Lafayette declares to King Charles X the end of the Bourbon Monarchy: 'The royal family has ceased to reign'
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LAFAYETTE, MARQUIS DE. (1757-1834). French general and political leader remembered as a hero of both the American and French revolutions. Historic ADS. (“Lafayette”). ½p. 8vo. N.p. (Paris), N.d. (July 31, 1830). In French with translation. [To KING CHARLES X (1757-1836)].
Iam being asked for an explicit response on the status of the royal family since its last assault against civil liberties and the victory of the people of Paris; I will give it frankly; it is that any conciliation is impossible and that the royal family has ceased to reign
Following the 1789 storming of the Bastille, Charles Philippe, grandson of King Louis XV, fled into exile. Napoleon’s abdication in 1814, however, led to the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy under Louis XVIII and upon his death in 1824, his brother Charles succeeded to the throne of France as Charles X. His unpopular and conservative policies returned power to the nobility and clergy and “step by step, under the Bourbon régime, autocracy began to regain its grip upon France. The year 1830 opened ominously. The rumblings of 1789 were again heard. The French Chamber of Deputies protested against the growing usurpations of the crown. The King boldly defied them, dissolved the Chamber, annulled the electoral laws then in force, reduced the number of deputies nearly one-half, and materially changed the conditions of suffrage and representation,” (The Spirit of Lafayette, Hallowell). The final straw came with the so-called July Ordinances or Four Ordinances of Saint-Cloud, announced by Charles X on July 25, 1830 and published the following day in the Paris newspaper Le Moniteur. Among the ordinances were suspension of freedom of the press, dissolution of the chamber of deputies andthe revocation of the middle class’ right to vote. The public outcry was immediate and by July 27 the royal guard was confronting angry mobs.
Lafayette, living at his country estate, La Grange, rushed to Paris as soon as he received news of the decrees. By the time he arrived, the July Revolution had already begun. Blood was running in the streets and the revolutionaries turned to Lafayette for leadership by asking him to take charge of the National Guard. At 72, the hero of the American and French Revolutions once again took command against royalist forces during the three-day revolution. On July 29, 1830, after the capture of the Hôtel de Ville, the Chamber of Deputies offered to make Lafayette military dictator of the country, an offer which he declined.
“Charles X, seeing the hopelessness of the royal cause, sent a deputation to Lafayette to announce the revocation of the obnoxious decrees and the nomination of a new and liberal ministry. ‘It is too late,’ Lafayette sent word back [on July 31], ‘all conciliation is impossible. The royal family has ceased to reign.’ (ibid.).
Lafayette wrote about these historic events barely a week later in an August 8 letter to Peter Stephen Du Ponceauin Philadelphia. Du Ponceau had been the former secretary of Baron von Steuben and Lafayette’s comrade-in-arms during the American Revolution. The letter, now in the collection of the Library Company of Philadelphia, states in part: “We have just accomplished, my dear fellow-soldier, a wonderful revolution. I received at Lagrange on Tuesday morning, the 27th ult. the Ordinance of Charles X. declaring us to be in a state of Slavery. On the same evening I repaired to Paris, where I found a salutary fermentation. In a three days’ conflict the people of Paris have vanquished the Royal Guards, the Swiss and the body Guard; the tri-colored flag floats everywhere; and on the morning of the 31st, I felt warranted to write to Charles X. a note stating to him my opinion—(which he had asked through General Talon)—that ‘reconciliation was impossible,’ and that ‘the Royal Family had ceased to reign,’ (letter published in the Washington, D.C. newspaper, The Columbian Star and Christian Index, October 2, 1830).
On August 2, Charles X acceded to the will of the people and abdicated in favor of his 10-year-old grandson Henri, Duke of Bordeaux. He named his cousin Louis Philippe regent and Lieutenant général du royaume andinstructed him to carry out his wishes. Instead, a constitutional monarchy was formed, Charles X’s chosen successor was rejected and Louis Philippe, a member of the cadet branch of the House of Bourbon and the son of Philippe Égalité,was placed on the throne on August 9 as the “Citizen King.” Louis Philippe was France’s last king, the title being abolished with the formation of the French Second Republic in 1848.
Our remarkable and significant declaration has been widely published in English and French in Mémoires, correspondence et manuscrits du general Lafayette; Histoire du règne de Louis-Philippe 1er, roi des Français 1830-1840, ed. Nouvion; Dictionnaire de Biographie Contemporaine Français et Étrangère, Bitard; L’Europe depuis l’avènement du roi Louis-Philippe, 1, Capefigue, etc.
Written on a cream-colored sheet, which has been lightly folded once horizontally. In excellent condition.