The Making of Revolutionary Paris

The Making of Revolutionary Paris

The Making of Revolutionary Paris

The Making of Revolutionary Paris

Synopsis

"An unusually compelling work of scholarly synthesis: a history of a city of revolution in a revolutionary century. Garrioch claims that until 1750 Paris remained a city characterized by a powerful sense of hierarchy. From the mid-century on, however, and with gathering speed, economic, demographic, political, and social change swept the city. Having produced an extremely engaging account of the old corporate society, Garrioch turns to the forces that relentlessly undermined it."--John E. Talbott, author of "The Pen and Ink Sailor: Charles Middleton and the King's Navy, 1778-1813

"A truly wonderful synthesis of the many historical strands that compose the history of eighteenth-century Paris. In rewriting the history of the French Revolution as a more than century-long urban metamorphosis, Garrioch makes a brilliant case for the centrality of Paris in the history of France."--Bonnie Smith, author of "The Gender of History: Men, Women, and Historical Practice

Excerpt

For hundreds of thousands of weary eighteenth-century travelers, the first glimpse of Paris came from one of the low hills on the city's perimeter. In still, cold weather, a gray haze masked the city, mixing wood smoke and mist—a contemporary likened it to the city's breath in the cool air. In summer the whitewashed walls and pale stone reflected the light back into the sky. Some found Paris beautiful, exceeding their expectations; others were disappointed. But almost all were struck by its sheer size: 810 streets (not including 88 culs-de-sac) and 23,019 houses, according to one popular description. Unless the traveler was a blasé Londoner, accustomed to the bustle of an even larger metropolis, the scale of Paris came as a shock even to those who had read about it. From the North Sea to the Mediterranean, there was no human settlement so large, although no one knew exactly how large. Guesses at the number of inhabitants ranged from 500,000 to over a million.

Threading their way through the ribbon of suburbs and into the maze of the center, newcomers lost all sense of direction. Most came from small towns and villages, and they searched in vain for landmarks amid the profusion of spires, the long lines of tall whitewashed houses, and the stone-faced public buildings. The average traveler was overwhelmed— many of them recorded these first impressions—by the din, the confusion of traffic, animals, cries, the crowds of people, the labyrinth of streets winding interminably in every direction. In provincial cities, even during Carnival, there was nothing to compare with this.

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