The Fortifications of Paris

An Illustrated History

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About the Book

As a strategically located seat of European power, Paris was a prized target for invaders. Consequently, it was one of the world’s most heavily fortified cities. Though many of the fortifications have been demolished, or hidden, they have left their imprint on the city, both physically and historically. To understand the history of Paris—and indeed, of France as a whole—one must understand the history of the fortifications.
This heavily illustrated history begins with the period 300 B.C. to A.D. 987. Part II looks at the Medieval era (987–1512), a growth period for the city. Bastioned fortifications (1512–1874) are the focus of Part III, covering the era in which Paris modernized its defenses. Modern fortifications (1874–1944) are detailed in Part IV, ranging from the building of the second Parisian ring of polygonal forts to the end of World War II.

About the Author(s)

Historian, writer and illustrator Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage is the author of numerous books. His interests include World War II and medieval and French history. He lives in Groningen, Netherlands.

Bibliographic Details

Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage
Format: softcover (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 272
Bibliographic Info: 223 illustrations, glossary, appendix, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010 [2006]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6100-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5829-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments iv
Introduction      1

PART I. FROM LUCOTECIA TO PARIS (300 B.C.–A.D. 987)
1. Geographical Situation of Paris 5
2. Gallic Time
The Celts      7
Lucotecia      8
Fortifications of Lucotecia      8
The Roman Conquest      11
3. Roman Rule
Romanization and Urbanization      12
Lutetia      12
Fortifications of the Ile de la Cité      13
Christianization      15
4. The End of the Roman Empire
The Barbarian Invasions      19
The Huns      19
Lutetia During the Invasions      20
5. The Merovingian Period
Clovis      22
Paris as the Capital      23
6. The Carolingian Era
The Carolingian Dynasty      24
Charlemagne      24
The Vikings      25
7. The Capetians
Hugues Capet      28
The Feudal System      29
A Wall Around Paris in the 10th Century?      30

PART II. MEDIEVAL PERIOD (987–1512)
8. The Growth of France
The First Capetian Kings      35
Emancipation of Towns      37
9. Growth of Paris
The Cité Island      39
The University      39
The Ville      39
10. Capetians versus Plantagenets
Louis VII      41
Philippe II Auguste      41
11. The Enceinte of Philippe Auguste
The First Medieval Enceinte      43
The Enceinte: Too Large?      44
Financing      44
Evolution of Urban Fortification      46
Wall      47
Towers      47
Gates      50
Defense by the Seine      55
Grand Châtelet and Petit Châtelet      55
12. The Louvre 57
13. The Temple 60
14. Paris at the Time of Saint Louis and Philippe the Fair
Louis VIII and Louis IX      64
French Predominance      64
Philippe IV the Fair      67
The Royal Palace and the Conciergerie      70
15. The First Part of the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1414)
Main Cause of the War      71
Jean II Le Bon      71
Charles V      72
16. The Enceinte of Charles V
The Second Medieval Enceinte      74
Tracé of Charles V’s Enceinte      75
Walls, Towers and Ditches      76
Gatehouses      78
Barbican      81
17. The Castle of Vincennes
A New Royal Residence      83
The Enceinte      83
The Keep      83
Vincennes Castle through Today      86
18. The Bastille 87
Hôtel Saint Pol and Palace of Tournelles      88
A Gatehouse Becomes a Castle      88
Description of the Bastille      89
State Prison      90
July 14, 1789      91
19. Private Medieval Fortifications
Paris: an Unhealthy and Unsafe City      92
Private Fortifications      94
Hôtel de Clisson      94
Hôtel de Sens      95
Hôtel de Cluny      95
Saint Geneviève Abbey      96
Saint Antoine Abbey      96
Convent of Celestins      96
Abbey of Saint-Germain-des Prés      97
Saint-Martin-des-Champs Priory      98
20. The Second Part of the Hundred Years’ War (1415–1453)
Civil and Foreign Wars      99
Jeanne d’Arc      99
The End of the War      100
21. Firearms
Gunpowder      101
Early Guns      101
Siege Artillery      102
Mine      103
Improvement of Artillery      103
Handguns      105
Warfare with Fire Weapons      107
22. Transitional Fortification
A Gradual Problem      109
Rampart      111
Embrasure      111
Artillery Emplacements      111
Makeshifts      112
23. Paris After the Hundred Years’ War
Louis XI      114
Citadels and Forts      116
Transitional Fortification in Paris      116
24. The End of the Middle Ages
Wars in Italy      117
The Renaissance      117

PART III. BASTIONED FORTIFICATIONS (1512–1874)
25. Italian Bastioned Fortification
Early Italian Theorists      121
Italian Bastioned Front      122
Description of the Italian Bastioned
Fortification      123
Italian Predominance      127
Old Dutch and French Bastioned Systems      130
26. The Religious Wars
The Crisis of the Catholic Church      131
From Henri II to Henri IV      131
27. Modernization of the Parisian Defenses (1512–1562)
A Chaotic Development      133
The “Fossés Jaunes” Bastioned Enceinte
(1566–1633)      136
Louis XIII      138
28. Louis XIV’s Reign (1661–1715)
The Fronde Revolt      139
The Sun King      139
Paris at the Time of Louis XIV      140
The Hôtel des Invalides      142
Vauban’s “Pré Carré”      143
Vauban’s Project for Paris      144
French Border Fortifications      145
Vauban’s Legacy      146
The End of the Sun King      150
29. Paris at the Time of Louis XV (1715–1774) 151
30. Cormontaigne and Montalembert
Cormontaigne      155
Montalembert      156
Montalembert’s Influence      157
31. The Enceinte of the “Fermiers Généraux”
A Fiscal Barrier      158
The Wall      159
The Tollhouses      161
32. The French Revolution of 1789
The Storming of the Bastille      162
The First French Republic      163
33. Napoléon I and the First Empire
Napoléon Bonaparte      164
Napoléon I, Emperor of the French People      164
Zenith and Decline      165
Napoleonic Warfare      166
Napoleonic Fortifications      168
34. Paris at the Time of Revolution, Consulat and Empire
Revolutionary Ambitions      171
Prestige Buildings      171
Public Infrastructures      172
Defenses of Paris in 1814 and 1815      174
35. Monarchic Restoration (1815–1848)
Louis XVIII and Charles X      175
Louis-Philippe      175
36. Thiers’s Fortifications (1841–1845)
The Necessity for a New Enceinte      177
Dode de la Brunerie’s Design      178
The Construction of the Fortifications      178
The Bastioned Enceinte      179
Bastions, Ditch and Counterscarp      180
Gates      181
Division of the Bastioned Enceinte      181
Detached Forts and Redoubts      182
Royal Citadels      183
Description of the Forts      184
Armament      187
37. Paris Transformed by Baron Georges Hausmann and Napoléon III
Napoléon III      191
The Industrial Revolution      191
A New Face for Paris      192
38. The Franco-Prussian War and the Commune (1870–1871)
Tension between France and Germany      194
Rifled Weapons      194
The Fall of Napoléon III      195
The Siege of Paris (1870)      196
The Commune (1871)      198

PART IV. MODERN FORTIFICATIONS (1874–1944)
39. New Weapons of War
Weapons industry      203
Artillery      204
Rifles      204
Machine Gun      205
Railway      206
40. New Systems of Fortification
German Developments      208
Belgium and the Netherlands      210
General Séré de Rivières’s Forts      211
41. The Second Parisian Ring of Polygonal Forts 213
42. Description of a Polygonal Fort
General Outline      216
Ditch and Caponier      217
Covered Way and Glacis      217
Gatehouse      217
Accommodation      217
Powderhouse      218
Artillery Emplacements      219
Infantry Positions      221
Réduit      221
Redoubts and Batteries      221
43. The Crisis of the 1880s
New Projectiles      223
Concrete Protection      223
Counterscarp Coffer      224
Armored Turret      224
Dessus and Dessous      227
A New Era      227
44. Paris at the Close of the 19th Century
World Exhibition Fairs      228
La Belle Epoque      230
A Fragile Peace      230
45. The First World War (1914–1918)
The Early Stage of the War      231
Trench Warfare      231
The Bombardment of Paris in 1918      234
46. The Maginot Line
Demolition of the Thiers Enceinte      235
New Plans for the Defense of France      235
Composition of the Maginot Line      238
The Maginot Line Myth      240
47. The Chauvineau Line
Conception of the Chauvineau Line      241
Composition of the Chauvineau Line      241
Construction of the Chauvineau Line      242
The Battle of France May–June 1940      247
48. Occupation and Liberation 1940–1944
Vichy      249
German Bunkers in Paris      251
The Liberation of Paris (August 1944)      252

Appendix: Vestiges of the Parisian Fortifications      257
Glossary      259
Bibliography      261
Index      263

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Excellent”—Newsletter of Site O Association
  • “Pack in an enormous amount of information copiously illustrated, encompass a diverse range of fortification aspects and will grace the shelves of any fortification enthusiast”—Casemate
  • “Complex history of the fortifications of Paris are well covered in this book, fully and completely illustrated throughout”—FORT—The International Journal of Fortifications and Military Architecture
  • “Impressive…heavily illustrated…the author is to be commended for this exquisitely researched and finely written volume”—www.deremilitari.org.