European Political Thought, 1815-1989

By Spencer M. Di Scala; Salvo Mastellone | Go to book overview

1
RESTORATION MODELS AND UTOPIAN CONSTRUCTIONS, 1815-1830

On June 22, 1815, four days after the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon Bonaparte abdicated for a second time and was conveyed by the British to St. Helena, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. This event--along with the Act of the Congress of Vienna published on June 9, 1815--marked the French revolutionary period's definitive end. The conservative powers, especially Austria, created a new European order that set its face against the French Revolution's ideals.


THE POLITICAL CONTEXT

In France itself, the Bourbon dynasty was restored in the person of Louis XVIII, brother of the executed king Louis XVI. Although Louis XVIII did not recognize the right of the French people to draft a constitution, political realities had spurred him to issue a Charter that created a two-house legislature with a Chamber of Deputies based on very limited suffrage and an appointed House of Peers. Instability marked Louis XVIII's reign, characterized by the struggle between a reactionary noble "Ultra" party led by the future Charles X and a tenacious liberal opposition animated by the "Doctrinaires" and supported by an economically dynamic bourgeoisie. The accession of Louis XVIII's brother in 1824 as Charles X and his attempt to return power once more to the "Legitimist" aristocrats who had been in exile (the émigrés) produced the July Revolution in 1830 that brought to power the "bourgeois king," Louis Philippe.

More serious discontent reigned in the other parts of Europe. In Spain the Bourbon dynasty was also restored in 1815 under Ferdinand VII, in

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