Thursday, 6 October 2016

Louis Philippe, King of the French, not France

Louis Philippe, King of the French, not France

On This Day in History, October 6th, in 1773, Louis Philippe I, King of the French, if not France, was born.
 
You probably think that didn't sound right, but you'd be wrong. He was never King of France, instead he proclaimed himself King of the French.
 
This had something to do with what happened during and after the French Revolution.
 
Louis Philippe was forced to flee France during the French Revolution to avoid what happened to most of his family. As in, imprisonment and execution. His father, the Duke of Orleans, didn't run fast enough and Madame La Guillotine had her wicked way with him.
 
Nope, Madame La Guillotine was not one of the local hookers, she was the nickname for a very sharp blade that separated head from neck. 
 
Louis Philippe spent 21 years in exile, living the high life, until his return to France. He was proclaimed King in 1830 after his cousin was forced to abdicate, after the return of the Monarchy, during the July Revolution. The French had a lot of revolutions back then. It wouldn't be the last.
 
In 1847, when Louis Philippe's popularity declined, he himself was forced to abdicate after the French Revolution of 1848. Yep, they loved their revolutions. It was a very dizzy time.
 
Again Louis Philippe was forced into exile. He fled to Britain and lived the remainder of his life getting fat eating anything he got his hands on.
 
During his life, Louis Philippe, King of at least twelve French people and a lifelike puppet of Donald Trump, survived seven attempts on his life.
 
Eight if you include his birth. That was one slippery baby.
 
The first assassination attempt Louis Philippe survived was on July 28th, 1835. Giuseppe Mario Fieschi, along with two other conspirators, waited for the King of the French on the Boulevard du Temple. They had built a special gun that contained 25 barrels fastened to a wooden frame. It allowed each of the bullets to be fired at once. Very clever.
 
King Louis Philippe was conducting his annual review, which he did every year, annually, of the Paris National Guard. He was accompanied by his three sons and quite a few of his staff. Including, as luck would have it, Horace Vernet, the King's personal painter.
 
Giuseppe Mario Fieschi let loose the dogs of war on the crowd as they passed. He opened fire with his homemade gun.
 
Eighteen people were killed, including quite a few officers, two men, a woman, and a 14-year-old girl. Twenty two others were seriously injured. The princes and the king survived, although one of the shots scraped the King's head.
 
Fieschi was quite badly injured as during the fracas. When he fired his gun into the crowd, several of the gun barrels burst. It was a simple job to capture him and he was executed by Madame La Guillotine the following year.
 
After the King was shot, he quickly turned to Horace Vernet, his personal painter, and said, "Paint, damn you, paint like you've never painted before."
 
Vernet quickly undressed and shoved a hedgehog up his butt.
 
"What the heck are you doing?" said the King.
 
"I have never painted like this before," said Vernet.
 

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