EPICUR excursion to Paris: “Counterrevolution – Restoration – Reaction in the 18th – 20th centuries”
As part of the main seminar "Counter-Revolution - Restoration - Reaction: Counter-Revolutionary Political Ideas and Movements from the Late 18th to the Early 20th Century" of the Department of History at the University of Freiburg and the Department of Modern History at the University of Tübingen, an excursion to Paris took place from 13 to 16 March, 2024 under the direction of PD Dr. Friedemann Pestel and Prof. Dr. Jan C. Jansen.

The seminar dealt intensively with the global counter-revolution of the long 19th century, always focusing on the local contexts of the actors and the patterns of revolution and counter-revolution. There is no better city to study and understand these relationships than Paris: the metropolis not only served as the backdrop for numerous revolutions and uprisings, but was also the site of many restorations that followed these revolutionary events. With this in mind, we began our journey on 13March 2024.

Arriving in Paris, we first visited the Panthéon: the building was greatly affected by the many upheavals of the 19th century, which are still visible in many places. We then visited the Cimetière de Picpus, where the victims of the Terreur Revolution, who were murdered between 14 June 1794 and 27 July 1794, are buried.
The next day we started our visit at the Église de la Madeleine in the 8th arrondissement.

After visiting some of the monumental memorials to the revolution and counter-revolution of the 19th century, our programme included a visit to the Bibliothèque Tourguenev, which took us on the trail of the Russian exile in Paris.

After a short break for a Parisian-style coffee on a terrace, we continued continued our excursion to Montmartre, where the Sacré-Cœur Basilica awaited us. This church, steeped in counter-revolutionary symbolism, was built after the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune of 1871. To this day, this white church of the counter-revolution stands triumphant over the city that has seen so many revolutions. With a magnificent view over Paris and a final glimpse of France´s turbulent history, we were able to complete our official programme for the day.

Denis on Friday morning, we spent the afternoon visiting the Musée Carnavalet. This museum is dedicated to the history of Paris, with a focus on the period of the revolutions and the Restoration.

On Saturday, our last day in the French capital, we visited Père Lachaise, the main cemetery in Paris. This is where the last battles between the Communards and the troops from Versailles took place in 1871.

Overall, our trip to Paris was a fascinating journey through the history of revolution and counter-revolution in the long 19th century. We visited important sites that witnessed the turbulent political and social upheavals of the time. We reflected on the historical events and their impact on the city of Paris, but also on how these events still continue to shape the identity of France today. The variety of places we visited and the discussions we had deepened our understanding of the complex relationship between revolution, counter-revolution and the creation of identity and opened up new perspectives on France’s past and present.

We were able to return to Freiburg with many new insights and would like to thank EPICUR on behalf of the entire seminar for making this excursion to Paris possible.

Text by Finja Henseler & Ruben Voncken
Photos:Finja Henseler