Guizot, François

Guizot, François

(fräNswä` gēzō`), 1787–1874, French statesman and historian. The son of a Protestant family of Nîmes, he was educated at Geneva. He began a legal career in Paris in 1805, but soon took up literary work and later became a professor of modern history at the Univ. of Paris. His lectures there formed a center of political opposition to the Restoration. His friendship with Royer-CollardRoyer-Collard, Pierre Paul
, 1763–1845, French statesman and philosopher. After entering the law, he took part in the French Revolution and became a constitutional monarchist.
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 and his sympathy with the moderate royalists soon drew him into minor political office. As an opposition deputy he was involved in the July RevolutionJuly Revolution,
revolt in France in July, 1830, against the government of King Charles X. The attempt of the ultraroyalists under Charles to return to the ancien régime provoked the opposition of the middle classes, who wanted more voice in the government.
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 of 1830 and became one of the leading intellectual exponents of the bourgeois July Monarchy of Louis PhilippeLouis Philippe
, 1773–1850, king of the French (1830–48), known before his accession as Louis Philippe, duc d'Orléans. The son of Philippe Égalité (see Orléans, Louis Philippe Joseph, duc d'), he joined the army of the French Revolution,
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. As minister of public instruction (1832–37), Guizot introduced (1833) a new system of primary education. Turning more and more to conservatism, he became (1840) the chief power in the ministry nominally headed by Soult, who had displaced the more liberal ThiersThiers, Adolphe
, 1797–1877, French statesman, journalist, and historian.

After studying law at Aix-en-Provence, Thiers went (1821) to Paris and joined the group of writers that attacked the reactionary government of King Charles X.
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 as premier. In 1847, Guizot became premier. His leadership provided a stable government, but his complacent acceptance of the established order led to his overthrow in the February RevolutionFebruary Revolution,
1848, French revolution that overthrew the monarchy of Louis Philippe and established the Second Republic. General dissatisfaction resulted partly from the king's increasingly reactionary policy, carried out after 1840 by François Guizot, and partly
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 of 1848, which forced the abdication of Louis Philippe. Guizot devoted the rest of his life to writing. The best known of his many works, Histoire de la révolution d'Angleterre [history of the revolution in England] (6 vol., 1826–56), illustrates his critical approach and his devotion to original sources as well as his admiration for middle-of-the-road British revolutionism. He also wrote Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire de mon temps [memoirs to serve as a history of my time] (8 vol., 1858–67) and the brilliant General History of Civilization in Modern Europe (6 vol., 1829–32; tr. by William Hazlitt, 3 vol., 1846). The last work, never completed, covers principally the civilization of France up to the 14th cent. See his memoirs (8 vol., tr. 1974).

Bibliography

See study by D. W. Johnson (1963).

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