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What is the period in French history portrayed in Les Misérables in the early 1800s? Also, who was the French King at that time - the restored King?

I thought the French Revolution was in the late 1700s, and did away with kings. Or did the "Napoleonic" period change that early in the 19th century?

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Modding this up, as I wondered the same thing when I was watching it. –  T.E.D. Apr 29 '13 at 13:03

3 Answers 3

The French Revolution occurred from 1789 to 1799.

The period covered by Les Miserable which is the June Rebellion of 1832.

Articles on the June Rebellion indicate the restored king was Louis Phillipe.

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+1 if you can sing this answer. –  DVK Apr 29 '13 at 22:33
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Just to clarify, there was no "Restored king" in this case because it was a failed rebellion. The movie depicts this pretty well, it spread to a few neighborhoods but it was never a widespread uprising and never seriously threatened the government. If not for Les Miserables the event would be largely forgotten. –  Odysseus Apr 30 '13 at 23:34

It depends on which part of the novel you're talking about. Part of it is set in 1815 (either under Napoleon I or Louis XVIII), part is set in 1823 (Louis XVIII) and part in 1832 (Louis-Philippe I).

The rebellion depicted in the novel has nothing to do with the French Revolution of 1789, but it is related to the July Revolution of 1830, in which Charles X was overthrown in favor of his cousin Louis-Philippe, who was expected to be more liberal-minded. However, he really wasn't that different from Charles, and many idealistic students were disappointed and ultimately revolted in 1832. But because only two years had passed since the last revolution, most of the people of Paris were tired of turmoil and did not rally to their cause.

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"Les Miserables," by Victor Hugo, is set in the 1830s, toward the end of a cycle of events that started with the French Revolution and the overthrow of King Louis XVI, "Napoleon," and then the restoration of the French monarchy, first under Louis XVIII, (1815-24), then (Charles X, 1824-30) and then Louis Philippe (1830-1848), whose reign led to a "second Napoleon" (Napoleon III, actually).

Hugo was part of the so-called Romantic Movement in Europe, which did not reach France until the late 1820s. This built on the philosophy of the Enlightenment of the 18th century, with its emphasis on individual freedom and human progress. (The corresponding 1830s movement in the United States was the "Transcendentalism" of philosophers Emerson and Thoreau, which is sometimes referred to as the Second Great Awakening.)

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