Story of Modern France - Helene Guerber

Revolution of 1830

The Dey of Algiers having struck the French consul,—thereby insulting France,—a French force set out from Toulon (1827) to punish him. But, popular as the expedition otherwise was, it enraged the French to see it commanded by Bourmont, a general who had deserted Napoleon, and gone over to the enemy, on the eve of Waterloo. After the French fleet had bombarded Algiers, Bourmont easily seized it, finding there treasure enough to pay the costs of the expedition, and releasing many Christian captives held by the cruel Algerine pirates. This taking of Algiers proved the first step in the acquisition of what was to become the finest colonial possession of France.

[Illustration] from The Story of Modern France by Helene Guerber


Meantime, the situation had not improved in France. In a new attempt to revert to absolutism, the king appointed a prime minister whom the Chambers refused to support, declaring they did not approve of his views (183o). To punish them, Charles X. again suppressed the liberty of the press, and dissolved the Chambers, at the same time ordering some unconstitutional changes in the electoral laws,—which proved the last straw.

On the morrow, notwithstanding the royal prohibition, the newspapers appeared as usual, printing their strictures so freely that popular excitement reached an intense pitch on the 27th, 28th, and 29th of July. The rage of the Parisians reached its climax when it became known that the king had given Marmont—the first of the marshals to desert Napoleon in 1814—command of the troops detailed to restore order in Paris. Hearing this, the disbanded National Guards donned their uniforms, seized their muskets, and hurried out into the streets, where they promptly erected great barricades, on top of which they planted the beloved red, white, and blue flag of the Republic and the Empire.

Meantime, the royal family were quietly sojourning at St. Cloud, deeming the disturbance nothing worse than one of the too frequent riots of the day. But serious fighting began in the streets, and finally some of the troops joined the rebels. Three days later, the Parisians had secured possession of the Tuileries, Louvre, and other public buildings, which they did not plunder or injure in any way, but above which they triumphantly hoisted their tricolored flag. It was the sight of this flag which made the king suddenly realize the gravity of the situation, and drove him first to the Trianon and then to Rambouillet, a few miles farther on. Here, finding himself deserted by all save a handful of faithful and mainly clerical partisans, Charles X. abdicated, as did also his son, the Dauphin, Duke of Angouleme, in favor of their grandson and nephew, the young Count of Chambord, whom they fancied the people would gladly welcome.

[Illustration] from The Story of Modern France by Helene Guerber


But this abdication came too late; the people had already placed Lafayette at the head of a temporary government, and had given the Duke of Orleans command of the troops. On learning that the rebels were advancing toward Rambouillet, threatening his liberty and perchance his life, Charles X. fled with his family to England, whence he afterwards went to Austria, where he died in 1836.

As Charles X. had, left the crown to his grandson, the Count of Chambord, the Royalists thenceforth persistently called this boy Henry V., although he never reigned. He was, however, the legitimate heir to the crown of France, and, as long as he lived, his faction hoped to see him at the head of a restored monarchy. When he died (1883), leaving no children, his rights passed to his cousins, the Orleanists, a branch of the family descended from the brother of Louis X I V.

During the brief period of the Restoration (1814-1830), Lamartine, Hugo, Guizot, and other writers (Delavigne, Beranger, Thierry) enriched French literature with poems, histories, and historic novels which are now considered classics; the painters of the epoch (Gericault, Delacroix, Delaroche, Ary Scheffer, Leopold Robert, and Ingres) are represented by masterpieces in the Louvre and elsewhere; and scientists (Cuvier, Arago, and Ampere) made invaluable contributions in their different branches of learning. During this period, also, the first savings-bank was founded, and Paris was embellished by fine buildings (the Bourse, the Church of St. Vincent de Paul, and the Chapelle Expiatoire). It was, however, just after this period that the famous July Column was erected as a monument to the six thousand victims of the Revolution of 1830—which is known also as the Second Revolution or the Revolution of Charles X.