France in the Early 19th Century

The French revolution did not result in government of the people by the people. After the overthrow of Napoleon I a constitutional monarchy was installed in France, and freedom of speech, press and religion was guaranteed as were legal equality and inviolability of property. However, these guarantees became increasingly restricted by special regulations. Catholicism became the state religion again and the freedom of press was curtailed.

Although common suffrage had been granted by the constitution of 1793 the consequent reign of terror led to a return to property restrictions on suffrage. There was a fear that any further entitlements of the population to political power would pose a threat on order. It would not be until 1848 that political equality was achieved through implementation of the principle of free elections.

Lack of Democracy in France after the Revolution of 1789
Liberty Leads the People

The restorative policy of the bourbony kings, particularly of Charles X (since 1824) who strived for the restoration of the Ancien Régime with ultra-royalist support, led to increased tensions within French society at the time. When Charles X decided to eliminate freedom of the press completely, to dissolve the recently elected chamber, and to further restrict election legislation, the monarchy was overthrown once more during a revolt in Paris (July 27-29, 1830). But since the rebellionists - workers, students and lower bourgeoisie - had not organized any leadership or worked out any political agenda it was the liberal majority in the parliament and the upper bourgeoisie who took advantage of the revolt.

Restoration and Revolts

The monarchy was preserved partially through the influence of general La Fayette who was 73 years old at the time and who had participated both in the French Revolution and the American War of Independence, and Talleyrand, the former minister of foreign affairs. Louis Philippe was proclaimed the next king of France. The constitution was modified in regard to the separation of power between the "Citizen King" and both chambers of parliament. The parliament eliminated the censoring of press and restricted the dominating influence of the catholic church. First steps towards thorogh democratization were taken, but strikes and revolts during the persuant years demonstrated that the people, especially the lower social classes, were still dissatisfied with their political and social conditions.

Preservation of Monarchy
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This document was last updated on 01/24/98.