The Things History Lost: Paris

Throughout history, many things were lost. Be it civilisations, buildings, people, countries, and things.

More often than not, the aspects that were gained are spoken about in history. But what about the details that were lost?

This will be a new series, discussing the losses throughout history, focussing on a different era or a different country each time, examing three things. This post focuses on the ever-popular city of Paris in France. 

1. The Monarchy

King Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette with their family. Source: ThinkLink.

One thing that makes me the saddest of all in history is the French Revolution, and the loss of the French Royalty that went along with it. After many years of kings and queens that stretch back to the beginning of the Middle Ages, the tradition ended with the Storming of the Bastille, and the subsequent French Revolution.

It was an accident waiting to happen, and it probably could have been avoided, which is another reason why it is so sad. King Louis XV spending on the Seven Year War, and the French supported the Americans in the War for Independence, led France on the bring of bankruptcy.¹

One thing that makes me the saddest of all in history is the French Revolution, and the loss of the French Royalty that went along with it.

The poor people couldn’t take it anymore and stormed the old medieval prison, where many where being held for no reason whatsoever.

I think what makes me sad is the thing that ended. I know that there wil be no more of it in history, especially France, who did restore the monanacy a couple of times, but it did not last. During the 20th century, many other countries got rid of their monarchy, but this, I believe, is the most painful of them all.

2. The Musketeers of the Guard

The Musketeers their time in service. Source: Wikimedia.

I love the Three Musketeers. The 1993 film version being my most favourite. I grew up watching it, so it holds a lot of memories. I have seen other adaptations of the movie with each time changing the storyline a bit, and bending facts (1993 version brings all facts together in one movie, despite events happening in different years).

Because of that, it’s made me want to look into the fencers more.

Although Alexander Dumas actually based the novel on real royalty and musketeers, so the basis of the story is historically accurate. The 1993 movie states that D’Artangan went to Paris to follow in the footsteps of his father in the force in 1625, but really the Musketeers of the Guard were not founded until 1622 when Louis XIII was on the throne (there was no way he could have been a guard).

But let’s forget the film, get back to the facts! As you see in the picture above, they wore blue to signify they ‘belonged’ to the king, and their dress evolved with the times.

The Musketeers of the Guard were not founded until 1622, and they disbanded four times during the course of their history.

They disbanded four times: in 1646, 1776, 1814, and 1816.² After the first reformation in 1657, they even went onto being called The Black Musketeers or the Grey Musketeers, due to their clothing and what colour horses they rode.

The second disbandments were by Louis XVI, due to budgetary reasons (mentioned in 1993 movie), and the third shortly after the French Revolution. The final breakup during the Restoration in 1816 holds no reason, other than probably because they had no more royalty to serve.

I find it sad, because I’d love it, if we still had Musketeers today. It would be a good image for France, like the Mounties in Canada. Oh, well, you can’t have everything.

  1.  Medieval Buildings
Medieval Bastille 1715. Source: Wikimedia.

With the medieval castle of Bastille blown up a year after the Storming, so it pretty much signalled the end of the life of medieval buildings. Well, in Paris, at least! Due to the dictatorship of the two Napoleons, and Haussman along with his Renovation of Paris, pretty much most of the medieval monuments were demolished to make way for newer and more fashionable buldings.

Some people began to regard medieval buildings as unfashionable by the 1560s. It’s a crying shame!

Also, by the 1560s, some people such as Catherine de Médici, who had Hôtel des Tournelles began to deem these old buildings unfashionable. It’s a crying shame! Even another fortress, Temple, was demolished, after the Revolution, and the Notre Dame was about to go down the same route when Hôtel Dieu was pulled down, but author Victor Hugo saved it by penning The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831).³ Hugo was actually a medievalist himself, and was on committees trying to save medieval monuments. 

Being a medievalist,mp when I lived in Paris for a bit, I was shocked at how little medieval constructions there was left! If you wanted to find it, you would have to look really hard, and you tend to stumble onto something without realizing it. There are some things, but there’s very little, sadly.

So, I actually feel that Paris has also lost a lot: their royalty, their medieval buildings and their guards.  But they were not the only city in the only country to lose things.

There were others too…

¹ History.com, The French Revolution, 'Prelude: Monarchy in Crisis', http://www.history.com/topics/french-revolution, 2009, [accessed: April 2015].
² Wikipedia, Musketeers of the Guard, 'History' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musketeers_of_the_Guard, [n.d.], [accessed: April 2015].
³ Wikipedia, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 'Background', http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunchback_of_Notre-Dame, [n.d.], [accessed: April 2015].
In response to the Writing 101 prompt - Day Four: Serially Lost.
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5 thoughts on “The Things History Lost: Paris”

  1. They were going to demolish Notre Dame? That’s a terrifying thought!

    But about the French Revolution, it wasn’t really the poor people who started it. It was a “top-down revolution” as one of my professors described it. One of the primary instigators was the Duc d’Orleans, who initially hoped it would be more along the lines of overthrowing the current king, leaving the throne open for his own use. But the middle and especially lower classes embraced it more fully than he was expecting, and then all those waves of panic gripped the populace, and…anyway, you’re quite right in saying that it could have been avoided. There are a lot of places where one different action on the king’s part could have prevented it, or at least saved him and his family. The worst part about Louis XVI’s death, to me, is that when he first took the throne, he was intent on studying what had happened to Charles I in England, because he didn’t want to make the same mistakes. Instead, he made different mistakes, and met the same fate.

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    1. Yup, they were going to demolish the Notre Dame. Horrifying, isn’t it? The Parisians left it in such disrepair, and practically waited for it to get so bad, so all they could do was demolish it. All hail Hugo!

      Thank you very much for giving your input about Duc d’Orleans. I had not heard of him until you mentioned him. And when you did, I remembered another chap that I forgot to mention in my post…

      When I was at Versailles last year, I learnt of a man called Necker, who was on the advisory board of the King. He was the one who was cooking the books, which would have been a big contribution to the debts, and he also advised King Louis to fight with the Americans in the War of Independence to look better against the English. Louis realized what he was doing and fired him the day before the Storming of Bastille. It was said they considered Necker a spokesman for the common people. At Musee Carnavalet in Paris, there is a lot of propaganda about him. So, clearly they loved him, although he helped caused the revolution.

      And I had NO idea that the King studied King Charles I! Charles’ demise is one bit of history I don’t understand at all. History can be sad. sniff

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