Commune of Paris formed | OUPblog


This day in the history of the world

March 26, 1871

The Commune of Paris is formed

After France’s defeat by Prussia in Franco-Prussian War, workers and students in Paris unite 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 Commune rule the first workers’ revolt. Although historic, the rebellion failed.

The revolt was provoked in part by the peace brokered by the French government, which allowed the Prussians to occupy the city. Parisians were angered by what they saw as betrayal after surviving a six-month Prussian siege. Fearing that 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 surrender and called for the election of a citizens’ government.

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

The government organized its forces and fought back. First, he suppressed communes in Lyons, Marseilles, Toulouse and other cities. Meanwhile, 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 communal government and the popular revolt were crushed. Perhaps as many as 20,000 communards were killed and thousands more were arrested.

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