Short history of Paris

It is known that already during the Chassean period (4000 and 3800 BC) there was a permanent settlement in the current Bercy district. This is attested by the remains of three canoes found in an old branch of the Seine River dating from that period.

It is believed that the foundation of the city dates back to the years 250-200 BC. by the Gallic people of the Parisians (parisii) although the exact location of the first settlement is not known, although it is believed that it was on the Île de la Cité.

The Roman city extends on the left bank and on the Ile de la Cité; takes the name of Lutetia (Lutèce). At this time the city was a small city with barely 10,000 inhabitants, although it evolved thanks to river traffic.

The strategic position of Lutetia against the great invasions made it the place of residence of the Emperor Julian between 357 and 360, and then of Valentinian I in 365-366. It is at that time that the city takes the name of Paris.

In the year 508, after conquering most of Gaul, Clovis I made Paris his capital and established his main residence there (Palais des Thermes), and had several religious buildings built there, including the Basilica of the Holy Apostles, where he is buried

The eastern extension of the kingdom of the Franks under the reign of Charlemagne caused Paris to lose its privileged political position.

From the middle of the 9th century, it formed part of the territory of the Robertians, who took the title of Count of Paris.

In 885-886, besieged by the Normans, the city managed to successfully resist them, while preventing their access to the river. This episode brings great prestige to Paris and his Count Eudes, who helped in his defense. On the other hand, it marks a stage in the decline of the Carolingian Empire, having considered the behavior of Carlos the Fat during the events unworthy.

Robert the Pious had the Palais de la Cité and several abbeys restored, while Louis VI and later Louis VII established their court and chancery there. At the same time, the city prospered, becoming an important place for the trade in wheat, fish, and cloth, uniting Parisian merchants within a “house of water merchants” favored by Louis VII in 1170-1171.

It was Philip Augustus who made Paris the undisputed capital of the kingdom, over which he was the first of the Capetians to exercise strong control; this position was further strengthened during the reigns of Louis IX and Felipe IV “the beautiful”.

The city also became the symbol of royal power, which sought to endow it with buildings worthy of its rank: the Notre-Dame cathedral was completed around 1250, the Sainte-Chapelle which houses Christ’s crown of thorns in 1248, the Palais de la Cité was renovated and enlarged, and the Parisian market was covered and walled up (Halles). Paris continues to grow, the left bank was repopulated in the 13th century; at the beginning of the 14th century, its population was estimated at around 200,000, making it the most populous city in Europe.

In 1348, the city was first struck by the plague, which ravaged Europe between 1347 and 1351; this evil then reaches him in a cyclical way for several centuries. During the Hundred Years’ War it was exposed to English attacks, which led Charles V to build a new wall on the right bank that included the suburbs. At the end of the war, Paris retreated behind its walls and its population was reduced to around 100,000 inhabitants, half that of a century before.

In 1528, Francis I officially established his residence in Paris. Under his reign, the city prospered and Paris reached 280,000 inhabitants and remained the largest city in the Christian world.

In 1677, King Louis XIV transferred his residence to Versailles and, five years later, the seat of government was also transferred. During his reign, the Sun King only came to Paris for official ceremonies, thus displaying a hostility towards the city that Parisians did not appreciate.

In 1715, the regent Philippe d’Orléans left Versailles for the Palais-Royal. The young Louis XV settles into the Tuileries Palace for a brief return of royalty to Paris. Starting in 1722, Louis XV returned to the Palace of Versailles, breaking the fragile reconciliation with the Parisian people.

Louis XV took a personal interest in the city in 1749 when he decided to develop the Place Louis XV (now Place de la Concorde), the creation of the military school in 1752 and, above all, the construction of a dedicated church at Sainte-Geneviève in 1754 , better known under the current name of Panthéon.

The French Revolution began in Versailles with the convocation of the Estates General but the Parisians, affected by the economic crisis, aware of the political problems due to the philosophy of the Enlightenment and moved by resentment towards the royal power that had abandoned the city for more of a century, gave it a new course.

The storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, linked to the uprising of the cabinetmakers of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, was a first step. On October 5, the riot, sparked by women in the Parisian markets, reached Versailles in the afternoon. On the morning of the 6th, the castle was invaded and the king had to agree to reside in Paris at the Tuileries Palace and convene the Constituent Assembly there, which moved to the Manège des Tuileries on October 19.

On July 14, 1790, the Fête de la Fédération took place on the Champ-de-Mars, a place that on July 17, 1791 was the scene of a dramatic execution. On the night of August 9, 1792, a revolutionary commune took possession of the town hall. On August 10, the crowd besieged the Tuileries Palace with the support of the new municipal government. King Louis XVI and the royal family are imprisoned in the tower of the palace. The French monarchy is de facto abolished. After the elections of 1792, the representatives of the Paris Commune, very radical, opposed the group of Girondins at the National Convention (representing the more moderate opinion of the middle class of the provinces) who would be isolated in 1793.

On January 21, 1793, Louis XVI was guillotined at Place Louis XV, renamed “Place de la Révolution.” He was followed to the gallows by 1,119 people, including Marie Antoinette, Danton, Lavoisier, and finally Robespierre and his followers on July 27, 1794.

On December 2, 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte, who seized power in 1799, was crowned Emperor by Pope Pius VII in Notre-Dame Cathedral. He decided to establish Paris as the capital of his Empire and intended to make it the “new Rome”. For this he ordered the construction of the triumphal arches of the Star and the Carrousel, as well as the imperial palace of the Stock Exchange (completed under the Restoration) and the Vendôme column.

In 1814, the Battle of Paris led to the capitulation of the capital and then led to Napoleon’s first abdication and the Restoration. The Cossacks of the Russian army occupy certain points in the city. The allied armies leave the city after June 3, 1814, the date of the departure of Tsar Alexander I.

At the end of the Hundred Days, the fall of the Empire in July 1815 brought the English and Prussian armies to Paris, even camping on the Champs Elysées. Louis XVIII, back from his exile in Ghent, settled again in the Tuileries.

With the arrival of the Second Empire in 1852, Paris was radically transformed. From a medieval structure, with old and unhealthy buildings, almost devoid of important roads, it has become a modern city in less than twenty years. Napoleon III had precise ideas about urban planning and housing.

During the Belle Époque, the economic expansion of Paris is important; in 1913 the city had one hundred thousand companies that employed one million workers. Between 1900 and 1913, 175 cinemas were created in Paris, many department stores opened and contributed to the influence of the city of light. Paris then becomes the second international financial center almost on par with London.

Two universal exhibitions leave a great mark on the city, with the Eiffel Tower being built for the one in 1889 (on the centenary of the French Revolution), the city’s main icon. The first subway line, the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais and the Alexandre-III bridge are built in 1900.

From the Belle Époque to the Roaring Twenties, Paris experienced the height of its cultural influence (especially in the Montparnasse and Montmartre neighborhoods) and was home to many artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Braque, and Fernand Léger.

The interwar period took place in a context of social and economic crisis. After the bombings most of the city is in ruins.

During World War II, Paris is occupied by the Wehrmacht on June 14, 1940. As the Allied troops approach, the Resistance triggers an armed uprising on August 19, 1944. The Liberation of Paris took place on August 25 with the entry into Paris of General Leclerc’s 2nd Armored Division and Major General Raymond O. Barton’s US 4th Infantry Division.