Teacher, Father, King. Royal representations of Louis-Philippe I

Heidi Mehrkens* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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My article explores how Louis-Philippe I (r. 1830-1848) created royal representations of his kingship outside France, in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. In the 1790s, as a young nobleman exiled from France, Louis-Philippe had found work as a teacher at a Swiss reform school. Decades later – until his death in exile in 1851 – he kept the memory of his time as impoverished educator alive, and I will argue that it became a vital element of his royal persona. Through acts of patronage, Louis-Philippe created what I would call an ‘emotional court’ at Castle Reichenau in Graubünden. The modest room where in 1793 the future King of the French under an assumed name had taught pupils in Maths and History became a tourist attraction in the 1830s, advertised even in the Baedeker. Far from the centre of dynastic power in Versailles, the castle became a place of curiosity, but it also offered visitors an emotional connection with the July Monarchy. Different audiences learned about the king’s hardships in life and were invited to see carefully selected aspects of the human side of power. Like many other 19th-century monarchs, Louis-Philippe aimed to derive legitimacy for his rule from exhibiting his dedication to hard work. This particular example of showcasing the nobility of achievement is fascinating, however, because royal representation materialised outside monarchical France.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-230
Number of pages24
JournalFrancia. Forschungen zur westeuropäischen Geschichte
Volume46 (2019)
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

I am indebted to the current owners of Castle Reichenau in Tamins, Graubünden, especially Johann-Baptista von Tscharner, who kindly invited me to walk in the footsteps of 19th-century tourists and visit the Louis-Philippe room and Adolf von Planta’s laboratory. I am also grateful to the House of Orléans for granting me access to archival material from the fonds de la Maison de France held in the Archives Nationales, Paris.


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