Louis XVIII


Biography of Louis XVIII

Louis XVIII (Louis Stanislas Xavier; 17 November 1755 – 16 September 1824), known as "the Desired" (le Desiré), was a Bourbon King of France and of Navarre from 1814 to 1824, omitting the Hundred Days in 1815. Louis XVIII spent twenty-three years in exile, from 1791 to 1814, during the French Revolution and the First French Empire, and again in 1815, for 111 days, upon the return of Napoleon I from Elba.

Until his accession to the throne of France, Louis held the title of Count of Provence, being the brother of King Louis XVI. On the 21 September 1792, the National Convention abolished the monarchy and deposed King Louis XVI, who was later executed by guillotine. When the young Louis XVII, Louis XVI's son, died in prison in June 1795, Louis XVIII succeeded his nephew as titular King, although the monarchy had been disestablished.

During the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era, Louis XVIII lived in exile in Prussia, the United Kingdom and Russia. When the Sixth Coalition finally defeated Napoleon, Louis XVIII was restored to what he, and Royalists, considered his rightful place. This period was marked by an Ultra-royalist reaction. However Napoleon escaped from his exile in Elba, marched on Paris and restored the French Empire. Louis XVIII fled and a Seventh Coalition declared war on the French Empire, defeated Napoleon and for a second time restored Louis XVIII on the French throne. In 1823, Louis XVIII sent an expeditionary corps, known as the "Hundred Thousand Sons of Saint Louis", in Spain to restore the absolute King of Spain.

Louis XVIII ruled as king for slightly less than a decade. The Bourbon Restoration regime was a constitutional monarchy (unlike the Ancien Régime, which was absolute). As a constitutional monarch, Louis XVIII's royal prerogative was reduced substantially by the Charter of 1814, France's new constitution. Louis had no children; therefore, upon his death, the crown passed to his brother, Charles, Count of Artois. Louis XVIII was the last French monarch to die while reigning.

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