France 1852-1870
Domestic Policy
France 1890-1914
Domestic Policy
France 1870-1890
the Economy

France 1870-1890 : Domestic Policy

The (THIRD) REPUBLIC was proclaimed and a PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT took office on September 4th 1870, under very difficult circumstances. France's armies were defeated (Sedan, Sept. 2nd), Emperor Napoleon III. having been taken prisoner. German troops would proceed to lay siege to Paris on September 19th. France again tried to mobilize forces, sending marines to the front. To no avail, Paris surrendered January 28th; the PEACE OF FRANKFURT was signed May 10th 1871. France had not only to cede ALSACE and northern LORRAINE, but also pay REPARATIONS to the amount of 5 billion gold Franc.
To make matters worse, on May 18th French government troops attempting to take control of the cannons of Paris fraternized with the Paris communards. The government now ordered the suppression of the PARIS COMMUNE; in the week following May 21st, c. 20,000 revolutionaries were shot and government control was restored.

France was a PRESIDENTIAL REPUBLIC, the presidents having a very strong influence on the nation's policy. Prime ministers, on the other hand, were frequently exchanged, their average tenure in office being 1 year. Political groupings included the REPUBLICANS (who were anti-clerical), MONARCHISTS and BONAPARTISTS, the republicans being dominant in the 1870es.
Fear of yet another revolution might have inspired legislation that restricted freedom of the press and the formation of political organizations as well as associations (trade unions); in 1881 resp. 1884 these were alleviated. Legislation reducing the influence of the Catholic church was passed; DIVORCE was legalized again. In 1882 an education reform was passed which eliminated church influence in the schools.
GEORGE ERNEST BOULANGER, ex-general and ex-minister, in the late 1880es was favoured by opponents of the Third Republic. Accused of treason, he fled to Belgium in 1889.

The Paris Commune 1871: an experiment in popular power, from Bergen Travel Guide
The Pigeon Post into Paris 1870-1871 by J.D. Hayhurst
Georges Ernest Boulanger, from
DOCUMENTS The Siege and Commune of Paris, from Charles Deering McCormick Library, collection of over 3000 images
Les debuts de la IIIe Republique Francaise, from cliotexte 7 French-language sources, 1871-1880
REFERENCE Jean-Marie Mayeur and Madeleine Reberioux, The Third Republic from its Origins to the Great War 1871-1914, (Fr. Or. 1973, Eng. Trsl. 1984), Cambridge UP 1994, KMLA Lib. Call Sign 944.081 M468t
Peter McPhee, A Social History of France 1789-1914, Basingstoke : Palgrave MacMillan (1992) 2004, KMLA Lib. Call Sign 306.0944 M478s
Article : France, in : Statesman's Year Book 1878, pp.55-93 (data on 1877) [G]
Article : France, in : Appleton's Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events 1886 pp.352-360 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on September 6th 2007

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