Gateway to the Classics: Peeps at History: France by John Finnemore
Peeps at History: France by  John Finnemore

Later Days

After Napoleon had been sent to St. Helena, Louis XVIII. was brought back to Paris, and the Allies set up the House of Bourbon once more. This King was known as Louis XVIII., because Louis XVI. left a son who died a year or two after his father. The Royalist party looked upon this boy as Louis XVII., and so the new King was called Louis XVIII. The latter ruled nine years, and was followed by his brother, Charles X., who held the throne from 1824 to 1830. In the latter year he quarrelled with his subjects, and the people of Paris threw up barricades in the streets and prepared to fight for their rights. Upon this, Charles gave up the crown and retired from France, and his cousin, the Duke of Orleans, became King under the name of Louis Philippe.

This King reigned eighteen years, and was known as King of the French, not King of France. His title showed that he had been chosen King by the French people, and that he had not come to the throne by right of birth as a King of France. Louis Philippe was, on the whole, a well-meaning but not at all an able ruler, and very often the acts of his ministers gave much offence to the people. In 1848 the discontent rose to such a height that a sudden revolution broke out in Paris, and again the barricades were flung up in the streets and there was sharp fighting. The mob attacked the Royal Palace, and the King and his family were compelled to fly from Paris. With the flight of Louis Philippe the rule of the House of Bourbon came to an end, and a second Republic was set up in France.


Napoleon at Fontainebleau, 1914

This Republic only lasted four years. Its President was Louis Napoleon, nephew of the great Napoleon, a man who wished to follow in his uncle's footsteps. His aim was to make himself Emperor, and he succeeded. He won over the army to his side, and in 1852 he overturned the Republic and seized the throne. He was crowned Emperor of the French under the title of Napoleon III. He was a friend of Queen Victoria, and in 1855 the English and the French were allies against Russia in the war fought in the Crimea. Later on, the French grew very dissatisfied with their Emperor. He ruled badly and he was no longer popular, as he once had been.

In 1870, Napoleon went to war with Germany. He thought the French would be sure to beat the Germans, and that the war would draw the attention of the French people from his failure to govern well. But things turned out quite otherwise. The French armies suffered most terrible defeats at the hands of the Germans, and the latter marched across France and laid siege to Paris. They had already taken Napoleon prisoner, and the French people turned against their Emperor, took his throne from him, and declared for a Republic, the Third Republic, which still exists.

The Germans seized Paris, and a treaty of peace was made. By this treaty France gave up the province of Alsace-Lorraine to the victors, and agreed to pay an immense sum of money for the expenses of the war. Napoleon, with his wife and son, retired to England. Within two years Napoleon died, his son was killed fighting with the English army in Africa, and his wife, the Empress Eugenie, still lives among us.

More than forty years have passed since the Third Republic was set up, and it seems to-day to be more firmly fixed than ever in the hearts of the French people. It has been a time of peace, and France has prospered greatly under the rule of the Presidents, who hold office for a term of seven years. Best of all, in these latter days we have seen a strong and warm friendship grow up between France and England. The English Channel unites, and no more divides, the two nations, and the French and English are, as neighbours ought to be, good friends and comrades, linked closely together in a bond of friendly understanding.

 Table of Contents  |  Index  |  Home  | Previous: The Reign of Terror and the Rise of Napoleon 
Copyright (c) 2005 - 2023   Yesterday's Classics, LLC. All Rights Reserved.