The Commune & The Third Republic

  • © Monginoux

The Commune & The Third Republic

1870-1914

In 1870, the Prussians were at the gates of Paris. The Commune insurrection ended on the barricades. It was to be punished in bloody fashion, on the orders of the republican, Thiers.

France was finally liberated from Prussian occupation in 1873 and the Third Republic established, with presidents: A. Thiers, Mac-Mahon and then J.Grévy. The Left, with L.Gambetta and J. Ferry, opened the door to the ideas of the great republican middle class: anticlericalism, free and compulsory primary education and the permitting of divorce were the first social decisions of the government. Colonial expeditions were sent to Tunisia, Egypt and Tonkin. Internal political battles intensified around General Boulanger and Sadi Carnot. The scandals of Panama, the Russian loan, the Dreyfus affair (1895) - made notorious by Emile Zola with his famous "J'accuse!" - and the Left block under minister Waldeck-Rousseau, are key features of this troubled period from 1887 to 1906. The government was weakened, church property was taken into State ownership. Newspapers, including l'Humanité, informed the people. Strikes and social movements spread through France. While the Universal Exhibition of 1900 reflected the new power of the French colonial empire, Germany was becoming increasingly threatening, despite the attitude of G. Clemenceau, President of the Council [of ministers]. President Fallières (1906-1913) gave way to Raymond Poincaré. Jean Jaurès, champion of pacifism, was assassinated and the First World War broke out in 1914.