The last of the Bourbons

The last of the Bourbons

King Charles X visiting Notre-Dame church.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

Louis XVIII's successor

Since 1814, the count of Artois, future Charles X, was considered the leader of the ultra party, hostile to the Charter and liberal principles, eager to return to the absolutist monarchy overthrown by the Revolution. So the liberal opposition was completely disarmed when it was learned of the death of Louis XVIII September 16, 1824 that the new sovereign, established in the castle of Saint-Cloud, had assured to the delegations of the constituted bodies that he received his will to maintain the Charter and therefore the constitutional principles established in 1814. It was the same within of the royal family: he gave the title of royal highness to the Duke of Orleans, future Louis Philippe, son of the regicide Philippe-Egalité whose liberal opinions were known and as such doubly sidelined in the court of Louis XVIII. However, it was to be different a few months later, after the coronation, the policy pursued by Charles X having asserted itself as distinctly reactionary.

Image Analysis

Entering Paris

We are here at the end of the entry of the new monarch in his capital, of which by the future queen Marie-Amélie, wife of Louis-Philippe recorded the itinerary in her diary: “At the barrier of the Star, the prefect at the head of the municipal body came to offer his congratulations to the King and present him the keys of the City that the King returned to him, telling him that they could not be in better hands. The procession advanced by the Champs-Elysées, the Allee de Marigny, the Rue Saint-Honoré, the boulevards, the Rue Saint-Denis, the Place du Châtelet, the Pont au Change, in Notre-Dame we are all descended. We sang the Te Deum and we attended the salvation [of the Blessed Sacrament]; we returned to the Tuileries by the quays. "

Charles X, here at the center of the composition, mounted on a white horse, had insisted on the simplicity he wanted to give to this entry: "No halberds between my people and me", he had asked, and he confided to the end of this long day: “They [the Parisians] received me like the child of the house, I am not tired, I am happy. A provisional neo-Gothic decor, decked out in white, emblem of the restored monarchy, had nevertheless been built in front of Notre-Dame. But we will also notice the absence of real ceremonial, in a still largely medieval Paris, which in any case has not yet undergone Haussmann's transformations.

Interpretation

It was not at the time but more than fifteen years later that this painting was executed by Nicolas Gosse, one of the artists extensively employed by Louis-Philippe for the historical museum of Versailles. There could be no question of emphasizing too much the sovereign's fleeting popularity elsewhere. So he contented himself with recounting the arrival of Charles X at Notre-Dame as a simple witness, without giving any more precise political significance to the scene. Note, however, that alongside Charles X prances the Duke of Orleans in the uniform of Colonel General of the Hussars. Gosse, very skillfully, thus highlights the future successor of Charles X, whose first principle will be to rigorously apply the Charter.

  • Bourbons
  • Charles X
  • Constitutional Charter
  • Notre Dame de Paris
  • Restoration
  • ultraroyalism
  • Louis Philippe
  • equestrian portrait

Bibliography

Claire CONSTANS, National Museum of the Palace of Versailles. The paintings , 2 vol.Paris, RMN, 1995.José CABANIS, Charles X, king ultra, Paris, Gallimard, 1972.Francis DÉMIER, 19th century France, Paris, Seuil, coll. “Points Histoire”, 2000.François FURET, The Revolution, 1780-1880, Paris, Hachette, 1988, re-ed. "Pluriel", 1992.Emmanuel de WARESQUIEL, Benoît YVERT, History of the Restoration: birth of modern France, Paris, Perrin, 1996.

To cite this article

Pascal TORRÈS, "The last of the Bourbons"


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