Victor Hugo stayed at home.
Busy researching for his novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, he did
not wish to leave his wife alone, who had given birth to a daughter just
four days before. The young Alexandre Dumas, on the other hand — later to
achieve world renown for his swashbuckling The Count of Monte Cristo —
bravely shouldered a double-barrelled musket, ready to risk his life
for freedom with thousands of students, merchants, workers and actors.
Paris was once again on the brink of a revolution. The
streets were full of agitated citizens confronting the royal guards with
pistols and wooden cudgels, rifles and knives. The cause of the uproar was
the citizens' fear that the old system of royal oppression, which had been
abolished, was on the rise again. As early as 1814 the royal house of
Bourbon had regained its former power. Lotus XVIII, younger brother to
Louis XVI, who had been executed during the Revolution, had been summoned
from exile to rule France after the fall of Napoleon. Moderate and
cautious, he had pursued liberal policies, combining the modern feeling
for liberty with the principles of the ancien regime. When Louis
XVIII died in 1824, Charles X, the youngest of the three brothers, had
himself crowned at Reims with medieval pomp and circumstance.
Forward-looking contemporaries found him both reactionary and foolish.
Desirous of reviving pre-Revolutionary France, he intended to restore the
ancient titles and privileges to the aristocracy as well as one billion
francs in reparations for the property lost by the nobility during the
Revolution. After Charles X issued a series of repressive decrees on 25
July 1830, abolishing freedom of the press, dissolving the legislature and
depriving the majority of citizens of suffrage, things came to a head. On
28 July 1830 revolt broke out not far from Eugene
studio. While mercenaries deployed by Charles X fought their way through
the narrow streets, supporters of the revolutionaries hurled furniture,
wash-tubs, rooting tiles and tool chests down on them from windows,
finally dumping entire cartloads of melons on the heads of the advancing
royal troops to stop their progress. The street battles raged for three
days. Painter and caricaturist Honore Daumier suffered a sabre-slash
across his face during the fighting. On 3 August 1830 the citizens were
victorious, forcing Charles X to abdicate and flee into exile.
who had observed the revolt at a safe distance, took up his brushes and
palette. In a letter to his brother written in October 1830, he confessed:
"Although I didn't fight, I'll at least paint for our country!" And the
result was Liberty Leading the People, the archetype of the