The Paris Commune – from the archive, 1871
On 28 May 1871, French soldiers crushed the Paris Commune, a socialist government that had ruled the city for two months. See how the Guardian and Observer reported the insurrection
The Paris Commune – barricade in the rue de Charonne, 1871. Photograph: UIG via Getty Images
The Paris Commune was a radical, popular led government that ruled Paris from 18 March to 28 May, 1871. It occurred in the wake of France’s defeat in the Franco-German war and the collapse of Napoleon III’s Second Empire (1852–70). Parisians
united to overthrow the existing French regime which had failed to protect them from the Prussian siege. The elected council of the Commune passed socialist policies and oversaw city functions but was eventually overthrown when the French army retook the city. About 20,000 insurrectionists were killed, 38,000 arrested and more than 7,000 deported.
3 March 1871
Victor Hugo, in the Misérables, describes the 18th of June, 1815, as “the most mournful day in the history of France;” but he himself probably will now be the first to transfer the title to this sad pre-eminence to the 1st of March, 1871. On Wednesday last France was doubly humiliated; Prussian troops entered Paris for the third time this century and on the same day the French National Assembly, compelled to meet far away in a provincial city, ratified a treaty of peace which proclaims in every line the utterly prostrate and helpless state of the nation.