The Foundations of a Revolution
In 1871, France experienced one of the bloodiest civil massacres in European history up to that point. Paris rebelled against France on March 18th, declaring a Commune inside the city.
Within 72 days, France broke into the city of Paris. Before the week was done, the streets were littered with tens of thousands of bodies.
The first episode delves into the origins of the Commune. How did the Commune begin? What were the foundations of the revolution? France in the 1800s toggled back and forth between a bunch of different styles of government, such as monarchy, empire, and republic. In one way, the Paris Commune was just one – the last – in a long series of Parisian revolts against France.
On the other hand, the Paris Commune was breathtakingly new. Born out of a French war with Prussia, the Paris Commune was an attempt at elevating France above the misery imposed by the Prussian defeat. Furthermore, Paris was incredibly poor before the Franco-Prussian War. The onset of violence plunged the city into starvation. The Paris Commune represented a revolutionary attempt at making life in the city liveable again.
During the Franco-Prussian War, France armed the poor citizens of Paris, calling the militia units the National Guard. As the war came to a close, France began to fear the thousands of armed citizens in the city. Adolphe Thiers, the head of the new Republic sitting at Versailles, sent General Lecomte into Paris to reclaim the city’s artillery and remove it from the hotbed of discontent. This episode describes how Thiers and Lecomte’s blunder resulted in the Paris Commune.