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How far was the 1830 July Revolution in France inevitable?

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How far was the 1830 July Revolution in France inevitable?

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  • April 25, 2005
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According to Colin Lucas a revolution is caused when "long term political causes combine with short term economic causes". In the context of the July Revolution, there had been both political dejection since 1820 and an economic recession that lasted from 1826-32, these "causes" meant that France was ripe for another revolution, and in fact it was almost inevitable.

To prove that this revolution was actually inevitable, one has to look at the political unrest as far back as the reign of Louis XVIII (1814-24). Louis XVIII was the younger brother of Louis XVI and assumed the title of King in 1795, having fled into exile in 1791 during the revolution but became King only on the fall of Napoleon I in 1814. Louis XVIII was expelled from his role as sovereign briefly during the Hundred Days in 1815 but quickly resumed power after his defeat at Waterloo.

Louis XVIII pursued a policy of calculated liberalism by trying to please both royalists by incorporating some ancien regime measures e.g. making clear that he was chosen by God to rule, and the liberals by offering a Constitutional Charter. This Charter was quite liberal and insured the equality of all men before the law, in taxation and in military service, freedom of the individual, of thought and expression and of religion (although Roman Catholicism was made the State Religion). The Civil Code was retained and Church properties remained with those who had bought them.

All this looks very liberal and retains the rights that the revolution was fought for. However, there were still strong elements of the ancien regime in the Charter, for example that the King had to initiate laws and had to agree to all amendments, he could rule by emergency degree or ordinances, he summoned the two chambers and decided for how long they should sit.

The one fatal flaw in the Charter was the fact that Louis "offered" the French people it "in his graciousness", which meant that Louis was still chosen by God to rule and could...