Some unknown facts about Louis XVIII

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The history of France has a colourful chapter in the French Revolution where commoners broke into the Bastilles prison as a part of an uprising against the oppressive monarchy. Post the revolution, France went through a lot of political turmoil in its transition to a democracy from monarchy. The French royalty was not in favour of giving up its dominance over the people entirely. Begrudgingly, some of the demands of the people were accepted and a new constitution was drawn up in 1814.

Louis XVIII was the first monarch who experimented with a primitive form of parliamentary democracy during his time on the throne.

Very few people remember this king from France’s line of illustrious ones. Nevertheless, some facts about him are bound to generate interest among readers.

He was the fourth son of Louis XV and hence could hardly have ascended the throne of France. The death of his two older brothers saw the ascension of Louis XVI and made him the next in line. Till then, he held the title of Comte de Provence

Louis XVI had two sons who posed as blocks to Louis XVIII’s royal ambition. At the death of Louis XVI on the guillotine, Louis XVIII proclaimed himself as the regent of his nephew. After the death of his nephew in prison, he proclaimed himself to be the emperor of France in 1795.

During the French Revolution, he started propaganda against the revolution by seeking alliances with neighbouring monarchs. His acts showed little concern for the reigning king and queen of France, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Shortly after his ascension to the throne, he was deposed from it by Napoleon. He spent his years in exile touring Russia, Prussia and England, till 1814.

Although he had very little personal finances left, he refused a pension and financial assistance from Napoleon.

Post Napoleon’s defeats in 1813, he issued a decree stating that the French Monarchy was willing to accept some of the demands of revolutionaries in the Bourbon restoration.

Under the reign of Louis XVIII, the Charte-Constitutionelle of 1814 was adopted and various forms of parliamentary experiments were carried out. After the adoption of the constitution, the powers and duties of the monarch of France became much limited.

The new constitution adopted gave the king powers to initiate legislative reforms and execute decisions. However, budgets, taxes and voting on laws were handled mostly by advisory parliaments.

King Louis XVIII underwent a second period of exile after the return of Napoleon from Elba in 1814. However, the period lasted only 100 days and was marked by the end of the Battle of Waterloo. During this period, he spent his days in Ghent.

Louis XVIII did not have any children to ascend him on the throne. After his death in 1824, his brother, Charles X, the comted’Artois became the king of France.

Louis XVIII was the last monarch of France to have died while ruling the country.

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