The Political Pattern I From Sedan to the Fall of Thiers
The news of the defeat at Sedan on September 2, 1870, and of the surrender of the Emperor and MacMahon’s army reached Paris by six o’clock that evening; it was not public property for another twenty-four or thirty-six hours. On September 4, in a turmoil of insurrection and war-fever, the Corps législatif dissolved under the eyes of the followers of that old firebrand, Blanqui, who had invaded the Palais Bourbon. The Empress escaped to England. At the Hôtel de Ville a government was set up by members of the Opposition, and the Republic was proclaimed. The head of this self-styled ‘Government of National Defence’ was General Trochu, Military Governor of Paris. The catastrophe was beyond redress. MacMahon’s army had been captured, Bazaine’s had retreated into Metz where it was beseiged. Only a few strongholds stood; Strasbourg, which would surrender on September 27, Bitche, Langres, Mézières and Belfort. Only one army corps still existed, though another was being built up of unincorporated troops. Preparations were put in hand to defend the fortified area of which Paris was the kernel. From Metz, Bazaine staged a few demonstrations but made no serious attempt to break out. He believed that if he could maintain his army intact, he would become the inevitable arbiter of the future of France.
KeywordsChief Executive National Defence National Guard Universal Suffrage Republican Election
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