CHARTE, from charta, " paper," was the name given ti the letters of franchise granted by the kings of France during the middle ages to several towns and communities, by which they were put in possession of certain municipal privileges, such as the free election of their local magistrates and others. The word Charts has been used in France to signify the solemn acknowledgment of the rights of the nation made by Louis XVIII. on his restoration in 1814. The Charte was the fundamental law of the French con stitutional monarchy. One artide of this chute, having given occasion to a false interpretation, of which the ministers of Charles X. availed themselves to issue the ordonnances which gave rise to the revolution of July, 1830, was altered on the accession of Louis-Philippe, and it was clearly explained that " the king issues the necessary ordonnances and regulations for the execution of the laws, without having the power in any case to suspend the course of the law or to delay its execution." The " Charte de 1830," with this and one or two more modifica tions of minor importance, was sworn to by Louis-Philippe on the 9th of August, 1830. After that date, a change was made by the legislature in the constitu tion of the Chamber of Peers. The Peers were only for life, and the peerage was consequently not hereditary.
As France is so closely connected with England in the progress of constitu tional history, we give an abstract of tho "Charte de 1830." The general out line of the late government of France bore a resemblance to our own, being an hereditary constitutional or limited mo narchy. Itsgeneral constitution is defi ned iu the charter granted by Louis XVII I. upon his restoration in A.D. 1814; in° ii fied in 1830, after the revolution which drove out the elder branch of the Bour bons; and further modified since that time. The Charte, as modified after the revolution of 1830, and as it stood in February 1848, consisted of sixty-seven articles, arranged underseven heads.
1st head, contzining eleven articles.— Droit public des Francais (Public or na tional Rights of the Irench).—This head provides for the equality of all French men in the eye of the law, their equal admissibility to civil and military em ployments, and their equal freedom from arrest otherwise than by legal process.
It guarantees the full enjoyment of reli gious liberty ; and while it recognises Catholicism as the religion of the ma jority of Frenchmen, it provides for the payment not only of the Catholic priest hood, but of the ministers of other Chris tian denominations, out of the public purse.* It ensures the liberty to all Frenchmen of printing and publishing their opinions, and prohibits for ever the re-establishment of the censorship.* It abolishes the conscription ; provides for the oblivion of all political offences pre vious to the restoration of the Bourbons ; and guarantees the security of property (including the so-called " national do mains" sold during the first Revolution), except when the public good, as made out in a legal manner, requires the sacri fice of individual property, in which case the owner must be indemnified.
2nd head, containing eight articles.— Formes du Gouvernement du Roi (Limits of the Kingly Power).—This head secures to the king the supreme executive power, the command of the army and navy, the right of making war and treaties of peace, alliance, and commerce; of nominating to all the offices of public administration ; and of making all regulations needful for the execution of the laws, without the power of suspending them or dispensing with them. It provides that the legisla tive functions shall be exercised by the king, the Chamber of Peers, and the Chamber of Deputies ; that every law must be agreed to by a majority of each chamber (the discussions and votes of which are to be free), and sanctioned by the king ; that bills may originate with any of the three branches of the legis lature, except money bills, which must originate in the Chamber of Deputies ; and that a bill rejected by any branch of the legislature cannot be brought in again the same session. The civil list is fixed at the commencement of every r -ign, and cannot be altered during that -eign.