July Revolution Deposes Charles X Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

France’s July Revolution ousted the Bourbon king Charles X and his Ultraroyalist advisers because of their failure to accept the principles of civil equality and other ideals established by the revolution of 1789.

Summary of Event

After the long, exhausting years of the Napoleonic Wars, the French people passively accepted the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in 1814-1815. Bourbon dynasties;French France;Bourbon Dynasty At first, there was relief that the long years of warfare had at last come to an end, but there was also apprehension that the political, social, and economic gains made during the French Revolution (1789) might be lost. The moderate constitutional regime established by Louis XVIII Louis XVIII reassured many French people. July Revolution (1830) Charles X [p]Charles X[Charles 10];deposition of France;July Revolution France;Ultraroyalists Paris;July Revolution [kw]July Revolution Deposes Charles X (July 29, 1830) [kw]Revolution Deposes Charles X, July (July 29, 1830) [kw]Deposes Charles X, July Revolution (July 29, 1830) [kw]Charles X, July Revolution Deposes (July 29, 1830) July Revolution (1830) Charles X [p]Charles X[Charles 10];deposition of France;July Revolution France;Ultraroyalists Paris;July Revolution [g]France;July 29, 1830: July Revolution Deposes Charles X[1600] [c]Government and politics;July 29, 1830: July Revolution Deposes Charles X[1600] [c]Wars, uprisings, and civil unrest;July 29, 1830: July Revolution Deposes Charles X[1600] Louis-Philippe [p]Louis-Philippe[Louis Philippe];and Belgium[Belgium] Chateaubriand, François-René de Lafayette, marquis de Polignac, Auguste-Jules-Armand-Marie de Thiers, Adolphe

July revolutionists manning the barricades in Paris.

(Francis R. Niglutsch)

During the 1820’s, the monarchy began to drift to the right at the same time that the French nation was moving to the left. Only the highly restricted suffrage and various changes to election laws enabled the factions of the right to maintain a majority in the Chamber of Deputies. By July of 1830, the political situation had reached the breaking point, and a brief, relatively bloodless revolution overthrew the Bourbons and established a new, more liberal monarchy.

Political tensions intensified in 1824, when Louis XVIII Louis XVIII [p]Louis XVIII[Louis 18];death of died and the throne passed to his brother, who became Charles X. The last surviving brother of the executed King Louis XVI, Charles was an extreme conservative. Throughout the years of the French Revolution French Revolution (1789);and Bourbon Dynasty[Bourbon Dynasty] (1789) and the First Empire, Charles had been the rallying point around whom the most violent antirevolutionary forces gathered. He had originally fled France in July, 1789, just as the revolution was beginning, and had remained abroad, condemning all changes in France, until Napoleon’s abdication in 1814. Although his ultimate goal was to restore the France;ancien régime Old Regime (l’ancien régime) to France, he did not at first take drastic measures, which would have antagonized the moderate and liberal opposition. Nevertheless, his government began shifting to the right. The liberal left was in opposition from the outset of Charles’s reign, which began with a five-hour medieval coronation at Rheims.

It was not until the moderates and one wing of the conservatives went into opposition, however, that Charles was driven from the throne. Two royal policies had the effect of alienating all political opinion except that of the extreme right. One was a marked trend toward enlarging the power of the nobility; the other, a trend toward increasing clerical influence in government. By 1829-1830, many conservatives who had loyally supported Louis XVIII and his Charter of 1815 France;Charter of 1815 had moved into opposition of Charles X and his Ultraroyalist supporters.

Soon after Charles’s coronation, the Chamber of Deputies, controlled by the Ultraroyalists, passed laws to indemnify the émigré nobles for the loss of their property during the revolution. To finance this indemnity, interest paid on government bonds was reduced from 5 to 3.5 percent, and the difference of more than one-half billion francs was paid to the nobility who had abandoned their property when they fled France during the 1790’s. The upper bourgeoisie owned most of the bonds and lost much of their anticipated interest. Other critics believed the windfall should have been used to defray government debts, not reward people who had often fought in foreign armies against France. On the other hand, the transaction had the positive effect of settling the nagging issue of émigré claims to lands they had abandoned, since they accepted the money as compensation. Nevertheless, no group outside the nobility favored this action. The middle classes also protested in 1827, when the king dissolved the National Guard, the citizen militia that was not under the control of the regular military officials.

Meanwhile, the growing influence of the Church also caused apprehension in some quarters. The Ultramontane faction of Roman Catholics Roman Catholics;France France;Roman Catholics who surrounded Charles X were widely perceived as abandoning the historical positions of the Roman Catholic Church in France, known as Gallicanism. Church control was extended over many tax-supported institutions of education, leading to dismissals of liberal instructors and prohibitions of certain subjects. The 1826 Law of Sacrilege instituted the penalty of mutilation followed by death for anyone convicted of committing, inside churches, certain acts defined as sacrilegious. No one was actually charged with such acts, but this linking of the power of the state to the religious beliefs of a minority of the population contributed to the formation of a majority coalition against the throne. Elections in November, 1827, resulted in a liberal majority in the Chamber, forcing the king to dismiss his Ultraroyalist ministers. For a time, Charles attempted to steer a moderate course between the liberals and Ultraroyalists, but this effort had the effect of leaving both sides dissatisfied.

An impatient man, Charles was not politically adept. Convinced of his royal prerogative, he appointed a new Ultraroyalist prime minister, even though he knew that he did not have majority support in the Chamber. Popularly dubbed the “Ultra of the Ultras,” Prince Auguste-Jules-Armand-Marie de Polignac Polignac, Auguste-Jules-Armand-Marie de was totally unacceptable to the Chamber, whose majority claimed the right to approve or disapprove the ministers. The Charter of 1815 France;Charter of 1815 did not specifically grant the Chamber this function, but such ministerial responsibility had been practiced since 1816. The opposition began to consolidate, rallying around traditional heroes, such as the marquis de Lafayette, Lafayette, marquis de and inspired by new leaders, such as Adolphe Thiers.

Early in 1830, a hostile Chamber of Deputies met and voted an address to Charles denouncing his new ministry. In his response, the king, who recalled that his brother Louis XVI had been criticized for yielding to the National Assembly in 1789, took a hard line and dissolved the Chamber of Deputies without replying to their address. The election that followed returned an even greater majority opposing the king. Once again, Charles answered by dissolving the National Assembly. This time, the king was determined to have his own way. He altered the Charter of 1815 France;Charter of 1815 in such a manner as to ensure an Ultra majority in the Chamber of Deputies by stripping the bourgeoisie of their right to vote and imposing a strict censorship Censorship;French on the press. The result of his action, however, was not what he had expected.

Previously faithful royalists now abandoned the regime, including the great Romantic writer René de Chateaubriand Chateaubriand, François-René de , who insisted that freedom of expression must be preserved. Republicans, Bonapartists, and others who had always been excluded from parliamentary channels of dissent began to organize and show their opinion in the only way left them, illegally and violently. On July 26, 1830, a few small demonstrations erupted in Paris. On the following day, barricades were constructed in the working-class sections of the city. By July 28, Paris Paris was in complete rebellion, with students and workers demanding the reestablishment of a republic. Charles X attempted to negotiate, offering to abdicate in favor of his ten-year-old grandson. The next day, he gave up his throne. Lafayette Lafayette, marquis de and other leaders were won over by the liberal deputies and the bourgeoisie to support a new, more liberal royal dynasty under Louis-Philippe, Louis-Philippe the duke of Orléans.


Although Louis-Philippe was a direct descendant of King Louis XIII (1601-1643), his ideas and actions seemed in keeping with those of the French middle classes. The new king’s father had been an eager participant in the early stages of the French Revolution (1789) until perishing in the Reign of Terror. Louis-Philippe himself had fought in French armies against the Austrians and Prussians before emigrating in 1793. His elevation to a new throne reassured many French citizens who feared that establishment of a republic might result in opposition from foreign governments or in Jacobin Jacobinism extremism. Louis-Philippe

The new regime was controlled by the upper middle class, who dominated the Chamber of Deputies. Although the masses had no voice in the government, the new order was a further step in the direction of representative government and was tolerated for eighteen years. Had King Charles X and his Ultraroyalist supporters been more flexible and willing to make concessions to the middle classes, French political institutions might have evolved in the manner and direction of those of Great Britain; instead, French institutions changed through revolutionary processes and resulted in a thoroughly democratic republican government by the end of the nineteenth century.

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Alexander, Robert. Re-writing the French Revolutionary Tradition: Liberal Opposition and the Fall of the Bourbon Monarchy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Broad study of the revolutionary tradition in French politics between 1815 and 1830 that looks at all classes of French citizens.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Howarth, T. E. B. Citizen King. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1967. This is a clear, readable account of the life and times of Louis-Philippe, who succeeded Charles X as king of France.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Kroen, Sheryl. Politics and Theater: The Crisis of Legitimacy in Restoration France, 1815-1830. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. Exploration of politics in postrevolutionary France, as seen through the prism of theater, with a focus on Molière’s play Tartuffe (1664), which enjoyed renewed popularity during the 1820’s.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Magraw, Roger. France, 1815-1914: The Bourgeois Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. The July Revolution is viewed as a further step by the bourgeoisie toward political and social dominance in France.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Marrinan, Michael. Painting Politics for Louis Philippe: Art and Ideology in Orleanist France, 1830-1848. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1988. A fascinating account of the use of art as political propaganda during the July monarchy.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Pinkney, David. The French Revolution of 1830. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1972. This work is one of the most complete and objective accounts in English.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Rader, Daniel L. The Journalists and the July Revolution in France: The Role of the Political Press in the Overthrow of the Bourbon Restoration, 1827-1830. The Hague, Netherlands: Nijhoff, 1973. Rader explains how journalists helped end a regime that attempted to limit freedom of expression.

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