Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Paris Commune

]This is the notes for a talk given to a WSM meeting that was heavily based on The Communards of Paris, 1871: edited by Stewart Edwards, and published by Cornell Paperbacks; CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESS

In 1871 France went to war with Prussia and was defeated. The head of the national government was Adolphe Thiers, he had negotiated the details of the peace with Prussia. After doing this he was faced with the problem of regaining control of Paris, of convincing the city that the war with Prussia was over and of disarming the National Guard. Thiers has only twelve thousand troops left after the truce to do this with against several hundred thousand national guards.

He had no time. The rural majority in the Assembly was moving from Bordeaux where it had held its first meetings to be clear of the Prussians, to Versailles, close to Paris.

The Prussians were still occupying Northern France, as security for the payment of the war indemnity which France had agreed to pay as a condition of peace. In order to be able to pay the first instalments on this indemnity and so to secure the evacuation of northern France by the Prussian troops , the French government would need to raise loans. Money could only be raised however is the public had confidence in the new government. Thiers's principal problem was, therefore , the restoration of confidence. Order would have to be re-established, shops opened up, business resumed and life returned to normal. Above all, since Paris was the heart of the nation, Paris would have to be brought under the control of the National government.


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