Paris Commune formed | OUPblog

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This day in the history of the world

March 26, 1871

The Paris Commune formed

Following France’s defeat to Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War, the workers and students of Paris came together to form a revolutionary government called the Paris Commune. Elected on March 26, the Commune was in direct opposition to the conservative national government. Some historians call the period of the reign of the Commune the first revolt of the working class. Although historic, the rebellion failed.

The revolt was sparked in part by the peace negotiated by the French government, which allowed the Prussians to occupy the city. Parisians were angry at what they saw as betrayal after surviving a six-month Prussian siege. Fearing that the restless Parisians would cause trouble, the French government sent troops on March 18 to seize the cannon that the Parisian militia – the National Guard – had used during the war. This action sparked the rebellion. The National Guard refused to hand over their arms and called for the election of a citizen government.

The Commune government created on March 26 was a mixture of liberals who embraced the principles of the French Revolution, socialists who wanted in-depth social reform, and radical socialists who insisted on armed revolution. The Commune issued a series of laws which once again removed government support for the Roman Catholic Church and created a ten-hour working day. Inspired by the example of Parisians, the inhabitants of other French cities have also created municipalities.

The government organized its forces and retaliated. First, he suppressed communes in Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse and other cities. During this time, the Paris Commune had become more divided and unable to function properly. Then, on May 21, the national government sent troops to Paris. In fierce fighting that lasted a week, the Commune government and the people’s revolt were destroyed. Perhaps as many as 20,000 Communards were killed and thousands more were arrested.

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