Who Was King Of The French After The Revolution

by | May 27, 2023 | Aristocracy, Emporers, France, Kingdoms, Kings, Noble Titles, Royal Titles

Historically, the lifestyles of kings, queens and aristocrats have featured levels of wealth, privilege, leisure, power and social influence that many ordinary working people could only dream of. 

Over the centuries of the Middle Ages, as the systems of royalty and nobility evolved into the social hierarchy that we know today, being a part of the aristocratic and royal classes meant an elevated status and a more refined way of life than the majority of the community, whether on a local, national or even global scale. 

These lavish lifestyles were often a stark contrast to the day-to-day existence of many of the world’s working classes. For many centuries, and in many parts of the world, the differences between the classes were not only tolerated peacefully, they were even at times a cherished hierarchy with mutual respect and admiration at all levels of the social strata. 

However, this contrast and distinction between the elevated members of the society and the majority of ordinary people have not always enjoyed such a peaceful and cooperative coexistence. 

Perhaps one of the most famous examples of the dangers of social extremes is the French Revolution of the late 18th century. The peasant uprisings of the 1700s culminated in the storming of the Bastille prison in France’s capital city of Paris, followed by violent struggles for political equality and the widespread practice of public executions. 

The most well-known victims of the French Revolution, due to their incredulous fate in the shadow of the gruesome guillotine, were undoubtedly the King and Queen of France – Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. 

King Louis is widely regarded as the Last King of France, largely because his death at the hands of the revolutionaries spelt the end of the French monarchy as it had existed for generations. 

Yet, in truth, the execution of the king and queen of France, as shocking and momentous as it was for the entire nation and the wider world, was not the last word regarding the French monarchy. 

What Happened To The Monarchy After The Revolution? 

The French Monarchy did not completely disappear immediately after the famous Revolution at the end of the 18th century. The period of the revolution itself lasted over a decade, and there were many shifts in power between the proletariat and the powerful royals and nobles who had held their political status for many decades or even centuries. 

During this tumultuous period, there were numerous battles for power, with each side gaining a degree of momentum, only to lose power after a social or political setback, or advancement of the opposing side. 

This tussle for supremacy endured for the decade of the Revolution and continued for many years following the official demise of the French monarchy when the absolute sovereignty of the king – a state of governance that had been in place for centuries – was replaced with a more democratic political hierarchy and a more egalitarian social structure. 

In an astonishing development, the era following the Revolution and its violent battles for a more democratic social order paved the way for the infamous rise of a new kind of regal governance – the imperial era of Napoleon, a period of wealth and splendour that even the Bourbon Kings of France would have admired. 

The period between the demise of the Bourbon dynasty and the rise of Emperor Napoleon was an ongoing battle for power, with those in favour of a more republican regime on one side, and the staunch royalist on the other – both fighting deadly battles for supremacy and the upper hand in the governance of France and its future as a powerful European nation. 

Who Was King Of The French After The Revolution?

In official terms, as decreed by the royalist factions of Post-Revolutionary France, the King of France after Louis XVI was beheaded was his son, the young Louis-Charles who was born just before the recognised period of the revolution began.

Louis XVI taking care of the education of his son in the Temple, (Musée de la Révolution française)

Louis XVI taking care of the education of his son in the Temple, (Musée de la Révolution française) – Museum of the French Revolution, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As in the age-old tradition, when his father the King of France was killed at the hands of the revolutionaries, Louis-Charles was immediately regarded as his successor by all those who recognised the royal regime. 

Although still a young child when his father died, and a prisoner of the revolutionary forces, Louis-Charles did not live, or even perform any duties as a king. It’s believed that his time in captivity was one of mistreatment, and when the child king of France died in 1795 – considered the height of the French Revolution – there were rumours of poisoning and malevolence. 

Despite the rumours, Louis-Charles had long been considered to be prone to ill-health, and it may be the case that he succumbed to one of the many prevalent diseases of the period, such as what later became known as types of consumption or tuberculosis. He may also have been one of the unofficial victims of the Revolution, who died as a result of their time in captivity, rather than an official execution at the guillotine. 

The Restoration Of The Bourbon Monarchy

After the death of Louis-Charles – proclaimed by the royalists as King of France during the Revolution – his uncle was proclaimed the next rightful claimant to the throne of France and next in the age-old Bourbon line of French kings. 

The new king was known as Louis XVIII, and he was the brother of the late Louis XVI. Much like his famous sibling and his ill-fated nephew, his time as King of France would be a tumultuous one. 

At various periods over the following decades, Louis XVIII would be recognised as the rightful sovereign when the royalist factions gained power, only to face exile and uncertainty as the battles for power raged on across the French nation and beyond. 

After a turbulent period that saw the rise and fall of Napoleon, King Louis XVIII was ultimately restored to the French throne, albeit in a more diminished role than his brother had enjoyed, along with generations of French kings before him. 

Although the French Revolution secured the end of an absolute monarchy after centuries of royal rule, it did not entirely spell the end of the Bourbon dynasty and the succession of French kings. 

Undoubtedly France, and indeed the entire world, were much changed as a result of the political and social shifts in 18th-century France, yet the monarchy did survive the period and go on to see future kings enjoying a position of royal governance within the French kingdom

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