Filthy Cities episode 2 – Revolutionary Paris: Just 200 years ago, Paris was famously one of the foulest and smelliest cities in Europe. In this programme historian Dan Snow sniffs out the rotten story of the French revolution.
Stunning CGI reveals the stinking streets where ordinary people slaved in toxic industries and suffered grotesque poverty and disease. Dan immerses himself in their world, visiting a perfumer to recreate the stench of the 18th-century city. He has a go at one of the worst jobs in history – tanning leather by 18th-century methods using dog excrement and urine – to make exquisite luxury goods that only the filthy rich could afford.
He gets a rare glimpse of the private rooms of infamous Queen Marie Antoinette at the glittering palace of Versailles and reveals some surprising facts about the royal court. Plus he comes face to face with the ultimate killing machine – the gruesome guillotine. Dan finds out what happened to the thousands of bodies that overflowed in the cemeteries of Paris during The Terror.
Dan discovers how monumental filth and injustice drove Parisians to a bloody revolution which would transform their city and give birth to a new republic.
Filthy Cities episode 2 – Revolutionary Paris
The French Revolution was a period of radical political and societal change in France that began with the Estates General of 1789 and ended with the formation of the French Consulate in November 1799. Many of its ideas are considered fundamental principles of liberal democracy, while phrases like liberté, égalité, fraternité reappeared in other revolts, such as the 1917 Russian Revolution, and inspired campaigns for the abolition of slavery and universal suffrage. The values and institutions it created dominate French politics to this day.
Its causes are generally agreed to be a combination of social, political and economic factors, which the existing regime proved unable to manage. In May 1789, widespread social distress led to the convocation of the Estates General, which was converted into a National Assembly in June. Continuing unrest culminated in the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July, which led to a series of radical measures by the Assembly, including the abolition of feudalism, the imposition of state control over the Catholic Church in France, and extension of the right to vote.
The next three years were dominated by the struggle for political control, exacerbated by economic depression and Civil disorder. Opposition from external powers like Austria, Britain, and Prussia resulted in the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in April 1792. Disillusionment with Louis XVI led to the establishment of the French First Republic on 22 September 1792, followed by his execution in January 1793. In June, an uprising in Paris replaced the Girondins who dominated the National Assembly with the Committee of Public Safety, headed by Maximilien Robespierre.