The future of the Bourbon monarchy was doomed from the start Essay Example
It is not fair to say that the future of the Bourbon monarchy was doomed from the start, because even though there were immediate drawbacks of association with an unpopular peace, this was more than balanced by the fact that France possessed economic and social potential. The good economy was demonstrated by the fact that much of Europe had suffered dislocation and devastation at the hands of warring armies, but only France had escaped lightly with only a few temporary difficulties. Also land was productive and populated by skillful peasantry and the industries could meet the demands of the country.
Socially many of the tensions that had led to revolution in 1789 had been removed, due to the peasants been free and owning most of their land and so apposing any revolutionary activity, the bourgeoisie were no longer preve...
nted from gaining social and political distinction and so would give support to any regime that would maintain the status quo and finally the church had more influence over the people therefore could teach people that existing social and political role was important.
However even though it can be said that the Bourbon monarchy had not been doomed from the start, the events of 1814-15 did begin to question the future of the Bourbon monarchy. The first event that occurred was the abdication of Napoleon on the 6th April 1814 and the task of choosing a new monarch. In 1810 France dominated most of Europe, because Napoleon had achieved a lot during his military command. Russia had been the only country, which had power beforehand but Napoleon tried to destroy it as a military force.
Therefore Russia, Austria and France
had joined together in attempt to restrict Napoleons power to the boundaries of France. Napoleon had to abdicate as a result of the weaknesses within his command. The main one for example was that, he refused to settle for second best even if that was all that was on offer. When a new monarch had to be chosen it was thought that the French would not accept Louis XVIII, because he was perceived, as been narrow mind, selfish and totally apathetic to his country and his people and 'was not a person to inspire immediate and enthusiastic devotion'.
Louis-Philippe was more likely to win acceptance in France, because he had been a supporter of the French Revolution in its early years. A decision could not be made about the new leader therefore it was left up to the French to decide. An important individual at this point was Tallyrand who established himself as head of a provisional government and brought a successful conclusion. Tallyrands task was to show the allies that there was widespread support in France for the restoration of the Bourbons, as they did not agree with the election of a new monarch.
He did this by getting crowds of people to shout 'Vive le roi', which means 'Long live the king' as the Duke of Wellington led British troops from Spain. Consequently in April 1814 it was agreed amongst the allies that Louis XVIII should return as the King of France. Louis XVIII had been living outside France for 20 years up to this point after he was put into exile and had been surrounded by fellow migres all waiting for the time when
they could claim what was rightfully theirs. The French did not want to lose what they had gained in the Revolution, but they wanted a sense of security and permanence that had been missing before.
The election of Louis XVIII as king to initiate the demands of the French was not a good idea, because he was not a very attractive person as he was obese and gouty and often ferried around in a wheelchair. There was no doubt that he was conscious of his supreme dignity in his station and he was a firm believer in the divine rights of kings and would answer to no one but God. His loyal supporters praised him continuously, but many people referred him to as a 'fat pig' due to his selfish, narrow-minded attitude.
Once the decision had been made to make Louis the king, the major issue was whether he could come to terms with the changes that had been made since he had been in exile. He showed himself to the population as been reasonable, but he would not accept any restriction that would be placed on his powers and would not be bound to rules and regulations. This would not gain him loyal support in the long term and would eventually lead to his downfall. The details of the new political, legal and social arrangements were worked out and the Charter was produced on 4th June 1814.
The Charter was a guarantee that Louis's restoration would not mean a purely reactionary return to the Ancien Regime, as it had existed before 1789. Also it was an assurance that the gains of the last twenty-five years would not
be swept away by the stroke of a pen. The Charter more importantly established a political system that was more liberal than any other country in mainland Europe. Many people accepted this and the political arrangements of the Charter were of major interest to a small majority of people known as the Pays Legal. These men were fairly wealthy and drew their income from ownership of land.
Support would have to be gained by these people if the restoration was to be a success because they would lead the masses in supporting it. Louis however spoilt the support he gained from the population initially, due to the various mistakes he made and this questioned whether the Bourbon Monarchy would be likely to exist in the future. These mistakes consisted of changing the flag of France, re-introducing elements of the pre-revolutionary court ceremonial, which raised suspicions about what was likely to follow, reconstituting the Household Guard which made up several thousand aristocratic officers, meaning that the igrs would gain power in the near future and also constructed a preamble to the Charter of 1814. In this he declared that he had been put there by the Divine Right of Kings and not because of the people. Due to these mistakes he found himself fleeing to the safety of a foreign land and the protection of armies in Britain and Prussia. The departure of Louis XVIII had led to Napoleons return. Napoleon had been made ruler of the Island of Elba in the Mediterranean and even though he was not supposed to return to France, his great ambition drove him to try and regain control of France.
in the south with a number of men in March 1815 and within weeks he was in control again as the men became loyal to Napoleon once again. Louis XVIII had caused resentment in the army due to the haste of which he had demobilized units and retired officers on half pay in order to save money. The soldiers left the Marshal Ney and joined Napoleons army. Louis XVIII did not have the charm to lead the people and he was a stranger to them; therefore Napoleons power would be too great to resist; Louis was powerless and was wise to retreat to a safe distance.
Napoleon now had to secure his position against the allied forces of Russia, Austria, Prussia and Britain who had not wanted him to return to power. Napoleon believed that he could inflict immediate defeat on the British and Prussians and then overcome the Russian and Austrian forces once they had appeared, so that he could retain his control over France. He assembled his troops and marched them towards Brussels. He fought the British troops near the village of Waterloo on 18th June 1815, but he failed to achieve the victory he required.
This was because Napoleon was not very well, as he had a hormonal imbalance and other ill symptoms, he was not too good at delegating control so the soldiers made mistakes, there was bad weather and the British had more reinforcements. He had no choice but to surrender and rely on the charity of his enemies. He was not given a second chance and was sent to the remote island of St. Helena where he was made a prisoner
so that he could not return to disturb the peace of Europe once again. The Hundred Days lead to the 2nd Restoration of 1815 and the White Terror.
The allies had been left with no choice but to restore Louis XVIII for a second time, but they did not really want to as he had now been truly identified with the enemies of France; therefore his regime would be unpopular. Parts of France remained in virtual civil war for several months after Waterloo. Ultra royalists in Southern France led by the duc d'Augouleme did battle with the federations which had sprung up to defend Napoleon and which subsequently were to the main opposition to the Bourbon. A 'White Terror' occurred and the name refers to the White Flag of the Bourbons.
It caused a lot of political unrest within France during the 2nd restoration. During this event the government seeked out enemies and punished them. In Marseille on the 24th June 1815 the ultras inflicted 50 deaths, 200 were injured and 80 shops and houses fired. The Rhone valley was soon in uproar and the commander of the garrison in Toulon, marshal Brune was assassinated in Avignon. Louis XVIII was under a lot of pressure and would need to detach himself from Tallyrand and Fouche, as not many people trusted them.
This was because Fouche had been a terrorist and the leader of the Ministry of Police, which controlled the four regional police divisions. He had also been responsible for the Concordat, which was an agreement planned as a dramatic gesture of reconciliation as an essential part of Napoleons aim of unifying the country and bringing together former
enemies. Tallyrand also was not agreeable to the people due to him influencing the allies to restore Louis XVIII in the first place. Therefore in order to pacify the people Louis XVIII had to let them go.
Another minister was elected called, Richelieu, who used emergency decrees to shape electoral laws. Louis XVIII gained the power to maintain law and order it allowed him to deal harshly with Napoleons supporters. He arrested 10 000 people for sedition and arranged special courts to deal with extra trials. He also punished the army as they had defected to Napoleon; 150 000 were sacked or demoted. About 80 000 Administrators were sacked for been disloyal and the Chamber of Peers was also sacked for supporting the 100 Days.
The execution of Marshal Ney in December 1815 turned him into a martyr for the liberals. Even though the White Terror had not made the Restoration impossible it certainly ensured that a cohort of politically ambitious men were kept permanently alienated and excluded from public life. This was the situation Louis had hoped to avoid. The allies were proved right in saying that it will have been difficult for Louis XVIII to re-establish himself. In conclusion it can be seen that to a certain extent it is not entirely fair to assume that the future of the Bourbon Monarchy was doomed from the start.
This was because despite the events that occurred during 1814-15 the economic and social aspects of France outweighed these. It is certain that the election of Louis XVIII was not a very good idea because even though he did make some changes, these did not pacify the people and
due to his bad personality he was not well respected as a leader. This will have led to people questioning the future of the Bourbon Monarchy, but it will not have been definitely said that it was doomed for failure.
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