To What Extent Does The Essay
The Bourbon Restoration is the name given to the period following the successive events of the French Revolution. Louis XVIII, younger brother of Louis XVI was given the throne of France on the 1814 through the support of Talleyrand. France had changed hugely, In particular, the bourgeoisie and peasantry could not now not be ignored.
By 1815 a monarchy began to have some appeal as the general population of France began to grow tired of war. The émigrés and clergy naturally supported the monarchy, peasants and bien nationaux were anxious not to lose there land gained and the bourgeoisie wanted law, order and stability. Louis not only would be experience opposition that was the remnants of the revolutionary feelings but also dealing with a broken France that had lost the war that was now under a constant supervision and a new monarchy that resembled the old regime which hadn’t been implemented since 1789. The During his reign Louis experienced a host of factors that could be argued led to largely to the failure of his reign. The factors against Louis’s reign being largely a failure are that he recovered France economically, he eradicated Bonopartist supporters via the white terror, and kept France relatively peaceful for the next 15 years. However his reign could also be deemed largely a failure as polarity within politics was fierce, the Hundred days causing national turmoil and the murder of the Duc de Berri in 1820.
The polarization of politics was a significant factor in demonstrating why Louis XVIII was largely a failure. In 1815, there were two main parties. The Ultras’ who were extreme royalists, many of whom were émigrés, who were led by Louis’ younger brother the Comte d’Artois, and used their influence to gain position in the chamber of Deputies. The Liberals were the moderates against the royalists. The ultras hope to return to the structure of the Ancien regime, wanting to end the charter of 1814 , which aimed to create a largely constitutional monarchy. Ostensibly granted by a sovereign King, this document promised an elected two-chamber legislature to examine the directly appointed executive, guaranteed the revolutionary land settlement, retained the Napoleonic administrative structure and promised equality before the law.
. The ultra’s two main aims highly contradicted the charter with the censorship of political news and the continual return for their estates. This caused polarization as the liberals were pro charter. Louis was often left in a position that meant that he had to take a moderate stance.
Nevertheless, provision was soon made for the replacement of Imperial army officers by emigres, a mildly redistributive land law in favour of the royalists was introduced, failing to create political stability. During his reign the ultra’s and the liberals would constantly be fighting over the majority in chamber.However to prevent either party from gaining a majority the king often appointed relatively moderate governments under Richelieu and Decazes, and even to dissolve the Chamber if it refused to accept the Restoration settlement, as in 1816. The danger of such tactics lay in the political instability in engendered; a centrist government could be attacked from both sides of the political spectrum, while the multiplicity of parties within each side of the spectrum often led to difficulties in forming coalitions.
Consequently, the party with the most internal coherence – the ‘Ultras’ often gained influence during the later years in Louis XVIII’s reign, causing the Liberals to gradually abandon the politics of compromise. Louis appeased the Ultra’s by introducing the double vote and increasing censorship. Nevertheless, as long as the King remained largely above faction, it remained possible to mediate between, if not reconcile, the antagonistic elements of the Restoration system. The polarization of the two groups can be seen as a failure to negotiate new laws and representatives. However the control of politics was largely down to the King himself who during this period was often under external pressures, form the allies, to promote a peaceful France, with an objective of political stability, one that would require a moderate position.
Therefore due to the constant oscillations in political power Louis largely failed.The high point of polarization of politics was the murder of Duc de Berri in 1820. The Duc de Berri was significant as he was the only male member of the bourbons able to provide an heir. The Ultras unexpectedly took advantage of this, securing a dismissal of the moderate Decazes. His replacement , Richelieu, made electoral changes in favour of the wealthy, such as more censorship and additional rich deputies. This can be considered a turning point, as Louis could not longer resist the Comte d’Artois and the ultras.
Additionally an assured heir, born in September 1820, added to the fears about where the government was going.The Hundred days can also be seen to create polarization of politics within France and can be seen to be a significant factor in Louis’s reign being largely a failure. The Hundred days revealed the divisions between the “old and the new France, that of the ‘emigration’ and that of the “revolution”, neither of whom seemed reconciled to the Bourbon monarchy in its new form. The main objective of the royalists, with whom the aristocracy and Catholic Church were closely associated, was a return to pre-revolutionary monarchy, in which the land settlement would be revised in their favour, and the clergy would regain their past influence.
Alternately, those who had prospered since 1789 (often termed the bourgeoisie) were anxious to retain their new wealth and freedoms, were often anticlerical, and were thus suspicious of Bourbon intentions. The Hundred days overall showed that France still hadn’t accepted the restoration of the bourbon monarchy and showed a serious underlying theme that the King was still second to Napoleon.However the reign of Louis XVII can be considered to not be largely a fail. One of the major successes of Louis reign was general economic recovery and industrial prosperity. For instance, it is widely agreed that France underwent a “profound economic change” during this period, with the appearance of savings banks and joint-stock companies, improvements in agriculture, and the expansion of the transport network. Economic growth along with political stablty can be considered to the most important aspect of a country.
By increasing the economic situation of France over the last 20 years allowed France to compete with the likes of Britain that it was unable to do before. Moreover, the repayment of the war indemnity was of important symbolic value as it represented the return to financial solvency for the first time in a generation due to Napoleons spending on warfare. It must be acknowledged that many of these improvements are difficult to calculate perfectly, and were due in some extent a wider evolution in the European economy.Louis also managed after the hundred days of Napoleon managed to restore authority and purge the bonopartist group via the white terror. The 7000 who had supported him, including the 57 leaders, were imprisoned or executed.
However even though Louis was purging resistence to the monarchy the execution of marshal Ney caused public out cry. However there was little the king could do as the Ultras had strength in the chamber. Louis also ensured that there was relative peace throughout France throughout his reign and even military successes. For example, when France intervened successfully in spain, managing to control where even Napoleon failed. This was a sign of confidence and recovery. Overall the success of the economic , white terror and foreign policy gained Louis support by most the pays-legal in the early years and allowed a more stable France to grow.
It could be said that if France was in a economically worse situation that the political situation would also have deteriorated or that the response to the hundred days and overall to louis’s reign would have be far more negative.In conclusion the reign of Louis can be largely regarded as a failure through the polarization of politics. In order to achieve political stability in the long-term, it was essential for the King to reconcile these two diametrically opposed groups, or at the very least act as a mediator in the inevitable conflicts that the split would create. Otherwise those conflicts could destroy the Restoration settlement. Louis XVIII was fully aware of this danger, insisting that his government’s priority be to fuse the two groups.
Unfortunately, in the aftermath of the “˜Hundred Days’, the Ultras used extra-parliamentary means to undermined this aim, fomenting widespread attacks on Liberals in the south of France. This ‘White Terror’ increased the perception amongst some of the politically active class that they were henceforth in danger from a monarchy, and were to be excluded from public life. The economic successes seen during the reign were limited and could be down to Napoleons actions rather than Louis himself. The reign of Louis was largely a failure as he failed to keep the country politically stable and by 1824 Frances political situation was largely Ultra, even with the moderate policies enacted over his reign.