"My cousin, I am too deeply pained by the ills that afflict or could threaten my people, not to seek means of avoiding them. Therefore, I have made the resolution to abdicate the crown in favor of my grandson, the Duke of Bordeaux. The Dauphin, who shares my feelings, also renounces his rights in favor of his nephew. It will thus fall to you, in your capacity as Lieutenant General of the Kingdom, to proclaim the accession of Henri V to the throne. Furthermore, you will take all pertinent measures to regulate the forms of government during the new king's minority. Here, I limit myself to stating these arrangements, as a means of avoiding further evils. You will communicate my intentions to the diplomatic corps, and you will let me know as soon as possible the proclamation by which my grandson will be recognized as king under the name of Henri V."
Charles Philippe of France was born in 1757, the youngest son of the Dauphin Louis and his wife, the Dauphine Marie Josèphe, at the Palace of Versailles. Charles was created Count of Artois at birth by his grandfather, the reigning King Louis XV. As the youngest male in the family, Charles seemed unlikely ever to become king. His eldest brother, Louis, Duke of Burgundy, died unexpectedly in 1761, which moved Charles up one place in the line of succession. He was raised in early childhood by Madame de Marsan, the Governess of the Children of France.
At the death of his father in 1765, Charles's oldest surviving brother, Louis Auguste, became the new Dauphin (the heir apparent to the French throne). Their mother Marie Josèphe, who never recovered from the loss of her husband, died in March 1767 from tuberculosis. This left Charles an orphan at the age of nine, along with his siblings Louis Auguste, Louis Stanislas, Count of Provence, Clotilde ("Madame Clotilde"), and Élisabeth ("Madame Élisabeth").
He won his bet, with Bélanger completing the house in sixty-three days. It is estimated that the project, which came to include manicured gardens, cost over two million livres. Throughout the 1770s, Charles spent lavishly. He accumulated enormous debts, totalling 21 million livres. In the 1780s, King Louis XVI paid off the debts of both his brothers, the Counts of Provence and Artois.
Charles X married Princess Maria Teresa of Savoy, the daughter of Victor Amadeus III, King of Sardinia, and Maria Antonietta of Spain, on 16 November 1773. The couple had four children – two sons and two daughters – but the daughters did not survive childhood. Only the oldest son survived his father. The children were:
Louis XV fell ill on 27 April 1774 and died on 10 May of smallpox at the age of 64. His grandson Louis-Auguste succeeded him as King Louis XVI of France.
A famous story concerning the two involves the construction of the Château de Bagatelle. In 1775, Charles purchased a small hunting lodge in the Bois de Boulogne. He soon had the existing house torn down with plans to rebuild. Marie Antoinette wagered her brother-in-law that the new château could not be completed within three months. Charles engaged the neoclassical Architect François-Joseph Bélanger to design the building.
Charles's political awakening started with the first great crisis of the monarchy in 1786, when it became apparent that the kingdom was bankrupt from previous military endeavours (in particular the Seven Years' War and the American War of Independence) and needed fiscal reform to survive. Charles supported the removal of the aristocracy's financial privileges, but was opposed to any reduction in the social privileges enjoyed by either the Church or the nobility. He believed that France's finances should be reformed without the monarchy being overthrown. In his own words, it was "time for repair, not demolition."
King Louis XVI eventually convened the Estates General, which had not been assembled for over 150 years, to meet in May 1789 to ratify financial reforms. Along with his sister Élisabeth, Charles was the most conservative member of the family and opposed the demands of the Third Estate (representing the commoners) to increase their voting power. This prompted criticism from his brother, who accused him of being "plus royaliste que le roi" ("more royalist than the king"). In June 1789, the representatives of the Third Estate declared themselves a National Assembly intent on providing France with a new constitution.
Charles and his family decided to seek refuge in Savoy, his wife's native country, where they were joined by some members of the Condé family. Meanwhile, in Paris, Louis XVI was struggling with the National Assembly, which was committed to radical reforms and had enacted the Constitution of 1791. In March 1791, the Assembly also enacted a regency bill that provided for the case of the king's premature death. While his heir Louis-Charles was still a minor, the Count of Provence, the Duke of Orléans or, if either was unavailable, someone chosen by election should become regent, completely passing over the rights of Charles who, in the royal lineage, stood between the Count of Provence and the Duke of Orléans.
Louis XVIII was greeted with great rejoicing from the Parisians and proceeded to occupy the Tuileries Palace. The Count of Artois lived in the Pavillon de Mars, and the Duke of Angoulême in the Pavillon de Flore, which overlooked the River Seine. The Duchess of Angoulême fainted upon arriving at the palace, as it brought back terrible memories of her family's incarceration there, and of the storming of the palace and the massacre of the Swiss Guards on 10 August 1792.
When the French Revolutionary Wars broke out in 1792, Charles escaped to Great Britain, where King George III of Great Britain gave him a generous allowance. Charles lived in Edinburgh and London with his mistress Louise de Polastron. His older brother, dubbed Louis XVIII after the death of his nephew in June 1795, relocated to Verona and then to Jelgava Palace, Mitau, where Charles' son Louis Antoine married Louis XVI's only surviving child, Marie Thérèse, on 10 June 1799. In 1802, Charles supported his brother with several thousand pounds. In 1807, Louis XVIII moved to Great Britain.
Following the advice of the occupying allied army, Louis XVIII drafted a liberal constitution, the Charter of 1814, which entailed a bicameral legislature, an electorate of 90,000 men and freedom of religion.
After the Hundred Days, Napoleon's brief return to power in 1815, the White Terror focused mainly on the purging of a civilian administration which had almost completely turned against the Bourbon monarchy. About 70,000 officials were dismissed from their positions. The remnants of the Napoleonic army were disbanded after the Battle of Waterloo and its senior officers cashiered. Marshal Ney was executed for treason, and Marshal Brune was murdered by a crowd. Approximately 6,000 individuals who had rallied to Napoleon were brought to trial. There were about 300 mob lynchings in the south of France, notably in Marseilles where a number of Napoleon's Mamluks preparing to return to Egypt, were massacred in their barracks.
On 14 February 1820, Charles's younger son, the Duke of Berry, was assassinated at the Paris Opera. This loss not only plunged the family into grief but also put the succession in jeopardy, as Charles's elder son, the Duke of Angouleme, was childless. The lack of male heirs in the Bourbon main line raised the prospect of the throne passing to the Duke of Orléans and his heirs, which horrified the more conservative ultras. Parliament debated the abolition of the Salic law, which excluded females from the succession and was long held inviolable. However, the Duke of Berry's widow, Caroline of Naples and Sicily, was found to be pregnant and on 29 September 1820 gave birth to a son, Henry, Duke of Bordeaux. His birth was hailed as "God-given", and the people of France purchased for him the Château de Chambord in celebration of his birth. As a result, his granduncle, Louis XVIII, added the title Count of Chambord, hence Henry, Count of Chambord, the name by which he is usually known.
Louis XVIII's health had been worsening since the beginning of 1824. Suffering from both dry and wet gangrene in his legs and spine, he died on 16 September of that year. His brother succeeded him to the throne as King Charles X of France. In his first act as king, Charles attempted to unify the House of Bourbon by granting the style of Royal Highness to his cousins of the House of Orléans, who had been deprived of this by Louis XVIII because of the former Duke of Orléans' role in the death of Louis XVI.
On 29 May 1825, King Charles was anointed at the cathedral of Reims, the traditional site of consecration of French kings; it had been unused since 1775, as Louis XVIII had forgone the ceremony to avoid controversy. It was in the venerable cathedral of Notre-Dame at Paris that Napoleon had consecrated his revolutionary empire; but in ascending the throne of his ancestors, Charles reverted to the old place of coronation used by the kings of France from the early ages of the monarchy.
That Charles was not a popular ruler became apparent in April 1827, when chaos ensued during the king's review of the National Guard in Paris. In retaliation, the National Guard was disbanded but, as its members were not disarmed, it remained a potential threat. After losing his parliamentary majority in a general election in November 1827, Charles dismissed Prime Minister Villèle on 5 January 1828 and appointed Jean-Baptise de Martignac, a man the king disliked and thought of only as provisional. On 5 August 1829, Charles dismissed Martignac and appointed Jules de Polignac, who, however, lost his majority in parliament at the end of August, when the Chateaubriand faction defected. To stay in power, Polignac would not recall the Chambers until March 1830.
The Chambers convened on 2 March 1830, as planned, but Charles's opening speech was greeted by negative reactions from many deputies. Some introduced a bill requiring the King's minister to obtain the support of the Chambers. On 18 March, 221 deputies, a majority of 30, voted in favor of the bill. However, the King had already decided to hold general elections, and the chamber was suspended on 19 March.
Charles' relationship with his daughter-in-law proved uneasy, as the Duchess claimed the regency for her son Henry, whom the abdications of Rambouillet had left the legitimist pretender to the French throne. Charles at first denied her demands, but in December agreed to support her claim once she had landed in France. In 1831 the Duchess made her way from Britain by way of the Netherlands, Prussia and Austria to her family in Naples.
At the invitation of Emperor Francis I of Austria, the Bourbons moved to Prague in winter 1832/33 and were given lodging at the Hradschin Palace by the Emperor. In September 1833, Bourbon legitimists gathered in Prague to celebrate the Duke of Bordeaux's thirteenth birthday. They expected grand celebrations, but Charles X merely proclaimed his grandson's majority.
On the same day, after much cajoling by Chateaubriand, Charles agreed to a meeting with his daughter-in-law, which took place in Leoben on 13 October 1833. The children of the Duchess refused to meet her after they learned of her second marriage. Charles refused the various demands by the Duchess, but after protests from his other daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Angoulême, acquiesced. In the summer of 1834, he again allowed the Duchess of Berry to see her children.
Upon the death of Emperor Francis in March 1835, the Bourbons left Prague Castle, as the new Emperor Ferdinand wished to use it for coronation ceremonies. The Bourbons moved initially to Teplitz. Then, as Ferdinand wanted the continued use of Prague Castle, Kirchberg Castle was purchased for them. Moving there was postponed due to an outbreak of cholera in the locality.
In the meantime, Charles left for the warmer climate on Austria's Mediterranean coast in October 1835. Upon his arrival at Görz (Gorizia) in the Kingdom of Illyria, he caught cholera and died on 6 November 1836. The townspeople draped their windows in black to mourn him. Charles was interred in the Church of the Annunciation of Our Lady, in the Franciscan Kostanjevica Monastery (now in Nova Gorica, Slovenia), where his remains lie in a crypt with those of his family. He is the only King of France to be buried outside of France.
A movement advocating for Charles X's remains to be buried along with other French monarchs in Basilica of St Denis reportedly began a process of repatriation in late 2016, although the current head of the House of Bourbon, Louis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou has stated, in early 2017, that he wishes the remains of his ancestors to remain at the monastery crypt.