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Louis XVIII

Louis XVIII, 1755–1824, king of France (1814–24), brother of King Louis XVI. Known as the comte de Provence, he fled (1791) to Koblenz from the French Revolution and intrigued to bring about foreign intervention against the revolutionaries. He was recognized as king by the émigrés after the death (1795) of Louis XVII. He passed his exile on the Continent and in England. With the assistance of Charles de Talleyrand, he was restored (1814) to the French throne by the allies after their entry into Paris. He adopted a conciliatory policy toward the former revolutionists and granted a constitutional charter. Forced to flee once more on the news of the return of Napoleon I, he returned with the allies (1815) after the defeat at Waterloo had ended Napoleon's rule of a Hundred Days. His chief ministers were at first moderates—Armand Emmanuel, duc de Richelieu, and Élie Decazes—but the ultraroyalists, led by Louis's brother, the comte d'Artois (later Charles X), triumphed after the assassination (1820) of the count's son, Charles Ferdinand, duc de Berry. Louis, then old and suffering from gout, allowed the ultraroyalists to take control. The new ministry headed by the comte de Villèle was thoroughly reactionary. Electoral laws were revised to increase the influence of the wealthy classes, and civil liberties were curbed. This trend continued and was intensified during the reign (1824–30) of his successor, Charles X. See Restoration, in French history.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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