To the Barricades!

Paris Brise Chaines 1944The rich and tumultuous history of Paris can be told in part by a vast series of photographs, lithographs, and other images now available to anyone with an internet connection. The Paris en Images collection is an excellent database with a search feature which allows the researcher to find images by keyword and date. What’s even better is that they are freely available for private and scholarly use.

The barricade has been almost as much a part of Parisian history as the Seine river. Since the 16th century Parisians have dug up paving stones and piled them into barricades during numerous revolutions, insurrections, and protests. Here, I’ve picked some of my favorite images of barricades, and in places very much recognizable in present-day Paris. We think of Parisian history (and by extension that of France) as being an ever-changing series of radically different regimes. It’s interesting to me, however, to see the continuity in the form of protest, both on the right and left.

1848 Barricade
Revolution of 1848, Remains of a Barricade on rue Royale

1870-71 Barricade
Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871, Barricade at l’Ă?toile

1871 Barricade Hotel de Ville
Paris Commune, 1871, Barricade at HĂ´tel de Ville

1871 Barricade Vendome
Paris Commune, 1871, VendĂ´me Column Pulled to the Ground

Barricade 1914
Construction of a Barricade at a Gate of Paris, August 1914

1934 Ligue de droites
1934, Protest of the Ligues de droite (right-wing political organization)

Barricade 1944
Liberation of Paris, Barricade at the Pont Neuf and rue Dauphine, August 1944

1968 Barricade
May 1968, Barricade on the rue Racine

Further reading:

Mark Traugott, “Barricades as Repertoire: Continuities and Discontinuities in the History of French Contention.” Social Science History, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Summer, 1993), pp.309-323.

Jeannene M. Przyblyski, “Revolution at a Standstill: Photography and the Paris Commune of 1871.” Yale French Studies, No. 101, Fragments of Revolution. (2001), pp. 54-78.

Jill Harsin, Barricades: The War of the Streets in Revolutionary Paris, 1830-1848. New York: Palgrave, 2002.

5 thoughts on “To the Barricades!

  1. Good point – barricades are a huge part of Les Miserables! I read an abridged version in French, but we got a fancy PlĂ©ade edition for our wedding, so I should tackle it sometime, too. The anti-monarchist insurrection depicted in Les Miserables took place in 1832.

  2. I’m writing my third year dissertation on the representations of barricades in french revolutionary history, specifically focusing on the events of may 1968 and the photographs that subsequently followed. Do you by any chance have any links to articles or texts that i may have missed? no worries if not i just thought it was worth a try

  3. Thanks for visiting, Perry. Since I haven’t really studied the barricade in-depth, I’m afraid I don’t have much more to offer than the references in this post (and you should definitely check out the site with photos if you haven’t yet!) My dissertation is on representations of the devoutly Catholic woman in late-nineteenth-century France. Your project sounds interesting and I would love to read it. Does Pierre Nora have anything about barricades in Les Lieux de MĂ©moire? You might also find the H-France list-serve of some use. It’s a group of hundreds of scholars of French history that are willing to answer questions like yours. See here. Bonne continuation!

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