Countdown to Waterloo – The Charter of 1815

Napoleon at the Champ de Mars

When Napoleon escaped from Elba and returned to France, the constitutions adopted during his reign (Constitution of the Year VIII, Constitution of the Year X, Constitution of the Year XII) had been replaced by the Bourbon Restoration Charter of 1814, which gave some power to King Louis XVIII. Naturally that would not do, so Napoleon asked liberal political activist Benjamin Constant to draft yet another constitution.

Ironically, the Charter of 1815 was not very different than the charter under Louis XVIII. Both gave the French people unprecedented rights, such as the right to elect mayors for communities of 5,000 or fewer. Censorship was ended.

The Charter of 1815 was adopted by a plebiscite on June 1, 1815 by a large majority of the five million voters. Many eligible voters abstained, however. It was formally decreed in a ceremony at the Champ de Mars.

But, then, a mere 18 days later came the Battle of Waterloo. The Charter of 1815 never really took effect.

Are you counting down to Waterloo?

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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