, , , , , , , , ,

Charles X (born Charles Philippe, Count of Artois; October 9, 1757 – November 6, 1836) was King of France and Navarre from September 16, 1824 until August 2, 1830. An uncle of the uncrowned Louis XVII and younger brother to reigning kings Louis XVI (Louis Auguste) and Louis XVIII (Louis Stanislas) he supported the latter in exile.

Charles Philippe of France was the youngest son of the Dauphin Louis and his wife, the Dauphine Marie Josèphe, and born 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 Philippe 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.

After the Bourbon Restoration in 1814, Charles Philippe (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 in 1824.

In 1773, Charles Philippe, Count of Artois, married Princess Maria Theresa of Savoy (1756 – 1805).

Princess Maria Theresa of Savoy was born at the Royal Palace in Turin during the reign of her grandfather Carlo Emmanuel III of Sardinia. The daughter of the heir apparent , Victor Amadeus and his wife Infanta Maria Antonia Ferdinanda of Spain, the youngest daughter of Felipe V of Spain (himself a scion of the French Royal House of Bourbon) and Elisabeth Farnese.

Princess Maria Theresa of Savoy was the couple’s third daughter and fifth child of twelve children. She was raised with her sister Princess Maria Giuseppina who was three years her senior and whom she would join later as a member of the Royal House of France, when her sister married Louis Stanislas, Count of Provence (and later King Louis XVIII of France and Navarre).

The future King Charles X, as the Count of Artois had previously been intended to marry Louise Adélaïde de Bourbon, the third and last child of Louis Joseph de Bourbon, Prince de Condé and his wife, Charlotte de Rohan (1737–1760),

However, the union never took place as her rank was much lower than Artois who, as a male-line descendant of a French monarch, was a grandson of France, thus he was entitled to the style His Royal Highness. Louise Adélaïde de Bourbon, despite being born a princesse du sang; was from a cadet branch of the House of Bourbon and this only entitled her to the style of Her Serene Highness.

As her husband was the grandson of a king, the newly named Marie Thérèse of Savoy held the rank of granddaughter of France, and was commonly referred to by the simple style Madame la comtesse d’Artois.

Accession to the Throne

Charles’ brother King Louis XVIII’s health had been worsening since the beginning of 1824. Suffering from both dry and wet gangrene in his legs and spine, he died on September 16, of that year, aged almost 69. Charles, by now in his 67th year, succeeded him to the throne as King Charles X of France and Navarre. In his first act as king, Charles attempted to unify the House of Bourbon by granting the style of Royal Highness to his cousins of the House of Orléans, who had been deprived of this by Louis XVIII because of the former Duke of Orléans’ role in the death of Louis XVI.

On May 29, 1825, King Charles X was anointed at the cathedral of Reims, the traditional site of consecration of French kings; it had been unused since 1775, as Louis XVIII had forgone the ceremony to avoid controversy. It was in the venerable cathedral of Notre-Dame at Paris that Napoleon had consecrated his revolutionary empire; but in ascending the throne of his ancestors, Charles reverted to the old place of coronation used by the kings of France from the early ages of the monarchy.

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. He 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, which resulted in his abdication of King Charles X of France and Navarre.

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.

Charles 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.