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  • The French Revolution of 1848 started on February 22, 1848.

    Beatriz Camino

    The French Revolution of 1848 started on February 22, 1848.

    The French Revolution of 1848 marked a phase of social and political turmoil that resulted in the downfall of the July Monarchy and the establishment of the French Second Republic.


    At the beginning of the 19th century, Louis XVIII governed France as part of a constitutional monarchy. After his death in 1824, his brother, the Count of Artois, assumed the throne as Charles X. Uninterested in a constitutional monarchy, he took steps to bolster his authority by curtailing press freedom, reducing the electorate and dissolving the lower house. This led to the Three Glorious Days of July 26–29, 1830 and his subsequent abdication. Following this event Louis Philippe of the Orléanist branch ascended to power, marking the establishment of the July Monarchy.

    Louis Philippe I led a moderately liberal state controlled by educated elites. The king, a savvy businessman and one of the wealthiest individuals in France, aligned with bankers at the expense of the middle and working classes in the Chamber of Deputies. By 1848, only landholders could vote, alienating the petty and industrial bourgeoisie from the government. Moreover, his perceived indifference to the needs of society, especially the excluded middle class, led to further dissatisfaction. As a result, a reform movement emerged, advocating for the expansion of the electoral franchise. Economic hardships, job losses, rising bread prices, and accusations of government corruption further intensified the discontent.

    As political gatherings and demonstrations were prohibited, activists from the predominantly middle-class opposition to the government devised a strategy involving a series of fund-raising banquets. This initiative, known as the Campaign of Banquets (Campagne des banquets), aimed to circumvent the government's restrictions on political meetings and provide a lawful platform for expressing criticism of the regime. However, on January 14, 1848, in anticipation of the highly anticipated upcoming banquet in Paris, Prime Minister Guizot's government declared banquets illegal. Despite the ban, the organizers decided to proceed with the event and set the date for February 22.

    The Revolution

    Anticipating political gatherings scheduled for the next day, the French government issued a second ban on 21 February. Despite this, workers and students remained resolute in their commitment to the demonstrations and the following day, shortly before noon, large crowds began gathering in the streets of Paris. This caught the authorities off guard, resulting in a confused initial response. What began as demonstrations quickly escalated into a large-scale popular revolt, marking 22 February as the inaugural day of the Revolution. The vast crowds, too numerous to arrest or contain, dispersed around the Champs-Élysées and southeast Paris.

    On 23 February, crowds marched past Prime Minister Guizot's residence, chanting slogans against him and advocating for reform. The National Guard was mobilized, but its soldiers refused to engage the crowds, joining the demonstrations against Guizot and King Louis Philippe instead. Consequently, the King reluctantly asked for Guizot's resignation and tasked Count Molé with forming a new government. As news of the resignation spread through Paris, the fighting gradually subsided, and the crowds began to celebrate.

    However, underlying social pressures persisted, and in the evening, a crowd gathered outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the Boulevard des Capucines, leading to a tragic confrontation with soldiers resulting in the death of 52 people and injuries to 74 others. News of the massacre quickly incited anger among Parisians. Throughout the night between February 23 and 24, over 1,500 barricades were erected across Paris, and numerous railways leading to the city were sabotaged.

    On 24 February, the King called for a government led by Odilon Barrot, representing a concession to reformists. Simultaneously, he appointed Marshal Bugeaud, known for his brutal suppression of protests, to command the troops in Paris. Heavy fighting erupted in various parts of the city, with the largest combat occurring at the Place du Château d'Eau. Around noon, realizing that further resistance was futile, Louis Philippe called off all opposition and formally abdicated in favour of his nine-year-old grandson, Philippe, Count of Paris.  His daughter-in-law, Helena, Duchess of Orléans, became the presumptive regent. However, the dynastic opposition's effort to secure a regency was thwarted by popular calls for a Republic. On the evening of 24 February, at the Hôtel de Ville, the Provisional Government's final list was announced, and the French Republic was proclaimed on 25 February.

    Impact of the Revolution

    The February Revolution of 1848 marked a pivotal moment in European history, triggering the widespread revolutionary wave known as the Revolutions of 1848. This transformative event unleashed a wave of discontent and calls for constitutional reforms that swept through numerous European states, posing challenges to established monarchies and autocratic regimes. The German states, in particular, experienced immediate and pronounced repercussions, witnessing a succession of revolutionary movements sparked by the revolutionary fervour emanating from France. Additionally, the aftermath of the French Revolution exerted significant pressure on monarchs in Prussia, Bavaria, Austria, and Sardinia, ultimately compelling them to accede to liberal reforms in response to the prevailing demands for change.


    Louis Philippe I 1/2 Franc - Brockage mint errorFRANCE 1840-A GOLD 20 FRANC .... LOUIS PHILIPPEFRANCE Louis Philippe I 1847 Essai 5 Centimes NGC MS-64 BN

    1831 A France 5 Francs - Paris Mint - Second Kingdom - Philippe I - XFFrance, 5 francs 1831FRANCE 1831-A GOLD 20 FRANC ... LOUIS PHILIPPE


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