A short very old street that used to run along the Philippe Auguste wall around Paris, it was once named ‘the street of the Priests of Saint-Paul’. It was renamed under Louis-Philippe in 1844 after King Charlemagne, the French king who became Roman Emperor in 800 AD. Bits of the old wall remain at numbers 9 and 15.
Named after the three generations of the Taitbout family who successively became Clerks to the Paris Town Office from 1698 to 1775, the road was opened in 1773.
Louis Blanc lived 1842 to 1848 above the Tortini café at No. 2 that was founded by a Venetian migrant initially called Velloni as a cafe and ice-cream parlour in 1804 (sketched above in 1888). It was there that Blanc and his supporters, Louis Greppo, Théophile Thoré and Hippolyte Detours, met on May 14 1848 and decided not to participate in the following day’s protest demonstration against the new government’s refusal to support the Polish revolutionaries.
Many writers, musicians and artists lived at a creative colony of separate houses at No. 80 that was known first as the Cité des Trois-Frères and then as the Square d’Orléans. Rebuilt in classical style and finished in 1841, from 1842 to 1849 Frédéric Chopin lived in No. 9, while George Sand lived on the first floor of No. 5 from 1842 to 1847. The lovers were both visited by many of the period’s celebrities, including Leroux, Honoré de Balzac, Heinrich Heine, Eugène Delacroix, François Arago and the actress Marie Dorval.
Organiser with Blanqui of the republican Rights of Man society, he was wounded in the 1839 insurrection and sentenced to life imprisonment. Called ‘the scourge of the establishment‘ by Marx , in 1892 perceptions had changed. The 18th arrondissement’s Boulevard Barbès and in 1903 the new Barbès metro station were named after him as a republican icon.
Barbès was one of the many left political prisoners who were jailed in the Sainte Pélagie prison from 1831.
On June 2 1836 several members of the Society of Seasons led by Barbès and Blanqui were arrested in their secret workshop at 22-24 Rue Dauphine where they were making gunpowder.
On May 9 1839 Barbès arranged for a trunk to be left that evening with the 55-year-old Catherine Rouchon, a widow who made trimmings for furniture, at 23 Rue Quincampoix. On May 12 when she wasn’t there some of the Society knocked down her door and collected its contents, ammunition. After the insurrection she identified Barbès to the police in the infirmary at the Conciergerie.
When the Society of Seasons insurrection finally took place on May 12 1839 Barbès and Blanqui took part in the pillaging of the Lepage armoury at 22 Rue du Bourg l’Abbé. Today, after the Haussmann rebuilding of Paris under the Second Empire, this is where the buildings stand at 64-66 Boulevard de Sébastopol.
Blanqui’s headquarters during the insurrection was in a café at 1 Rue Mandar. Barbès led another column to seize the Palais de Justice on the Cité island on the Seine, where they also attacked the police station, killing its commander.
The insurrectionaries, in the low thousands, including an estimated 200-300 students, occupied the Hotel de Ville. During the attack Barbès was wounded in the head. He was arrested outside 79 Rue des Gravilliers (now 248 Rue St Martin) at about 7 pm on May 12.
In 1848 Blanqui and Barbès were both released from prison, but they were no longer close allies. They did, however, found the Political Prisoners’ club at a meeting in the Salle Valentino at 251 Rue St Honoré with Barbès as President and Blanqui Vice-President.
On March 21 Barbès founded the Club de la Révolution at a meeting in the Salle Molière at 159 Rue St Martin. At the same time he was meeting Proudhon, Pierre Leroux and Étienne Arago. With Leroux at 12ter Rue Coquilliere Barbes founded the newspaper, The True Republic, whose first issue stated: ‘Without labour reform, there is no true Republic‘. It produced 104 issues before being banned in August by Cavaignac.
On May 15 1848 the Republican left (Barbès, the worker Albert, Louis Blanc, François-Vincent Raspail and others) organised a demonstration in Paris to the Palais Bourbon, the Chamber of Deputies in support of the Polish revolution. While not being planned as an insurrection, Barbès took centre stage in the Constituent Assembly and announced the formation of a new government. Soon after they are all arrested.
Orléans monarchy, republicans, socialists and feminists
The cartoon above of Louis-Philippe blowing soap bubbles of the broken promises of the 1830 July Revolution led to its creator’s arrest and trial for ‘insulting the king’ in May 1831
On August 7 1830 Louis-Philippe issued a new Constitutional Charter. This promised freedom of the press and declared that censorship would never be reestablished. Within weeks there was an explosion of papers with political cartoons.
On November 4 1830 Charles Philipon launched a weekly newspaper, La Caricature, whose four pages of text were accompanied by two of lithographs.
Within weeks the government reacted. On December 4 1830 it restored the stamp duty tax on newspapers and re-introduced censorship. Philipon’s response in the Foam of July cartoon above showed Louis-Philippe blowing bubbles of many of the unfulfilled promises in the Charter: popular elections, mayoral elections, an end to ‘jobs for the boys’.
Philipon was acquitted for this cartoon but was arrested again. On November 14 1831 he first drew Louis-Philippe as an image transformed into a pear. He was jailed for a year in January 1832 at Sainte-Pelagie prison, where he was joined by Daumier for his cartoon, Gargantua.
The Orléans monarchy deceived those who had hoped the relatively bloodless July Revolution would lead to a constitutional monarchy and deeply angered the Republicans who had been sceptical from the outset. At the same time, industrialisation was beginning to transform small bits of France, particularly its major towns and Paris. The scene was being set for the re-emergence of French radical republicanism and its more edgy components, socialist and feminist thought and organisation.
Called after a grandson of Louis XIV, the Duke of Bourgogne (1682-1712), the road was opened in 1707. Running south from today’s National Assembly, the Palais Bourbon, on January 18 1798 it was renamed the Rue du Conseil des Cinq-Cents after the Council of Five Hundred had begun to meet in the Palais Bourbon.
On February 6 1934 there was a police cordon stretching across the road at Nos 7 and 8 to the rue St Dominique protecting the National Assembly from the extreme right demonstrators.
The music teacher and composer Adolphe Reichel (1816-1896) lived at No. 4 in the mid-1840s when Bakunin stayed with him. Bakunin was expelled from France in 1847, but Proudhon and Pierre Leroux visited him there often.
During the Occupation a Resistance group based at No. 28 (pictured) organised escape routes to Spain both for allied soldiers and later for the roughly 200,000 men over 20 avoiding the Obligatory Work Duty (Service du travail obligatoire) introduced by the Laval government on February 16 1943.
In 1828 the young Proudhon was working briefly at the Gauthier printworks in No. 55, the site of the old Augustin monastery that gave the quay its name. This was where Proudhon met Charles Fourier and became aware of his ideas.
The road was given the name Mill Street after the mills situated on a small hill that existed there as late as the 17th century. It was opened in 1624 and the hillock levelled out by its new owner.
From January to December 1844 the fortnightly German language paper Vorwärts! (Forward!) was published by Henri Bornstein at what was then 32 rue des Moulins but is now No. 14. Its circulation was about 1,000 copies, and Marx became a major editor of it from the summer. This was where Bakunin stayed when he first arrived in Paris in July 1844.
Vorwärts! was outlawed on January 25 1845 after an article was published applauding an attack on Prussian King Frederick William IV.
Meetings of the editorial collective of the Deutsch–Französische Jahrbücher (German–French Annals), also took place there. However, only one double issue appeared in February 1844. Several of contributors and potential contributors met and argued there frequently in 1844, eventually going their own ways. They included Proudhon, Leroux, Etienne Cabet and Louis Blanc, as well as Marx, Arnold Ruge and Bakunin.
The French Revolution’s legacy of a strong small farmer base coupled with influential skilled artisans was fertile ground for Saint Simon and in particular for Proudhon‘s advocacy of cooperative working or mutualism.
Early socialists such as Buchez and Leroux also called for cooperation to replace capitalism. After the defeat of the Commune cooperatives appeared the only way of keeping up the fight for equality.
Cooperatives today still associate tens of thousands of small producers across France.
French socialism began to distinguish itself both from Proudhon’s anarchistic appeal to humanity’s moral responsibilities and from Blanqui’s insurrectionism in the 1890s. Founded by Blum, Jaures and Vaillant in 1905 in the aftermath of the Dreyfus affair, the SFIO united left reformist republicans and Marxist sectarians. The alliance broke up in 1920 when a majority at the Tours Conference voted to affiliate to the new Communist International.
Despite being a minority at that SFIO conference, the SFIO of left reformist socialism became the leading left political current through nearly all the interwar period. After the Communist Party ended Stalin’s ‘class against class’ propaganda against the Socialists and proposed a Popular Front alliance, Blum became prime minister in 1936.
Under the Fourth Republic its internal divisions over Algerian independence, with Mendes France and the challenge of the stronger Communist Party allowed De Gaulle to take power. In 1981 Mitterrand won a decisive majority on a left platform that he abandoned three years later. From then the Socialist Party became largely a party of elected national and local officials, without any real mass membership. In 2017, following five politically disastrous years under Hollande, the Socialist Party suffered a major defeat in both the presidential and National Assembly elections. A new left party, La France Insoumise (France untamed), did relatively well, with the Left Front’s presidential candidate getting 19.6% of the vote in the first round.
Like the Socialists, though, Melonchon’s La France Insoumise has still virtually no local membership base. In the European elections of 2019, its share of the vote fell to 6%.