- "Charles X" redirects here. For the King of
Sweden, see Charles X Gustav
of Sweden, for the Catholic claimant of 1589, see Charles, Cardinal de
(9 October 1757 – 6 November 1836) ruled
as King of France
from 16 September
1824 until 2 August 1830. A younger brother to Kings Louis XVI
and Louis XVIII
, he supported the latter
in exile and eventually succeeded him. His rule of almost six years
came to an end in 1830 due to the July
, which ignored his attempts to keep the crown in the
senior branch of the House of
and instead elected Louis
Philippe, Duke of Orléans
of the French
. Once again exiled, Charles died in Gorizia, Austria.
Childhood and adolescence
Charles-Philippe was born in 1757, the
youngest son of the Dauphin
Ferdinand, and his wife, the Dauphine Marie Josèphe,
at the Palace of
Charles was created Count of
at birth by his grandfather, the reigning King Louis XV
. As the youngest male in the
family Charles seemed unlikely ever to become king.
At the death of his father in 1765, Charles' oldest surviving
the new Dauphin
, the heir-apparent to the French throne.
Their mother, Marie Josèphe, never recovered from the loss of her
husband and died in March 1767 from tuberculosis
. This left Charles an orphan at
the age of nine, along with his siblings Louis-Auguste, Louis Stanislas, Count of Provence
, and Elisabeth
Louis XV fell ill on 27 April 1774, a week after the premiere of
the celebrated composer Christoph Willibald Gluck
, and died on 10 May of smallpox at the age of
sixty-four. His grandson Louis-Auguste succeeded him as King Louis
XVI of France.
Marriage and private life
Charles as Count of Artois
In November 1773, Charles married Princess Marie Thérèse
. The marriage, unlike that of Marie Antoinette and
Louis-Auguste, however, was consummated almost immediately.
In 1775, Marie Thérèse gave birth to a boy, Louis-Antoine
, who was
created Duke of Angoulême by Louis XVI. Louis-Antoine was the first
of the next generation of Bourbons, as the King and the Count of
Provence had not fathered any children yet, causing the Parisian
(pamphleteers who published scandalous
leaflets about important figures in court and politics) to lampoon
Louis XVI's alleged impotence. Three years later, in 1778,
Charles's second son, Charles Ferdinand
, was born
and was given the title of a Duke of Berry.. In the same year Queen
Marie Antoinette gave birth to her first child, Marie-Thérèse
, quelling any rumours that she could not bear
Charles was thought of as the most attractive in his family,
bearing a strong resemblance to his grandfather, Louis XV. and as
his wife was considered quite ugly by most contemporaries, he
looked for company elsewhere. Accordingly, his extramarital affairs
became numerous. According to the Count of Hezecques, "few beauties
were cruel to him." Later, he embarked upon a life-long love affair
with the beautiful Louise de
(1764–1804), the sister-in-law of Marie Antoinette's
closest companion, the Duchess of
Charles also struck up a firm friendship with his sister-in-law,
Queen Marie Antoinette
, whom he had
first met at her arrival in France in April 1770 when he was
twelve. The closeness of the relationship was such that he was
falsely accused of having seduced Marie Antoinette by Parisian
rumour mongers. As part of Marie Antoinette's social set,
Charles often appeared opposite her in the private theatre of her
favourite royal retreat, the Petit Trianon.
They were both said to be very talented
amateur actors; with Marie Antoinette playing milkmaids,
shepherdesses and country ladies, and Charles playing lovers,
valets and farmers.
story concerning the two involves the construction of the Château de
Bagatelle. In 1775, Charles purchased a small hunting lodge in the Bois de
soon had the existing house torn down with plans to rebuild. Marie
Antoinette wagered her brother-in-law that the new château could
not be completed within three months. Charles engaged the neoclassical
architect François-Joseph Bélanger
to design the building. He won his bet, with Bélanger completing
the house in sixty-three days. It is estimated that the project,
which came to include manicured gardens, cost over two million
livres. Throughout the 1770s, Charles spent lavishly. He
accumulated enormous debts, totalling 21 million livres
. In the 1780s, King Louis XVI paid of
the debts of both his brothers, the Counts of Provence and
Also around 1775, Louis Philippe
future Duke of Orléans, schemed to create a rift between the King
and his youngest brother. Louis Philippe introduced Charles to gambling
and the brothels at the Palais-Royal, the ancestral home of Louis Philippe's
Louis Philippe wanted Charles to catch a venereal disease
, either dying, or becoming
sterile , thereby increasing his own chances of one day gaining the
throne of France (as first prince of the blood, Louis Philippe
would have been fourth-in-line to the throne, after the Counts of
Provence, Artois and Angoulême) as Charles was the only member of
his family to produce any children, so far.
In 1781, Charles acted as a proxy for the Emperor Joseph II
christening of his godson, the Dauphin Louis Joseph
Crisis and Revolution
Charles' political awakening started with the first great crisis of
the monarchy in 1786, when it became apparent that the kingdom was
bankrupt from previous military endeavours (the Seven Years War
, and the American War of Independence
and needed fiscal reform to survive. Charles supported the removal
of the aristocracy's financial privileges but opposed to any
reduction in the social privileges enjoyed by either the Church or
the nobility. He believed that France's finances should be reformed
without the monarchy being overthrown. In his own words, it was
"time for repair, not demolition."
King Louis XVI eventually convened the Estates General
, which hadn't been
assembled for over 150 years, to meet in May 1789 to ratify
financial reforms. Along with his sister Elisabeth, Charles was the
most conservative member of the family and opposed the Third Estate
's (representing the commoners)
demand to increase their voting power. This prompted criticism from
his brother, who accused him of being "plus royaliste que le roi"
("more royalist than the King"). In June 1789, the Third Estate
declared themselves a National Assembly
in the same
month, intent on providing France with a new constitution.
In conjunction with the baron de
, Charles had political alliances arranged to depose
the liberal minister of finance, Jacques
. These plans backfired when Charles attempted to secure
Necker's dismissal on 11 July without Breteuil's knowledge, much
earlier than they had originally intended. It was the beginning of
a decline in his political alliance with Breteuil, which ended in
Necker's dismissal provoked the fall of the Bastille
on 14 July. At
the insistence of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Charles and his
family left France three days later, on 17 July, along with several
other courtiers, including the duchesse de
, the Queen’s favourite.
Life in exile
Charles and his family decided to seek refuge in Savoy
, Marie Thérèse's native country, where they were
joined by some of the Condé
Meanwhile in Paris, Louis XVI was struggling with the National
Assembly, which was committed to radical reforms and had enacted
the Constitution of
. In March 1791, the Assembly also enacted a regency bill
which provided for the case of the King's premature death. While
his heir Louis-Charles
still a minor, the Count of
, the Duke of Orléans
if either was unavailable, someone chosen by election should become
regent, completely passing over the rights of Charles who, in the
royal lineage, stood between the Count of Provence and the Duke of
Charles meanwhile left Turin and moved to Trier, where his uncle,
Clemens Wenceslaus of
was the incumbent Archbishop-Elector
. Charles prepared for a
of France but after a letter by Marie Antoinette postponed it to
after the royal family had escaped France. After the attempted flight
was stopped at Varennes,
Charles moved on to Koblenz, where he, the recently escaped Count
of Provence and the Princes of Condé jointly declared their
intention to invade France. The Count of Provence was sending
dispatches to various European
assistance, while Charles set up a court-in-exile in the Electorate of Trier
. On 25 August, the
rulers of Austria and Prussia issued the
Declaration of Pillnitz,
which called on other European powers to intervene in
On New Year's Day
1792, the National
Assembly declared all emigrants traitors, repudiated their titles
and confiscated their lands., followed by the suspension and
eventually the abolition of the monarchy in September 1792.
family was imprisoned in the Temple, and
eventually put to death or, as the
young Dauphin died of illnesses and neglect.
French Revolutionary Wars
broke out in 1792, Charles escaped to Great Britain, where King George III of Great Britain gave
him a generous allowance. Charles lived in Edinburgh and London with his
mistress Louise de Polastron His
older brother, dubbed Louis
XVIII after the death of his nephew in June 1795, relocated to
Verona and then to
Jelgava Palace, Mitau, where
Charles's son, Louis-Antoine, married Louis XVI's only surviving
child, Marie-Thérèse Charlotte on 10 June 1799.
Charles supported his brother with several thousand pounds.
Louis XVIII moved to Great Britain.
The Bourbon Restoration
Louis XVIII of France and
In January 1814, Charles covertly left his home in London to join
the Coalition forces
southern France. Louis XVIII, by then wheelchair-bound, supplied
Charles with letters patent
him Lieutenant General of the Kingdom. On 31 March, the
Allies captured Paris.
week later Napoleon I
Louis XVIII restored.
Charles arrived in the capital on 12
April and acted as Lieutenant General of the Kingdom until Louis
XVIII arrived from England. During his brief tenure as regent,
Charles created an ultra-royalist secret police, that reported
directly back to him without Louis XVIII's knowledge. It operated
for over five years.
XVIII was greeted with great rejoicing from the Parisians and
proceeded to occupy the Tuileries Palace. His brother, the Count of Artois, lived in
the Pavillon de Mars, the Duke of Angoulême in the
Pavillon de Flore, which overlooked the River Seine.
duchesse d'Angoulême fainted upon arriving at the palace, as it
brought back terrible memories of her family's incarceration there,
and of the storming of the palace and the massacre of the Swiss
Guards on 10 August
According to the advice of the occupying allied army, Louis XVIII
drafted a liberal constitution, the Charter of 1814
, which entailed a bicameral
legislature, an electorate of 90,000 men
and freedom of religion.
Following the Hundred Days
brief return to power in 1815, the White
swept across France, when 80,000 Napoleonic officials
and generals were removed from their positions and some even
killed, most notably the Marshalls Ney
who was executed for treason, and Brune
, who was murdered.
The King's brother and heir
While the King retained the liberal charter, Charles patronised
members of the ultra-royalists in parliament, such as Jules de Polignac
, the writer François-René de
and Jean-Baptiste de Villèle
on several occasions, Charles voiced his disapproval of his
brother's liberal ministries and threatened to leave the country
unless Louis XVIII dismissed them. Louis, in turn, feared his
brother's and heir-presumptive's ultra-royalist
tendencies would send the
family into exile once more.
On 14 February 1820, Charles' younger son, the Duke of Berry was
assassinated at the Paris Opera
loss not only devastated the family but also put the continuation
of the Bourbon dynasty in jeopardy, as the Duke of Angoulême's
marriage had not produced any children. Parliament debated the
abolition of the salic law
, which excluded
females from the succession and was long held inviolable. However,
the Duke of Berry's widow, Caroline
Ferdinande of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
, was found to be pregnant
and on 29 September 1820 gave birth to a son, Henri, Duke of Bordeaux
was hailed as "godgiven" and the people of France bought him the
Chambord in celebration of his birth.
Rule as King
In September 1824, Louis XVIII's health began to fail, as the King
was suffering from both dry and wet gangrene
in his leg and spine. He died on 16
September, and his brother succeeded him to the throne as King
Charles X of France.
In his first act as King, Charles tried to unify the House of
Bourbon by granting the style of Royal
to his cousins of House of Orléans
, who had been
deprived of this by Louis XVIII because of the former Duke of
' role in the death of Louis XVI.
In the first few months of his reign, Charles' government passed a
series of laws that bolstered the power of the nobility and clergy.
Charles gave his Prime
, Jean-Baptiste de Villèle
lists of laws that he wanted ratified every time he opened
parliament. In April 1825, the government approved legislation,
proposed by Louis XVIII but implemented only after his death, that
paid an indemnity
to nobles whose estates had been confiscated
Revolution. The law gave government bonds to those who had lost
their lands, in exchange for their renunciation of their ownership,
costing the state approximately 988 million francs
. In the same month, the Anti-Sacrilege Act
was passed. Charles'
government attempted to re-establish male only primogeniture
for families paying over 300
francs in tax but the measure was voted down in the Chamber of
On 29 May
1825, King Charles was anointed at the cathedral of Reims, the
traditional site of consecration of French Kings which however had
been unused since 1775 as Louis XVIII had foregone the ceremony to
That Charles was not a popular ruler became apparent in April 1827,
when chaos ensued during the King's reviewing of the National Guard
. In retaliation, the
National Guard was disbanded but as its members were not disarmed,
it remained a potential threat.
After losing his parliamentary majority in an unfavourable general election
in November 1827, Charles
dismissed Prime minister Villèle on 5 January 1828 and appointed
, a man the King disliked and thought of only as
provisional. On 5 August 1829, Charles dismissed Martignac and
appointed Jules de Polignac, who however lost his majority in
parliament at the end of August, when the Chateaubriand faction
defected. To stay in power, Polignac would not recall the Chambers
until March 1830.
Conquest of Algeria
declared war on Algeria on 31 January 1830 to put an end to the threat he
unruly Algerian pirates posed to Mediterranean trade and also increase the government's popularity
by a patriotic victory. The occasion of the war was the viceroy of
Algeria, angry about French failure to pay its debts stemming from
Napoleon's invasion of Egypt, had struck
the French ambassador. French troops were victorious, capturing
Algiers on 9 July.
The July Revolution
The Chambers convened on 2 March 1830, as planned, but Charles'
opening speech was greeted by negative reactions from many
deputies. Some introduced a bill demanding that the King's
ministers should have the backing of the Chambers. On 18 March 221
deputies, a majority by 30, voted in favour of the bill. However,
the King had already decided to hold general elections and thus the
chamber was suspended on 19 March.
Elections were held on 23 June but did not produce a majority
favourable to the government. Therefore, on 6 July, the King and
his ministers decided to suspend the constitution, as provided for
by Article 14 of the Charter in case of an emergency, and on 25
Julyissued four ordinances
censored the press, dissolved the newly elected chamber, altered
the electoral system and called for elections in September.
When the official government newspaper, Le Moniteur Universel
the ordinances on 26 July, Adolphe
, journalist at the opposition paper Le National
, called on the people
to revolt. In the evening, crowds assembled in the
gardens of the Palais-Royal, shouting "Down with the Bourbons!" and "Vive
As the police closed off the gardens during
the nights, the crowd re-grouped in a nearby street, where they
shattered the street lamps.
The next morning, police raided and shut down the newspapers that
continued to publish (including Le National
). When the
protesters, who had re-entered the Palais-Royal gardens, heard of
this, they attacked soldiers with missiles, prompting them to
shoot. By the evening, the city was dominated by violence and shops
were looted. On 28 July, the rioters began to erect barricades in
streets. Marshal Marmont
, who had
been called in the day before to remedy the situation, took the
offensive against the rioters, but some of his men defected to the
rioters and by the afternoon he had to retreat to the Tuileries
Louis Philippe, King of the French
The members of the Chamber of Deputies sent a five-man delegation
to Marmont, urging him to advise the King to revoke the ordinances
and thus assuage the anger of the protesters. Subsequently, on
Marmont's request the prime minister intervened with the King, but
Charles refused all compromise and dismissed all of his ministers
that afternoon, realising the precariousness of the situation. That
evening, the members of the Chamber assembled at Jacques Laffitte
's house and decided that
Louis Philippe d'Orléans
take the throne from King Charles. They printed posters endorsing
Louis Philippe and distributed them throughout the city. By the end
of the day, the government's authority was trampled.
had to flee St. Cloud in the early hours of 31 July, as the
Parisians were scheming to attack the residence, and sought refuge
at the Versailles.
Meanwhile in Paris, Louis Philippe assumed
the post of Lieutenant General of the Kingdom.
August, Charles X retreated further to the Rambouillet.
When three regiments of the Royal Guard
abandoned him, Charles realised that
all hope was lost for him. The same day he abdicated in favour of
his son, the and the Dauphin, who in turn abdicated in favour of
his nephew, Henri, Duke of
. The abdication document was sent to the Lieutenant
General requesting him to proclaim the Duke King, but Louis
Philippe ignored the document and on 9 August had himself
proclaimed King of the French
the members of the Chamber.
Second exile and death
When it became apparent that a mob of 14,000 people was preparing
to attack, the Royal Family was forced to leave Rambouillet and, on
16 August, embarked on packet steamers provided by Louis Philippe,
to the United Kingdom. Informed by the British Prime Minister, the
Duke of Wellington, that they needed to arrive in England as private citizens, all adopted pseudonyms, with
Charles X assuming the name of a "Count of Ponthieu".
Bourbons were greeted coldly by the English, who upon their arrival
mockingly waved the newly adopted tri-colour flags were at
Charles X was quickly followed to Britain by his creditors, who had
loaned him vast sums during his first exile and were yet to be paid
back in full. However, the family could use money Charles' wife had
stocked away in London.
Bourbons were allowed to reside in Lulworth Castle in Dorset, but quickly
moved to Holyrood
Palace in Edinburgh, where the Duchess of
Berry also lived at Regent Terrace
Charles' relationship to his daughter-in-law proved uneasy, as the
Duchess claimed the regency for her son, Henri
, whom the
abdications of Rambouillet had left the legitimist pretender to the
French throne. Charles at first denied her demands, but in December
acquiesced, and only once she had landed in France. Soon
afterwards, the Duchess by way of the Netherlands, Prussia and
Austria made her way to her Italian relatives. Finding little
support there, she arrived in Marseilles in April, made her way to the Vendée, where she tried to instigate an uprising against
the new regime, and was imprisoned, much to the embarrassment of
He was further dismayed when after her
release the Duchess married the Count de Luchessi-Palli, a minor
Neapolitan noble. As a result of this morganatic
match, Charles banned her from seeing
invitation of Emperor
Francis I of Austria, the Bourbons moved to Prague in winter
1832/33 and were given lodging at the Hradschin Palace by the Emperor.
In September 1833, Bourbon
legitimists gathered in Prague to celebrate the Duke of Bordeaux's
thirteenth birthday. They expected grand celebrations but Charles X
merely proclaimed his grandson's majority. On the same day,
after much cajoling by Chateaubriand, Charles agreed to a meeting
with his daughter-in-law, which took place in Leoben on 13
The children of the Duchess refused to meet
with her after they had learnt of her second marriage. Charles
refused the various demands by the Duchess, but after protests from
his other daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Angoulême, gave in again.
In the summer of 1834, he again allowed the Duchess of Berry to see
death of Emperor Francis in March 1835, the Bourbons left Hradschin
Palace as the new Emperor Ferdinand wished to use the palace
for his coronation. the Bourbons first moved to Teplitz, but as Ferdinand wanted to use Hradschin on a more
permanent basis, they purchased Kirchberg Castle.
there was postponed due to an outbreak of cholera
in the locality. In the meantime, Charles
left for the warmer climate on Austria's Mediterranean coast in
October 1835. Upon his arrival at Gorizia he caught
cholera and died on 6 November 1836.
The townspeople draped
their windows in black to mourn him. Charles was interred
in the Church of the Annunciation of Our Lady, in the Franciscan
Kostanjevica Monastery (now
Marriage and issue
Charles X married Princess Maria Teresa
, the daughter of Victor Amadeus III, King of
, on 16 November 1773.The couple had four children:
Duke of Angoulême (6 August 1775 – 3 June 1844)
- Sophie (5 August 1776 – 5 December 1783)
- Charles Ferdinand,
Duke of Berry (24 January 1778 – 13 February 1820)
- Marie Thérèse (1783).
- Mary Platt Parmele, A Short History of France. New
York: Charles Scribner's Sons (1894), p. 221.
- Munro Price, The Perilous Crown: France between
Revolutions, Macmillan, p. 185-187.
- Évelyne Lever, Louis XVI, Librairie Arthème Fayard,
Paris (1985), p.
- Antonia Fraser, Marie Antoinette: the Journey, p.
- Fraser, p. 128-129.
- Fraser, p. 137–139.
- Fraser, p. 189.
- Fraser, p. 80-81.
- Fraser, p. 178.
- Susan Nagel, Marie Thérèse: Child of Terror, p.
- Fraser, p. 221.
- Fraser, p. 326.
- Fraser, p. 274–278.
- Fraser, p. 338.
- Fraser, p. 340.
- Nagel, p. 65.
- Fraser, p. 383.
- Nagel, p. 103.
- Nagel, p. 113.
- Nagel, p. 118.
- Fraser, p. 399, 440, 456; Nagel, p. 143.
- Nagel, p. 152-153.
- Nagel, p. 207.
- Nagel, p. 210, 222, 233-235
- Nagel, p. 153.
- Price, p. 11-12.
- Nagel, p. 253-254.
- Price, p. 50.
- Price, p. 52-54.
- Price, p. 72, 80-83
- Price, p. 84.
- Price, p. 91-92.
- Price, p. 94-95.
- Price, p. 109.
- Price, p. 113-115.
- Price, p. 116-118.
- Price, p. 119-121.
- Price, p. 122-128.
- Price, p. 136-138.
- Price, p. 130-132.
- Price, p. 141-142.
- Price, p. 151-154, 157.
- Price, p. 158, 161-163.
- Price, p. 173-176.
- Price, p. 177, 181-182, 185.
- Nagel, p. 318-325
- A.J. Mackenzie-Stuart, A French King at Holyrood,
- Nagel, p. 327-328.
- Nagel, pp. 322, 333.
- Nagel, p. 340-342.
- Nagel, p. 349-350.