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Terry Foreman   Link to this

Paris (French: [paʁi] is the capital and largest city of France. It is situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region (or Paris Region, French: Région parisienne). Paris was the largest city in the Western world for about 1,000 years, prior to the 19th century, and may have been the largest in the entire world between the 16th and 19th centuries.

The Paris region was under full control of the Germanic Franks by the late 5th century. The Frankish king Clovis the Frank, the first king of the Merovingian dynasty, made the city his capital from 508. The late 8th century Carolingian dynasty displaced the Frankish capital to Aachen; this period coincided with the beginning of Viking invasions that had spread as far as Paris by the early 9th century.

The weakness of the late Carolingian kings of France led to the gradual rise in power of the Counts of Paris; Odo, Count of Paris, was elected king of France by feudal lords, and the end of the Carolingian empire came in 987 when Hugh Capet, count of Paris, was elected king of France. Paris, under the Capetian kings, became a capital once more.

Paris's population was around 200,000 when the Black Death arrived in 1348, killing as many as 800 people a day; and 40,000 died from the plague in 1466. During the 16th and 17th centuries, plague visited the city for almost one year out of three. Paris lost its position as seat of the French realm during the occupation by the English-allied Burgundians during the Hundred Years' War, but regained its title when Charles VII of France reclaimed the city from English rule in 1436. Paris from then on became France's capital once again in title, but France's real centre of power would remain in the Loire Valley until King Francis I returned France's crown residences to Paris in 1528.

During the French Wars of Religion, Paris was a stronghold of the Catholic party. In August 1572, under the reign of Charles IX, while many noble Protestants were in Paris on the occasion of the marriage of Henry of Navarre – the future Henry IV – to Margaret of Valois, sister of Charles IX, the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre occurred; begun on 24 August, it lasted several days and spread throughout the country.

In 1590 Henry IV unsuccessfully laid siege to the city in the Siege of Paris. During the Fronde, Parisians rose in rebellion and the royal family fled the city (1648). King Louis XIV then moved the royal court permanently to Versailles, a lavish estate on the outskirts of Paris, in 1682. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris,_France

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