Louis XVIII played a considerable role in the French history, and although his reign was brief, it was notable, and crucial to understanding future events in France.
Louis XVIII died in 1824, leaving some problems unsolved for his brother and successor, Charles X. Louis was stout, lazy and gout. It is argued that he lacked the energy required to lead France. He was, however very well meaning, and had the best of intentions. Louis actually believed in the absolute monarchy of the Bourbon family, and the divine hereditary right, although he did give his people more potential power and influence by creating the Charter in 1814.The Charter was an achievement of Louis’s, that could be said to have reformed France, as well as showing his reactionary side. The Charter allowed freedom of speech and religious toleration. It also said that the country had to be governed through ministers, and therefore, although Louis clearly believed he was put on the throne by G-d, the idea of absolute power was removed.
Louis still had considerable authority, and though on the surface people would see the country being run in a more democratic way, the king retained a tremendous amount of power.The Charter included equality before the law (although there is evidence that this was not always upheld. ) Along with the added rights (the share of power in the country, the freedom of press…
) the Charter was fairly reactionary in the sense that there was restricted suffrage to those who could stand. It did however, provide more independence and was the most liberal constitution on the continent. Evidence suggests that the general public’s view of a Bourbon returning to power, was mixed. Louis XV1 had supported the church and its role. Napoleon however, enforced a clear distinction between the church, and the running of the country.
With Louis XV111 in power, the church assumed it would regain all the rights it had had with Louis XV1, however, Louis XV111 kept the church’s involvement in the running of the country minimal, as Napoleon had. The peasants were dissatisfied with this, as they were under the tremendous influence of the church. The Middle Class however, were much more accepting of this decision, as they recognised it as beneficial and sensible.
The Napoleon Nobility (the people who had become wealthier during Napoleon’s reign because of his idea that opportunities should be open to all, irrelevant of previous wealth and status) were frowned upon.They suffered with the restoration of the Bourbon family because they were simply not recognised. The middle class gained greatly from the Bourbon monarchy’s restoration. They were found mostly in professions or government services, rather than in commerce or industry. The Charter gave them more potential power and influence politically.
They were determined to retain and extend this, and oppose any attempt to restore the position of the church or the nobility at their expense. Louis learned a great deal about how democracy could work in parliament by living in Britain and the rest Europe during the revolution between 1789-1814.Fleeing for his life during the Revolution was understandable, however it also made Louis look cowardly, and many believed that he should not have deserted his country. His departure however, meant that he spent a great deal of time away from France, and so many said that he became out of touch and was not fully aware what his country wanted or needed. Out of touch, as he may have been, he did appreciate the concerns of the great powers (who some believed were the ones who put him on the throne), and therefore one could say that he improved France’s position internationally.
This seems like a minor point, but considering France’s bad reputation, it is actually extremely important. Because of the Revolution, France was seen to be hot-headed and in need of being tamed. The other powers were therefore uneasy about becoming more involved. Even though the ideas of the Revolution still continued, France wanted to be taken seriously, and break their “naughty boy” image within Europe, therefore the fact that Louis realised this and was making the appropriate effort internationally, is a point which should not be overlooked or underrated.One of Louis XV111’s ministers, was Tallyrand. This shows Louis’s good international intentions, as Tallyrand had worked for Napoleon, and had the trust of Britain (which, at the time, was growing in prosperity, led the way in industry, and was the financial centre of the world. ) Louis’s ministers were well chosen, and were talented French politicians.
They were probably a popular choice as people connected them to Napoleon. Louis XV111 had many problems to deal with which had been handed on to him.For example, France’s industrial situation was poor, and few advances in this area seemed to be taking place. France was also trying to recover from war, as well as expand/improve trade.
Although Louis XV111 attempted to solve some of these economical/financial difficulties in France, many were left for Charles X to deal with. Charles X was not as intelligent as Louis XV111, but possessed a more pleasing and gracious personality. He appeared to be more active (despite being 67. ) Charles X used i?? 00, 000 in gold, which Louis XV111 had deposited in case of an emergency. This saved Charles X from the mob sent out to search for him. Unlike Charles X, Louis XV111’s mistakes were not intentional, and were less grave.
Where as Charles X did nothing to hide his own personal beliefs for the interest of France, Louis XV111 managed (or at least endeavoured) to put his views second to those of his people. He realised that France was developing, and attempted to create a more stable nation.