8.
[20] Ibid., 177.
[21] Edgar Leon Newman, “The Blouse and the Frock Coat: The Alliance of the Common People of Paris with the Liberal Leadership and the Middle Class during the Last Years of the Bourbon Restoration,” The Journal of Modern History 46, no. 1 (March 1974): 31, accessed January 15, 2011,
[22] Cuviller-Fleury as quoted in Newman, Blouse and Frock Coat, 32.
[23] Ibid., 33.


David H. Pinkney, “The Crowd in the French Revolution of 1830,” The American Historical Review 70, no. 1 (October 1964): 4, doi:10.2307/1842095


Ibid., 3.


D. Wisner, “Law, Legislative Politics and Royal Patronage in the Bourbon Restoration: the Commission to Decorate the Conseil D’Etat Chambers, 1825-1827,” French History 12, no. 2 (1998): 157, doi:10.1093/fh/12.2.149.


Newman, Blouse and Frock Coat, 33.


Pinkney, The Crowd, 6.


Jo Burr Margadant, “Identities. The Duchesse De Berry and Royalist Political Culture in Postrevolutionary France,” History Workshop Journal 1997, no. 43 (1997): 23, accessed January 15, 2011, doi:10.1093/hwj/1997.43.23.


Frederick B. Artz, “The Electoral System in France during the Bourbon Restoration, 1815-30,” The Journal of Modern History 1, no. 2 (June 1929): 26, doi:10.1086/235451.


Ibid., 26.


Dennis Porter, “Stendhal and the Limits of Liberalism,” The Modern Language Review 66, no. 3 (July 1971): 544, accessed January 15, 2011,

[33] Holmes, Political Theory, 169.
[34] Napoleon III as quoted in T. C. W. Blanning, The Nineteenth Century: Europe, 1789-1914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 41.