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Kingdom of France: 1814-1830


Last modified: 2006-03-04 by ivan sache
Keywords: fleur-de-lis (yellow) | restauration | carbonari | four sergeants of la rochelle (the) | white flag | drapeau blanc (le) | martainville |
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[White semy de lys ensign]

French national flag, 1814-1830 - Image by Pierre Gay

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History of the Restauration

After the fall of Napoléon I's Empire in 1814, the Kingdom of France was reestablished and Louis XVIII was crowned King of France. This period - excluding the short return of Napoleon I from Elba in 1815 (Les Cent-Jours) - ended with the July revolution in 1830 and is called the Restauration.

Several nobles who had left France in 1789 came back with Louis XVIII and urged him to reestablish the absolute monarchy. Louis XVIII, although not particularly clever, understood it would not be possible to suppress all the political and social benefits of the Revolution and the Empire. Talleyrand (Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, 1754-1838), appointed Head of the Provisory Government after Napoléon's fall (1 April 1814), convinced Louis XVIII to grant France a Constitutional Chart (Charte). The adoption of the Chart in 1814 upset the ultraroyalists, better known as the ultras, who demanded its suppression and the restoration of the Ancient Regime as it was in 1789.

The Chamber, controlled by the ultras and nicknamed the Unobtainaible Chamber (Chambre Introuvable), imposed in 1815 reactionary reforms to the King. In summer 1815, a violent campaign against the Republicans and the Bonapartists, known as the White Terror (Terreur Blanche), spread all over the south of France. Accordingly, Louis XVIII dissolved the Chamber in 1816.

Presidents of the Council Richelieu (Armand Emmanuel du Plessis, 1766-1822; President, 1816-1818 and 1820-1821) and Decazes (Elie, Duke de Decazes et Glucksberg, 1780-1860; President, 1819-1820) promoted liberal reforms. However, the assassination of the Duke de Berry in 1820 was used by the ultras to impose reactionary reforms, mostly under the Presidency of Villèle (Jean-Baptiste Guillaume Joseph, Count de Villèle, 1773-1854; President, 1822-1828). In the meantime, Louis XVIII died and was succeeded by his ultraroyalist brother Charles X in 1824.

In 1828, Martignac (Jean-Baptiste Gay, Count de Martignac, 1778-1832; President, 1818-1829) succeeded to Villèle. His liberal reforms did not improve Charles X's image. In 1829, Polignac (Jules Auguste Armand, Prince de Polignac, 1780-1847) was appointed President of the Council. The Chamber rejected him and was dissolved by Charles X. The opposition won the elections. The orders (Ordonnances) from 25 July 1830, signed by Polignac, dissolved the Chamber before it could have gathered, modified the 1814 Chart and suppressed the freedom of press. In spite of the popular success caused by the seizure of Algiers on 4 July, Paris revolted on 27, 28 and 29 July (Les Trois Glorieuses) and Charles X resigned on 2 August.

Ivan Sache, 1 June 2003

The restoration of the white flag

One of the main claims of the ultraroyalists was the restoration of the symbols of the Ancient Regime, and especially the royal white flag. The flag mostly pleased by the ultras was the white flag with a semy of yellow fleurs-de-lis. The restoration of this flag as the national flag, which it was not under the Ancient Regime, was a major political mistake since people had accepted the French Tricolore flag and did not want to restore one of the most prominent symbols of the Ancient Regime.

Ivan Sache, 1 June 2003

Naval flags under the Restauration

The album Pavillons des puissances maritimes, released between 1815 and 1830, shows the following French naval flags (pavillons):

  • Pavillon royal (Royal ensign): a white flag, semy of 43 yellow fleurs-de-lis, the royal arms over all (i.e., shield, crown, two collars of knighthood, angel supporters)
  • Pavillon français (French ensign): a plain white flag
  • Flamme (Pennant): a plain white streamer
  • Pavillon [...] (The naval flag for ships on which the Dauphin and his spouse are embarked): a white flag, semy of 24 yellow fleurs-de-lis, the Dauphin arms over all (i.e., quarterly France and Dauphiné) with the Dauphin's crown, one collar of knighthood, two anchors crossed behind the shield. The anchors seem to be steel-coloured with yellow stocks.
  • Pavillon [...] (The naval flag for ships on which Princes of the Royal House are embarked): a white flag, semy of 50 yellow fleurs-de-lis. The pattern of the fleurs-de-lis is exactly like the stars on the present American flag.

Jan Mertens, 22 June 2003

The newspaper Le Drapeau Blanc (The White Flag)

The question of the flag was so important that a newspaper called Le Drapeau Blanc (The White Flag) was published in Paris from 1819 to 1830.

Le Drapeau Blanc was published by Alphonse Louis Dieudonné Martainville (Cadix, 1776 - Sablonville, 1830).
After the riots of the 9-10 Thermidor of the Year II (27-28 July 1794), which caused the fall of Robespierre and the end of the Convention Assembly, Martainville joined the Muscadins, a group of young counter-revolutionaries famous for their excentric clothes. Under the Empire, Martainville became a journalist and successful vaudeville writer, in which he aired his political opinions (Le Pied de mouton, 1807).

From 1815 onwards, Martainville wrote royalist articles in the newspapers Le Journal de Paris, La Gazette de France and La Quotidienne. He founded Le Drapeau Blanc in 1819, intially as a periodical leaflet, in order to avoid censorship which was rigorously applied to regular newspapers. In July 1819, Le Drapeau Blanc became a daily newspaper. The motto of the newspaper was Vive le Roi ! ... quand même. (Vive le Roi, even though). Martainville claimed therefore that Louis XVIII's government was too liberal and clearly supported the ultraroyalist party.

Le Drapeau Blanc was the main opponent of Decazes' liberal cabinet. Villèle's ultraroyalist cabinet was also considered too weak by Martainville. At the end of 1822, Martainville appointed Lamennais editor-in-chief of Le Drapeau Blanc. Félicité de Lamennais (1782-1854) was the apologist of Ultramontanism against Gallicanism. The Ultramontanists defended the abolute power of the Pope and opposed to the Gallicans, who defended a relative independence of the French Roman Catholic church from the Holy See. The Ultramontanists eventually won with the proclamation of the papal infallibility in 1870 and the separation of church and state in 1905. Lamennais was disapproved by Pope Gregor XVI in 1832 and left the Roman Catholic church two years later.
Le Drapeau Blanc became therefore the main enemy of Villèle and the Gallican Catholics. The Ultramontanist campaign reached its peak on 22 August 1823, through the 'Letter to the Great Master of the University', published in Le Drapeau Blanc. 'Great Master of the University' was the official title of His Grace Denis, Count de Frayssinous (1765-1841). Lamennais attacked Frayssinous, which was a way to attack the Gallicans without naming them. Villèle's reaction was terrible: Lamennais was forced to exile to Switzerland and Martainville had to abandon the leadership on the Drapeau Blanc, which was directed by a company funded by Baron d'Eckstein. Le Drapeau Blanc lost its independence and became Villèle's unofficial newspaper. Most subscribers left and Le Drapeau Blanc was published for the last time on 1 February 1827.

On 16 May 1829, Martainville, upon indirect request by Prince de Polignac, published Le Démocrate, which changed its name to Le Drapeau Blanc on 15 July 1829. Le Drapeau Blanc was, along with La Gazette de France and La Quotidienne, one of the rare supporters of the orders from the 25 July 1830. The last issue of Le Drapeau Blanc was released on 26 July, the day before the beginning of the revolution in Paris. Martainville died a few days later and Le Drapeau Blanc never appeared again.

Source: Encyclopaedia Universalis

Ivan Sache, 1 June 2003

The flag of the Four Sergents of La Rochelle

Louis XVIII's ultra-conservative rule caused an increasing opposition in the country, especially by the way of secrete societies. The most famous of them was the carbonari movement (or carbonarism), which had initially developed in the Kingdom of Naples against the Napoleonian domination (1806-1815) and later against the Italian rulers.

Carbonarism then moved to France, and fought for liberal ideals, unification of Italy and return of the Bonaparte family on the throne of France. Carbonari were organized in ventes of 20 members, called bons cousins. They took part to General Berton's plot in Nantes and to the Four Sergeants' plot in La Rochelle.

The Four Sergeants (Boris, Goubin, Pommier and Raoulx) were guillotinized in Paris in 1822. Their great courage initiated a liberal campaign and they became legendary.

The flag used by the Four Sergeants was part of the collection of Imperial Prince Napoléon (a.k.a. Jérôme [1822-1891], grand-father of Louis (1914-), the current Bonapartist pretender.]. It was 100 cm x 172 cm, with three vertical blue-white-red stripes.
On the obverse of the flag was painted in white:


On the reverse of the flag was painted in white:


The flag had a tricolor sash, its finial was a simple golden peak.

The flag was used by the carbonari ventes between 1821 and 1822. It was seen during the plot of the 29th line regiment in Belfort, then in Paris, and finally in La Rochelle. It was preserved in La Rochelle, given to the Lieutenant-Colonel Caron, then to M. Dubourjal, then to Marquis d'Audan who finally offered it to Prince Napoleon in 1888.

Napoléon II was Napoléon I and Maria-Luisa's son, King of Rome, Duke of Reichstadt, born in 1811 and more or less kept prisoner in Schönbrunn palace until his death in 1832. He was recognized Emperor by the Chambers in Paris after his father's abdication but never reigned.

Source: Pierre Charrié [chr92]. Drapeaux et Etendards du XIXe siècle.

Ivan Sache, 9 September 2001