Biography of Villèle, leader of the ultra-monarchists during the Restoration

Biography of Villèle, leader of the ultra-monarchists during the Restoration

Jean-Baptiste Guillaume Joseph, Comte de Villèle, was the Prime Minister of France who, during the 1820s, attempted to fully restore absolutism with the help of Charles X. His intentions eventually failed due to the Parisian Revolutions of 1830, so he had to disappear from Gallic political and public life.

He was born on April 14, 1773 in Toulouse into a noble family. He received a military education to become a French Army Marine. In 1788, he served in the Indies and was arrested during the Robespierre Terror on the Isle of Bourbon. Thermidor's coup restored his freedom and Villèle took advantage of that moment to marry a noblewoman from a wealthy family.

From that moment on, he began to work on the political life of the island. He entered the Colonial Assembly of Bourbon and he fought to safeguard colonial integrity vis-à-vis Paris, as well as to ensure that they did not adhere to the British. He demonstrated his ability as an economic manager and as a defender of conservative values.

With the arrival of Napoleon, he decided to return to France. His return in 1802 was quite good, as he made a considerable fortune on the island that allowed him to live very comfortably. During the Empire, he was mayor of his commune and a member of the Council of the Haute-Garonne.

The Restoration made him openly declare himself a monarchist and was elected mayor of Toulouse between 1814 and 1815, as well as a deputy for the department of Haute-Garonne in the Chamber of Deputies. Once inside parliament, he positioned himself in the ultramonarchical block. His fixed ideas and, above all, the convincing way in which he defended them, led him to be the leader of his group. At all times he fought the moderate policy of Richelieu, who had to grant him a cabinet post in 1817, due to the majority that the ultra-monarchists had in the Chamber.

Behind the Richelieu fall In 1821, Villèle managed to access the Finance portfolio, which was a great merit. Just half a year later Louis XVIII it granted him the title of count and the position of Prime Minister of France. He immediately began to act against the opposition, imposing restrictive press laws. However, the fact of discovering several conspiracies of the Liberals allowed him to increase this repression.

Villèle had to participate in the expedition of the Hundred Thousand Sons of Saint Louis commanded by the Duke of Angouleme. Upon his return in 1823, the Prime Minister dissolved the Chamber of Deputies, as he knew that the success of the Campaign in Spain would be enough to reinforce the number of conservative deputies. This, added to the coronation of Charles X as king, allowed him to restore privileges to religious congregations and create the law to compensate emigrants and victims of the French Revolution, whose assets were requisitioned by the rebels.

Both proposals were approved but generated great discontent. To this should be added the sacrilege law, a regulation by which sacrilege became a crime punishable by death. The Chamber of Peers rejected the mayorazgo law and the press law to avoid any possible new revolt. Even the Royal Guard booed Carlos X.

Villèle tried to remain firm, so he dissolved the National Guard and the Chamber of Peers in 1827. However, the elections boosted the Liberals, who they forced him to resign in 1828. Thereafter, the count remained completely aloof from public affairs until his death in Toulouse on March 13, 1854.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.

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