No. 8. Stannard & Son's Perspective View of Paris and its Environs.
Published 1870, London
Size: 20 X 29.5
A rare, beautiful, and historically informative map of Paris and its environs published shortly prior to the commencement of the siege of the French Capital by Prussian forces during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. In fact, the map was published less than a month after the belligerents had declared war and German forces began their offensive on French territory that ultimately would see the fall of the Second French Empire and the capture of Napoleon III, the last monarch to reign over France. The map was published on September 1st 1870 for the British public interested in the European continental power struggle, with Britain holding a balance of power role, that would eventually lead to the declaration of the Third Republic by France three days later on September 4th 1870 and the fall of Paris on January 28th 1871.
This conflict between France and the nascent German State is of great importance to the understanding of the causes that eventually led to the two World Wars of the 20th Century. The Franco-Prussian conflict not only provided Chancellor Otto Von Bismark the opportunity and ability to proclaim the union the different German States into the German Empire, but the effects of the Treaty of Frankfurt of 1871, gave to Germany the territories of Alsace and parts of Lorraine, as well as inflicting heavy reparation costs on France. These terms planted the seeds for future grievances and the perception of humiliation by France that ultimately led to the First World in 1911.
This map is of particular interest because it shows the series of newly constructed fortifications surrounding Paris for its defence. These include the walls surrounding the French Capital that were erected between 1841 and 1844 and the fortifications on the outskirts that the French believed would render Paris impregnable. These defences however proved inadequate against a disciplined German army that bombarded the besieged city until the morale of its citizen broke eventually capitulated.
In all, a fascinating map depicting the defence network of Paris in 1870, that by its inadequacy led to a greater conflict in the 20th Century, but this time on a global scale. It is also of interest in that it is most likely the first map to depict Paris at the end of a major urban renewal project that started in 1854 and was spearheaded by Baron Haussmann, who was asked to resign in 1870 because of the cost over runs associated with his grandiose plan that saw the number of arrondissements increase from twelve to twenty and created the modern boundaries of Paris.