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1870-1871: Conflict, Commune and Crisis Dr Chris Pearson.

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1 1870-1871: Conflict, Commune and Crisis Dr Chris Pearson

2 Jules Clarétie

3 The Franco-Prussian War 19 July 1870 French Second Empire declares war on Prussia and its allies (Bavaria, Württemberg etc) Napoleon III becomes head of French forces on 28 July 1870 France: 250,000 men and 43,000 horses Prussia and co: 600,000 men and 70,000 horses


5 Édouard Detaille, Prisonnier


7 Alphonse de Neuville, The Cemetery of St Privat, 18 August 1870 (1881)



10 Caring for the wounded after the battle of Gravelotte

11 Prussian commanders survey the battlefield Ruined houses at Bazeilles

12 Napoleon III meeting Bismarck after Sedan, 2 September 1870

13 The aftermath of Sedan End of the Second Empire Third Republic established on 4 September 1870 led by government of National Defence ‘Nation-in-arms’ ‘Mass militarization’ of society (Taithe, Citizenship and Wars, 24) 635,838 men housed and trained in army camps


15 Alfred Decaen and Henri Emile Brunner-Lacoste, L’Atillerie campée dans le jardin des Tuileries (fin septembre) [1871]


17 Siege food*: ‘Jugged cat with mushroom’ ‘Roast donkey and potatoes’ ‘Rats, peas, and celery’ ‘Mice on toast’ * Probably not on sale in your local Tesco


19 “Poor Nini, you ate a dog!” Cartoon by Auguste Bry (1871)

20 Total War? Total war, in which every aspect of state and society is mobilized towards the total destruction of the enemy, arguably not achieved But mass mobilization Women and children involved in humanitarian effort New technologies – step towards total war

21 War casualties French casualties: 470,521, 131,100 of whom died or missing German casualties: 172,617, 45,000 of whom died Source: B Taithe, Defeated Flesh (1999), 44

22 The end of the war Lack of food in Paris and military defeats in the provinces Ceasefire signed 26 January 1871 France agrees to Germany demands for compensation, the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine, and a victory parade down the Champs-Elysées

23 The Creation of the Commune The National Assembly’s “measures against Paris” Thiers tries to reclaim the National Guardsmen’s cannon from Montmartre hill Resistance to government troops Central Committee of National Guardsmen seizes town hall and declares commune (18 March 1871)

24 ‘Proletarians, whose names were unknown yesterday…, brave men moved by a profound love of justice and human rights and by a boundless devotion to France and the Republic have resolved to deliver the country from the invader and defend our threatened freedom.’ Central Committee, Journal Officiel, 21 March 1871

25 The elections of 26 March 1871 All councillors republicans 35 out of 85 councillors wage-earners Goncourt brothers: ‘What is happening is nothing but the conquest of France by the worker… The government is leaving the hands of those who have for those who have not.’

26 The Commune’s aims Declaration to the French people: The Commune represents ‘the end of the old governmental and clerical world, of militarism, of bureaucracy, of exploitation, of privileges, to which the proletariat owes its slavery and the country its misfortunes and disasters… The aim is to universalize power and property.’

27 The Commune ‘was essentially a working- class government, the produce of the struggle of the producing against the appropriating class, the political form at last discovered under which to work out the economical emancipation of labour.’ General Council of the International Working- Men’s Association, 30 May 1871, quoted in Karl Marx, The Civil War in France (1921), 33

28 Women under the Commune Joined in political discussions and set up cooperatives – 43 in first few weeks of Commune Union of Women for the Defence of Paris created by Elizabeth Dmietrieff Assertions of gender equality; women part of revolt as much as men, equal wages




32 An image of a supposedly manly, dangerous communarde

33 ‘ Wall of Federates’ (Mur des fédérés), Père Lachaise cemetery

34 The human cost of repressing the Commune Between 20,000-30,000 Parisians killed during the ‘Bloody Week’ Between 43,522-47,000 more arrested (1,051 of whom were women) 30,000 released by 1874; of the rest 5,207 imprisoned and 4,586 deported to New Caledonia

35 Ilya Repin, Meeting at the Mur des Fédérés (1883)

36 Explaining the Commune (1) Short term causes (war, siege, defeat, radicalization) Radicalization occurred beyond Paris ‘Society was as endangered as the fatherland. Let us save the fatherland, but let us save society, which was nearing a disaster… Let us struggle against the bloody barbarians and a so-called civilisation without justice!’ (Lyon Committee of Public Salvation)

37 Explaining the Commune (2) Strength of socialist associations from the 1860s onwards (Johnson, Paradise of Association [1980]) Post-Haussmannization working class reclaiming of central Paris (David Harvey, Paris: Capital of Modernity [2006])

38 Legacies of 1870-71 (1): Greater Catholic-Republican Divisions

39 Legacies of 1870-71 (2): revanche Republican politicians wary of overtly calling for revenge against Germany But Maurice Barrès and General Boulanger less hesitant…...and more nationalistic history teaching in schools Idea of national decline more pervasive

40 Legacies of 1870-1 (3): Gender Relations Negative images of the pétroleuses convinced men from across the political spectrum that women should not be granted political rights Feminists put off radicalism Crisis in masculinity?

41 Benedict-Augustin Morel (1809–1873): Developed the influential theory of degeneration Became a widespread fear in post-1871 France Legacies of 1870-71 (4): Sense of national Degeneration

42 Signs of supposed national degeneration: Between 1872 and 1911 France population grew by 10%, Germany’s by 58% French per capita highest rates of alcohol consumption in Europe Increasing number of insane asylums and suicides (latter increased by 385%) Nye, ‘Culture of Sport,’ (1982), 54-5

43 Max Nordau: publishes Degeneration in 1895

44 Legacies of 1870-1 (4) : Memorialization

45 Memorial on site of Sedan battlefield

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