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. Louis XVIII died without any issue making his younger brother, Charles Philippe, Count of Artois, now in his 67th year, the successor 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 style by Louis XVIII because of the former Duke of Orléans’ role in the death of Louis XVI.
Charles X, King of France and Navarre.
The almost six year reign of King Charles X 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 X also initiated the French conquest of Algeria as a way to distract his citizens from domestic problems. 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.
Masses of angry demonstrators demanded the abdication of Charles X and of his descendants. They sent a delegation to the Tuileries Palace to force his compliance. Charles X reluctantly signed the document of abdication on August 2, 1830. The next in line to inherit the throne was Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême (August 6, 1775 – June 3, 1844) the elder son of Charles X of France and the last Dauphin of France from 1824 to 1830. Louis Antoine was equally reluctant to sign the Instrument of Abdication.
It is said that Louis Antoine spent this time listening to the entreaties of his wife not to sign, while the former Charles X sat weeping. After 20 minutes, he also abdicated for himself in favour of his 10 year old nephew, Prince Henri, the Duke of Bordeaux. Louis-Antoine was technically King of France and Navarre for 20 minutes before he himself abdicated. After the death of Charles X in 1836, he was the legitimist pretender as Louis XIX.
Within days the legitimate king, Prince Henri, the Duke of Bordeaux (King Henri V of France and Navarre to the Legitimists) was supplanted by Louis Philippe III, Duke of Orléans, a scion of the House of Orléans.
The Rise of Louis Philippe III, Duke of Orléans as King of the French.
The 4th House of Orléans, sometimes called the House of Bourbon-Orléans to distinguish it from several branches of the Royal House of France that held that name. They were all descended in the legitimate male line from the dynasty’s founder, Hugh Capet. The incarnation of the 4th House of Orléans was founded by Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, younger son of Louis XIII and younger brother of Louis XIV, the “Sun King,” (1648-1715).
Louis Philippe III (October 6, 1773 – August 26, 1850) was born in the Palais Royal, the residence of the Orléans family in Paris, to Louis Philippe II, Duke of Chartres (Duke of Orléans, upon the death of his father Louis Philippe I), and Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon. As a member of the reigning House of Bourbon, he was a Prince of the Blood, which entitled him the use of the style “Serene Highness”. His mother was an extremely wealthy heiress who was descended from Louis XIV of France through a legitimized line.
To explain the rise of Louis Philippe (III), Duke d’Orléans, to the French throne, I would like to briefly examine the fall from grace of the House of Bourbon and it begins with the fall of his father, Louis Philippe II d’Orléans.
Louis Philippe, King of the French
Louis Philippe II d’Orléans (13 April 1747 – 6 November 1793), most commonly known as Philippe, was born at the Château de Saint-Cloud. He was the son of Louis Philippe I Duke d’Orléans, Duke of Chartres, and Louise Henriette de Bourbon. Philippe was a member of the House of Orléans, a cadet branch of the French royal family. His mother came from the House of Bourbon-Condé. He inherited the title of Duke of Orléans at the death of his father, Louis Philippe I d’Orléans, in 1785 and also became the Premier prince du sang, title attributed to the Prince of the Blood closest to the throne after the Sons and Grandsons of France. He was addressed as Son Altesse Sérénissime (S.A.S.).
In 1792, during the French Revolution, he changed his name to Philippe Égalité. Louis Philippe II d’Orléans was a cousin of Louis XVI and one of the wealthiest men in France. He actively supported the Revolution of 1789, and was a strong advocate for the elimination of the present absolute monarchy in favor of a constitutional monarchy. He voted for the death of king Louis XVI; however, he was himself guillotined in November 1793 during the Reign of Terror. After his death, the term Orléanist came to be attached to the movement in France that favored a constitutional monarchy.
After the abdication of Napoleon, Louis Philippe III, Duke of Orléans, returned to France during the reign of his cousin Louis XVIII, at the time of the Bourbon Restoration. Louis Philippe III had reconciled the Orléans family with Louis XVIII in exile, and was once more to be found in the elaborate royal court. However, his resentment at the treatment of his family, the cadet branch of the House of Bourbon under the Ancien Régime, caused friction between him and Louis XVIII, and he openly sided with the liberal opposition.
Louis Philippe III was on far friendlier terms with Louis XVIII’s brother and successor Charles X and with whom he socialized. However, his opposition to the policies of Villèle and later of Jules de Polignac caused him to be viewed as a constant threat to the stability of Charles’ government. This soon proved to be to his advantage.
In 1830, the July Revolution overthrew Charles X, who abdicated in favour of his son Louis Antoine who in turn abdicated his right to his 10-year-old nephew, Henri, Duke of Bordeaux, and, naming Louis Philippe III Lieutenant général du royaume, charged him to announce to the popularly elected Chamber of Deputies his desire to have his grandson succeed him.
Louis Philippe III did not announce to the Chamber of Deputies that Prince Henri, the Duke of Bordeaux was now king. His refusal to do so was motivated to increase his own chances of succession. As a consequence, because the chamber was aware of Louis Philippe’s liberal policies and of his popularity with the masses, they proclaimed him King Louis Philippe I. Despite having been acting as the regent for his young cousin, as the new French king, his proclamation was a usurpation displacing the senior branch of the House of Bourbon.
Louis Philippe, King of the French
Charles X and his family, including his grandson, went into exile in Britain. The young ex-king, 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.
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.
By an ordinance he signed on August 13, 1830, the new king defined the manner in which his children, as well as his “beloved” sister, would continue to bear the surname “d’Orléans” and the arms of Orléans, declared that his eldest son, as Prince Royal (not Dauphin), would bear the title Duke of Orléans, that the younger sons would continue to have their previous titles, and that his sister and daughters would only be styled Princesses of Orléans, not of France.
His ascension to the title of King of the French was seen as a betrayal by Emperor Nicholas I of Russia, and it ended their friendship.