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The Classe Populaire in Revolutionary France and Revolutionary Literature

The Filthy Faubourges: The Stigmitization of the Lower-Class and Their Low Location

Les Mis:
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This picture of the smog inducing smoke stacks from the industrial revolution gives a sense of what the quality of life would have been when living in the faubourges. The suffocating air was not as bad as the suffocating smell of sewage in the streets.



As Jean-Jacques Rosseau experienced at Saint-Marcel, the fabourges existed of "nothing but, dirty, stinking little streets, ugly black houses, a general air of squalor and poverty, beggars, [and] carters" (Lewis, 99). Rosseau's impression was a factual one. During the eighteenth and nineteenth century and the revolutionary periods of France, the urban poor lived in complete deprivation. They lived on the outskirts of the cities. Those impoverished living in the center were pushed out, and the poor peasantry from the fields came in. In Paris, with a large population of 650,000 "most of the inhabitants crowded into the old faubourgs around the Cite and on both banks of the Seine" (Lewis, 99).

Throughout the Revolutionary Period of France, the faubourges did not change substantially. The Left Bank was densely populated and incredibly poverty-striken. The 70,000 Parisians living in the Left Bank were wage-earners who felt the misery of the famine years more so than any other social group. The Right Bank was home to less poverty but more politics. Famous faubourges of the Right Bank, like Saint-Antoine and Saint-Marcel, would become the recruiting grounds for major political movements, such as the Sans-Culottes amd the Popular Movement.

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Dangerous Lower Class Paris Proper Lady