Thiers, Adolphe

Thiers, Adolphe

(ädôlf` tyĕr), 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 XCharles X,
1757–1836, king of France (1824–30); brother of King Louis XVI and of King Louis XVIII, whom he succeeded. As comte d'Artois he headed the reactionary faction at the court of Louis XVI.
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. Thiers reflected the views of the upper bourgeoisie. Although immensely popular in their time, Thiers's historical works are today generally regarded as superficial and inaccurate eulogies of the French Revolution and of Napoleon, written from the bourgeois point of view. His History of the French Revolution (10 vol., 1823–27; tr., 5 vol., 1895) illustrated his moderate liberal views. With F. A. M. MignetMignet, François Auguste Marie
, 1796–1884, French historian and journalist. With his lifelong friend, Adolphe Thiers, Mignet edited the National, a powerful liberal daily, and helped to overthrow Charles X in the July Revolution of 1830.
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 and others he started (1830) the journal National, which had an important part in bringing about 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.

Thiers held ministerial posts under 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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, whose candidacy as king of the French he had promoted. As minister of the interior, he brutally suppressed the workers' insurrection of Apr., 1834, in Paris and Lyons. Thiers was premier in 1836, but his projected intervention against the CarlistsCarlists,
partisans of Don Carlos (1788–1855) and his successors, who claimed the Spanish throne under the Salic law of succession, introduced (1713) by Philip V. The law (forced on Philip by the War of the Spanish Succession to avoid a union of the French and Spanish
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 in Spain caused his dismissal. In 1840 he again headed a cabinet, but his aggressive foreign policy—this time he sought to intervene in favor of Muhammad AliMuhammad Ali,
1769?–1849, pasha of Egypt after 1805. He was a common soldier who rose to leadership by his military skill and political acumen. In 1799 he commanded a Turkish army in an unsuccessful attempt to drive Napoleon from Egypt.
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 in Egypt, thus bringing France to the brink of war with Great Britain—once again lacked royal support and brought about his fall.

He then became a liberal opponent of the July Monarchy and again turned to writing, beginning his History of the Consulate and the Empire (20 vol., 1845–62; tr. 1845–62). In the midst of 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, Louis Philippe offered him the title of premier, but he refused, and both king and Thiers were soon swept aside by the revolutionary tide. Elected (1848) to the constituent assembly, Thiers was a leader of the right-wing liberals and bitterly opposed the socialists.

Thiers supported Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (later Emperor Napoleon IIINapoleon III
(Louis Napoleon Bonaparte), 1808–73, emperor of the French (1852–70), son of Louis Bonaparte (see under Bonaparte, family), king of Holland. Early Life
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) for president of the French republic, but his opposition to Bonaparte's coup in Dec., 1851, led to his arrest and exile. He was allowed to return not long afterward, but for ten years he remained out of government affairs. In 1863 he was elected to the legislature, where he opposed the emperor and helped to bring about reforms. Although he had previously favored an aggressive foreign policy, Thiers spoke out (1870) against involvement in the Franco-Prussian WarFranco-Prussian War
or Franco-German War,
1870–71, conflict between France and Prussia that signaled the rise of German military power and imperialism. It was provoked by Otto von Bismarck (the Prussian chancellor) as part of his plan to create a unified German
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. Vindicated by the disastrous defeat of France, he was chosen chief executive of the provisional government at Bordeaux in 1871. He negotiated the preliminary Peace of Versailles with Otto von Bismarck and ordered his troops to suppress the Commune of Paris of 1871—an order carried out with ferocious severity.

In Aug., 1871, his title became president of the republic. Credit for France's quick payment of its war indemnity to Germany and for the consequent evacuation (1873) of France by German troops belongs largely to Thiers's efficient economic policy. However, his insistence upon a conservative republic alienated both the monarchist majority and the left-wing minority in the national assembly, and in 1873 he was forced to resign. In the elections of 1877 he helped to restore republican unity and bring about the election of a republican legislature.


See his memoirs (1903, tr. 1915); J. M. S. Allison, Thiers and the French Monarchy (1926, repr. 1968) and Monsieur Thiers (1932).

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