To what extent does the polarization of politics in France by 1824 demonstrate that Louis XVIIIs reign was largely a failure?

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To what extent does the polarization of politics in France by 1824 demonstrate that Louis XVIII’s reign was largely a failure?

The Bourbon Restoration is the name given to the period following the successive events of the French Revolution. Louis XVIII, younger brother of Louis XVI was given the throne of France on the 1814 through the support of Talleyrand. France had changed hugely, In particular, the bourgeoisie and peasantry could not now not be ignored. By 1815 a monarchy began to have some appeal as  the general population of  France began to grow tired of war. The émigrés and clergy naturally supported the monarchy, peasants and bien nationaux were anxious not to lose there land gained and the bourgeoisie wanted law, order and stability. Louis not only would be experience opposition that was the remnants of the revolutionary feelings but also dealing with a broken France that had lost the war that was now under a constant supervision and a new monarchy that resembled the old regime which hadn’t been implemented since 1789.  The During his reign Louis experienced a host of factors that could be argued led to largely to the failure of his reign.  The factors against Louis’s reign being largely a failure are that he recovered France economically, he eradicated Bonopartist supporters via the white terror, and kept France relatively peaceful for the next 15 years. However his reign could also be deemed largely a failure as polarity within politics was fierce, the Hundred days causing national turmoil and the murder of the Duc de Berri in 1820.

The polarization of politics was a significant factor in demonstrating why Louis XVIII was largely a failure. In 1815, there were two main parties. The Ultras’ who were extreme royalists, many of whom were émigrés, who were led by Louis’ younger brother the Comte d’Artois, and used their influence to gain position in the chamber of Deputies.  The Liberals were the moderates against the royalists. The ultras hope to return to the structure of the Ancien regime, wanting to end the charter of 1814 , which aimed to create a largely constitutional monarchy. Ostensibly granted by a sovereign King, this document promised an elected two-chamber legislature to examine the directly appointed executive, guaranteed the revolutionary land settlement, retained the Napoleonic administrative structure and promised equality before the law..  The ultra’s two main aims highly contradicted the charter with the censorship of political news and the continual return for their estates. This caused polarization as the liberals were pro charter. Louis was often left in a position that meant that he had to take a moderate stance.   Nevertheless, provision was soon made for the replacement of Imperial army officers by emigres, a mildly redistributive land law in favour of the royalists was introduced, failing to create political stability. During his reign the ultra’s and the liberals would constantly be fighting over the majority in chamber. However to prevent either party from gaining a majority the king often appointed relatively moderate governments under Richelieu and Decazes, and even to dissolve the Chamber if it refused to accept the Restoration settlement, as in 1816.  The danger of such tactics lay in the political instability in engendered; a centrist government could be attacked from both sides of the political spectrum, while the multiplicity of parties within each side of the spectrum often led to difficulties in forming coalitions. Consequently, the party with the most internal coherence - the ‘Ultras' often gained influence during the later years in Louis XVIII's reign, causing the Liberals to gradually abandon the politics of compromise. Louis appeased the Ultra’s by introducing the double vote and increasing censorship. Nevertheless, as long as the King remained largely above faction, it remained possible to mediate between, if not reconcile, the antagonistic elements of the Restoration system.  The polarization of the two groups can be seen as a failure to negotiate new laws and representatives. However the control of politics was largely down to the King himself who during this period was often under external pressures, form the allies, to promote a peaceful France, with an objective of political stability, one that would require a moderate position. Therefore due to the constant oscillations in political power Louis largely failed.

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The high point of polarization of politics was the murder of Duc de Berri in 1820. The Duc de Berri was significant as he was   the only male member of the bourbons able to provide an heir. The Ultras unexpectedly took advantage of this, securing a dismissal of the moderate Decazes. His replacement , Richelieu, made electoral changes in favour of the wealthy, such as more censorship and additional rich deputies. This can be considered a turning point, as Louis could not longer resist the Comte d’Artois and the ultras. Additionally an assured heir, born in September 1820, added ...

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