The French Revolution of 1830, also known as the July Revolution, was the second French Revolution after the first in 1789. It led to the overthrow of King Charles X of France and the ascent of his cousin Louis Philippe, Duke of Orléans.
Charles X's Reign
After Napoleon's defeat in May 1814, Europe, including France, faced a state of chaos. The Congress of Vienna was convened to redefine the political landscape of the continent, with major decision-making powers held by Austria, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Prussia. During the congress, it was agreed that France would return to its 1791 borders, and the Bourbon monarchy, previously overthrown during the Revolution, would be reinstated with Louis XVIII on the throne.
Following Louis XVIII's death in September 1824, his brother Charles assumed the French throne as Charles X. He aimed to restore absolute monarchy and roll back the liberal reforms introduced during the French Revolution and subsequent Napoleonic era. With an unwavering belief in divine right and a disregard for the evolving aspirations of the French people, Charles X's reign became increasingly unpopular.
The spark that ignited the July Revolution occurred on July 27, 1830, when Charles X issued a series of decrees, known as the July Ordinances. These restrictive measures dissolved the newly elected Chamber of Deputies, imposed strict censorship, restricted suffrage, and curtailed the press. The French populace, already discontented with the king's policies, erupted in protests throughout the country.
The Three Glorious Days
On the first day of the revolution, Paris became increasingly tense, with troops and guns being concentrated in strategic locations. At first, soldiers fired warning shots as stones and objects were thrown at them by the crowds. The fighting continued into the night, resulting in civilian casualties and the destruction of street lamps.
The following day, the unrest continued throughout the city. Troops attempted to maintain order, but the situation quickly deteriorated. Protesters shouted slogans against the king and demanded his removal. The Duke of Ragusa, Maréchal Auguste Marmont, was ordered to suppress the disturbances, but he was faced with limited troops and provisions. Despite pleas from opposition figures for a peaceful resolution, both Marmont and the king's chief minister, de Polignac, refused to withdraw the Ordinances.
By the third day, the revolution had escalated into a full-blown conflict. Paris was in chaos, with barricades erected throughout the city. Meanwhile, the royalists were nowhere to be seen. Moreover, Marmont failed to take decisive action or seek additional support, leaving the situation to deteriorate further. The Tuileries Palace was sacked, and the revolutionaries' tricolour flag flew over important buildings. At this critical moment, the Duke of Orleans, Louis Phillipe, arrived at the Palais-Royal, becoming a prominent figure in the unfolding events.
Result and Consequences of the Revolution
The July Revolution was put to an end on August 2, 1830, when Charles X abdicated in favour of his grandson, Henry V. However, the Bourbon monarchy was no longer tenable, and the crown ultimately passed to Louis-Philippe, who became the "Citizen King" and inaugurated the July Monarchy. This new regime sought to strike a balance between the ideals of the revolution and the preservation of social order, introducing limited reforms and expanding the middle class's political influence. Nevertheless, Louis-Philippe’s reign was unsuccessful, since he was overthrown in the French Revolution of 1848.
The July Revolution served as a catalyst for other European nations that aspired to break free from autocratic rule and pursue liberal reforms. In Belgium, it inspired an uprising against Dutch rule, leading to the establishment of an independent state in 1831. Poland, too, experienced a surge in nationalist sentiment, culminating in the November Uprising of 1830-1831 against Russian domination. Italy was not immune to the revolutionary wave either, as there were uprisings in several regions. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the Papal States, and the duchies of Parma and Modena witnessed significant unrest, with demands for constitutional reforms and national unification echoing across the peninsula. Although these revolts were ultimately suppressed, the aspirations they ignited laid the groundwork for future struggles for Italian independence.
Similarly, the July Revolution influenced Germany, where the concept of national unity and liberal reforms gained traction. Student organizations like the Burschenschaften demanded constitutional rights and an end to the fragmented German Confederation. Although their aspirations were crushed in the short term by the conservative powers, the July Revolution planted the seeds of a unified Germany that would eventually come to fruition in 1871.
- july revolution
- french revolution
- charles x
- henry v
- louis-philippe i
- french monarchy