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French History – Shaking Things Up Posted by on May 19, 2020 in History

The French have had more than their share of revolutions1Real ones and cultural … just see mai ’68 and les gilets jaunes. They’ve never had a problem when things weren’t working, just scrapping it all and starting over. There’s a reason that the current political administration is the Ve République (Fifth Republic)2As alluded to by the line “Marianne a cinq enfants” in this song.

Une histoire révolutionnaire / A revolutionay history

Most students of French language and culture are familiar with the revolution of 1789 that led to the execution of Louis XVI, the formation of the first French republic, and – at least in many people’s minds – the end of the French monarchy. But 1789 – la Révolution française – was just the first French revolution … and it wasn’t the end of the monarchy. While none were perhaps ever quite so dramatic, the history of France is also marked by:

  • La révolution de Juillet also known as les Trois Glorieuses (for les trois journées de 27, 28, 29 juillet / the three days in July, 1830), ended the reign of Charles X and the period known as la restauration.
  • La révolution de 1848, also known as la révolution de Février, will be familiar – along with  ses fameuses barricades (famous barricades) to any fans of Les Misérables. This revolution ended the rule of Bourbon kings in France once and for all.
  • La Commune de Paris (mars – mai 1871 / March – May 1871) was a republican uprising that sought to revive  the goals of the original French revolution after a period of kings and emperors.

Charles X? 1830?

As noted, the death of Louis XVI during la Révolution de 1789 was not the end of la monarchie in France. After Louis lost his head … and his throne! … most people probably assumed that was also the end of the Bourbons. But it wasn’t! Nor was it, as mentioned, the end of la monarchie.

After Louis XVI, France had three more kings … and two emperors!

Come back la semaine prochaine (next week) to learn more about them.

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Colonne de Juillet courtesy Tim Hildreth

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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget. / Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. / An American in Paris


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