The Restoration of the Bourbon Monarchy

Colin Jones, Paris: Biography of a City, pp.265-270.

In 1814 Napoleon was defeated and exiled to the island of Elba in the Mediterranean. In 1815 he escaped, returned to France, where he raised an army, and ruled once again for 100 days before he was finally defeated at Waterloo and exiled again on St. Helena for the rest of his life.

The Allies who defeated Napoleon were determined that Paris would no longer be a center of revolution that threatened conservative powers across Europe. Therefore, they attempted to turn the clock back to the Ancien Regime [the French term for the political and social order before the Revolution] by bring back to power the Bourbon kings who had ruled France before 1789.

The regimes which held power between the two Napoleons . . . maintained altogether less grandiose and more nuanced policies towards their capital city. The

 Bourbon dynasty reestablished after Napoleon's 'Hundred Days' had seen out the allied occupation with some staunchness. [] The English novelist Sir Walter Scott recorded Parisians in 1815 mocking the restored Louis XVIII ( r. 1814-24) as 'the English Prefect' and 'Louis the Inevitable'. Yet despite a poor start the king won a fair degree of popularity, ruling within a moderately liberal Constitutional Charter and presiding over the social and economic recovery of the city.

The international settlement of 1815 forced France back to its 1792 frontiers. The king also had to allow many of the plundered artworks with which Napoleon I had bedecked Paris -- such as the bronze horses from San Marco in Venice -- to return  to their  homes. Paris was no longer the imperial capital. The question facing Louis  XVIII was: how could it be made into a royal one again? His decision to reject returning the court to Versailles, centre of Bourbon power, was a brave conciliatory gesture. He established a court life in the Tuileries ( where he slept in Napoleon's bed ). Although his zealous enthusiasm for  matters  of  protocol and etiquette made it rather stiff and dull, the court did begin to break down the barriers which had separated the elites of Paris from the world of courtiers under the Ancien Regime [i.e. the political order before the French Revolution began in 1815]. The phrase le Tout-Paris began to be used from the 1820s to denote the  mixed social, political  and  cultural  elites of the city. . .




In addition  the king ordered that the Pantheon should become a church again rather than a secular monument to great men. The royal equestrian statues, which  had  been  melted down for cannon in the 179os, were also restored. Henry IV and the famed cheval de bronze [bronze horse] reappeared on the Pont Neuf  in 1818, and Louis XIV on the Place des Victoires in 1822 . It took till l 829 to replace Louis XIII in the Place des Vosges -- or rather  Place Royale,  as it had  become  again. [At the left see a very early photograph of the statue of Henri IV restored to the Point Neuf, c.1840.]

Renaming, alongside the diffusion of the heraldic white flag and the royal coat of arms, was another means by which the restored Bourbons sought to 'royalize' their capital  city.  Many  of  the  more  outlandish  Revolutionary names had in fact already been changed by Napoleon. The Place de la Concorde now reverted to the name of Place Louis XV. . . .

The religious revival intensely irritated the large sector of the Parisian population indifferent to Christianity or suspicious of the regime's enthusiasm for the union of 'Throne and Altar'. Political divisions within the capital were accentuated, moreover, when the monarchy moved away from its initial mood of conciliation. The assassination in 1820 of Louis XVIII's nephew the due de Berry, son of Louis's brother the comte d'Artois, pushed the king towards more Ultra policies. . . .  A move by the king against press freedom and constitutional legality triggered three days (journees) of riots in Paris in 1830-the so-called Trois Glorieuses of 27-29 July -- which the regime proved unable to master. Significantly, rioters targeted the symbols of Bourbon rule diffused across the city with which the Bourbons had sought to 'royalize ' the capital of Revolution. Thus royal troops were attacked and barricades built to prevent them asserting control over the streets; the Louvre and Tuileries palaces were pillaged; the white flag of the Bourbons was everywhere unceremoniously replaced with the tricolore; and royal coats of arms which businesses supplying the royal family had placed on their shop-fronts were torn down. Aristocratic hotels were also attacked and crosses removed from the roofs of city churches. [In pre-modern France "hotel" meant the large, townhouse of a noble or other rich person]

François Gérard, The Coronation of Charles X (1827)