FRANçOIS PIERRE GUILLAUME GUIZOT (French: ; 4 October 1787 – 12 September 1874) was a French historian, orator , and statesman. Guizot was a dominant figure in French politics prior to the Revolution of 1848. A conservative liberal who opposed the attempt by King Charles X to usurp legislative power, he worked to sustain a constitutional monarchy following the July Revolution of 1830.
He then served the "citizen king" Louis Philippe , as Minister of Education, 1832–37, ambassador to London, Foreign Minister 1840–1847, and finally Prime Minister of France from 19 September 1847 to 23 February 1848. Guizot's influence was critical in expanding public education, which under his ministry saw the creation of primary schools in every French commune. But as a leader of the "Doctrinaires ", committed to supporting the policies of Louis Phillipe and limitations on further expansion of the political franchise, he earned the hatred of more left-leaning liberals and republicans through his unswerving support for restricting suffrage to propertied men, advising those who wanted the vote to "enrich yourselves" (enrichissez-vous) through hard work and thrift.
As Prime Minister, it was Guizot's ban on the political meetings (called the Paris Banquets, which were held by moderate liberals who wanted a larger extension of the franchise) of an increasingly vigorous opposition in January 1848 that catalyzed the revolution that toppled Louis Philippe in February and saw the establishment of the French Second Republic .
* 1 Early years * 2 "The Man of Ghent" * 3 A minister of the Citizen-King * 4 The second Soult government * 5 1848 and after * 6 Quotes * 7 References * 8 External links
Guizot was born at
Nîmes to a bourgeois Protestant family. On 8
April 1794, when
Nîmes by the Revolution , Madame Guizot and her son went
In 1805 he arrived in Paris and he entered at the age eighteen as tutor into the family of M. Stapfer, formerly Swiss minister in France. He soon began to write in a journal edited by Suard , the Publiciste. This connection introduced him to the literary society of Paris .
In October 1809, aged twenty-two, he wrote a review of François-René de Chateaubriand 's Martyrs, which won Chateaubriand's approbation and thanks, and he continued to contribute largely to the periodical press. At Suard 's he had made the acquaintance of Pauline de Meulan (born 2 November 1773 ), a contributor to Suard's journal. Her contributions were interrupted by illness, but immediately resumed and continued by an unknown hand. It was discovered that François Guizot had substituted for her. In 1812 Mademoiselle de Meulan married Guizot. She died in 1827. (An only son, born in 1819, died in 1837 of consumption.) In 1828 Guizot married Elisa Dillon, niece of his first wife, and also an author. She died in 1833, leaving two daughters (Henriette (1829-1908), a co-author with her father and prolific writer herself; and Pauline (1831-1874)) and a son (Maurice Guillaume (1833–1892), who attained some reputation as a scholar and writer). He and historian Francois Mignet invented the concept of the bourgeois revolution.
First French Empire , Guizot, entirely devoted to literary
pursuits, published a collection of French synonyms (1809), an essay
on the fine arts (1811), and a translation of
Edward Gibbon 's The
History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire , with additional
notes, in 1812. These works recommended him to the notice of
Louis-Marcelin de Fontanes , grand-master of the University of France
, who selected Guizot for the chair of modern history at the Sorbonne
in 1812. He delivered his first lecture (reprinted in his Memoirs) on
11 December of that year. He omitted the customary compliment to the
all-powerful emperor, in spite of the hints given him by his patron,
but the course which followed marks the beginning of the great revival
of historical research in
"THE MAN OF GHENT"
On the second restoration , Guizot was appointed secretary-general of the ministry of justice under de Barbé-Marbois , but resigned with his chief in 1816. In 1819 he was one of the founders of the Liberal journal Le Courrier français . Again in 1819 he was appointed general director of communes and departments in the ministry of the interior, but lost his office with the fall of Decazes in February 1820. During these years Guizot was one of the leaders of the Doctrinaires , a small party strongly attached to the charter and the crown, and advocating a policy which has become associated (especially by Émile Faguet ) with the name of Guizot, that of the juste milieu , a middle path between absolutism and popular government. Adhering to the great principles of liberty and toleration, they were sternly opposed to the anarchical traditions of the Revolution. They hoped to subdue the elements of anarchy through the power of a limited constitution based on the suffrage of the middle class and promoted by the literary talents of the time. They were opposed alike to the democratic spirit of the age, to the military traditions of the empire, and to the bigotry and absolutism of the court. The Doctrinaires fell out of influence following the July Revolution in 1830.
In 1820, when the reaction was at its height after the murder of the
Duc de Berry , and the fall of the ministry of the duc Decazes, Guizot
was deprived of his offices, and in 1822 even his course of lectures
were interdicted. During the succeeding years he played an important
part among the leaders of the liberal opposition to the government of
In January 1830 he was elected by the town of
Lisieux to the Chamber
of Deputies , and he retained that seat during the whole of his
political life. Guizot delivered an address in March 1830 calling for
greater political freedom in the Chamber of Deputies. The motion
passed 221 against 181.
A MINISTER OF THE CITIZEN-KING
In 1831 Casimir Périer formed a more vigorous and compact
administration, terminated in May 1832 by his death; the summer of
that year was marked by a formidable republican rising in Paris, and
it was not until 11 October 1832 that a stable government was formed,
in which Marshal Soult was first minister, Victor, 3rd duc de Broglie
took the foreign office,
The branch of the Institute of France known as the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques , which had been suppressed by Napoleon, was revived by Guizot. Some of the old members of this learned body – Talleyrand , Sieyès , Roederer and Lakanal – again took their seats there, and a host of more recent celebrities were added by election for the free discussion of the great problems of political and social science. The Société de l\'histoire de France was founded for the publication of historical works, and a vast publication of medieval chronicles and diplomatic papers was undertaken at the expense of the state.
Guizot was received with distinction by Queen Victoria and by London
society. His literary works were highly esteemed, and he was sincerely
attached to the alliance of the two nations and the cause of peace. He
also secured the return of Napoleon’s ashes to
THE SECOND SOULT GOVERNMENT
Blue plaque, 21 Pelham Crescent, London SW7 Guizot's house whilst Ambassador in London, 21 Pelham Crescent, London SW7
Thus began, under dark and adverse circumstances, on 29 October 1840, the important administration in which Guizot remained the master-spirit for nearly eight years. He himself took the office of minister for foreign affairs, and upon the retirement of Marshal Soult , he became prime minister. His first care was the maintenance of peace and the restoration of amicable relations with the other powers of Europe. His success gave unity and strength to the conservative party, who now felt that they had a great leader at their head.
During Guizot’s tenure as foreign minister, he and Lord Aberdeen ,
the foreign secretary to Sir
The fall of Peel's government in 1846 changed these intimate relations; and the return of Palmerston to the foreign office led Guizot to believe that he was again exposed to the passionate rivalry of the British cabinet. A friendly understanding had been established between the two courts with reference to the future marriage of the young queen of Spain . The language of Lord Palmerston and the conduct of Sir Henry Bulwer (afterwards Lord Dalling) at Madrid led Guizot to believe that this understanding was broken, provoking the Affair of the Spanish Marriages after Guizot came to believe that Britain intended to place a Coburg on the throne of Spain. Determined to resist any such intrigue, Guizot and the king plunged headlong into a counter-intrigue, wholly inconsistent with their previous engagements to Britain and fatal to the happiness of the queen of Spain. By their influence she was urged into a marriage with a despicable offset of the house of Bourbon , and her sister was at the same time married to the youngest son of the French king, in direct violation of Louis Philippe's promises. This transaction, although it was hailed at the time as a triumph of the policy of France, was in truth as fatal to the monarch as it was discreditable to the minister. It was accomplished by a mixture of secrecy and violence. It was defended by subterfuges. Its immediate effect was to destroy the Anglo-French alliance, and to throw Guizot into closer relations with the reactionary policy of Metternich and the Northern courts.
His first object as prime minister was to unite and discipline the
conservative party, which had been broken up by previous dissensions
and ministerial changes. In this he entirely succeeded by his courage
and eloquence as a parliamentary leader, and by the use of all those
means of influence which
In 1846 the opposition accused the government of buying the votes of the electorate. Guizot acknowledged that corruption happened but the government could not really prevent it. Non-voters exaggerated the occurrences of corruption to point to their need for enfranchisement. Guizot utterly failed to satisfy the demand for expansion of suffrage. Some scholars point out that corruption, while certainly present, did not have a large effect on the voting records of those in the Chamber of Deputies.
The strength of Guizot’s oration was his straightforward style of
speaking. He was essentially a ministerial speaker, far more powerful
in defence than in opposition. Nor was he less a master of
parliamentary tactics and of those sudden changes and movements in
debate which, as in a battle, sometimes change the fortune of the day.
His confidence in himself, and in the majority of the chamber which he
had moulded to his will, was unbounded; and long success and the habit
of authority led him to forget that in a country like
Guizot's view of politics was essentially historical and philosophical. His tastes and his acquirements gave him little insight into the practical business of administrative government. Of finance he knew nothing; trade and commerce were strange to him; military and naval affairs were unfamiliar to him; all these subjects he dealt with by second hand through his friends, Pierre Sylvain Dumon (1797–1870), Charles Marie Tanneguy, Comte Duchâttel (1803–1867), or Marshal Bugeaud . The consequence was that few measures of practical improvement were carried by his administration. Still less did the government lend an ear to the cry for parliamentary reform.
On this subject the king's prejudices were insurmountable, and his
ministers had the weakness to give way to them. It was impossible to
defend a system which confined the suffrage to 200,000 citizens and
returned a chamber of whom half were placemen. Nothing would have been
easier than to strengthen the conservative party by attaching the
suffrage to the possession of land in France, but blank resistance was
the sole answer of the government to the moderate demands of the
opposition. Warning after warning was addressed to them in vain by
friends and by foes alike, and they remained profoundly unconscious of
their danger till the moment when it overwhelmed them. Strange to say,
Guizot never acknowledged either at the time or to his dying day the
nature of this error, and he speaks of himself in his memoirs as the
much-enduring champion of liberal government and constitutional law.
He utterly failed to perceive that a more enlarged view of the liberal
1848 AND AFTER
In the afternoon of 23 February 1848 the king summoned his minister
from the chamber, which was then sitting, and informed him that
considering the situation in Paris and elsewhere in the country during
the Banquet agitation for electoral reform, and the alarm and division
of opinion in the royal family, led him to doubt whether he could
retain Guizot as his prime minister. Guizot instantly resigned,
returning to the chamber only to announce that the administration was
at an end and that the king had sent for
Louis-Mathieu Molé . Molé
failed in the attempt to form a government, and between midnight and
one in the morning Guizot, who had according to his custom retired
early to rest, was again sent for to the
The society of England, though many persons disapproved of much of
his recent policy, received the fallen statesman with as much
distinction and respect as they had shown eight years before to the
king's ambassador. A professorship at Oxford was spoken of, which he
was unable to accept. He stayed in England about a year, devoting
himself again to history. Back in Paris in 1850, Guizot published two
more volumes on the English revolution--Pourquoi la Révolution
d'Angleterre a-t-elle reussi? and Discours sur l'histoire, de la
Révolution d'Angleterre. In February 1850
After having resigned as Prime Minister of France, he left politics. He was aware that the link between himself and public life was broken forever, and he never made the slightest attempt to renew it. The greater part of the year he spent at his residence at Val Richer, an Augustine monastery near Lisieux in Normandy, which had been sold at the time of the first Revolution . His two daughters, who married two descendants of the illustrious Dutch family of De Witt , so congenial in faith and manners to the Huguenots of France, kept his house. One of his sons-in-law farmed the estate. And here Guizot devoted his later years with undiminished energy to literary labour, which was in fact his chief means of subsistence. Proud, independent, simple and contented he remained to the last; and these years of retirement were perhaps the happiest and most serene portion of his life.
Two institutions may be said even under the Second Empire to have
retained their freedom: the
Institute of France and the Protestant
Consistory . In both of these Guizot continued to the last to take an
active part. He was a member of three of the five academies into which
Institute of France is divided. The Academy of Moral and Political
Science owed its restoration to him, and he became in 1832 one of its
first associates. The Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres
elected him in 1833 as the successor to Dacier , and in 1836 he was
chosen a member of the
Académie Française , the highest literary
distinction of the country. In these learned bodies Guizot continued
for nearly forty years to take a lively interest and to exercise a
powerful influence. He was the jealous champion of their independence.
His voice had the greatest weight in the choice of new candidates; the
younger generation of French writers never looked in vain to him for
encouragement, and his constant aim was to maintain the dignity and
purity of the profession of letters. In 1842, he was elected a foreign
member of the
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
In the consistory of the Protestant church in Paris Guizot exercised a similar influence. His early education and his experience of life conspired to strengthen the convictions of a religious temperament. He remained throughout his life a firm believer in the truths of revelation, and a volume of Méditations on the Christian Religion was one of his latest works. But though he adhered inflexibly to the church of his fathers and combated the rationalist tendencies of the age, which seemed to threaten it with destruction, he retained not a tinge of the intolerance or asperity of the Calvinistic creed. He respected in the Church of Rome the faith of the majority of his countrymen, and the writings of the great Catholic prelates, Bossuet and Bourdaloue , were as familiar and as dear to him as those of his own persuasion, and were commonly used by him in the daily exercises of family worship.
In these literary pursuits and in the retirement of Val Richer, years
passed smoothly and rapidly away; and as his grandchildren grew up
around him, he began to direct their attention to the history of their
country. From these lessons sprang his last work, the Histoire de
Down to the summer of 1874 Guizot's mental vigour and activity were unimpaired. He died peacefully, and is said to have recited verses of Corneille and texts from Scripture on his death-bed.
* "You may raise the pile of calumny as high as you like; it will never reach the height of my disdain." (#The second Soult government ) * "The spirit of revolution, the spirit of insurrection, is a spirit radically opposed to liberty." * "Not to be a republican at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head".
* Unless noted with a footnote below, this article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, in turn, gives the following references:
* Guizot's own Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire de mon temps (8 vols., 1858–1861) * Lettres de M. Guizot à sa famille et à ses amis (1884) * Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve , Causeries du lundi (vol. 1., 1857) and Nouveaux Lundis (vols. i. and ix., 1863–1872) * E Scherer , Etudes critiques sur la littérature contemporaine (vol. iv., 1873) * Mme de Witt , Guizot dans sa famille (1880) * Jules Simon , Thiers, Guizot et Rémusat (1885); * E Faguet , Politiques et moralistes au XIXe siècle (1891) * A Bardoux , Guizot (1894) in the series of "Les Grands Ecrivains français" * Maurice Guizot, Les Années de retraite de M. Guizot (1901) * For a long list of books and articles on Guizot in periodicals see HP Thième , Guide bibliographique de la littérature française de 1800–1906 (s.c. Guizot, Paris, 1907). * For a notice of his first wife see Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve , Portraits de femmes (1884), and Ch. de Rémusat , Critiques et études littéraires (vol. ii., 1847).
* ^ George Fasel. Europe in Upheavel: 1848. Chicago: Rand MacNally.
Chapter 2. 1971.
* ^ Colburn's New Monthly Magazine by E.W. Allen, 1828, pg. 174
* ^ Price, Roger. A Concise History of