Paris: City of Light

Pre-Revolutionary Timeline


Parisian Salons
 ~Salons of   Enlightenment
 ~Madame de   Stäel         
~Salons of the   Restoration
 ~The Salons of   Victor Hugo

Influence of Printed Materials
 ~Pre-Revolutionary   Timeline
 ~Post-Revolutionary   Timeline


Defining the Parisians
 ~Parisians Viewed   by Foreigners
 ~Parisians   Viewed by   Themselves
 ~Paris Fashion




Between 1700 and 1789 the medium of print developed into the most effective way to communicate ideas in Paris. Reaching into personal salons, cafes, circulating in libraries, and posted on the street, published materials crossed socio-economic boundaries to influence the lives of all classes. People whose opinions had traditionally been ignored began to find a voice in learning about the ideas of the Enlightenment. This timeline points to major changes in the production, use, and content of the printed word, and how these changes affected the Parisian movement toward a revolution. For a brief glance at the evolution of print, scroll down to the 2 dates highlighted in red and their corresponding image links.


1631 - Gazette de France is published under Cardinal Richelieu as the first piece of political press.


1700 - 30% of domestic personnel and only 13% of salaried workers owned books, suggesting that books were a marker of class distinction.



1750's - Trend of mass publishing spreads across Europe to create many newspapers, but all are heavily censored. Chronological gaps, inconsistency of reports, and failure to address domestic issues show the ways that periodicals exacerbated the difference between a controlling upper class and the uninvolved lower classes.



1754 - Rousseau writes about the current inequality of men, arguing that big business and the court are corrupt, and therefore virtue lies in the 'commonwealthman.' This new view of social hierarchy defied the traditional 'divine right to the throne,' but was initially limited to only book literature.


1759 - Journal des dames begins as an entertainment magazine, supporting intellectual and philosophical ideas of the High Enlightenment. By embracing ideas such as Rousseau's, literary journals aided the movement in criticising mindless acceptance of the power of monarchy and church.


1769 - French ministers led by Maupeou suppress the paper Journal des dames.


1770's - French newspapers claim origins in Geneva, Brussels, America and England to appear independent of government control.


1773 - Over 10,000 copies of Beaumarchais' memoires judiciares sell out on the streets of Paris, exposing the faults of the aristocratic judicial system. The trial briefs were legal because their origin was from within the upper classes.


1775 - Journal des dames sold to Mercier, who transforms the magazine into an outspoken opponent of the conservative Old Regime. He attacks government periodicals, academies, royal ministers and anything priviledged.


1777 - Linguet's periodical, Annales Politiques, introduces shocking commentary which helps to reshape the presentation of information and undermine the Old Regime.


1780 - 40% of domestics and 35% of salaried workers now own books. The increasing presence of household literature and publication shows that printed materials are less of a novelty, preparing a larger available audience for the exchange of information.


1784 - Nouveau Supplement a la France Litteraire is published as a survey of the various types of public libraries. Paris contains the most, with 18 collections open to the general public and 13 associated with specific organizations and membership.