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Charles X (Charles Philippe, Count of Artois; October 9, 1757 – November 26, 1836) was King of France and Navarre from September 16, 1824 until August 2, 1830.

Charles Philippe of France was the youngest son of the Dauphin Louis and his wife, the Dauphine Marie Josèphe, at the Palace of Versailles. Dauphine Maria Josèphe was the daughter of Augustus III, Prince-Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, and Maria Josepha of Austria. Dauphine Maria Josèphe was the ninth of sixteen children and the fifth daughter.

Charles was created Count of Artois at birth by his grandfather, the reigning King Louis XV. As the youngest male in the family, Charles seemed unlikely ever to become king. His eldest brother, Louis Joseph, Duke of Burgundy, died unexpectedly in 1761, which moved Charles up one place in the line of succession.

At the death of his father in 1765, Charles’s oldest surviving brother, Louis Auguste, became the new Dauphin (the heir apparent to the French throne). Their mother Marie Josèphe, who never recovered from the loss of her husband, 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, Clotilde (Madame Clotilde), and Élisabeth (Madame Élisabeth).

Louis XV fell ill on April 27, 1774 and died on May 10 of smallpox at the age of 64. His grandson Louis Auguste succeeded him as King Louis XVI of France and Navarre.

Marriage and private life

In November 1773, Charles, Count of Artois married Princess Marie Thérèse of Savoy. Princess Maria Theresa of Savoy was born at the Royal Palace in Turin during the reign of her grandfather King Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia. Princess Maria Theresa of Savoy was the daughter of King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia and Infanta Maria Antonia Ferdinanda of Spain, she was the couple’s third daughter and fifth child of twelve children. She was raised with her sister Princess Maria Joséphine who was three years her senior and whom she would join later as a member of the Royal House of France. Marie Joséphine of Savoy was a Princess of France and Countess of Provence by marriage to the future King Louis XVIII of France.

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 Louis XVI and his brother, Louis Stanislas, Count of Provence had not fathered any children yet, causing the Parisian libellistes (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’ second son, Charles Ferdinand, was born and given the title of Duke of Berry. In the same year Queen Marie Antoinette gave birth to her first child, Marie Thérèse, quelling all rumours that she could not bear children. We will see Princess Marie Thérèse of France shortly.

Charles was thought of as the most attractive member of his family, bearing a strong resemblance to his grandfather Louis XV. His wife was considered quite ugly by most contemporaries, and he looked for company in numerous extramarital affairs.

An uncle of the uncrowned Louis XVII and younger brother to reigning kings Louis XVI (Louis-Auguste) and Louis XVIII (Louis Stanislas) Charles. supported the latter in exile. After the Bourbon Restoration in 1814, Charles (as heir-presumptive) became the leader of the ultra-royalists, a radical monarchist faction within the French court that affirmed rule by divine right and opposed the concessions towards liberals and guarantees of civil liberties granted by the Charter of 1814. Charles gained influence within the French court after the assassination of his son Charles Ferdinand, Duke of Berry, in 1820 and eventually succeeded his brother as King Charles X of France and Navarre in 1824.

Charles X’s reign of almost six years proved to be deeply unpopular from the moment of his coronation in 1825, in which he tried to revive the practice of the royal touch. The governments appointed under his reign reimbursed former landowners for the abolition of feudalism at the expense of bondholders, increased the power of the Catholic Church, and reimposed capital punishment for sacrilege, leading to conflict with the liberal-majority Chamber of Deputies.

Charles also initiated the French conquest of Algeria as a way to distract his citizens from domestic problems, and forced Haiti to pay a hefty indemnity in return for lifting a blockade and recognizing Haiti’s independence. He eventually appointed a conservative government under the premiership of Prince Jules de Polignac, who was defeated in the 1830 French legislative election.

Charles X responded with the July Ordinances disbanding the Chamber of Deputies, limiting franchise, and reimposing press censorship. Within a week France faced urban riots which led to the July Revolution of 1830.

Masses of angry demonstrators demanded the abdication of Charles and of his descendants in July and a delegation was sent to the Tuileries Palace to force his compliance.

Charles reluctantly signed the document of abdication on August 2, 1830. Charles initially abdicated the throne to his eldest son, Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême. It is said that Louis Antoine spent the next 20 minutes listening to the entreaties of his wife (his first cousin, Marie Thérèse of France, the eldest child of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and the only member of the immediate royal family to survive the French Revolution) not to sign a similar document of abdication, while the former Charles X sat weeping. However, Louis Antoine also abdicated, in favour of his nephew, Henri, Duke of Bordeaux.

Technically the Duke of Angoulême was King Louis XIX of France and Navarre for about 20 minutes before he himself abdicated his rights to the throne to his nephew. Louis Antoine never reigned over the country, but after his father’s death in 1836, he was considered the legitimist pretender as Louis XIX. For the final time he left for exile, where he was known as the “Count of Marnes”. He never returned to France.

The boy who should have been King after Charles X was Henri, Duke of Bordeaux. He was the only son of Charles Ferdinand, Duke of Berry, the younger son of Charles X of France, and born after his father’s death in 1920. The Duke of Bordeaux’s mother was Princess Carolina of Naples and Sicily, daughter of King Francesco I of the Two Sicilies and his first wife, Archduchess Maria Clementina of Austria, the tenth child and third daughter of Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor and Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain. Princess Carolina of Naples and Sicily’s parents were double first cousins. The Two Sicilies Royal Family was a branch of the Spanish House of Bourbon. The grandson of Charles X, Henri was a Petit-Fils de France. He was the last legitimate descendant in the male line of Louis XV of France.

Charles X named Louis Philippe, Duke of Orléans (from the Orléans branch of the House of Bourbon descendants of Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, the brother of King Louis XIV) Lieutenant général du royaume, and charged him to announce his desire to have his grandson succeed him to the popularly elected Chamber of Deputies.

Louis Philippe did not do this, in order to increase his own chances of succession. As a consequence, because the Chamber of Deputies was aware of Louis Philippe’s liberal policies and of his popularity with the masses, they proclaimed Louis Philippe as the new French king, displacing the senior branch of the House of Bourbon. For the prior eleven days Louis Philippe had been acting as the regent for the young King Henri V of France and Navarre, his fifth cousin twice removed.

Charles X and his family, including his grandson, went into exile in Britain. The young ex-king, Henri V, the Duke of Bordeaux, who, in exile, took the title of comte de Chambord, later became the pretender to the throne of France and was supported by the Legitimists.

Louis-Philippe was sworn in as King Louis-Philippe I on August 9, 1830. Upon his accession to the throne, Louis Philippe assumed the title of King of the French – a title already adopted by Louis XVI in the short-lived Constitution of 1791. Linking the monarchy to a people instead of a territory (as the previous designation King of France and of Navarre) was aimed at undercutting the legitimist claims of Charles X and his family.

Charles X died in 1836 in Gorizia, then part of the Austrian Empire. He was the last of the French rulers from the senior branch of the House of Bourbon.