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La Victoire de Samothrace, Unknown, 190 BC

The French Revolution




In 1789 trouble was brewing.

Louis XVI ruled over a very unequal society from Versailles.

Philosophers were increasingly challenging the status quo.

Bad harvests led the price of bread and other necessities to skyrocket.

France had a parliament of sorts, the Estates General, which was only called upon when the king needed to raise taxes.

It was also very unequal.

Indeed, the nobility and clergy had 66% of the vote, but only represented 10% of the population.

Louis XVI summoned the Estates General in 1789.

Instead of focusing on taxes, however, the third estate proclaimed itself a National Assembly, drafted a Constitution, ratified a Declaration of Human Rights and striped the nobility of its privileges.

8,000 angry women marched to Versailles and forcefully brought Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette back to Paris.

4 years later they were guillotined.

While the French Revolution was an incredible moment of emancipation and progress, it also saw a terrifying wave of repression perpetrated by Revolutionaries determined to quash any form of dissent.

Thousands of people were massacred.

Some traces of this violent past are still visible today.

The area of Odeon was the intellectual hub of the Revolution.

It became a huge center for the printing press.

Danton, Marat and Camille Desmoulins - 3 giants of the French Revolution - lived within a few streets of each other and the statue of Danton is placed on the exact place where his home was.

The Café Procope, still open today, was a favourite meeting place for philosophers like Voltaire, Diderot and d'Alembert, as well as the revolutionary leaders Danton, Marat, Desmoulins and Fabre d'Eglantine.

A little further, the Couvent des Cordeliers was home to a revolution club led by Danton.

The Couvent des Carmes saw 114 priests and nuns brutally murdered in its gardens.

Executions mainly took place on place de la Concorde.

The Conciergerie was the main tribunal and prison - you can still see Marie Antoinette's cell today.

Fun fact : the destruction of the Bastille, a pivotal moment in the French Revolution, was an impressive feat.

Traces on the ground today show how massive a monument it was.

However, only 7 inmates were imprisoned there at the time!