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The Making of Revolutionary Paris

The Making of Revolutionary Paris

Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: 1
Pages: 396
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  • Book Info
    The Making of Revolutionary Paris
    Book Description:

    The sights, sounds, and smells of life on the streets and in the houses of eighteenth-century Paris rise from the pages of this marvelously anecdotal chronicle of a perpetually alluring city during one hundred years of extraordinary social and cultural change. An excellent general history as well as an innovative synthesis of new research,The Making of Revolutionary Pariscombines vivid portraits of individual lives, accounts of social trends, and analyses of significant events as it explores the evolution of Parisian society during the eighteenth century and reveals the city's pivotal role in shaping the French Revolution. David Garrioch rewrites the origins of the Parisian Revolution as the story of an urban metamorphosis stimulated by factors such as the spread of the Enlightenment, the growth of consumerism, and new ideas about urban space. With an eye on the broad social trends emerging during the century, he focuses his narrative on such humble but fascinating aspects of daily life as traffic congestion, a controversy over the renumbering of houses, and the ever-present dilemma of where to bury the dead. He describes changes in family life and women's social status, in religion, in the literary imagination, and in politics. Paris played a significant role in sparking the French Revolution, and in turn, the Revolution changed the city, not only its political structures but also its social organization, gender ideologies, and cultural practices. This book is the first to look comprehensively at the effect of the Revolution on city life. Based on the author's own research in Paris and on the most current scholarship, this absorbing book takes French history in new directions, providing a new understanding of the Parisian and the European past.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93839-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. 1-12)

    For hundreds of thousands of weary eighteenth-century travelers, the first glimpse of Paris came from one of the low hills on the city’s perimeter. In still, cold weather, a gray haze masked the city, mixing wood smoke and mist—a contemporary likened it to the city’s breath in the cool air.¹ In summer the whitewashed walls and pale stone reflected the light back into the sky. Some found Paris beautiful, exceeding their expectations; others were disappointed. But almost all were struck by its sheer size: 810 streets (not including 88 culs-de-sac) and 23,019 houses, according to one popular description.² Unless...

  6. PART I The Social Order of Customary Paris

      (pp. 15-44)

      Urban life has its rhythms, as regular as those of the village. At the same hour of every working day, a little stream of men and women emerges through the archway into the rue St-Honoré, which even in the early morning is filled with wagons. They are wearing long robes and carry a satchel over one shoulder, while prominently displayed on each one’s breast is a copper badge in the shape of a fleur-de-lys. Some are carrying musical instruments, violins or hurdy-gurdies. They pause in the doorway, alert to the traffic noises: the rumbling of a heavy wagon laden with...

      (pp. 45-63)

      The winter of 1709,le grand hiver,was still remembered at the end of the eighteenth century. In Paris the temperature stayed below - 10° Celsius for two entire weeks, and on 13 January it reached - 20°. The Seine froze solid and in the surrounding countryside “the trees in the forest exploded like gunshots” as they froze. Fruit orchards were decimated. Wine and oil froze and broke their casks and even inside the houses bread had to be cut with an axe. The contents of chamber pots froze under beds. Pigeons and hens died of cold. A partial thaw...

      (pp. 64-83)

      The trouble began early in August 1746, when the Parlement approved a decision of the locksmiths’ corporation that required every worker to register at their corporation’s central office. Furthermore, in future every man looking for work would have to present a certificate of good conduct signed by his previous employer. And he would have to give at least a week’s notice before he could leave.¹

      The journeymen—those skilled workers who had completed their apprenticeship and were qualified to work under a master locksmith—reacted angrily. They accused the corporation of trying to take away “the freedom to work ....

      (pp. 84-112)

      One of the best-known incidents in early-eighteenth-century Paris is the attack on Voltaire (born François Marie Arouet) by servants of the chevalier de Rohan. The precise details and even the date are not certain, though it was probably in late February 1726. Voltaire was a dinner guest of the duc de Sully. During the evening he was told someone wished to speak with him at the door and, when he went to see who it was, received a thorough beating from Rohan’s servants, who set upon Voltaire the moment he appeared.¹

      The attack was retaliation for the response Voltaire had...

  7. PART II City Government and Popular Discontent

      (pp. 115-141)

      At around midday on 23 June 1725, the commissaire Labbé was informed that a crowd was pillaging the shop of the baker Charier in the faubourg St-Antoine. On arrival at the scene he found the baker’s wife standing amid the ruins of her shop, her hair disheveled and her clothing torn. The shop boy, who had tried to hold off the rioters, was bloody and dazed. An angry mob was still in the street outside, threatening to attack other bakers and accusing them of lifting the price of bread and making excessive profits. The 4-lb loaf had risen overnight from...

      (pp. 142-160)

      Before dawn on a midwinter morning in 1732, hundreds of soldiers invaded the quiet streets near the church of St-Médard in the faubourg St-Marcel, in the southeastern corner of the city. Meeting no resistance, they watched while the masons who had come with them walled up the entrance to the small cemetery behind the church. Henceforth no one could gain access to the tomb of François de Pâris unless they first came through the house of the parish priest.

      Pâris had been the son of a wealthy Parisian family, several of whose members had been magistrates in the Parlement. Initially...

  8. PART III Making a New Rome

      (pp. 163-183)

      The workbook of the Parisian tailor Jean Thomas Terrier, held in the Archives nationales, makes fascinating reading.¹ It began as a record of work he did for different clients between 1758 and 1775, but he used the spare pages at the back to note other things. There are recipes for blackcurrant liqueur, for a tisane, and for a patent cure for corns. There are two drafts of a speech. And inside the back cover is a list of events, without commentary:

      The King’s accident on 5 January 1757

      The Parlement returned 2 September 1757

      Monsieur the Archbishop of Paris returned...

      (pp. 184-206)

      One of the major events of 1752, now forgotten, was the miracle of the rue Ste-Marguerite. It happened in the faubourg St-Antoine, during the procession on the Sunday after Corpus Christi, not far from the spot where in 1725 Anne Lafosse had been miraculously healed of paralysis. Overlooking the corner of the rue Ste-Marguerite, where it joined the rue du faubourg St-Antoine, was a statue of the Virgin (Figure 24). Just after the procession had passed, someone looked up and cried out that the head of the statue had turned to look the other way, toward the main street instead...

      (pp. 207-236)

      In June 1787 Louis XVI decreed that the Hôtel-Dieu, the huge central hospital on the Ile-de-la-Cité, would be replaced by four new institutions on the outskirts of the city. This decision was the culmination of fifteen years of public debate, of conflict between the hospital and the government, and of discussion involving doctors, clergy and nuns, architects, the Académie des sciences, and government ministers.¹ The issues went far beyond the institution itself. They included the philosophy of institutional care, urban sanitary reform, and the entire future shape of central Paris.

      The Hôtel-Dieu had long had its critics. But the event...

      (pp. 237-259)

      In June 1779 men with ladders and brushes invaded the faubourg St-Germain and began painting numbers above or beside each door. Behind them people watched with unconcealed hostility: this was some new classification system that would undoubtedly be followed by a new tax. But the painters took no notice. When they came to the residence of Guillaume-François-Louis Joly de Fleury, one of the principal magistrates of the Paris Parlement, the porter—no doubt alerted in advance by the neighbors—came out and warned them off. But they pushed him aside and painted the number next to the gate. When Joly...

      (pp. 260-282)

      In late April 1789, the bookseller Siméon-Prosper Hardy recorded a dramatic event, almost unprecedented in scale:

      During the afternoon the people of Paris were much frightened . . . by a sort of popular Insurrection that spread from the Faubourg St-Antoine to the Quarter of Notre-Dame. It involved a large number of Workers, claiming to be from this Faubourg and aroused by Brigands against a Man named Réveillon, a very rich Manufacturer of printed paper for furnishings, and another fairly opulent Man named Henriot, a Saltpeter Maker, the two of them Friends and living in the said Faubourg.¹

      These so-called...

      (pp. 283-302)

      The Paris of 1789 was a very different city from the Paris of 1700. It was three times larger in official surface area and its population had almost certainly increased substantially. Its economy had expanded and it was a far more mobile society. Immigration had probably accelerated, and movement to and from the city had grown along with the industries it housed. Visitors came for business and for pleasure, and as transport improved they came more often and from further afield. By 1777 the stagecoach made it possible to leave Angers or Le Havre for Paris on Monday morning, conduct...

  9. EPILOGUE: The New Paris
    (pp. 303-320)

    To someone who knew Paris in the 1780s, the city of 1800 would have appeared physically quite different. The Bastille was gone, opening up a huge area that no one knew quite what to do with. The Châtelet prison had been demolished. But the most conspicuous physical change, affecting almost every quarter, was the disappearance of churches. The number of parishes had been cut from over fifty to thirty-three, and more than two hundred religious houses had been closed. New streets were being cut through what had once been Church property, continuing the march of new buildings into the green...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 321-366)
    (pp. 367-372)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 373-382)