Blue Plaques

CHARLES X, King (1757-1836)

Plaque erected in 2000 by English Heritage at 72 South Audley Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 1JB, City of Westminster

All images © English Heritage

Profession

Monarch

Category

Politics and Administration

Inscription

CHARLES X 1757-1836 last Bourbon King of France lived here 1805-1814

Material

Ceramic

Charles X was King of France from 1824 to 1830. Before his largely unpopular reign as king, Charles spent several years living in exile in Britain from the late 1790s. Between 1805 and 1814 he lived at 72 South Audley Street, London, where he is commemorated with a blue plaque.

Portrait of Charles X by Baron Francois-Pascal-Simon Gerard from the collection at Apsley House
Portrait of Charles X by Baron Francois-Pascal-Simon Gerard from the collection at Apsley House

Early life and exile

Charles X was born Charles Philippe, Comte d’Artois, the younger brother of two reigning kings, Louis XVI (r.1774–92) and Louis XVIII (r.1814–24). In 1773 he married Marie Therese of Savoy.

At the first signs of Revolution in 1789, Charles went into self-imposed exile and devoted his time to galvanising the anti-revolutionary forces of French émigrés and other monarchists. He encouraged the revolt of the Vendée (a coastal region in western France) in 1795, but soon fled from Brittany. 

From the late 1790s, Charles spent his exile in Britain: in 1799 he stayed for a period at Holyrood House, Edinburgh before moving to London. His brother, Louis XVIII, also lived in England but was not permitted to reside in the capital.

Charles’s London residences included a house at 46 Baker Street (now demolished) and 72 South Audley Street. This Grade II-listed house was originally built in the 1730s by Edward Shepherd on the Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair. It was considerably altered in the 1830s, in 1887 and more recently also.

King of France

Charles returned to Paris on the abdication of Napoleon in 1814 and soon assumed leadership of the Ultras, the extreme right wing of the royalist movement in France at that time. 

He succeeded his brother in 1824 as King Charles X and his next six years of reign proved to be deeply unpopular. His first appointed government passed controversial policies such as the compensation of former émigrés for confiscated land, restricting press freedoms, and the reintroduction of the death penalty for various ‘sacrilegious acts’. In 1825, Charles demanded that Haiti, which had declared independence from France in 1804, begin paying enormous “reparations” to the French slaveholders it had overthrown. He threatened invasion and sent war ships to the island nation which had no choice but to agree to the demands. 

Ignoring public opinion, Charles tried to have the extreme monarchist and highly unpopular Prince de Polignac form a government. He initiated the French invasion of Algeria in 1830 in an attempt to increase the government’s popularity with a military victory and to distract from the domestic unrest. But growing agitation would soon culminate in the July Revolution of 1830, where Charles was driven from Paris and forced to abdicate in favour of his grandson Louis-Philippe, Duc d’Orleans. 

Charles’s last years were spent mainly in Bohemia, and he died of cholera near Trieste in 1836. Thus died the last of the Bourbon rulers of France, and one of the least distinguished of that mighty house.

Nearby Blue Plaques

Nearby Blue Plaques


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