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From March 18 to May 28, 1871, the Paris Commune or ‘La Commune de Paris’ took place. It established the first truly democratic government in the city and the entirety of France as all workers united and overthrew the existing French regime at that time, which had failed to guard Paris from the Prussian siege.
See the fact file below for more information on the Paris Commune or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Paris Commune worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- From September 1870 through January 1871, there was an ongoing siege in the city of Paris between the French army and the Prussian forces. This war eventually ended as France surrendered to the Prussians and signed a ceasefire agreement.
- During this time a significant population of France, especially the working class, was greatly affected by the war. In the same manner, Parisians were economically and politically oppressed by the system of capitalist production imposed by the French government.
- At the height of the war, many industrial workers were serving the National Guard, a volunteer army dedicated to protecting Paris and its people.
- However, when the ceasefire agreement took place, Parisians feared that the Third Republic of France would make its way to establish monarchy again due to the fact that there were also many royalists in position.
- Immediately following these events was the Paris Commune. Members of the National Guard extended their support for the formation and waged a fight against the French army for the control of important government establishments and military weapons in Paris.
- On March 18, 1871, the members of the National Guard were successful in seizing government buildings and army sites.
- For this reason, the Commune eventually grew in numbers. Members of a Central Committee organized a democratic election that would rule Paris, directly representing the French people. As a result, sixty councilors were elected including workers, journalists, scholars, and writers, among many others. This council functioned democratically and did not determine a singular leader that would hold much power over the others.
- Following this, the Communards implemented a series of practices and policies which can be largely attributed to socialist and democratic societies.
- These policies sought to end the hierarchy of power among leaders that often results in the oppression of the lower classes. It also abolished the death penalty, military conscription, and the sudden increase of interest on debts.
- The Commune likewise pushed for the separation of church and state.
- They believed that religion should not be a part of schooling and that all properties of the church should be recognized as properties of the public as well.
- During this period in time, the Communards inspired other cities in France to establish their communes including those in Lyon, Marseille, and Saint-Etienne.
- However, the Paris Commune did not last long as the troops of the French government, who had decamped to Versailles, launched a massive attack in the city of Paris on May 21, 1871. This catastrophic event led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Parisians including women and children. The Commune attempted to fight back, but they were eventually defeated by the French army and ceased to exist come May 28, 1871.
- The Paris Commune was largely inspired by the communist perspectives of Karl Marx.
- Prominent Communards Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Louis Auguste Blanqui were connected to the International Workingmen’s Association, popularly known as First International. This formation unified the leftist, socialist, communist, and workers’ movements across the world. Its values and principles inspired Proudhon and Blanqui during the short rule of the Paris Commune.
- The organization, of which Karl Marx was an influential member, was founded in 1864. Most of its aims were also reflected in the Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels.
- Marx likewise wrote about the Paris Commune in The Civil War in France and described it as a model of revolutionary and participatory government because of the idea of class consciousness that for a communist society to be realized the revolution of the workers is necessary.
Paris Commune Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Paris Commune across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Paris Commune worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Paris Commune or ‘La Commune de Paris’ which took place from March 18 to May 28, 1871. It established the first truly democratic government in the city and the entirety of France as all workers united and overthrew the existing French regime at that time, which had failed to guard Paris from the Prussian siege.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Paris Commune Facts
- Locating Paris
- Paris Commune: The Prelude
- Complete the Information
- Narrating the Paris Commune
- Paris Commune: A Short Timeline
- The Ideology Behind the Commune
- Who is Karl Marx?
- The Paris Commune Legacy
- A Similar Event
- La Commune de Paris
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Link will appear as Paris Commune Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, November 5, 2019
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