19th Century Politics: France
Internal turmoil caused France to miss out on much of the wealth of the Industrial Revolution. That means while many of the other nations in Europe were enjoying the Industrial Revolution, they were developing factories and using the assembly line method of production, they were being able to produce things much more quickly which means they could sell more products and become wealthy. France wasn’t getting to do all of that because they couldn’t keep one leader long enough. No one leader was staying in a long, stable reign to be able to develop any of these kinds of Industrial Revolution ideas. After the demise of Napoleon, Louis XVIII had been restored to the throne by the Congress of Vienna in 1815. So the Congress of Vienna had come together to decide what to do about Napoleon.
They had finally got rid of him, and they said, “Okay Louis the XVIII you can go back and be king.” That was 1815. Napoleon was done. He had kind of wreaked havoc on things because he had taken over so many other nations and now France was left with just what it had started with and so Louis the XVIII had to come in and kind of re-situate things. He was succeeded by the arch conservative Charles X who was very unpopular. And was chased off the throne in the July Revolution of 1830. So after Louis XVIII in 1815 came Charles X but he didn’t last very long because he was very unpopular and he ended up being chased off the throne in 1830. So let’s go to the next ruler.
In Charles X place came Louis Philippe, and Louis Philippe administered a fairly stable country for eighteen years until he was deposed in the Revolution of 1848. So he did hold the country for 18 years, and things were pretty stable, but things were just getting worked out and then he was deposed in another revolution. So there was all this internal turmoil. The citizens were constantly revolting against the current ruler which made things very difficult. If you couldn’t get a long, stable reign in there, then the rules that one ruler had made were just going to be overturned by the next one. People didn’t really know what to expect.
So next came Napoleon III. And he was elected by the people the Emperor of France in 1851. So you see there was even a three-year gap where they couldn’t one stable leader there during that revolutionary period. But Napoleon III remained in power until the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. So he also ruled for 19 years, about the same time as Louis Philippe, but he still didn’t get the Industrial Revolution really kicking in France. Things hadn’t really picked up for them yet. And then from 1870 to 1940, France would be governed by a constitutional and democratic government which was mostly conservative.
So France had so many rulers that kept turning over and you kept getting a new one before you could really get any stability going, and there were all these revolutions happening. So without any stability within France, the citizens were never able to enjoy the benefits of the Industrial Revolution. They didn’t really pick up with that while the rest of the countries were. Now eventually they were getting some more stability. Eighteen years, nineteen years, this whole long seventy-year period where they had the stable constitutional and democratic government, but the early 1800s were a mess. And so it took France a lot longer to industrialize because of its internal political revolutions than it did for other European nations.