Louis Philippe

(Louis Philippe of France)


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
Son died
Economic crisis led to Revolution
Abdicated during the revolutions of 1848

Book Links
Louis Philippe  by  John S. C. Abbott

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Later Days  in  France: Peeps at History  by  John Finnemore
Revolution of July  in  The Story of France  by  Mary Macgregor
Europe in Arms in 1848  in  Nations of Europe and the Great War  by  Charles Morris
Last King of France  in  Growth of the British Empire  by  M. B. Synge

Short Biography
Alexander Hamilton Founding Father, principal author of Federalist Papers. Secretary of Treasury.
George Washington Leader of the Continental Army of the U.S. during the Revolutionary War, and first President.
Napoleon Victorious general who rose to power during the French Revolution. Crowned himself Emperor and restored France to greatness.
Louis XVI King during the French revolution. Beheaded by republicans who sought to overthrow the monarchy.
Josephine Beauharnais Aristocratic wife of Napoloeon Bonaparte.