The history of Paris has included much political and social upheaval over the millennia, with dozens of important changes, invasions and periods of growth and prosperity forming the city we know and love today.
One of the beautiful things about Paris is that to walk her cobbled streets and gaze across her panoramic views is to know something of the history of the city, as so much has been commemorated or left unchanged, making the city itself something of a memorial and a museum documenting its past triumphs and transformations.
Laying the Foundations
The city of Paris was thought to have been originally founded by Celtic fishermen who called themselves the Parisii, around the third century BCE. Relatively little is known of these people, but what is certain is that they were the ones to first lay the foundations of what became a thriving city on an important trade route.
They named their settlement 'Lutetia', and it began to grow and grow as more people decided to make it their home.
Before long, the expanding Roman Empire decided that Lutetia must come under their dominion, as it was quickly becoming one of the more important centres for trade and agriculture in the Roman territory of Gaul. The full force of the Roman army battled long and hard with the fierce Gauls of the area, eventually securing it as a city for the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar.
As the Roman Empire began to change around the 3rd century AD, the once heavily pagan land of France becomes Christianised, with the first Christian churches in the country being built in Lutetia, now a large and powerful city.
The Medieval Times
Between the 4th and 9th centuries, the city was almost constantly invaded and passed between whichever army was victorious. The Franks and the Normans had the highest success rates, with the Normans providing much of the most important medieval architecture which can still be seen in the city and its environs. Towards the end of this period, King Clovis the First claims Gaul as his own, and renames the city 'Paris' after her original settlers.
The Dark ages were a troubled chapter in the history of Paris, and they continued for quite some time. The 15th century saw the explosion of art and culture that was the Renaissance come to Paris, which quickly became one of the most important cities in Europe for innovation and artistic achievements. In 1643, Louis XIV takes the throne of now united France, and oversees an impressive reign of prosperity and decadence, building the Palace of Versailles and much of what we recognise as typically 'Parisian' today.
Changes and Developments
Of course, it wasn't long before the decadent times had to end, and the French Revolution and Napoleon's empire brought about the end of the monarchy, and built dozens of monuments to their military and revolutionary achievements, many of which still stand today, including the Arc de Triomphe.
Several successes, and quite a lot of military disasters later, the third republic is formed, and democracy is brought to France, bringing about another explosion of artistic achievements crowned by Art Nouveau and followed by Impressionism. Paris once more becomes the art center of the world and of course the center of French culture, and gradually becomes the city we know and love now, the end result of the great history of Paris.
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