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French Resistance

Revolution and War


It is the general idea that the revolutions of 1832 and 1848 in France, as well as the French Resistance against the Nazi occupation during World War II are memorable events in French history. Not only did they demonstrate patriotic spirit of the French, but also planted the seed for further democratic changes in France and in other countries of Europe. Nowadays, France is a successful European state due to the changes of the past. Without these revolutionary events, progress towards democracy would have been much slower. Moreover, the second half of the 19th was the century of an irreversible trend towards human rights and democracy across Europe, and the face of this continent would never be the same without these changes. Therefore, this paper seeks to discuss the historical events of the Revolutions of 1832 and 1848, the Vichy government and the French Resistance movement, their main aspects and consequences, as well as their significance in the history of France. Moreover, the abovementioned historical events would be analyzed through the perspective of primary sources, such as The Belly of Paris and Is Paris Burning.

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Revolutions of 1832 and 1848 in France

To begin with, the Revolution of 1832 was an anti-monarchist rebellion in Paris, which lasted for 48 hours. This revolution mostly involved students, 93 of which were killed during this event. In addition, the main ideas of the revolution were influenced by the unpopular monarchy and Republican views among the students.

As a matter of fact, before the revolution, in spring of 1832, Europe faced the outbreak of cholera, which was severely spread in Paris. More than 18,000 of Paris citizen died because of this disease at that time. Most of the dead were the disabled or the deprived, which spread the idea that the government was trying to poison its people.

On June 2, 1832, General Jean Maximilien Lamarque died because of cholera, which resulted in rebellious actions. Lamarque was rather popular among the citizens of Paris as he was a war hero of the Napoleonic campaigns, who supported the deprived in the French Parliament and was the main opponent of the monarchial regime. Therefore, after his funeral, the Republicans decided to begin the insurrection and build the barricades.

The insurrection was well-organized, with many small groups across Paris. In fact, they were quite successful at the beginning as for the night of June the 5th they managed to take control over the eastern section of the city. However, soon after that, the National Guard and other soldiers forced them to go back and surrounded them in the Battle of Cloitre Saint-Mercy, where they were defeated. Some scholars state that this defeat of the Republicans ended the revolutionary movements in France for almost 20 years. Certainly, on the one hand, consequences of the revolution were not successful as the Republicans did not manage to achieve their goals. However, on the other hand, this event could serve as a reminder of the wrongs of the absolutist monarchy, which planted seeds for further negative attitude for the monarch and his power. That was also a demonstration of patriotism and democratic spirit, which immensely influenced the French nation.

As far as the Revolution of 1848 in France is concerned, it was one of the waves of democratic revolutions in Europe in 1848. In France, the events of the revolution ended the Orleans monarchy and resulted in the foundation of the French Second Republic. Consequently, after the overthrow of the king Louis Philippe, the government of the Second Republic started ruling France. Among the policies which were introduced by the new government were the implication of the Right to Work, and different national workshops, aimed to reduce the level of unemployment that had increased due to the crisis in 1846. In order to cover the costs necessary to cover the programs for the deprived, the taxes had to be increased from the countryside landlords who were not the wealthy, but the small farmers. In fact, small business had also suffered from this reform, and this provoked an increasing dissatisfaction.

In the following months, the government changed its course to a more conservative one. Soon after, on June 23, 1848, the citizens of Paris started a rebellion, which was marked in history as the June Days Uprising, which was a violent but unsuccessful rebellion of the Paris workers against the Republicans conservative course. As a matter of fact, having completed the constitution of the Second Republic in France, they elected Prince Louis Napoleon as the President of the Republic. This revolution influenced democratic protests in most of the European nations, however, the Revolution of 1848 in France was considered by most scholars as not successful.

Certainly, on the one hand, the objectives of the opposing leaders were not met, and the part of the city was returned to the authorities. On the other hand, this demonstrated that the French had the ability to raise their voice in demonstrations against the ruling power. This planted seeds for further democratic changes in the country, which later influenced its success.

Therefore, for the French it is debatable whether the changes of the Revolution of 1848 did not bring them any positive changes. Taking into account the event which took place after 1848, the Revolution of 1848 was important in planting the seeds of democracy that would later change the whole Europe. Consequently, France would be ruled by the democratic government and feudalism would be conquered. Without the Revolution of 1848, progress of the state transformation would be much slower.

As a matter of fact, Emile Zola in his book The Belly of Paris describes the situation people faced during the time of the Second Empire, which was established after the Revolution. The undying spirit appears to be the part of the ideology of the main hero as he strongly undergoes different hardships resulted from the Government and its policy. The working class of Paris finds itself at the mercy of its government once again, where government refuses to follow to their demands for a decent life. However, as the true Frenchman, the character is brave and patriotic.

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The Vichy Government (WW II) and the French Resistance

Vichy France, which was officially named the French State, was a country on the French territory at the time of Nazi occupation during World War II, which existed from the German victory in July 1940 in the Battle of France to August 1944, the Allied liberation. The French State on June 22, 1940 was divided into two zones: the first one was under Nazi Germanys occupation and the second part was nominally French in full sovereignty. The unoccupied territory comprised of the two-fifths of the previous area of the country.

Moreover, Pierre Laval was known to join the French State government the day after the agreement was signed, and after that he became the main representative of the Vichy regime. On July 10, 1940, he persuaded the National Assembly to give Petain authority for promulgating a new constitution, so that Petain was able to concentrate in his own hands all executive and legislative power in the French State. As a matter of fact, the Vichy government survived four years without promulgating the new constitution of the state. Moreover, their political course was not stable and changed due to the fortunes of World War II. However, when close cooperation with the Nazi Germans proved to be impracticable, there was a plot formed against Laval, who was later deprived of his power.

Despite the political and economic difficulties of the French during the War, there was another movement formed to oppose the Nazi occupation and the Vichy Government. One of the opponents was the French Resistance (Resistance), the collection of movements against the German occupation and Vichy regime. The Resistance cells were groups of armed people, who were taking part in the warfare activities, published underground newspapers, provided people with important first-hand information, and maintained escape networks, which helped their soldiers, who were trapped behind the enemy border. To ones surprise, the participants of the French Resistance movement were of different economic levels and political preferences in French society, including Roman Catholics, emigrants, priests, liberals, communists, and anarchists.

In fact, the French Resistance played an important role in facilitating the rapid advance of the Allies through France after the invasion of Normandy in 1944, and the invasion of Provence, by providing their soldiers with military equipment and knowledge of the German defenses, on Wehrmacht deployments and on the Atlantic Wall.

The French Resistance also coordinated, planned, and executed various acts of sabotage on the transportation facilities, electrical power grid, and telecommunications networks. This movement was extremely important in support of the national spirit, both during the Nazi occupation and for years afterward as it provided France with decent inspiring example of the patriotic spirit and fulfillment of a national imperative, fighting against the existential threat to the French nationhood. As a matter of fact, the actions of the French Resistance stood in immense contrast to the Vichy Government and its collaboration with the Nazi.

The book Is Paris Burning gives a clear insight of how the events of the 1944 influenced the French society. It is evident that society immensely disregarded the Vichy Government. What is more, this served as a unifying factor for the most of the citizens. Members of different political parties and people of different religions united in order to fight back the Nazi. Even those who had never been on the French soil and knew only a few words in French came to resist the Nazi occupation. This book describes an amazing spirit of the French nation, its patriotism, and strength. One cannot but agree that it was the French Resistance movement that helped France to return its independence and freedom to its people.


Having discussed the historical events of the Revolutions of 1832 and 1848, the Vichy government and the French Resistance movement, their main aspects and consequences, as well as their significance in the history of France, one has come to the conclusion that these events planted the seed for the further democratic changes in France and in other countries of Europe, and helped France to establish itself as a democratic state, despite the hardships and failures of its movements. In summary, these events have demonstrated courage and persistence of the French citizens, their ability to unite in threatening situations, and their amazing patriotic spirit. Moreover, as these historical events were described in the primary sources The Belly of Paris and Is Paris Burning, the clear depiction of these events supported the main statement of the paper.

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