Louis Philippe I, ruler during the July Monarchy of the French Revolution, was
the last king to rule France. Although originally exiled by the French
government, he returned 37 years later to be elected sovereign by popular vote,
a popularity that quickly deteriorated once he took the throne.
Louis Philippe was born into a family of nobility and inherited the title of
Duke of Chartres. He showed liberal tendencies from a young age, and as the
French Revolution approached, Louis sided with the revolutionaries. He was
appointed Colonel of the 14th Regiment of Dragoons, and he proved himself a
worthy officer, earning a civic crown for his brave deeds. Louis was soon
promoted to brigadier, and he commanded a troop of cavalrymen in the Army of the
North. He was continually praised for his skill in battle, but events in Paris
left him alienated and without supplies, as troops began to desert the army.
After Louis XVI’s death, the young Duke became involved in a plot to align with
Austria and overthrow the Revolutionary government, and he chose to flee to save
his life. He and an ally set out for the Austrian camp, but they were
intercepted and forced into exile after their army turned against them. Louis
kept a low profile, traveling throughout Switzerland in search of refuge.
Finally, after several months, he was offered a position as a teacher at a boys’
school, where he worked under an assumed name. Early the next year, he began
courting the schoolmaster’s cook, but he was fired when she was found to be
pregnant. Louis Philippe began once again to travel extensively, visiting
Scandinavia (where he fathered a second child), Finland, and the United States.
In the U.S., he resumed a position as a teacher and met many American
politicians, among them George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. He and his
brothers, who had also been exiled, sailed for England next, where Louis
Philippe would remain for fifteen years. There he married the daughter of King
Ferdinand I. After Napoleon’s abdication, Louis Philippe returned to France,
where he sided with the liberal opposition to King Louis XVIII. He was on far
better terms with Louis’s successor, Charles X, but his opposition to several
policies made him a threat to the new king’s government.
After Charles’s abdication, an increasingly popular Louis-Philippe was chosen to
assume the throne. Five years after his coronation, he survived an
assassination attempt, but his eldest son died soon after, in a carriage
accident. Louis Philippe was at first admired for his unpretentious fashion,
but his popularity suffered due to deteriorating conditions of the working class
and the widening income gap. During the February 1848 Revolution, Louis
abdicated in favor of his grandson and, fearful of what had happened to Louis XVI,
left France. Rather than accept his grandson as king, a new republic was
established with Louis Napoleon as president. Louis Philippe and his family
remained in exile in England, where he passed away two years later.
Key events during the life of Louis Philippe:
||Appointed Colonel of the 14th Regiment of Dragoons
||Forced into exile
||Offered a position as teacher of a boys' school
||Father was guillotined
||Visited the United States
||Arrived in England
||Married Princess Marie Amalie
||Returned to France
||Became King of France
||Survived an assaination attempt
||Economic crisis led to Revolution
||Abdicated during the revolutions of 1848
||Founding Father, principal author of Federalist Papers. Secretary of Treasury.
||Leader of the Continental Army of the U.S. during the Revolutionary War, and first President.
||Victorious general who rose to power during the French Revolution. Crowned himself Emperor and restored France to greatness.
||King during the French revolution. Beheaded by republicans who sought to overthrow the monarchy.
||Aristocratic wife of Napoloeon Bonaparte.