Readings in Modern European History, Vol. 2

Author: Louis Philippe

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TRIPIER, Constitutions quiontrégila France (1879), pp. 229 sqq. World History






Europe After the Congress of Vienna

Section 49.

The Restoration in France and the Revolution of 1830


Extracts from the French Charter of 1814

Louis, by the grace of God king of France and Navarre, to all those to whom these presents come, salutation:

Divine Providence, in recalling us to our estates after a long absence, has imposed grave responsibilities upon us. Peace was the first necessity of our subjects, and with this we have unceasingly occupied ourselves. That peace so essential to France and to the rest of Europe has been signed.

Reasons which led Louis XVIII to grant a constitution

A constitutional charter was demanded by the existing condition of the kingdom; we promised this and now publish it. We have taken into consideration the fact that, although the whole authority in France resides in the person of the king, our predecessors have not hesitated to modify the exercise of this in accordance with the differences of the times. It was thus that the communes owed their enfranchisement to Louis the Fat, the confirmation and extension of their rights to St. Louis and Philip the Fair, and that the judicial system was established and developed by the laws of Louis XI, Henry II, and Charles IX. It was in this way, finally, that Louis XIV regulated almost every portion of the public administration by various ordinances which have never been surpassed in wisdom.

Louis recognizes that the world has changed

We, like the kings our predecessors, have had to consider the effects of the ever-increasing progress of knowledge, the new relations which this progress has introduced into society, the direction given to the public mind during half a century, and the serious troubles resulting therefrom. We have perceived that the wish of our subjects for a constitutional charter was the expression of a real need; but in yielding to this wish we have taken every precaution that this charter should be worthy of Us and of the people whom we are proud to rule. Able men taken from the highest Official bodies of the State were added to the commissioners of our council to elaborate this important work.

While we recognize that the expectations of enlightened Europe ought to be gratified by a free monarchical constitution, we have had to remember that our first duty toward our people was to preserve, for their own interest, the rights and prerogatives of our crown.

We hope that, taught by experience, the nation may be convinced that the supreme authority alone can give to institutions which it establishes the power, permanence, and dignity with which it is itself clothed; that, consequently, when the wisdom of kings freely harmonizes with the wish of the people, a constitutional charter may long endure, but that when concessions are snatched with violence from a weak government, public liberty is not less endangered than the throne itself.

Louis pretends to be merely reviving ancient institutions

We have sought the principles of the constitutional charter in the French character and in the venerable monuments of past centuries. Thus we perceived in the revival of the peerage a truly national institution which binds memories to hope by uniting ancient and modern times. We have replaced by the Chamber of Deputies those ancient assemblies of the March Field and May Field, and those chambers of the third estate which so often exhibited at once proof of their zeal for the interests of the people and fidelity and respect for the authority of kings.

In thus endeavoring to renew the chain of time which fatal excesses had broken, we effaced from our memory, as we would we might blot out from history, all the evils which have afflicted the country during our absence. Happy to find ourselves again in the bosom of our great family, we could only respond to the love of which we receive so many testimonies by uttering words of peace and consolation. The dearest wish of our heart is that all Frenchmen may live like brothers, and that no bitter memory should ever trouble the tranquillity which should follow the solemn decree which we grant them to-day.

The king binds himself to observe the charter

Confident in our intentions, strong in our conscience, we engage ourselves, before the assembly which listens to us, to be faithful to this constitutional charter; with the intention, moreover, of swearing to maintain it with added solemnity before the altars of Him who weighs in the same balance kings and nations.

For these reasons we have voluntarily, and by the free exercise of our royal authority, granted and do grant, concede, and accord, as well for us as for our successors forever, the Constitutional Charter as follows:


ARTICLE 1. All Frenchmen are equal before the law, whatever may be their title or rank.

2. They contribute without distinction to the impositions of the State in proportion to their fortune.

3. They are all equally eligible to civil and military positions.

4. Their personal liberty is likewise guaranteed; no one can be prosecuted or arrested except in the cases and in the manner prescribed by law.

5. All may with equal liberty make profession of their religion and enjoy the same protection for their worship.

6. Nevertheless the Roman Catholic and apostolic religion is the religion of the State.

7. The ministers of the Roman Catholic and apostolic religion, and those of other Christian forms of worship only, shall receive subsidies from the royal treasury.

8. All Frenchmen have the right to publish and cause their opinions to be printed, if they conform to the laws destined to check the abuse of this liberty.

9. All property is inviolable; that known as national property forms no exception, since the law recognizes no difference between that and other property.

10. The State may demand the surrender of property in the interest of the public when this is legally certified, but only with previous indemnification.

11. All investigation of opinions expressed or of votes cast previous to the Restoration is prohibited; oblivion of these is imposed upon the courts and upon citizens alike.

12. The conscription is abolished; the method of recruiting both for the army and the navy shall be determined by law.


Position of the king

13. The person of the king is inviolable and sacred; his ministers are responsible. In the king alone is vested the executive power.

14. The king is the supreme head of the State; he has command of the land and naval forces, declares war, concludes treaties of peace, alliance, and commerce, appoints all the officials of the public administration, and issues the regulations and ordinances necessary for the execution of the laws and the safety of the State.

System of lawmaking

15. The legislative power is exercised jointly by the king, the Chamber of Peers, and the Chamber of Deputies of the departments.

16. The right of initiating legislation belongs to the king.

17. Proposed laws are submitted, at the option of the king, either to the Chamber of Peers or to the Chamber of Deputies, except laws for raising taxes, which must be submitted to the Chamber of Deputies first.

18. Every law must be discussed and passed freely by a majority of each of the two houses.

19. The chambers have the right to petition the king to submit a law relating to any subject and to indicate what they deem the law should contain.1 . . .

1 This list of rights should be compared with the Declaration of the Rights of Man drawn up in 1789 (see Vol. I, pp. 260 sqq.).

1 The succeeding sections on the Chamber of Peers, the Chamber of Deputies, the judiciary, etc., are omitted here. The whole document may be found in Translations and Reprints, Vol. I, No. 3, or Anderson, Constitutions and Documents, pp. 456 sqq.


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Chicago: Louis Philippe, "The Restoration in France and the Revolution of 1830," Readings in Modern European History, Vol. 2 in Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, ed. James Harvey Robinson (1863-1936) and Charles A. Beard (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1908), xxiii–5. Original Sources, accessed September 23, 2023,

MLA: Philippe, Louis. "The Restoration in France and the Revolution of 1830." Readings in Modern European History, Vol. 2, in Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, edited by James Harvey Robinson (1863-1936) and Charles A. Beard, Vol. 2, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1908, pp. xxiii–5. Original Sources. 23 Sep. 2023.

Harvard: Philippe, L, 'The Restoration in France and the Revolution of 1830' in Readings in Modern European History, Vol. 2. cited in 1908, Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.xxiii–5. Original Sources, retrieved 23 September 2023, from