The first Restoration

The first Restoration

  • Entry of King Louis XVIII into Paris, May 3, 1814, when he passed over the Pont Neuf.

    MELLING Antoine Ignace (1763 - 1831)

  • Napoleon wresting his crown from Louis XVIII.

    GIRODET DE ROUCY TRIOSON Anne Louis (1767 - 1824)

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Title: Entry of King Louis XVIII into Paris, May 3, 1814, when he passed over the Pont Neuf.

Author : MELLING Antoine Ignace (1763 - 1831)

Creation date : 1814

Date shown: 03 May 1814

Dimensions: Height 61 - Width 95

Technique and other indications: Pen and brown ink, heightened with brown wash, watercolor and white gouache, traced in pencil on cream paper.

Storage location: National Museum of the Palace of Versailles (Versailles) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

Picture reference: 87-001203 / MV2588; INVDessins956

Entry of King Louis XVIII into Paris, May 3, 1814, when he passed over the Pont Neuf.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

Napoleon wresting his crown from Louis XVIII.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Publication date: August 2009

Historical context

The disastrous campaigns in Russia in 1812 and in Germany in 1813 had resulted in the formation of a broad coalition of European powers to finally defeat Napoleon. On May 3, 1814, the monarch solemnly entered Paris and moved to the Tuileries after attending the celebration of a Te Deum at Notre-Dame.

The new regime is initially accepted by the population, weary of conscription and imperial taxation, seduced by the prospect of lasting peace. He did not return to Paris until July 8, 1815, after the Waterloo disaster.

Image Analysis

Architect, painter, engraver of German origin, and also a great traveler, Antoine Ignace Melling (1763-1831) was successively in the service of the Ottoman Sultan Selim III, the Empress Josephine and the Bourbons. In 1814, he attended the entry of Louis XVIII into Paris, which he represented here as the royal procession passed over the Pont-Neuf. The coach carrying the King and Duchess of Angoulême stops in front of the plaster statue of King Henry IV, which in 1814 replaced the monument destroyed during the Revolution. The inscription on the base, "The return of Louis makes Henri revive," recalls the legitimacy of restored monarchical power, Louis XVIII descending in a straight line from Henri IV, the first of the Bourbons. In 1818, on Saint-Louis Day, an equestrian statue of Henri IV, in bronze, commissioned from the sculptor François Frédéric Lemot (1772-1827), will be solemnly inaugurated on the Pont-Neuf, intended to replace the provisional plaster version. .

On March 20, 1815, the "flight of the Eagle" forced Louis XVIII to take the path of a new exile. The event inspired Anne Louis Girodet (1767-1824), a neoclassical painter at the height of her art and fame, one of those vitriolic caricatures of which he has the secret. Indeed, the artist sometimes uses the satirical weapon to deride the power that is. Thus Napoleon himself was able to test his causticity with three sketches sketched by Girodet during a mass at the palace of Saint-Cloud in 1812. The painter represented the Emperor sleeping in an incongruous way and made one of him. man with puffy features, prematurely aged. Here, it is on Louis XVIII that the punishment by art is exercised. A baby-faced Napoleon tears off his crown from a Bourbon podagre symbolically wearing an ecclesiastical cap. The sword of the victor of Austerlitz stands in stark contrast to the ridiculous dagger of a ruler who never fought.


Called to power on April 3, 1814 by the provisional government chaired by Talleyrand, Louis XVIII did not end his English exile until the following April 24. Meanwhile, his brother, the Count of Artois, assumes the regency as "lieutenant general of the kingdom" and prepares for his return. The latter is a man of the Ancien Régime, attached to the absolute monarchy of divine right, hostile to the principle of national sovereignty. On April 13, he replaced the tricolor with the white flag and prohibited The Marseillaise. He leads an ardent policy in favor of the Church and the emigrants. To reassure the population worried about a noble reaction, Louis XVIII returns to his various proclamations of exile in which he affirmed his desire for a return to the old order and, on May 2, 1814, he promulgated the Declaration of Saint-Ouen in which he promises the establishment of a constitutional monarchy. On May 30, he signed with the allies the first Treaty of Paris, which restored France to its borders of 1792. However, the kingdom did not have to pay war indemnities, and foreign troops evacuated the territory.

This reassuring nature of the Restoration did not last. The emigrants, who returned after two decades of absence, have "not forgotten or learned anything", to use the expression attributed to Talleyrand, and they demand the restitution of their property and the reinstatement of their privileges. The clergy imposed processions, prohibited Sunday balls and refused the sacraments to owners of national property. The survivors of the imperial army are humiliated and dispersed to distant garrisons. These blunders are accentuated by the anti-national character of the restored monarchy: the king and the emigrants returned to France "in the vans from abroad". That Napoleon, on his return from Elba Island, was able to reconquer France in twenty days without firing a shot is a measure of the failure of this first Restoration.

  • One hundred days
  • Louis XVIII
  • Bonaparte (Napoleon)
  • Paris
  • New Bridge
  • Restoration
  • ultraroyalism


Guillaume BERTIER DE SAUVIGNY, Restoration, Paris, Flammarion, 1955.Georges BORDONOVE, Louis XVIII: the Desired, Paris, Pygmalion, 1989.Francis DEMIER, 19th century France, Paris, Le Seuil, coll. “Points Histoire”, 2000.Évelyne LEVER, Louis XVIII, Paris, Fayard, 1988.Pierre ROSANVALLON, The Impossible Monarchy: the charters of 1814 and 1830, Paris, Fayard, 1994. Jean VIDALENC, The Restoration 1814-1830, Paris, P.U.F., coll. "What do I know? », 1983.Emmanuel de WARESQUIEL and Benoît YVERT, History of the Restoration.Birth of modern France, Paris, Perrin, 1996.

To cite this article

Alain GALOIN, "The first Restoration"

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