1902 Encyclopedia > Charles X of France

Charles X
King of France

CHARLES X (1757-1836), king of France, a younger brother of Louis XVI., known before his accession as Charles Philippe, Count of Artois, was born in 1757 At the age of sixteen he married Maria Theresa of Savoy. His youth was passed in a course of scandalous dissipa-tion ; but for a short time he joined the French army at Gibraltar, and during the disturbances immediately prior to the Revolution he took a minor part in politics. In July 1789 he left France, and visited several of the European courts, in order to procure assistance for the royalist cause On the execution of Louis XVI., he assumed the title of Monsieur, and in the campaign of 1792 he commanded a regiment of French gentlemen ; but in February 1793 he retired to Russia, where he was warmly welcomed by Catherine. In August 1795 he led an expedition, fitted out by the English, to assist the revolt in La Vendue but he displayed no energy, and effected nothing. Retiring after this to England, ho re-sided for a time at Holyrood Palace, and afterwards with his brother Louis at Hartwell. In April 1814 he was cordially welcomed back to Paris by the Provisional Government. During the reign of his brother, Louis XVIII., he was the leader of the extreme royalist party, who aimed at bringing back the state of affairs which had existed before the Revolution; and on succeeding to the throne in September 1824 he continued to follow the same policy. His frequent appearances in public, and the dignity of his address, at first awoke considerable enthusiasm ; but his popularity was brief. M. Villele, who had already directed the government for some time, continued to be chief minister. A bill was passed by which a thousand millions of francs were devoted to recompense the losses of the emigres (March 1825). The Jesuits were, it was believed, encouraged to return to France. Severe laws were made against sacrilege, death being assigned as the penalty for theft from consecrated ground, and profanation of the consecrated elements being regarded as a crime equal to parricide; and the censorship of the press, which he had abolished at his accession, was re-imposed. At length, in January 1828, Charles made a compromise by replacing the unpopular ministry of Villele by a ministry headed by the Marquis of Martignac. But the change was temporary; soon after he called to the head of affairs Prince Polignac, a personal friend, whose views exactly coincided with his own, and the choice of whom conse-quently aroused the deepest dissatisfaction. But Charles refused to give way, and the address of the Chambers requesting the dismissal of the prince was answered with a dissolution. His foreign policy, meanwhile, was popular, for his troops gave assistance to Greece and conquered Algiers. But this could not save a king who so little understood the temper of his people. On the 25th June 1830 he issued ordinances, of which one forbade the publication of any periodical without Government permission, another dissolved the new House of Deputies which had not yet met, and a third placed the elections under the power of the prefects. This excited a spirit of resistance which spread rapidly through Paris ; barricades were thrown up; the troops were repulsed; and in three days the revolution was completed, Charles meantime doing absolutely nothing. At length he recalled his edicts; and he afterwards resigned in favour of his grandson, the duke of Bordeaux. But all was now in vain. Louis Philippe was elected king; and Charles retreated from St Cloud to Trianon, from Trianon to Bambouillet, and finally returned to Holy-rood, where he lived four years. He died at Gbrtz in 1836. The close of his life was spent in religious austerities, which were intended to atone for his former dissoluteness.

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