France 1870-1890
Domestic Policy

Paris Commune 1870-1871

In the BATTLE AT SEDAN (Sept. 2nd 1870), the FRANCO-GERMAN WAR practically was decided; Emperor Napoleon III. was taken prisoner. A PROVISORICAL GOVERNMENT was established (Sept. 4th) with seat at Bordeaux. Prussian and allied troops meanwhile laid siege to the city of Paris (Sept. 19th 1870). For the duration of the siege the Parisians had to organize their city on their own.
In Paris, a city with a population traditionally inclined to revolution, three major political groups emerged, the JACOBINS in favour of a controlled revolution, the PROUDHONISTS who wanted to establish a federation of communes and the BLANQUISTES who propagated violent revolution. When the siege was finally ended (with the surrender of Paris, Jan. 28th) and troops of the traditional government were sent in to cautiously reestablish order (May 18th), some of them fraternized with the communards. The Provisional Government then decided to suppress the commune by force; fighting began on May 21st 1871. About 20,000 revolutionaries were shot, another 38,000 were arrested. Fighting had lasted one week; in the course of the fighting the revolutionaries had set part of the city ob fire. The TUILERIES were among the buildings affected.

The Paris Commune 1871: an experiment in popular power, from Bergen Travel Guide
The Pigeon Post into Paris 1870-1871 by J.D. Hayhurst
DOCUMENTS The Siege and Commune of Paris, from Charles Deering McCormick Library, collection of over 3000 images
REFERENCE Henri Labouchere, Diary of the Besieged Resident of Paris (1871), posted online by Gutenberg Library Online
Davy, The Insurrection in Paris (1871), posted by Gutenberg Library Online

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on October 23rd 2007

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