History of the Paris Commune of 1871


Arrondissements – The 20 administrative districts, each with a mayor, into which Paris was divided.

Brassardiers – Arm-band wearers.

Cantiniere – Canteen woman attached to each battalion.

Catafalques – Decorated coffins used in funeral processions.

Chassepots – An early type of rifle.

Code Napoleon – The French legal code upholding bourgeois property and rights drawn up under Napoleon I but still the basis of the French legal system.

Corps Legislatif – Legislative Assembly.

Enceinte – The wall around the old city of Paris.

Faubourgs – Suburbs.

Feuilles-de-route – Travel document issued to a soldier giving the route to be followed and destination, and used for passing from one army unit to another.

Franc-tireurs – Irregular soldiers.

Gallicans – The Church faction which wanted the independence of the Church in France and questioned the appointment of bishops. (Cf. Ultramontanes below.)

Girondists – The right wing of the Revolution in 1793, opposed by the Jacobins.

Hôtel-de-Ville – The central town hall of Paris.

Lettres de cachet – The famous order by which the monarchs of the old regime could have people imprisoned indefinitely in the Bastille or other prisons.

Levée en masse – The general mobilisation of the populace for battle.

Mairie – Town hall of each arrondissement.

Montagnards – a name for the Jacobins – the left wing of the bourgeois revolution – deriving from the high benches they occupied in the revolutionary assembly of 1791-2.

Octrois – Local taxes levied at the city limits.

Pekin – Term for civilian used by the military.

Procureur de la République – Public Prosecutor.

Pupilles de la Commune – Orphans – largely of men who had died in the fighting – who were taken care of by the Commune.

Rappel – The call to arms.

Rurales – Provincials.

SbirriPolice thugs.

Sergents-de-ville – Municipal police.

Tabellionat – Scriveners (a category of members of the legal profession).

Tirailleurs – Riflemen.

Turcos – Algerian units of the French army, so called by the Russians in the Crimean War who took them for Turks.

Ultra-montanes – Church faction which looked to Rome.

Vareuse – Cross-fastening jacket.

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