By “Restoration” we understand that period in France’s history which followed the empire of Napoleon. During this period, the Bourbons returned to power from 1814 to 1830: Louis XVIII (1765-1824) and Charles X (1757-1836).
On the very day of Napoleon’s abdication on April 6, 1814, the Senate called to the throne the Count of Provence who already had taken the title Louis XVIII. Initially, he reigned one year (First Restoration). In point of fact, upon Napoleon’s return (May-June 1815, the Hundred Days), the king fled to Belgium. A new European coalition compelled Napoleon to abdicate anew. As soon as Napoleon was exiled to the island of Saint Helena, Louis XVIII returned to Paris on July 8. Napoleon’s fall after Waterloo was the signal for an intense royalist reaction which was called “the White Terror.” In the Midi, former revolutionaries and Napoleon collaborators were hunted down and put to death by the mob. Louis XVIII reigned until his death which took place September 16, 1824. Just as in other dioceses, through letters to the parish priests and in pastoral letters, the Mazenods called for prayers for the king during his illness and death and, subsequently, each year through an anniversary service.
The Count of Artois, Louis XVIII’s brother, succeeded him under the name Charles X. During his reign, the liberals became ever more powerful. In 1828-1829, Martignac, the Prime Minister, in order to bring together those who were left leaning and the liberals, granted them concessions to the detriment of the Church. He appointed a layman as head of the University. He forbade religious orders, especially the Jesuits, to teach. He set a 20,000 limit on the students in the minor seminaries, etc. (Ordinances of 1828)
In 1830, the king’s ministers could not come to agreement with the Chamber of Deputies when it came to new legislation. Charles X wanted to impose his will by publishing four ordinances on the press and on elections. The people rose up. Charles X saw himself compelled to abdicate in the course of the revolution of July 27, 28 29, 1830 and withdrew to England. (This spelled the end of the Second Restoration) The government was put in the hands of the Duke of Orleans who reigned with the name of Louis-Philippe.
The Mazenods under the Restoration
Father de Mazenod rarely used the word restoration, but he often mentions by name the kings Louis XVIII and Charles X. He exchanged correspondence with their ministers and met a few of them in the course of his trips to Paris in 1817, 1823 and 1825. It was with joy that he and the Mazenods greeted the return of the Bourbons in 1814. President Charles Anthony sent the king an act of homage and his oath of fidelity. During the Hundred Days, Eugene distinguished himself by displaying a fiery hostility to the Napoleonic regime. On July 7, 1815, he wrote his father: “I showed myself the most fearless royalist of the city where I live and there are perhaps few in France who can gainsay me on that point.”
Father de Mazenod, however, kept his hands out of politics and set about working for spiritual renewal. His confraternity for youth took the name of Confraternity of Christian Youth of Aix and met publicly. With the approval of the vicars general, he founded the Missionaries of Provence. Already in 1816, Fr. Guigou, the vicar general, tried without success to get royal approval for the missionary society. When faced with the opposition of the parish priests of Aix, Father de Mazenod travelled to Paris where he spent from July 17 to the end of November of 1817. He saw Lainé, the minister of the interior, who was not able to grant a royal approval for him, but he did authorize the Missionaries of Provence to continue their work. The Founder also saw Cardinal Talleyrand-Périgord, the grand chaplain, and Bishop de Latil, chaplain to the Count d’Artois, the brother of the king. He did succeed in having his uncle, Fortuné appointed bishop of Marseilles. This appointment led the Mazenods to make the decision to return to France where they arrived on December 27, 1817. In Paris, Father de Mazenod asked nothing for himself and, avoided taking advantage of contacting some old friends from his time in Sicily such as the nephew of Cardinal Talleyrand and the Duke de Berry, son of the future King Charles X. (Mazenod Diary, August 31, 1847.
From February 15 to the beginning of August, 1823, the Mazenods, in Paris for the episcopal ordination of Fortuné at Issy on July 6, were not received by the king. They made another trip to Paris from May 9 until July 31, 1825 to be present at the May 29 consecration of the King Charles X in Rheims. From this city, Father de Mazenod wrote to Father Tempier on May 27: “…In passing through these splendid chambers, these superb porticoes, the church itself which seems to have changed its purpose for the occasion, no longer being the house of God but the sumptuous temple of vanity, I had a secret whim to defy the world, to do something still more magnificent, more striking. Well now, I said, you are exhausted; it is impossible for you to do more. Know that you have nonetheless not been able to satisfy the least of my affections, fill the tiniest corner of my heart. My reflections continued further when I considered those who flock here; without looking beyond people of my own rank, what a pity to see such vanity.” (Oblate Writings, vol. 6, no. 179, p. 171) On July 17, the Mazenods were received by the king at Saint-Cloud.
The Mazenods mention the king often in their correspondence and their intense opposition to the ordinances of 1828, that of April 21 which deprived the bishops of the oversight and the direction of grade schools and that of June 16 on secondary schools, which forbade religious to teach, limited the number of students in the minor seminaries and established a rule that was in conflict with the rights of the bishops. Concerning this issue, Jean Leflon wrote that the liberal surge worried Bishop Fortuné de Mazenod to no lesser degree than it was a cause for concern for the mayor of Marseilles and the prefect of Bouches-du-Rhône and, we should add, to his nephew, Eugene. “The campaign launched against the Church seemed to him, as it did to them, indirectly aimed at the throne. His obligations as bishop compelled him to defend the Church, and in safeguarding it, his personal convictions, that religion could not subsist in France without the legitimate monarchy, committed him to support that monarchy. In the days that followed, starting with 1828, he fully devoted himself to this commitment and, with youthful ardour, hurled himself into the battle over the ordinances which challenged the positions regained by the clergy since 1814 in the field of education.” (LEFLON, Jean, Eugene de Mazenod, vol. II, New York, 1966, trans. Francis D. Flanagan, o.m.i., p. 285)
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.