Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian war and the social unrest that followed, as the French capital was cut off from the rest of the country and food was scarce. When the French government surrendered Paris to the Prussians, power gravitated to the National Guard in the city and to radical socialists, and a Commune established in March 1871 with the red flag replacing the trilcoleur. The French government sent in the army and, after bloody fighting, the Communards were defeated by the end of May 1871.
The image above is from an engraving of the fire in the Tuileries Palace, May 23, 1871
Lecturer in French and European History at the University of Strathclyde
Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford
Lecturer in French and European Studies at King’s College London
Producer: Simon Tillotson