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The Crowd in French Politics and Imagination: Lecture 2. The Shadow of Revolution in Nineteenth-century Paris. Lecture plan. Children of the Revolution? The French in the nineteenth century Crowds and regime change Crowds in the social and political imagination

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the crowd in french politics and imagination lecture 2
The Crowd in French Politics and Imagination: Lecture 2

The Shadow of Revolution in Nineteenth-century Paris

lecture plan
Lecture plan
  • Children of the Revolution? The French in the nineteenth century
    • Crowds and regime change
    • Crowds in the social and political imagination
  • Case study: The crowd on stage, 1848–70
    • The theatre of revolution: 1848
    • Panem et circenses: the Second Empire
  • Case study: Battles for the city, 1870–1900
    • Frenchmen into rebels: the Paris Commune
    • Peasants into Frenchmen: the Third Republic
key dates i
Key dates (I)
  • 1815 Battle of Waterloo; final defeat of Napoleon; restoration of Bourbon monarchy (Louis XVIII, younger brother of Louis XVI)
  • 1824 Death of Louis XVIII; succeeded by his brother Charles X
  • 1830 Revolution; crown offered to Orleanist branch of the monarchy: Louis-Philippe (his father, ‘Philippe-Egalité’, had voted for the death of Louis XVI)
  • 1848 Revolution: royal family goes into exile; Second Republic. Louis-Napoleon becomes President (December)
key dates ii
Key dates (II)
  • 1851 Coup d’état by Louis-Napoleon (Napoleon’s nephew)
  • 1852 Louis-Napoleon becomes Napoleon III: Second Empire
  • 1870 Napoleon III defeated at Sedan in the Franco- Prussian war
  • 1871 Paris Commune (defeated in May; semainesanglante)
  • 1875 Constitution of the Third Republic (declared a republic by just one vote)
  • 1880s Laws supporting trade unions, granting free and compulsory primary education
  • 1905 Separation of Church and state
  • 1914 Union sacrée to confront the First World War
working class crowds
Working-class crowds
  • Like its European neighbours, France experienced urbanization and industrialization in the nineteenth century, though remained more rural than either England or Germany
  • 20% of the English population was working in agriculture in 1854, the comparable figure for the French population was about 60%
  • The growing working classes were however excluded from the electoral process in the early nineteenth century
  • But they remained very present in political fears and (especially socialist) theories of revolt and revolution
charles fourier
Charles Fourier
  • Born 1772 to a merchant family; sees family fortunes devastated by Revolution
  • Self-taught; ardent reader of newspapers
  • Vision of 32 stages of history, divinely ordained, leading to socialism, Harmony, then the end of the world
  • Socialist society would be based around ideal communities or phalanstères
socialist theories
Socialist theories
  • Not only were these developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (to name the most famous), but they were also studied by Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte
  • In prison at Boulogne-sur-mer in 1840, he wrote l’Extinction du paupérisme, through which he tried to establish himself as a social reformer, or even as a socialist
  • He also corresponded with George Sand and radical political activist Louise Blanc (author of L’Organisation du Travail).
1848 in paris
1848 in Paris
  • A reformist campaign for greater political liberties is transformed into revolution when Minister Guizot bans a banquet in eastern Paris
  • The National Guard refuses to fire on the demonstrators; the government calls in the army
  • The royal family goes into exile and the Second Republic is proclaimed
daniel stern marie d agout histoire de la r volution de 1848 paris gustave sandr 1850
Daniel Stern (Marie d’Agout), Histoire de la Révolution de 1848 (Paris: GustaveSandré, 1850

‘Depuis ce moment jusqu’à une heure avancée de la nuit, le château des Tuileries est abandonnée à la multitude. Elle se répand à flots depuis les caves jusque dans les combles. Éblouie à l’aspect de ces splendeurs inaccoutumées, curieuse, étonnée, étourdie de sa propre bruit, excitée par sa propre licence, ivre de joie d’abord, de vin ensuite, elle s’y livre à tous les excès, à tous les caprices d’une imagination en délire. Ce château, d’où l’étiquette rigide d’une reine dévote et un veuvage sévère avaient, en ces dernières années, banni toute joie, devient le théâtre d’une immense orgie, d’une saturnaleindescriptible.’

panem et circenses
Panem et circenses
  • Louis-Napoleon was elected as President of the Second Republic in December 1848, triumphing against the republican Louis EugèneCavaignac, who was unpopular with the workers.
  • On 2 December 1851 he carried out his first successful coup d’état. A year later, after an extensive and carefully orchestrated publicity campaign, he became Napoleon III
  • In prison he had tried to reinvent himself as a social reform with an avid concern for the working masses. During his reign he undertook with what has been termed an ‘extravaganza’ of public relations, a deliberately ‘spectacular politics’ to win over the masses.
napoleon iii s spectacular politics
Napoleon III’s ‘spectacular politics’
  • International exhibitions
    • 1855: free transport
    • 1867: workers themselves ‘on show’
  • Projects for social reform (e.g. CitésNapoléon)
  • Transformation of Paris (with Baron Haussmann)
    • Parks, wide boulevards, new sewers…
    • Spectacular inaugurations of new boulevards
    • But population soars (1.2 million in 1851, 2 million in 1870), and number of beggars and vagrants increases
a worker in the national assembly may 1871
A worker in the National Assembly, May 1871
  • ‘I am 48 years old, I have never belonged to any popular assembly. I have come from the working class, I know nothing of the malice of politics, I see here things which astonish me. I had expected to find in this assembly something greater, something more worthy.’