The Main Reason for his being Overthrown in 1830? Essay
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he general opinion of historians as to the reasons for Charles X’s downfall in 1830 is that most of it was of his own doing, having the wrong attitude and imposing unpopular policies.
From the very beginning of his reign, Charles X gave out the impression that he was a backward-minded monarch who had the old-fashioned belief of the divine right of kings. This was demonstrated at his coronation at Rheims, which was very elaborate and seemed to belong to the time of his ancestors.
Later, his policy of compensating the ï¿½migrï¿½ landowners by cutting government stocks penalised the middle class who were an increasingly influential group due to the on going economic growth of France. Charles failed to recognise the importance of this class and the fact that they opposed his Ancien Regime.
Charles X also found it hard to control the liberals who were well organised and aided by Chateaubriand who owned a popular opposition paper, with a circulation of 40,000. This increased opposition to Charles X and his regimes. He could have limited the liberals power and influence by bringing Chateaubriand back to his government before he became a member of the opposition.
A major contributor to Charles X’s downfall was his policies on religion. He was deeply religious, believing that the Roman Catholic Church should have a greater role in people’s everyday lives. He therefore handed over control of education to the church. Charles X allowed the Jesuits, an extreme Catholic movement, to grow in strength. The invasion of the church into peoples live lessened further the number of supporters of Charles X.
In 1829, Charles x replaced the fairly neutral Martignac ministry an extreme ultra one, headed by Polignac. Polignac was associated with the hated monarchy from before the revolution. The ministry also included Bourmont, a general who had deserted Napoleon and La Bourdonnay who had been responsible for the white terror in the reign of Louis XVIII. This combination of unpopular characters increased the discontent in France.
Another feature of Charles X’s attitude that contributed to his downfall was his stubbornness, being unwilling to give way. This was shown by the fact that the chamber opposed Charles X’s regression to the Ancien Regime. He took no notice of their protests and warned them in a speech that any opposition to him would be dealt with by force. Still the chamber opposed him, passing a vote if no confidence in his ministers. Instead of backing down and accepting the situation, Charles X decided to battle on, calling new elections. When this produced a rise in the number of seals for the opposition, he resorted to extreme measures, invoking article XIV of the Charter and passing the four ordinances of St Cloud, which combined virtually, amounted to a coup.
However, in addition to Charles X’s numerous mistakes, there were also factors that were out of his control which furthered the tension in France and contributed to his eventual end. An economic recession began in France in 1826 with a series of bad harvests causing food shortages. This led to the price of basic food products increasing. In Eastern France, wheat prices alone rose by 66% between the years of 1826 and 1830. Riots began against taxation and grain shortages and unemployment levels soared especially in manufacturing towns. The lack of food caused many other problems including poor housing, impure water and disease. The situation was so bad that by July 1830 (the time in which Charles X fell from reign) a quarter of the people of Paris were receiving charitable aid. People were angry with the government who saw itself as powerless to act. Such conditions would have made ruling effectively a difficult task.
However, whether the recession actually caused Charles X to be overthrown is questionable. The final spark that led to the end of Charles X was his lack of planning of thinking ahead in his attempt to secure Paris Charles X should have realised that Paris was the hotspot for all the discontent in France. Some historians believe that had Charles X conducted his coup differently he could have secured Paris and therefore the throne. The nation as a whole was lethargic of political matters and therefore would have put up little protest to Charles X’s ordinances as long as they did not affect their standard of living. The only area in which the people were incensed and organised enough to challenge Charles X’s ordinances with any hope of success was Paris.
Charles X overlooked this and entered Paris entirely unprepared. He came with insufficient numbers of troops; the best of the garrison were occupied in Algeria. He also failed to seize strategic points like newspaper offices that would have made his aims easier. Instead they were left in the hands of the opposition.
In addition to this, Charles X didn’t arrest any of the leaders of the opposition, as this would have weakened their forces. Instead he came having done none of this and with another general who had deserted Napoleon, enraging the rioters further. His own troops went over to the side of the rioters, forcing him to back down. If Charles X had approached the Paris coup differently and taken the necessary precautions highlighted above, his chances of victory would have been very good, regardless of the economic crisis in France.
In conclusion, the recession in France did help to cause the fall of Charles X but this alone could not have brought him down. The situation needed something to bring all the tension and discontent of the people to a head. This was Charles X’s incompetence and thoughtlessness in enraging the people if Paris with his ordinances then going up against them without the means of victory. It was therefore Charles’s attitude and policies that played the larger role in Charles X being overthrown although the economic factors should be taken in consideration.