The Siege of Paris 1870-71

16 Jan, 2020 940 History of Europe

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.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Karine Varley No other episodes
    Lecturer in French and European History at the University of Strathclyde
  • Robert Gildea 5 episodes
    Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford
  • Julia Nicholls No other episodes
    Lecturer in French and European Studies at King's College London

Reading list

  • Tales of the New Babylon: Paris 1869-1875
    Rupert Christiansen (Sinclair-Stevenson, 1994) Google Books →
  • Surmounting the Barricades: Women in the Paris Commune
    Carolyn Eichner (Indiana University Press, 2004) Google Books →
  • Unruly Women of Paris: Images of the Commune
    Gay L. Gullickson (Cornell University Press, 1996) Google Books →
  • The Fall of Paris: The Siege and the Commune 1870-1
    Alistair Horne (Penguin, 2007) Google Books →
  • The Franco-Prussian War: The German Invasion of France 1870-1871
    Michael Howard (Routledge, 2001) Google Books →
  • Massacre: The Life and Death of the Paris Commune of 1871
    John Merriman (Yale University Press, 2016) Google Books →
  • Revolutionary Thought after the Paris Commune, 1871-1885
    Julia Nicholls (Cambridge University Press, 2019) Google Books →
  • The Paris Commune
    David A. Shafer (Palgrave, 2005) Google Books →
  • The Paris Commune 1871
    Robert Tombs (Longman, 1999) Google Books →
  • France 1814-1914
    Robert Tombs (Routledge, 1996)
  • Under the Shadow of Defeat: The War of 1870-71 in French Memory
    Karine Varley (Palgrave, 2008) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: m000d8rv

Episode page:

Auto-category: 944.081 (France - 19th century)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In September 1870, the Prussian army besieged Paris.