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Paris Commune and women

Pamela J. Stewart


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The events of the Paris Commune unfolded in March 1871 when the seat of the French government was temporarily moved from the capital after France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1). With executive functions moved to the comparative safety of Versailles, and Prussian troops poised to enter the city, Parisians felt betrayed by their own national government. As a result, they formed a popular socialist government known as the Commune, its name honoring the earlier Paris Commune of the late eighteenth century. During its brief reign in the spring of 1871, the Commune attempted to create an egalitarian government while it protected itself first against Prussian occupation, then against the moderate French republican government which attempted to retake the city. Though remarkable both for its radical socialism and its stalwart military resistance, one of the most noteworthy features of the Commune was the revolutionary participation of women in all phases and aspects of the city's governance, from political leadership to front-line military service. Although the emergence of the Commune is often dated from March 26, when the Communards held elections and formally announced the new government, March 18, 1871 represents the date when women of Paris physically defended the city's cannons against seizure by troops of the French Republic. Unlike previous attempts at independence ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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