Commune of Paris


Also found in: Dictionary, Financial.
Related to Commune of Paris: National Convention, Paris Commune of 1871

Commune of Paris,

insurrectionary governments in Paris formed during (1792) the French RevolutionFrench Revolution,
political upheaval of world importance in France that began in 1789. Origins of the Revolution

Historians disagree in evaluating the factors that brought about the Revolution.
..... Click the link for more information.
 and at the end (1871) of the Franco-Prussian WarFranco-Prussian War
or Franco-German War,
1870–71, conflict between France and Prussia that signaled the rise of German military power and imperialism. It was provoked by Otto von Bismarck (the Prussian chancellor) as part of his plan to create a unified German
..... Click the link for more information.
. In the French Revolution, the Revolutionary commune, representing urban workers, tradespeople, and radical bourgeois, engineered the storming of the Tuileries and the arrest of the king. During the reign of terror, several leaders of the commune, such as Hébert, were executed (1794), and when the moderates gained control of the Convention (1794–95), they broke the commune's power. At the end (1871) of the Franco-Prussian War and the fall of Napoleon III's empire, Parisians opposed the national government, headed by Adolphe ThiersThiers, Adolphe
, 1797–1877, French statesman, journalist, and historian.

After studying law at Aix-en-Provence, Thiers went (1821) to Paris and joined the group of writers that attacked the reactionary government of King Charles X.
..... Click the link for more information.
, and the National Assembly at Versailles, as too conservative, too royalist, and too ready to accept a humiliating peace with Prussia. Thiers, after failing to disarm the Parisian national guard, fled (Mar., 1871) to Versailles, and the Parisians elected a municipal council, the commune of 1871. The Communards, whose aims included economic reforms, expressed many shades of political opinion—followers of Louis BlanquiBlanqui, Louis Auguste
, 1805–81, French revolutionary and radical thinker. While a student in Paris, he joined (1824) a branch of the Carbonari, a revolutionary secret society; thenceforth he was prominent in every revolutionary upheaval in France until his death.
..... Click the link for more information.
, of Pierre ProudhonProudhon, Pierre Joseph
, 1809–65, French social theorist. Of a poor family, Proudhon won an education through scholarships. Much of his later life was spent in poverty. He achieved prominence through his pamphlet What Is Property? (1840, tr.
..... Click the link for more information.
, and of the Marxist First International as well as radical republicans of the 1793 Jacobin tradition, such as Louis DelescluzeDelescluze, Louis Charles
, 1809–71, French journalist and radical republican. In his active career he was often in prison or in exile. He supported the July Revolution of 1830 but came to oppose the regime of King Louis Philippe and took part in the February Revolution of
..... Click the link for more information.
. While the victorious Prussians affected neutrality outside the city, the Versailles troops began a siege of Paris (Apr. 11) to regain national control. The fighting, which intensified over five weeks, culminated in Bloody Week (21–28 May), during which the Versailles troops entered the city despite the desperate but ineffective defense of the communards, who threw up barricades, shot hostages (including the archbishop of Paris), and burned the Tuileries palace, the city hall, and the palace of justice. On May 28 the commune was finally defeated. Severe reprisals followed, resulting in more than 18,000 Parisians dead and almost 7,000 deported. Communes were also formed and suppressed in other cities in 1871, notably in Saint-Étienne, Le Creusot, and Marseilles, and memories of the bloody Paris repression embittered political relations between radicals and conservatives for many years afterward.

Bibliography

See studies by F. Jellinek (1937, repr. 1965), A. Horne (1965 and 1971), S. Edwards (1971), R. Tombs (1981), and R. Christiansen (1995).