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Paris Top 10 : Historical Events in Paris - Top 10 Events in the French Revolution

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  1. Arrival of the Parisii

    Although the remains of Neolithic settlements have been found dating back to 4500 BC, the first inhabitants are considered to be a Celtic tribe called the Parisii, who settled on the Ile de la Cité in the 3rd century BC. Hunters and fishermen, they named their village Lutetia, meaning “boatyard on a river”. The tribe minted their own gold coins and a pagan altar was found beneath Notre-Dame.

  2. Roman Settlement

    The Romans conquered the Parisii in 52 BC and destroyed their city. After rebuilding it as their administrative centre, they founded their own town on the Left Bank. The baths in the Hôtel de Cluny and the amphitheatre in rue Monge are the only remains. In AD 360 the Roman prefect was declared emperor and Lutetia was renamed Paris, after its original inhabitants.

  3. Founding of France

    Roman rule weakened under Barbarian attacks. In 450 the prayers of a young nun, Geneviève, were credited with saving the city from invasion by Attila the Hun. She became the patron saint of Paris. But in 476 the Franks captured the city, Christianity became the official religion and Paris the capital of their new kingdom, France.

  4. Charlemagne, Holy Roman Emperor

    In 751 the Carolingian dynasty became rulers of France when Pepin the Short ascended the throne. His heir Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 800 and moved the capital to Aix-La-Chapelle (Aachen). Paris fell into decline until Hugues Capet became king in 987, moving the capital back to his home city.

  5. St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

    Catherine de’Medici, Henri II’s queen, bore three French kings and one queen, Marguerite de Valois, who married the Protestant Henri of Navarre in August 1572. Many Protestants came to Paris for the wedding and Catherine plotted their massacre. The killings began on 24 August and thousands died. Henri of Navarre survived and later became Henri IV, the first Bourbon king.

  6. French Revolution

    Following decades of royal excess and the growing gulf between rich and poor, Paris erupted with the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789 (see Top 10 Events in the French Revolution).

  7. Napoleon’s Coronation

    As Paris rose from the ashes of the Revolution, a young general from Corsica, Napoleon Bonaparte, saved the city from a royalist revolt, then led military victories in Italy and Egypt. He crowned himself Emperor of France in Notre-Dame in 1804 .

  8. The Second Empire

    In 1851, Napoleon’s nephew, Louis-Napoleon, seized power as Emperor Napoleon III. He appointed Baron Haussmann to oversee massive building works that transformed Paris into the most glorious city in Europe. The wide boulevards, many public buildings, parks, sewer system and the first department stores date from 1852 to 1870.

  9. The Paris Commune

    Following France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, many citizens rejected the harsh terms of the surrender and a left-wing group revolted, setting up the Paris Commune. But, after 72 days, government troops marched on the city. In a week of street fighting (21–28 May), much of the city burned and thousands of rebellious citizens were killed.

  10. Liberation of Paris

    The occupation of France by Germany during World War II was a dark period for Paris. However, the city was also the centre for the French Resistance. Allied forces liberated Paris on 25 August 1944; just two days earlier, the German commander Von Choltitz had ignored Adolf Hitler’s order to burn the city.

Top 10 Events in the French Revolution

  1. 14 July 1789

    Storming of the Bastille prison, a symbol of repression, launches the Revolution.

  2. 4 August 1789

    The abolition of feudalism, and the right of everyone to be a free citizen is declared.

  3. 26 August 1789

    Formal declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, which incorporated the ideals of equality and dignity, later incorporated into the 1791 Constitution.

  4. October 1789

    Citizens march on Versailles and the royal family returns to Paris as prisoners in the Tuileries Palace .

  5. 20 June 1791

    The royal family try to escape but are spotted in Varenne and return as captives.

  6. 10 August 1792

    A mob storms the Tuileries and the royals are imprisoned in the Temple.

  7. 21 September 1792

    The monarchy is formally abolished and the First Republic is proclaimed.

  8. 1792–4

    “The Terror” reigns, under the radical Commune led by Robespierre, Danton and Marat. Thousands are executed by guillotine.

  9. 21 January 1793

    Louis XVI is found guilty of treason and executed. His queen Marie-Antoinette follows him to the guillotine on 16 October.

  10. 28 July 1794

    Robespierre is guillotined, ending the Terror, and the Revolution draws to a close.

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