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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Louvel had followed Napoleon to exile in Elba


Spread of the revolt]

The revolt, despite its miserable end, was followed by widespread results. The example of a bold stroke had been given, and the weakness of the government had been exposed. While Riego's followers were still hunted from place to place, the soldiers and citizens of Corona together declared for the Constitution. The revolutionary movement spread to Ferrol and thence along the coast towns of Galicia.

[Sidenote: Cochrane's exploit]

[Sidenote: Abisbas' treachery]

[Sidenote: King Ferdinand succumbs]

In South America, Cochrane in a brilliant action took the Spanish stronghold of Valdivia, held to be a Gibraltar in strength. King Ferdinand in Madrid was terrified. From all points of Spain the commandants wrote that they could not answer for their garrisons. Abisbas was ordered to return to Cadiz with reinforcements. On leaving Madrid he boasted to the king that he knew how to deal with rebels. By the time he reached Ocana, early in March, he himself proclaimed the Constitution. The news of Abisbas' defection created consternation in Madrid. On the night of March 6, the king convoked his Council of State. On the morrow he issued a summons for the Cortes. This was not enough. Crowds gathered in the streets and clamored for the Constitution. A report that the guards were on the point of going over

to the people brought the king around. From the balcony of the royal palace Ferdinand announced his readiness to take the oath to the Constitution. The next day was spent in riotous rejoicing. The prison of the Inquisition was sacked and all political prisoners were liberated. On the following day the mob broke into the gates and gardens of the royal palace. The members of the old municipal council entered the royal private chamber and called for a fulfilment of the king's public promise. Ferdinand accepted the inevitable under a smiling exterior, and swore an oath of fidelity to the Constitution of 1812. A provisional Junta took charge of affairs until the new Cortes should be convened.

[Sidenote: Duc de Berry assassinated]

The news of the Spanish revolution astounded Europe. In France a fanatic by the name of Louvel deemed the moment come to strike at the reigning house of France. Louvel had followed Napoleon to exile in Elba. After the Hundred Days he dogged the footsteps of the Bourbon princes with a settled project of murder. The heir-presumptive to the French crown was the Duc de Berry. If he died without a son the elder Bourbon line was bound to become extinct as a reigning house. On the night of February 13, Louvel attacked the Duc de Berry at the entrance of the opera house and plunged a knife into his heart. The Duchess was covered with her husband's blood. That night Duc de Berry died beseeching forgiveness for the man who had killed him. King Louis XVIII. himself closed the eyes of his nephew.

[Sidenote: Fall of Decazes' Ministry]

The assassination of the Duc de Berry involved the ruin of the Ministry of Decazes. The ultra-royalists in their frenzy of grief and indignation charged their chief opponent with complicity. Clausel de Coussergues, a member of the Court of Cassation, moved the impeachment of Minister Decazes in the Chambers as an accomplice in the assassination. The King himself felt menaced by the unwarranted accusation. "The Royalists give me the finishing stroke," said he; "they know that the policy of M. Decazes is also mine, and they accuse him of assassinating my nephew." Yet he had to abandon his favorite to the violent entreaties of the Comte d'Artois and the Duchesse de Angouleme. Decazes was permitted to retire, and set out for London with his new titles of Duke and Ambassador to the Court of St. James. Richelieu was recalled to the Ministry. The Duchesse de Berry retired to Sicily.

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