History of Paris

Founding Paris

Paris was founded approximately at the end of the 3rd century BC by Celtic tribes called Parisiion the bank of the river Seine, although there is some evidence that the city was inhabited by nearly 700.000 years.

Roman Rule

In 52 BC after Romans conquered the land, they changed the name of the town into Lutetia, and they gave the city a Roman appearance, including a forum, several bathes, and amphitheater.

The city was always a target for attacks from the barbarians in the 2nd century, resulting in the destruction of the town by the mid-3rd century. The residents of the city took refuge on the island, and they built a thick wall to protect the city, and the place was known as Paris.

In the 3rd century, Christianity started to spread in this region and most of the residents turned into Christianity.

Merovingian & Carolingian Dynasties

The Frankish conquered Paris by the end of the 5th century under Clovis he founder of the Merovingian dynasty, who decide to change the name of the city from Lutetia to Paris and made it the capital of his kingdom.

In 751 the Carolingian dynasty started ruling the Frankish kingdom, and the moved the capital to Aachen,the Viking attacked Paris in 845 and 885, during the second attack people turned to Robert I of France and his brother Odothe count of Paris to help them.

The Capetian Dynasty

Under the governance of Hugh Capet, founder of Capet Dynasty, the capital moved back to Paris in 898, and the city became more powerful and prosperous.

The maintenance of the public order was entrusted to a representative of the king, in the 11th century they formed the first guilds.

In 1163 the king started the construction of Notre Dame de Paris which would be the center of the religious life in the city. The Gothic masterpiece was finished two centuries later in 1345.

Philip II August started building a wall in 1180 whose ruins can still be seen today in Paris, he also initiated establishing the Louvre Palace which was created to be a fortress, paved the city streets and built a covered market which lasted until1971.

His grandson, Louis IX made efforts to build the Sainte- Chapellechurch on the Îlede la Cité, he also finished the construction of Notre Dame Cathedral and SaintDenis Basilica. Louis IXappointed Robert de Sorbonne to establish the college which will be the most important educational center in Paris and the world.

Paris was growing in large numbers; the population reached 200.000 in the 13th century and became one of the richest capitals in Europe. Because of the fast growth of the city, they drained off the swamp near the right bank of the Seine to extend the city to the north to create the most charming neighborhoods in Paris, Marais.

The number of the population decreased significantly due to the war that lasted for almost 100 years and the black Plague in 1348.

The Renaissance

In the 16th century, stability started to come back slowly to the city. In this era, Paris became a home for great thinkers, philosophers, painters, and scientist.

Francois I built the college de France, later became a reputable college, and in1570 the Academia Françaisewas founded by Charles IX. Some of the greatest painters were present in Paris in this era like Leonardo da Vinci and BenvenutoCellini.

François's main contribution to the cityscape was the remodeling of the Louver and construction of Hôtelde Ville that was designed by the Italian architect Boccador. Two great churches, St- Etienne du Mont and St-Eustache, also were built during that period.

Bloody struggles started between the protestant and Catholic. This conflict led to the massacre on Saint Bartholomew's Day, on August 23rd, 1572.About 3.000 protestants were killed.

Henry III (1574 - 1589) attempted to extinguish the conflict, but he was forced to flee the city; in his absence,Paris was led by a group known as the "Seize." Although the group was formed of individuals who wanted to recover the city privileges which had passed into the hands of the Valois dynasty, members of the aristocracy were also involved in its leadership, members like Henry I, Duke of Guise, who wanted to dethrone the king. Henry IV (1589 - 1610), member of the Bourbon dynasty, a branch of the Capet dynasty, managed to besiege Paris on 14th of March 1590 but did not succeed to conquer it, the siege was lifted on August 30th that year. On July 25th, 1593, Henry IV renounced to Protestantism, drawing anger among the French Protestants (Huguenots) and his former Protestant ally, Queen Elizabeth I of England (1558-1603). Adhering to the Catholic Church, Henry IV's sovereignty was recognized by most of the French. He came to Paris on the 14th of March 1594 and earned the right to be crowned King of France.

The French revolution

As the city continued to grow and population density increased. In the 18th century, there were two faces for Paris. 500.000 Parisian were condensed in narrow unpaved streets; sewers were nonexistent and clean drinking water was a dream for most of the people. On the other hand, the aristocratic salons of Paris were brimming with art, literature and deep thoughts. Poverty and want were the main complaints of the Parisian. Under the rule of Louis XVI, the prices of the bread were very high that most people could not afford it, and there was more than 100.000 homeless person in the streets.

Finally, the revolution erupted on July 14, 1789, and the angry people stormed the Bastille prison. The royal family was captured and put in the jail and beheaded. After a very short time, the leaders of the Revolution started to fight, not only aristocrats were sent off to the execution, but also anyone who was against the ruling powers, including the leaders who participated in writing the rules. This unsuccessful attempt to establish a representational government came to an end when a general calledNapoleon Bonaparte staged a coup in 1799.

Under Napoleon

Napoleon named himself an emperor and started to upgrade the infrastructure, improving access to water and working to make the people’s lives better. But because of Napoleon's wars, the Russian and Austrian armies invaded France in 1814 after he was defeated in Waterloo battle. Napoleon died on May 5th, 1821. He could not continue working on his dream to make Paris the new Rome. The Church of Madeleine, resembling a Roman temple, was among them.Napoleon also initiated the construction of the Ourcqcanal, of numerous dikes, and the sewerage system and he also introduced the house numbering system.

Following Napoleon

The Bourbon dynasty members returned at the head of France, and they did nothing but start a new revolution inParis. In July 1830 King Charles actions provoked A revolution immediately.

In 1848, Louis Philippe abdicated, and France became Republic for the second time.Elections were held at the end of that year, and Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte was elected.

The Restoration & Urban Renewal

Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte was the nephew of the first Napoleon. On December 2nd, 1851 he called himself Emperor Napoleon III.

He started a plan to modernize Paris by demolishing the old buildings to make way to the boulevards that people walk on these days. Under his administration, the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, former royal forests, became public parks,and 90,000 trees were planted along the major roads. The five railway stations ofParis were completed in 1847. Napoleon III's reign ended in 1870 when the war to Prussia was declared. He was defeated during the battle. Napoleon III abdicated the throne on September 4th, and the third republic started.

Belle Époque period

Monuments were built in Paris during the Belle Époque period, of which it is worth mentioning the impressive Eiffel Tower, built for the World Exhibition in 1889.At the same time, Paris started to become more attractive to the nightlife lovers, the brothels and the cabarets becoming more numerous, and the legendary Moulin Rouge opened its doors in 1889. In 1900, the first metro lines started running in Paris. Also in the same period, the streets of Paris were connected to electricity, the city receiving the name of "City of Lights."

The World Wars

During the First World War,theFrench managed to keep them away from the capital. It was a restless time between the two world wars, especially since the Great Depression hit the city. However, the period between 1920 and 1930 was one of innovation in art and literature, and artists like Dali, Picasso, Hemingway, James Joyce, and others found shelter in Paris. During the Second World War, the city could not avoid the German occupation that proudly marched down the Champs-Élysées in 1940. Paris was under German’s authority between 1940 and 1944. On the 25th of August 1944, Paris was liberated by the Allied troops. The beauty and history of the city were saved thanks to the German commander Dietrich von Choltitz, who disobeyed Hitler's orders to destroy all the historical buildings.

In 1960, there were many tower blocks of apartments built in Paris, and in 1970,the Montparnasse Tower and the Congress Palace were built.

Modern Paris

In 1981, major projects began like placing the glass pyramid in the center of the Louvre Museum or transforming La Defense in a modern residential area.During the period2001- 2014, Bertrand Delanoëwas elected mayor of Paris. Among his achievements was improving the quality of life in the city and reducing pollution and traffic. The Velib’ programmewas introduced, in 2007, that aimed at an inexpensive bicycle rental system as a means of transportation in the city. Paris feels younger these days, with refreshed public spaces, like the new and improved Place de la Républiqueand the delightfully pedestrianized banks of the Seine, which now include floating gardens, picnic areas, and yoga classes.

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