Charles X

Charles X was an Ultra-royalist, an extreme right wing who craved for the return of the Ancien Regime and have an absolute monarchy. His close relations to the Ultras and their policy are definitely the main reason for his downfall. It begun with wanting to achieve his aims to restore the ancien regime by undermining the Charter of Liberties 1814; a so called ‘Bill of rights’ for the population of France that created jobs, spread equality and the ability to vote, only a certain amount were able to do this if they fit the criteria.

However, Charles and the Ultras wish to abolish this to create an absolutist monarchy, completely ignoring the wishes of the public. Charles X had his coronation on the 28th May 1825 at the cathedral of Reims. It can be considered that the placement of this celebration and the goal of having a divine right of king through the Catholic church as a step towards Charles X downfall in 1830. But why is that?

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Firstly this would undermine the Charter, even though Article 6 states that “Roman religion is the religion of the state” in Article 5 it allows “Every one [to] profess his religion with equal freedom…” but by fully making the states religion Catholicism without the freedom of practise of any other religion will eventual become his downfall as it shows he is not willing to compromise for the people of France as he by “divine right” the King will only do what God wishes, not the people.

The Law of Sacrilege came in April 1825, a religious policy of Charles X in attempting to suppress paganism, a way for the Church to reclaim a dominant role for Catholicism in public life, e. g. education. The law restored nunneries, punishing the sacrilege of sacred objects with death which would concentrate liberal hostility and help to develop that anti-clericalism which would be one of the principle causes of the fall of the Bourbons.

The Charter abolish censorship of the press but Charles knew the press could be dangerous in the hands of the bourgeoisies and that they could use it to undermine and attack his desire to “rule not merely reign. ” Therefore the newspapers became more expensive that only the higher classes (middle and upper class) could afford them. No single newspaper had a circulation of more than 20,000.

This is one of the main reasons for Charles’ downfall as between 1825 and 1830, liberal newspapers were highly effective in publishing the abuse of the regime and in particular leading the fight against the resurrection of the alliance between the state and the church. Other policies such as the land settlement, compensation to the Ultra emigres who lost their land during the revolution, which, although sensible, angered those bondholders whose interest rates would be reduced to pay for it.

France’s economy can be taken into consideration to Charles’ eventual downfall due to his close relationship with the Ultras. French economy had remained mainly as it had under the ancien regime. In 1824 it was stable but lagged behind its neighbours in terms of agriculture. High Tariffs were fixed to protect both the infant industries and the interests of the landowners. In 1830 Europe stood on the brink of the railway age; France improvements in transport were limited to roads, canals and ocean going shipping.

Ministries under Charles X were slow to distinguish the connection between small investments and capital ventures. The Bank of France was not well ordered, foreign trade was negligible, the majority of the population depended on agriculture to live and 60% of the nation’s wealth lay in land. No one could have predicted the terrible weather making crops vulnerable to failure. Between 1826 and 1832 France’s economy was devastated by years of bad harvests.

As incomes fell people, with less disposable income, spent less on ‘luxuries’ which had a dramatic impact on the incomes of artisans. With recurring recessions and harvest setbacks provided the ammunition of revolution which added to political alienation led to Charles eventual abdication. It can be considered that choosing Polignac as his Chief Minister, an extreme right wing who was a personal friend of the king. Polignac believed that French power should be given completely to the King and nobles. Bury remarked him as “an Ultra of the deepest dye. This would influence his future policies that were reactionary and unsuccessful to the majority of the French people alongside by bringing a group of Ultra-Royalist with him; consequently this made Charles X’s ministry all the more unpopular as they were detested, even Polignac was so disliked that he even split the Ultras themselves. It was remarked that he had no sense of reality. This would definitely lead to Charles X’s downfall. His apparent contempt for the spirit of the Charter, as witnessed in the Ordinances of St.

Cloud in response to the opposition of what was believed to be an ‘unrepresentative ministry’ that Polignac was a part of. This led to the ‘Three Glorious Days’ which generated Charles’ eventual downfall. In conclusion it is perfectly clear that Charles’ decisions in government joined with the ideas of the Ultras contributing to the failures of their policies at home due to the King’s close relationship to the right wing extremists were absolutely the main reasons for Charles X’s downfall.