1902 Encyclopedia > Paris > History - Paris in the French Revolution

(Part 22)

History - Paris in the French Revolution

That historical movement [the French Revolution] began indeed at Versailles on June 17, 1789, when the states-general were transformed into a constituent assembly; but the first act of violence which proved the starting-point of all its excesses was performed in Paris on July 14, 1789, when Paris inaugurated, with the capture of the Bastille, its "national guard," organized and then commanded by the celebrated La Fayette. At the same time the assassination of the last provost of the merchants, Jacques de Flesselles, gave the opportunity of establishing, with more extended powers, the "mairie" (mayoralty) of Paris, which was first occupied by Bailly, and soon became, under the title of commune, a political power capable of effectively counterbalancing the central authority.

Paris had at that time once more outgrown its limits. The quarter on the left side of the river had more than doubled its extent by the accession of the great monasteries, the faubourgs of St Germain and St Mrceau, the Jardin des Plantes, and the whole of Mont Ste Genevieve. The line of the new enceinte is still marked by a circuit of boulevards passing from the Champs de Mars at Pont d’Austerlitz by Place de l’Enfer and Place d’Italie. Similar enlargements, also marked out by a series of boulevards, incorporates with the town on the right side the fauborugs of St Antoine and Poissonniere and the quarters of La Chaussee d’Antin and Chaillot. In 1784 was begun, instead of a line of fortifications, a simple customs-wall, with sixty propylaea or pavilions in a heavy but characteristic style, of which the finest are adorned with columns or pilasters like hose of Paestum. In front of the Place du Trone (now Place de la Nation), which formed as it were a façade for Paris on the east side, there were erected two lofty rostral columns bearing the statues of Philip Augustus and St Louis. Towards, the west, the city front was Place Louis XV. (Place de la Concorde), preceded by the magnificent avenue of the Champs Elysees. Between the barriers of La Villette and Pantin, where the highways for Flanders and Germany terminated, was built a monumental rotunda flanked on the ground floor by four peristyles arranged as a Greek cross, and in the second story lighted by low arcades supported by columns of the Paestum type. None of these works were completed till the time of the empire. It was also in the latter part of the reign of Louis XIV., and under the first republic, that the quarter of La Chaussee d’Antin was built.

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