Royalists, Radicals, and les Misérables: France in 1832
The year of 1832 marked a turning point in France as the country struggled to find its way in the wake of the French Revolution. Following the Revolution of 1830, Legitimists, supporters of the recently ousted Bourbon dynasty’s claim to the throne, continued to plot against King Louis-Philippe and his “July Monarchy.” In early 1832, after failing to launch a coup in Southern France, Legitimists plotted an unsuccessful uprising in the Vendée, a region in Western France that had supported the royalist cause during the French Revolution. The Duchesse de Berry led the rebellion in the hopes of placing her son, the Bourbon heir, on the French throne. The revolt marked the last attempt by the Bourbons to retake the throne by force and helped solidify the end of the Bourbon dynasty.
During the cholera outbreak, which also spread throughout France in 1832, lower income areas suffered higher losses to the disease, for they were more likely to have contaminated water supplies. The lower classes spread rumors that the outbreak was an elitist plot to subdue the masses and the epidemic exacerbated class tensions. Meanwhile, conditions in France continued to be characterized by violence during the early 1830s as Louis-Philippe attempted to establish his regime’s authority. The most significant of these uprisings was the republican-dominated June Revolution of 1832. Victor Hugo and other contemporaries perceived the barricades of June as natural extensions of the cholera epidemic, or the “political continuation of a biological crisis.” The sad fate of the uprising, however, prompted republicans to regroup and develop new strategies for success. As a whole, then, 1832 helped solidify the end of the Bourbon monarchy and class identities, and was a crucial moment in the (re)organization and growing solidification of French republicanism that paved the way for the Revolution of 1848.
This edited collection examines these three pivotal events in French history in 1832—a royal Legitimist uprising led by the Duchesse de Berry, the cholera epidemic, and the June Revolution (featured in the climax of Hugo’s novel, Les Misérables)—within the context of the legacy of the French Revolution. While the events of 1832 are significant, they have been relatively ignored because scholars have been distracted by the Revolutions of 1830 and 1848. This collection is the first piece of scholarship to examine these three events in an interconnected pattern to better examine France as it transitioned from a monarchy to a republic. As a result, this collection will be of value to both historians and academics studying diverse subfields within French and European studies.
Eric Martone is Assistant Professor of History and Social Studies Education at Mercy College in New York, USA. His previous books include The Black Musketeer: Reevaluating Alexandre Dumas within the Francophone World (2011).
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