Military Review

September Revolution 4 1870 of the year

The sedan disaster of the French army was the end of the Second French Empire. In general, a military campaign with such a strong adversary as Prussia showed all the weakness and rottenness of the military-political and economic system of the Second Empire. Engels rightly noted 31 August 1870, on the eve of the battle at Sedan: “Army organization everywhere turns out to be unsuitable; a noble and courageous nation sees that all its efforts to defend itself are futile, because for twenty years it had endured its fate to be ruled by a gang of adventurers who turned the administration, the government, the army, the fleet — practically the whole of France — into the source of their personal gain ". The power of adventurers, traders, speculators and usurers led to the Second Empire to collapse.

September Revolution 4 1870

3 September 1870, two days after the surrender of the French army, the population of Paris was still not informed of the events at Sedan: since 30 August, the government has not published a single report on the situation at the front. On September 3, a session of the Legislative Corps was held. The head of the government of Palicao (Cousin-Montaban) in his information about the martial law in the country did not say a word about the events at Sedan. Moreover, he assured the chamber that “if for some time the situation is such that it does not allow us to hope for the connection of Marshal MacMahon’s forces with Marshal Bazin’s forces,” this “does not mean that Marshal Bazin cannot try to speak again.” Although the government of September 1 was aware of the unsuccessful battle at Sedan and the injury of MacMahon. 2 September, the government received information about the defeat of the French army from British and Belgian sources. The government’s appeal, in fact, was directed not to deputies, many of whom also knew about the defeat of MacMahon’s army, but to the population of the capital, in order to conceal a military catastrophe and prevent a social explosion.

However, at o'clock in the afternoon in Paris, it was received in the name of a regent dispatch from Napoleon III, in which he reported that the army was crushed and taken prisoner; he himself is also a prisoner. Therefore, it became impossible to hide further the catastrophe at Sedan from the population, especially as rumors about the defeat of the French army gradually seeped into the capital. As a result, on the same day, the second meeting of the Legislative Corps was convened. At the evening meeting, the left faction nominated General Troshu for the post of military dictator of France. But this proposal was rejected by a Bonapartist majority. The next meeting of the Legislative Corps was scheduled for September 4.

In the evening of September 3, the French government was forced to publish an official announcement of the events at Sedan. However, the authorities halved the losses incurred by the French army. To soften the impression of a military catastrophe that befell the Second Empire, it was reported that a new army would arrive under the walls of Paris in a few days and that another army would be formed on the banks of the Loire. The message shook the capital. Crowds of workers took to the streets of Paris demanding the overthrow of Napoleon III. They were joined by students, bourgeois, mobile guards.

The Blanquists, on the instructions of Blanqui, who was in Paris, developed revolutionary propaganda. The Blanquists planned a major rally on September 4, which was to develop into a revolution. However, the demonstration began spontaneously on September 3. There were clashes with gendarmes.

While the people on the street demanded the overthrow of Napoleon and the establishment of a republic, the leftist deputies feverishly conferred in one of the rooms of the Bourbon palace, trying to work out their program and take control in their hands. It was unanimously decided to insist on the convocation of an extraordinary nightly meeting of the Legislative Corps and to make it a decision on the overthrow of Napoleon III and on the transfer of power to the Legislative Corps. Some right-wing deputies, Bonapartists, also expressed their readiness to transfer power to the Legislative Corps. The other part of the Bonapartists, led by the many years close associate of Napoleon III Ruher, still did not agree to any compromises and offered a forceful option. However, the authorities in Paris had only a few thousand loyal soldiers. And the national guard was opposed to the imperial government. As a result, the chairman of the House of Schneider agreed to convene an emergency meeting.

At 1 one o'clock in the morning, the Legislative Corps meeting opened. It lasted only 20 minutes. The head of government confined himself to the official announcement of the surrender of the Shalon army and the capture of the emperor, after which he proposed to postpone the discussion of the consequences of this event to the next day. Cousin-Montaban still hoped to preserve the building of the empire, and was a strong opponent of the transfer of power to parliament. No one objected. Even left-wing deputies who initiated the convocation of an emergency meeting. The thing was that crowds gathered on the nearest approaches to the Bourbon Palace. They vehemently expressed their hatred of the empire, demanding the proclamation of a republic. Among them were Blanquists and other radicals. As a result, the deputies decided to finish the meeting as soon as possible so that people would not break into the Bourbon Palace and not proclaim a republic.

September 4 morning situation was tense to the limit. The government mobilized for its protection all the military and police forces that were at its disposal. Horse and foot gendarmerie, line and cavalry troops occupied the approaches to the building of the Legislative Corps: the Square and the Concord Bridge, the banks of the Seine, the Palace Square. Two infantry battalions guarded the palace from the inside. Large forces of cavalry and foot troops were built near the Palace of Industry and on the Champs Elysees. A total of mobilized for the protection of the Legislative Corps around 2500-3000 people. In addition, the remaining troops there were in the barracks in combat readiness. On the other hand, on the outskirts and in the working-class districts of Paris, an extraordinary excitement reigned in the morning. The workers did not show up for work, the artisans and the petty bourgeois gathered in groups. By 12 hours of the day, Place de la Concorde and the streets adjacent to it were filled with thousands of masses of Parisians, workers, artisans, students, etc.

The Legislative Corps meeting opened at 1 hour 15 min. of the day Three proposals were submitted for its consideration: the proposal of Thiers (left center) to create a coalition government (commission for administration and for the implementation of national defense), whose main task would be to make peace with Prussia as soon as possible. In the future, they planned to convene a Constituent Assembly; the proposal of the left faction on the overthrow of Napoleon III and on the transfer of power to the Legislative Corps; the proposal of a part of Bonapartists demanding the creation of a “government council of national defense” under the rule of Palikao, endowed with dictatorial powers. All three proposals were sent to the commissions to work out the final text of the draft law on the further organization of power.

Deputies could not complete their work. In 2 hour. 30 min. the palace was occupied by the Parisians with exclamations: “Deposition! Long live France! Long live the republic! ”The government offered no resistance. The Empress left Paris. The battalions of the National Guard took the place of the government military-police forces. Government forces retreated without resistance. The soldiers who remained loyal to the authorities were demoralized by the military defeats of the army and were "infected" by republican sentiment. Some soldiers were throwing weapon and fraternized with the people. In addition, the decision on a peaceful retreat was made at the very top. The military governor of Paris Troshu with a part of the deputies prevented a revolutionary explosion. Government forces retreated by order of General Cosad, who commanded the troops guarding the Legislative Corps. He had been appointed to this post a few days before on the recommendation of Trosh. Government forces were deliberately replaced by part of the national guard devoted to Troshu.

Chaos reigned in the Legislative Corps. The Chairman of the Legislative Corps, who was in the hall, tried in vain to restore order with the help of the left-wing deputies Kremier and Gambetta. People demanded the overthrow of the emperor and the republic. The leftist deputies tried to "reason" people in order to preserve the united France in the face of the enemy. As a result, when about 3 hour, when the chairman of the Schneider Chamber retired, his place was taken by the Blanquists Marchand, Granje and Levros. Granger, blocking the noise in the hall with his loud voice, addressed the audience with the following words: “Citizens! In view of our greatest disasters, in view of the misfortunes that have befallen the fatherland, the Paris people took control of this premise in order to proclaim in it the overthrow of the empire and the establishment of a republic. We demand from the deputies that they decrees both. ”

Bourgeois Republicans, fearing that the situation will get out of control and the Blanquists will proclaim the republic and form a revolutionary government, they decided to act. Blanquists were removed from the podium with the help of several national guardsmen. Leon Gambetta took the podium and announced a decree prepared in advance by the left faction. "Taking into account," the decree said, "that the fatherland is in danger, ... that we are the legitimate authority elected by universal and free vote, we declare that Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte and his dynasty forever ceased reign in France."

People began to demand the establishment of the republic. There was a dispute between the left deputies and the Blanquists. Blankist Peyruton rushed to the podium with the words: “Let's declare the republic here! Long live the republic! ”Meanwhile, Gambetta and Favre persuading people not to cause a civil war, they proposed to proclaim the establishment of a republic in the town hall. Left deputies followed the town hall, and people moved after them. It was about 4 hours of the day, when streams of demonstrators led by Favre and Gambetta arrived at the town hall. Favre proclaimed the republic. A new provisional government was immediately formed. The government included deputies of the left faction of Arago, Cremieu, Ferry, Favre, Gambetta, Garnier-Pazhes, Pellant, Picard, J. Simon, later Rochefort and some others. The post of head of government was granted to Favre. At the same time, similar events took place in Lyon, Marseilles, Bordeaux and other cities, where the republic was also proclaimed.

To complete their victory, the bourgeois Republicans considered it extremely important to win General Troshya to their side. He was intended posts of Minister of War and the military governor of Paris. However, Troshu demanded the post of head of government, citing the fact that as commander-in-chief of the armed forces he should have unlimited powers. His request was met. Favre, who initially received the post of head of government, was satisfied with the role of Deputy Trochu. Gambetta was appointed Minister of the Interior, Picard - Minister of Finance, General Leflo - Minister of War, Admiral Furishon - Minister of the Navy, Cremier - Minister of Finance, etc. The Provisional Government took the name of “national defense government”.

Thus, the September 4 revolution of 1870 was more like an intra-elite coup. The monarchy, the Second Empire and the Bonaparte dynasty collapsed. A republic was proclaimed. However, the power remained in the hands of the former political and military elite, behind which stood the financial and industrial circles controlling the economy of France and its colonies. The energy of the masses was channeled in the right elite direction. The political face of the bourgeois provisional government, formed in Paris on the day of the overthrow of the Second Empire, was briefly but succinctly characterized by V. Lenin: “Liberal rogues seize power”

September Revolution 4 1870 of the year

Leon Gambetta proclaims the Third Republic from the window of the Paris City Hall

Since it was obvious that Prussia would make serious territorial claims to France, the interim government swore an oath to continue resistance. German troops continued their attack on Paris. 17 September Prussian troops laid siege to the French capital. The new armies mobilized by the French government could not resist this siege and suffered a series of defeats. In October, Marshal Bazin voluntarily surrendered the fortress of Metz with 170-thousand. by the army. True, the French people actively resisted aggression. Only in Paris was 200 the new battalions of the National Guard in addition to the already existing 60 battalions created during the reign of Louis Napoleon. Throughout France, militia gathered, there was an entry into the volunteer units of "free shooters". A partisan war began on the territory occupied by German troops.

In early December 1870, the Prussian troops began shelling Paris. In January, 1871, the King of Prussia, Wilhelm I, proclaimed himself emperor of Germany in the Mirror Gallery of the Palace of Versailles. In the capital of France, there was a significant shortage of food, people were dying of hunger, especially children suffered. 22 January 1871 began an uprising to overthrow the government (the first attempt at an uprising was as early as the end of October 1870). However, the uprising was crushed. The French elite, concerned about the mood of the masses and the danger of revolution and revolutionary terror, decided that it was better to capitulate to Prussia and direct the existing forces against the revolutionaries. 28 January 1871. The French government, secretly from the people, capitulated to Prussia and signed a truce. After that, elections to the National Assembly were held. The besieged Paris did not participate in the elections. Therefore, most places were taken by representatives of the bourgeoisie. February 17 The National Assembly elected Louis Adolf Thierre as chief executive. In August 1871, the National Assembly elected Thiers to the presidency of the French Republic.

Soon after the conclusion of a truce with Prussia, unrest began in Paris, turning into a revolution and the establishment of self-government. The Paris Commune lasted from 18 March to 28 in May 1871. The government of Thiers began a civil war, in order to suppress the Commune. While there was a struggle for Paris, 10 May 1871 the government signed a peace treaty with Bismarck. Germany departed two resource-rich and industrialized areas - Alsace and the eastern part of Lorraine. The German Empire received a huge indemnity in the amount of 5 billion francs in gold. This allowed Germany to make a breakthrough in industrial development, becoming one of the most developed countries on the planet. However, the contradiction between Germany and France, fueled by England, became one of the main prerequisites for a future world war.

Despite the fact that the Germans severely robbed France, the French government found a common language with the Prussians in the suppression of the Paris Commune. Bismarck feared that the fire of the revolution from France could spread to other countries and Germany. Therefore, he helped Thierus to strengthen his army. To do this, from the German captivity 100 was released early by thousands of people who joined the government forces. Bismarck also agreed to let the Versailles troops pass through the Prussians' line of positions in order to deliver a sudden blow to the Communards from the north, from where they least expected the enemy to advance. 20 May Versailles troops launched a general assault on Paris. 21 May government troops broke into the capital. 28 May fell the last barricade. The commune was drowned in blood. 30 thousand Communards were executed without trial, more than 40 thousand people were thrown into prisons and sent to penal colonies. A bourgeois republic was finally established in France.

Barricade in Paris


Zhelubovskaya E. A. The collapse of the Second Empire and the emergence of the Third Republic in France. M., 1956.
Moltke G. History German-French War 1870-1871 M., 1937. //
Paris Commune 1871, in 2 t. Ed. E. A. Zhelubovskaya, A. Z. Manfred, A. I. Milk, F. V. Potemkin. M., 1961.
Svechin A. A. The evolution of military art. Volume II. - M.-L., 1928. //
Smirnov A. Napoleon III Empire. M., 2003.
Articles from this series:
The collapse of the Second Empire

145 years of the Paris Commune
Second empire on the road to disaster
The second empire on the road to disaster. Part of 2
The second empire on the road to disaster. H. 3
The beginning of the Franco-Prussian war. Plans and the state of the French army
The First Defeats of the Second Empire: the Battle of Weisenburg, Werth, and on the Shpichhern Heights
Battle of Colombey - Nuilla
Battle of Mars-la-Tour
Battle of Saint-Privas - Gravelotte
McMahon's army on the road to disaster
Battle of Sedan
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  1. Thirteenth
    Thirteenth 13 May 2016 06: 50
    Yes, the Prussians butchered the paddles as God the tortoise.
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 13 May 2016 07: 27
    Liberal rogues seize power..That's for sure ....
  3. DimerVladimer
    DimerVladimer 13 May 2016 09: 40
    It recalls the events of the coup in Ukraine - the former bourgeois stratum remained in power.
  4. Robert Nevsky
    Robert Nevsky 13 May 2016 11: 37
    France / like Bulgaria / still exists - only thanks to the great RUSSIA!
    In WWI, Russia fought for France. In WWII, Soviet Russia recognized France as a victorious country.
    But it is unlikely that the French deserved Russian nobility / like the Bulgarians / ....
    1. Charlemagne
      Charlemagne 13 May 2016 14: 19
      It is an unwise and short-sighted policy to fight for someone "for free". And after ditching a heap of resources and people, donate everything to the enemy (example: how Bulgaria was donated to Germany after 1878). The minus is not France and Bulgaria, but Russia, which was unable or unwilling to insist on its interests.
  5. Dal arya
    Dal arya 14 May 2016 00: 10
    What is still better? Bourgeois liberalism or the Commune and the power of the proletariat? After a hundred years, people are still divided on this subject. Moreover, we in Russia have seen communism and liberalism.
    1. Vladislav 73
      Vladislav 73 14 May 2016 13: 43
      Well, here the question is clear, so 3-5% of Russians who own, I don’t know, 70-90% of the wealth and "common" property of Russia, bourgeois liberalism, oh what you like! the rest of the population, everything is learned in comparison ... What they had under the USSR, and how and whom they "have" now ... request
  6. Jääkorppi
    Jääkorppi 19 May 2016 11: 29
    Yes, the Paris Commune was drowned in blood, more people were killed and repressed than in the USSR in 37-38 (and most of it was on the conscience of the opposition and opponents of the new constitution)! And Europe teaches us life !!!