France History – The July Monarchy Part III

France History - The July Monarchy 3

The government practice in which the sovereign and the minister agreed from 1840 onwards consisted of a sort of hoarding the majority of the electors and elected representatives, through offers of offices, favors, compensation, associated with prudent systems of pressure.. The method was easy due to the relative scarcity of the electoral body (never exceeding 240 thousand elements), which could easily be influenced by the prefects and government officials for the benefit of the government candidates, who, once elected, remained tied to the government from favors and favors. Thus the government had docile the majority, at the same time that the king had docile the government to his own desire to exercise personal action. In short, it was formed between the majority of the electoral body and the deputies and the government and the Court, a legal country, grabbing for its own advantage the political and constitutional systems resulting from the revolution of 1830. And the device devised by Louis Philippe and Guizot, worked easily for many years. The serious unknown against which he had to collide and be shipwrecked was constituted by the country itself, that is, by the political and social strata excluded from the legal country, and agitated to assert themselves. In the long run, the wear and tear of the machinery of the legal country and the strengthening and development of the discontent and agitation of the other elements were to determine the overwhelming crisis not only of the legal country, but also of the monarchy which had based its existence on it.

According to Pharmacylib, the Egyptian crisis and the conflict with England, which in 1840 had allowed Louis Philippe to eliminate Thiers, were an episode in the active foreign policy resumed by the July monarchy, after overcoming the difficulties of the early years; policy aimed at acquiring a certain autonomy and freedom of action vis-à-vis England, and which culminated in 1846, when Louis Philippe and Guizot supported and triumphed in the question of the marriages of Queen Isabella of Spain and her sister own candidates in comparison with those supported by the British government.

Hence the definitive rupture of the Anglo-French understanding, already compromised by the crisis of 1840 and by the resumption of French action in Algeria and towards Morocco (battle of Isly and bombing of Tangier: 1844); and its replacement by a rapprochement with Austria, furthermore favored by the conservative stance assumed by French internal politics. The agreement with Austria, whose repercussions also occurred in Italy, where in the face of the liberal-national movement French politics took a restraining attitude in harmony with that of Austria, characterizes the foreign policy of the July monarchy in its last phase., when discontent and opposition forces grew inside, because alongside the old irreducible forces (republicans, Bonapartists), those represented by a Catholic-liberal movement (Ch. Montalembert, R. de Lamennais) and by a revolutionary socialist movement (P.-J. Proudhon, L. Blanc) had arisen, by now in marked development. Nor did the conservative-authoritarian approach hurt the regime with the sympathies and support of the legitimists who were firm in their loyalty to the Bourbons, while the detachment of the liberal currents which were irritated against Guizot’s systems and agitated for an electoral reform based on lowering of wealth, in which they saw the way to determine through the enlargement of the electoral body the collapse of the legal country. The electoral reform became the watchword for a political campaign in which, together with the liberals, the other opposing forces also joined and participated,

The decisive crisis broke out at the beginning of 1848, just when the king and government hoped to have consolidated themselves for the definitive success obtained in December 1847 in Algeria, where after ten years of struggles the consolidation of the conquest was achieved with the surrender of the feared Emir Abdel- Kader. But just as the successful conquest of Algiers did not save Charles X in 1830, so the successful capture of Abd el-Kader did not save Louis Philippe in 1848. The prohibition ordered by the government of a large public meeting in favor of the reform, called in Paris on February 21, was the spark for the revolutionary outbreak, which developed impetuous even after the king, made aware of the danger, had fired Guizot to replace him. with liberal elements. As in July 1830, in February 1848 the Parisian barricades triumphed of the regular fighting troops reluctantly, and not even the late attempt of the king to save the dynasty by abdication in favor of a small nephew kept the movement from its outlet. This time the beneficiaries of the revolution were the republicans, ready to take advantage of the victory to press with the armed masses of the insurgents on the chamber of deputies and snatch the proclamation of the republic with the constitution of a provisional government (February 24).

Thus after eighteen years the Orleanist monarchy ended as the Bourbon monarchy had ended in 1830, overwhelmed by an insurrectionary and barricading movement in Paris, to which the rest of France adapted without resistance. The issue that had caused the fall, namely the struggle for electoral reform, was only an accidental and in a certain sense negligible episode. In reality, the July monarchy fell because it had not managed to overcome and heal the contradiction inherent in its foundations, namely that of having arisen as an expression of a revolutionary movement and of having then oriented itself in a direction increasingly contrary to these origins, until to arrive at rigidly conservative attitudes.

France History - The July Monarchy 3