Bourbon King of France and of Navarre (1755-1824)

Louis XVIII (Louis Stanislas Xavier; 17 November 1755 – 16 September 1824), known as the Desired, was King of France from 1814 to 1824, except for a brief interruption during the Hundred Days in 1815. He spent 23 years in exile: during the French Revolution and the First French Empire (1804–1814), and during the Hundred Days.

Louis XVIII (circa 1814)



Declaration of Verona (July 1795)

Printed in The Times (26 August 1795), pp. 3-4.
  • Impious and factious men, after having seduced you by false declamations, and by deceitful promises, hurried you into irreligion and revolt. Since that time, a torrent of calamities has rushed in upon you from every side. You proved faithless to the God of your forefathers; and that God, justly offended, has made you feel the weight of his anger; you rebelled against the authority which he had established, and a sanguinary Despotism, and an Anarchy not less fatal, have alternately continued to harrass you with incessant rage.
    • p. 3
  • You must renounce the dominion of those treacherous and cruel usurpers who promised you happiness, but who have given you only famine and death; we wish to relieve you from their tyranny, which has so much injured you, to inspire you with the resolution of shaking it off. You must return to that holy religion which had showered down upon France the blessings of Heaven. We wish to restore its altars:—by prescribing justice to Sovereigns, and fidelity to subjects, it maintains good order, ensures the triumph of the laws, and produces the felicity of empires. You must restore that Government which, for 14 centuries, constituted the glory of France and the delight of her inhabitants; which rendered our Country the most flourishing of States, and yourselves the happiest of People:—It is our wish to restore it. Have not the various Revolutions which have occurred, augmented your distress, since the period of its destruction, and convinced you that it is the only Government that is fit for you?
    • p. 3
  • Religious Worship must be re-established, the Hydra of Anarchy destroyed, the Regal Authority be restored to all its rights, before we can execute our intentions of opposing abuses of all kinds with invincible firmness; of seeking them with diligence, and of proscribing them with decision.
    • p. 3
  • We are Frenchmen—a title, which the crimes of a few individuals can no more degrade than the enormities of the Duke of Orleans can pollute the blood of Henry the Fourth. This title, which was ever dear to us, will also render us dear to those who bear it.
    • p. 3
  • [T]he mercy which will signalize the first days of our reign, will be invariably united with firmness: that love of our Subjects which leads us to be indulgent, teaches to be just. We shall forgive, without regret, those men, criminal as they are, who have led the People astray; but we shall treat with inexorable rigour, all those who may hereafter endeavour to seduce them from their duty. We will open our arms to those Rebels who may be induced by repentance to return to us; but if any of them should persist in rebellion, they will find that our indulgence will stop at the limits which justice prescribes, and that force will reduce those whom kindness has proved inadequate to attach.
    • p. 4
  • Misfortune has removed the veil which was placed before your eyes; the harsh lessons of experience have taught you to regret the advantages which you have lost. Already do the sentiments of Religion, which shew themselves with eclat in all the provinces of the kingdom, present to our sight the image of the glorious ages of the Church! already does the impulse of your hearts, which brings you back to your King, declare that you feel the want of being governed by a Father.
    • p. 4
  • It is not enough to groan beneath the yoke of your oppressors; you must be assisted in shaking it off. Show the world how the French, restored to their senses, can obliterate faults, in the commission of which their hearts were not concerned: Prove, that as Henry the Great has transmitted to us with his blood, his love of his people, so are you also the descendants of that people, one part of whom, always faithful to his cause, fought to restore him to his Throne; and the other part, abjuring a momentary error, bathed his feet with the tears of repentance:—Remember that you are the Grandsons of the Conquerors of Ivry and Fontain Francaise.
    • p. 4
  • My government was liable to commit errors: perhaps it did commit them. There are times when the purest intentions are insufficient to direct, or sometimes they even mislead.
    Experience alone could teach; it shall not be lost. All that can save France is my wish.
  • My subjects have learned, by cruel trials, that the principle of the legitimacy of sovereigns is one of the fundamental bases of social order,—the only one upon which, amidst a great nation, a wise and well-ordered liberty can be established. This doctrine has just been proclaimed as that of all Europe. I had previously consecrated it be my charter, and I claim to add to that charter all the guarantees which can secure the benefits of it.
  • I promise—I who never promised in vain (all Europe knows it)—to pardon to misled Frenchmen all that has passed since the day when I quitted Lille, amidst so many tears, up to the day when I re-entered Cambray, amidst so many acclamations.
    But the blood of my people has flowed, in consequence of a treason of which the annals of the world present no example. That treason has summoned foreigners into the heart of France. Every day reveals to me a new disaster. I owe it, then, to the dignity of my crown, to the interest of my people, to the repose of Europe, to except from pardon the instigators and authors of this horrible plot. They shall be designated to the vengeance of the laws by the two chambers, which I propose forthwith to assemble.

Quotes about Louis XVIII

  • Louis was by no means ill qualified to perform the part of his great ancestor [Henry IV]. His understanding was excellent, his reading extensive, his temper mild and equal. He had no fanaticism political or religious. During the reign of his brother he had been one of those who wished to see the royal power restrained by constitutional checks... The excesses of the French revolution had alienated from the cause of liberty many who had once been warmly attached to it. But no such effect had been produced on the clear judgment and serene disposition of Louis... [H]istory owes him this honourable testimony, that he struggled long against the influence of bad advisers; that he yielded to it only when sickness, age, and domestic calamities had broken the force of his mind; that the best measures of his reign were those which he was himself concerned in preparing, and that his best ministers were those of his own free choice.
    • Thomas Babington Macaulay, Napoleon and the Restoration of the Bourbons: The Completed Portion of Macaulay's Projected "History of France from the Restoration of the Bourbons to the Accession of Louis Philippe", ed. Joseph Hamburger (1977), p. 75
  • Unhappily, the republicans consulted their passions rather than their reason. The king would not have been a despot if he could, and could not have been a despot if he would. Napoleon, raised to the throne of France, would have both the inclination and the means. But Louis was the representative of the emigration, and Napoleon of the revolution. The men of the revolution, with a levity inexcusable in persons conversant with public affairs, preferred a vigorous, crafty, and remorseless tyrant, with a tri-coloured cockade, to a prince whose disposition was liberal, and whose government, though by no means faultless, was the best that they had ever known, but who wore a blue riband, and claimed the throne by a hereditary title.
    • Thomas Babington Macaulay, Napoleon and the Restoration of the Bourbons: The Completed Portion of Macaulay's Projected "History of France from the Restoration of the Bourbons to the Accession of Louis Philippe", ed. Joseph Hamburger (1977), pp. 91-92
  • [The reign of Louis XVIII is] among the most glorious in the history of France.
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