Paris Early Origins Recent Paris History

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Overview  Of Paris Early Origins

Archaeological finds at Bercy on the right banks of the Seine indicate that the land which is now known as Paris was the home of farmers as early as 4,000 BC. The name Paris attributed to a Celtic tribe the Parisii who populated the area sometime between the second and third centuries BC. Until recently they were believed to have settled at Ile de la Cite but there is some archaeological evidence suggesting that their main settlement may have been settled at what is now Nantere. During the first century AD the area was occupied by the Roman Empire who renamed the area Lutetia. In 212 it was renamed Paris. The city’s strategic position on the River Seine made a target for other invaders and in the fourth century a wall to defend the city was built. The Roman rule of Paris and the region (Gaul) collapsed in the 5th century.

During the next three hundred years the city was ruled by the local Merovingian kings and until in 751 the Carolingians a Germanic dynasty. During their rule the city was repeatedly attacked by vikings who sailed up the Seine in ships. In 885 the viki.ngs laid siege to the city but it was defended by the Count of Anjou Robert the Strong, and his son Odo Count of Paris. He later shared the rule of the area with Charles the simple who’s descendant Hugh Capet became the King of France in 987 During the next three hundred years under the Capetian dynasty the city of Paris became an increasingly important place educationally and religiously. The Capetian dynasty disintegrated in 1328 when the last king died leaving no heir to the throne. The English King – Edward unsuccessfully tried to claim the throne as his mother was a descendant of an earlier king. As a result the 100 years war between England and France ensued during which time Paris suffered from political uprisings, revolts and a series of plagues. However the monarchy survived.

In 1420 Civil War broke out in France Civil war broke out in France and the English King Henry V landed in France and captured Paris. In 1430 his son Henry V1 crowned himself King of France at Notredame Cathedral. English rule of France and Paris ended in 1437 when it was overthrown by Charles V11 of France. For nearly century stability returned to Paris but in the 16th century the religious battles between the protestants and catholics in other parts of France reached Paris. After several decades of unrest in 1572 catholic mobs murdered up to 3000 protestants in what became known as the the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. In 1589 King Henry 111 was murdered by a catholic monk and another royal dynasty came to an end.

The nominated successor to Henry 111 was another protestant Henri of Navarre, who five years later converted to Catholicism whilst declaring “Paris is well worth a mass.” Following a ruling he issued which allowed religious tolerance towards protestants he become a target for fanatics on both sides of the religious divide. He escaped over twenty assassinations attempts before he was murdered by a catholic in 1610. His son Louis X111 was crowned king at the age of eight though power was invested in his mother until he was 15. During his reign the catholic church and Royal powers were strengthened. The status quo was maintained for over a hundred year through under the rule of a succession of King Louis’s During this time Paris blossomed architecturally and intellectually. By the second half of the 18th century Paris was seen as the cultural and intellectual capital of Europe in what was known as the era of enlightenment. This facilitated the promotion of the arts philosophies and several sciences. However the excesses and fortunes of Paris where not shared by the French nation who had borne the cost of Frances involvement in a complicated ‘seven year war’ which involved every nation in Europe. Another high financial cost was the decision by France to involve itself in the American War of Independence. The nations purse was empty

The French authorities tried to raise revenue by increasing taxes. In Paris they built a new around new wall around the city between1784 and1791 so as to facilitate the levy of taxes on goods moved in an out of Paris. This penalized the middle and working classes of Paris and alienated the monarchy and its courts. In 1788 a wet summer ruined harvests and hunger and famine spread across France. In Paris hungry protesters rioted.

Accounts of what and who sparked the beginning of the French Revolution vary. What is certain is that on the 14 July 1789 is that protesters broke into a military arsenal at Les Invalides in Paris 7 an seized thousands of guns. They then attacked the Bastille (which was a fortress with a prison). During the attack nearly 90 of the protesters were killed before the Bastille was captured. These events are viewed as the start of the French Revolution and every year they remembered on July 14th which is known as Bastille Day. By October the protesters had confined the Royal family to the Palais des Tuileries on the Seine’s right bank. The battles for the control of France continued until August 1792. Rumours that monarchies in other European countries were planning to invade France to quell the revolution and free the king and his family resulted in demands for the king to be deposed. When the French National Assembly refused to do this the King and his wife Marie Antoinette were taken from their palace and imprisoned by the revolutionaries. The leaders of the revolution Danton, Marat and Robespierre encouraged their supporters to hunt down and kill anyone opposed to the revolution and this resulted in the massacre in August and September of over 2000 Parisians. On September 22nd the French monarchy was formally abolished and The French Republic was born. King Louis XV1 was cubically executed by a guillotine on 21st January 1793 at the Place de la Concorde. His wife suffered the same fate nine months later. The leaders of the revolution stepped up their campaign to eliminate opponents to their power and at least 1200 another people were similarly executed.

However Danton, Marat and Robespierre blood thirsty tactics were not approved of by many revolutionaries and a group of them arrested the trio who then were executed by the guillotine they had sent so many others to. The new rulers of France governed as a five person ‘Directoire’ but continued opposition to the revolution persisted. In 1795 one serious revolt in Paris which was almost successful was only quelled by an army officer who fired cannons into the crowd at point blank range. His name was Napoleon Bonaparte. The Director gave him various commissions to defend France and French interests abroad. His successes gave him great respect in France which he utilized for his own agenda in 1799 when he overthrew the Director. In 1800 Napoleon was declared First Consul of France and then in 1804 he declared himself as Emperor of France.

Paris benefited from the Napoleon’s rule. It became the centre of an empire which Napoleon wanted to be compared with Roman Empire. Across Paris he commissioned buildings worthy of an empires power and wealth – some of these commissions were modeled on the architecture of the Roman Empire. Many of these influences remain today. Following Napoleon defeat in Russia in 1813 and at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 the monarchy returned to Paris and for a while the city was socially stable. However unrest grew again and in the late 1820’s as poverty increased. In 1831 nearly 20,000 people died during a cholera outbreak. These problems were compounded by the industrial revolution which saw the city’s population rapidly swell with migrant workers. By 1848 the monarchy’s position in France was not sustainable and the king abdicated. Elections in February returned a conservative national government but Parisians rebelled against the new status quo and fresh elections were called in November,

The victor of these elections was Napoleon’ nephew – Louis Napoleon Bonaparte who like his uncle seized power and declared himself Emperor Napoleon 11. Under his stewardship Paris was rebuilt He commissioned an architect to design the boulevards roundabouts and parks that still dominate Paris today. Napoleon rule came to and in 1870 after he had declared war on Prussia and was defeated like uncle. A third republic was declared during which Paris acquired the Eiffel Tower its metro and thousands of brothels.


Overview Of Paris Recent History

During WW1 Paris suffered some artillery bombardment but the German forces were kept to north of the city. In WW2 Paris fell to the Germans with little resistance on 14 June 1940. Nearly half of the city’s 3.5m population had left in the previous month. For the following four years German forces occupied the city. Some Parisians tolerated the occupation and did business with the occupiers. Others minded only their own business whilst others actively resisted the occupation. In May 1941 the deportation of approximately 70,000 Parisian Jews began. First they were sent to a concentration camp at Drancy a Paris suburb. From there they were sent to Auschwitz ( more info) in Poland.

On August 18th 1944 as Allied forces approached Paris a rebellion against the German occupiers began. Hitler ordered the officer in charge of the city – Von Choltitz to flatten the city completely. Choltitz ignored the order and ordered his forces to leave Paris. When the Allies arrived in Paris he surrendered to them. Once again Paris escaped the devastation that most cities on the European mainland had endured twice in a generation.

In 1946 the Fourth French Republic was declared. Charles De Gaulle became President and the French became founder members of The present day European union. see the French Country Profile. In the early 1960’s over 600,000 French citizens from the country’s colonies moved to France. Many of these migrants settled in Paris and the Paris authorities built massive concrete estates in the Paris suburbs to house them. see also political protests in Paris   These estates quickly became hot spots for crime and racism. At the same time the Presidency of de Gaulle was becoming unpopular in part because of his capacity to govern only in a manner that he saw fit.

In May 1968 widespread protests led by Students (many at Paris Sorbonne University on the left bank of the Seine) and French unions seeking liberal and democratic reforms. At the time he famously said privately ” “La réforme oui, la chienlit non” which , which is best translated as ‘reform yes but chaos no.’ He declared a general election in June 1968 which he fought on the basis that the reforms sought by protesters would bring about a civil war. In the elections his party won 358 out of 487 seats. The following April he resigned after his plans to reduce the powers of the French Senate were defeated.

His successors Pompidou, Giscard d’Estaing, and Mitterand all tried to modernize Paris with various 20th century building projects many of which were unpopular. As a result the sky line of Paris has not been blighted by the skyscrapers that have defaced so many European capitals and Paris today retains many of the better assets its has acquired in its history.



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