The French Revolutions of 1830 and 1848

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Essential Question

How did the French Revolutions of 1830 and 1848 impact France and the rest of Europe?

Summary of Research

The two later French Revolutions, the French Revolution of 1830 and the French Revolution of 1848, were two major events that not only impacted France, but the rest of Europe as well. The French Revolution of 1830, better known as the July Revolution, was triggered after Louis XVIII died, and his brother, Charles X, rose to power. He established the French Constitution that many citizens of France opposed. On Tuesday, July 27, 1830, fighting broke out in the streets of Paris between military officials and angered citizens. By that Thursday, the rebels gained control and forced Charles X to abdicate to Great Britain. The French Revolution of 1848 was started for reasons very similar to the July Revolution. The citizens of France were once again angered by the way the country was being run, and were unhappy that only about 1% of the population was allowed to vote. Thus, fighting once again broke out between French officials and displeased citizens, and the citizens came out on top. King Louis Philippe fled to England and a republic was then set up in France.


French Revolution of 1830


Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix commemorates the July Revolution.

A couple of controversial decisions triggered the cause of the French Revolution of 1830, also known as the July Revolution. After suffering from defeat in 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte abdicated the throne of France. This led to the restoration of Louis XVIII to power as decided by the Congress of Vienna. When Louis's reign came to an end after dying in 1824, his younger brother, Charles X inherited the throne. The fact that both Louis and Charles ruled by hereditary right rather than popular consent was the first of two triggers for the July Revolution. Before his death, Louis XVIII knew that ideas of nationalism and democracy still lingered in his country; thus, he created and signed the French Constitution known as La Charte. The document, which was both liberal and monarchical, was the second trigger of the July Revolution.

The Three Glorious Days

On Monday, July 26, 1830, Charles X had the July Ordinances published in the Moniteur, a popular French newspaper. These ordinances were created in hopes to appease the rebelling citizens of France; however, this only further angered the people. Unemployment numbers began to shoot up, and the workers had nothing to do but protest.

Léon Cogniet, Scenes of July 1830, a painting alluding to the July revolution of 1830.

Tuesday, July 27, marked the first day of the real rioting. It began by all of the shop owners closing and shuttering their stores. It seemed to be a very tranquil day, but military troops lined many of the popular plazas in France anyways. As the sun began to set behind the clouds, the fighting began. Surprisingly, the Parisians were the aggressors as they through paving stones, roof tiles, and flower pots from the upper windows of buildings. However, troops began to take control and by the end of the night twenty-one Parisian civilians were killed. There were street lights that lit the city of Paris during the night, but by 10:00 p.m., nearly all 2,000 of them were destroyed. The darkness ended the riot for the night.

On Wednesday, July 28, the fighting resumed early, at only a little after eight in the morning. The king, Charles X stayed out of harm's way as he remained at Saint Cloud. His ministers assured him that the fighting would soon be over because the rioters would soon run out of ammo and a military general had sent them a report that said everything was under control. In Paris, a group of liberals wrote up a petition asking for the ordinances to be withdrawn. The king replied that he will negotiate once the rebels put down their weapons; however, the king knew that he would not withdraw the ordinances.

By Thursday, July 29, the revolutionaries began to take control. They had become well organized and surprisingly well-armed. They threw up thousands of barricades, strengthened by trees and cobble stones, throughout the city blocking off military troops and vehicles. The "people's flag" - the red flag of the revolutionaries - was seen atop the roofs of many buildings and several important ones. The revolutionaries had completely overthrown the French government, and they celebrated in the buildings and streets.

Louis-Philippe I, the last King of France

French Revolution of 1848


After the revolution of 1830, Louis Philippe took over the throne in place of Charles X. Louis Philippe sat at the head of a moderately liberal state controlled mainly by educated elites. Supported by the Orleanists, he was opposed on his right by the Legitimists (former ultra-royalists) and on his left by the Republicans and Socialists. Under his rule, privileged groups were favored, and only approximately 1% of the French population were allowed to vote. Louis Philippe was viewed as generally indifferent to the needs of society, and was therefore turned against by even some of his liberal supporters, because of opposition towards parliamentarism.

François Guizot.

The Revolution

Because political gatherings and demonstrations were outlawed in France, activists began to hold a series of fund-raising banquets to overcome this restriction and provide a way for the people to legally criticize the regime. The campaign began in July 1847, and lasted until February 1848, when the French government under Louis Philippe forbade such banquets. As a result, the people revolted, helping to unite the efforts of the popular Republicans and the liberal Orleanists, who turned their back on Louis-Philippe.

Barricades were set up, and fighting broke out between the citizens and the municipal guards. On February 23rd, Prime Minister Guizot resigned. Upon hearing the news of Guizot's resignation, a large crowd gathered outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. An officer ordered the crowd not to pass, but people in the front of the crowd were being pushed by the rear. The officer ordered his men to fix bayonets, probably wishing to avoid shooting. However, in what is widely regarded as an accident, a soldier discharged his musket, which resulted in the rest of the soldiers firing into the crowd. Fifty two people were killed.

Paris was soon in pandemonium. Omnibuses were turned into barricades, and thousands of trees were also used to block off roads. Fires were set, and angry citizens began converging on the royal palace. The frightened King Louis Philippe abdicated and fled to England, and the rebels had prevailed once again.


The French Revolutions of 1830 and 1848 were both closely linked to one another. Not only were they very similar to each other, but the 1848 revolution was eventually even caused by the July Revolution of 1830. Both revolutions were caused by French citizens that were unhappy about their country's government and the way it was being run. In 1830, Charles X, who was the king of France at the time, published the July Ordinances, which limited the rights of the French citizens. The people of France then retaliated by rioting and fighting against the military troops in the streets of Paris. The revolt caused a constitutional monarchy to be set up, which limited the king's power. To an extent, the revolution of 1848 was even caused by the previous revolution because the citizens were angered by Louis Philippe, the man who then assumed the role as king. Under Philippe's rule, only 1% of French citizens owned the right to vote; thus, the citizens once again lashed out in anger by fighting military forces in France. Because of the revolution, France again changed their form of government, and this time they set up a republic. These two revolutions in France were closely intertwined.


The Frankfurt Assembly

Although the first French Revolution in the late 1700s is best known by people today, the later two revolutions, the French Revolutions of 1830 and 1848, had just as much impact not only on France, but on the rest of Europe as well. After the 1830 revolution, France set up a constitutional monarchy, which limited the power of the king. Because of this, Charles X chose to abdicate to Great Britain rather than have his power limited, and in his place, Louis Philippe took over the throne. In reaction to France's success in their revolution, both Belgium and Poland sought revolution to gain independence. Belgium succeeded by gaining independence from the Dutch; however, Poland failed to gain independence from Russia. The French Revolution of 1848 allowed France to set up a republic with a strong president and a one-house legislature. Nine million Frenchmen were now allowed to vote, instead of the previous 200,000. As for the rest of Europe, a revolution was started in Austria, and turmoil in Germany led to the construction of the Frankfurt Assembly. The revolt in Austria surprised the government, and Metternich, a long time ruler of Austria, fled in fright. The Frankfurt Assembly was a group of delegates from different German states that came together in hopes of creating a constitution that would provide peace in the country.


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