chapter  18
23 Pages

The July Monarchy , 1830-48

The July Monarchy has few friends among historians, and ever since its own day has been caricatured contemptuously as a ‘bourgeois monarchy’. Yet its leaders had high-minded intentions: to safeguard liberty and peace, and set France on the high road of progress, a road marked out by the working models of Britain and America. Few regimes have been run by such remarkably intelligent men: its politicians’ writings still repay reading, for this was the Indian summer of French political thought. No other nineteenthcentury French regime had perspectives that seem, from the end of the twentieth century, so ‘modern’: to protect the individual, to maintain international peace and to foster economic growth. But a system similar to that which prevailed in most of north-western Europe failed in France, politically, intellectually and morally.