Charles X (king of France)

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Charles X (king of France)

Charles X, 1757–1836, king of France (1824–30); brother of King Louis XVI and of King Louis XVIII, whom he succeeded. As comte d'Artois he headed the reactionary faction at the court of Louis XVI. He left France (July, 1789) at the outbreak of the French Revolution and became a leading spirit of the émigré party. After his failure to aid the Vendée insurrection, he stayed in England until the Bourbon restoration (1814). During the reign of Louis XVIII he headed the ultraroyalist opposition, which triumphed after the assassination (1820) of Charles's son the duc de Berry. The event caused the fall of the ministry of Élie Decazes and the advent of the comte de Villèle, who continued as chief minister after Charles's accession. Among the many attempts of Charles and Villèle to reestablish elements of the ancien régime, as the prerevolutionary order is called, the law (1825) indemnifying the émigrés for lands confiscated during the Revolution and measures increasing the power of the clergy met with particular disapproval. The bourgeoisie and the liberal press joined in attacking the Villèle cabinet, which resigned in 1827. Villèle's successor, the vicomte de Martignac, vainly tried to steer a middle course, and in 1829 Charles appointed an uncompromising reactionary, Jules Armand de Polignac, as chief minister. To divert attention from internal affairs, Polignac initiated the French venture in Algeria. However, his dissolution (Mar., 1830) of the liberal chamber of deputies and his drastic July Ordinances, establishing rigid control of the press, dissolving the newly elected chamber, and restricting suffrage, resulted in the July Revolution. Charles abdicated in favor of his grandson, the comte de Chambord, and embarked for England. However, the duc d'Orléans, whom Charles had appointed lieutenant general of France, was chosen "king of the French" as Louis Philippe.

See studies by V. W. Beach (1967 and 1971).

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