Events

Bastille Day or Fête de la Fédération in 1792

Bastille Day or Fête de la Fédération was first celebrated in 1790. It was a day set aside to commemorate the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille that occurred on 14 July 1789. That event ushered in the French Revolution and each year thereafter people celebrated their patriotism for their new republic with…

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Firsts Related to Ballooning

In the late 1700 and early 1800s, there were a number of firsts related to ballooning, and all of these first caused the public to embrace what was called “balloonmania.” Clothing was printed with balloon images and fashions were styled au ballon that included rounded skirts and huge puffed-sleeved dresses. Hair was also coiffed à…

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Exposition Universelle of 1855

Paris hosted five World Fairs. The first of these World Fair’s occurred in 1855 and was called the Exposition Universelle. It came about after Britain hosted the 1851 Great Exhibition of Works of Industry of all Nations. Napoleon III hoped to outdo England’s famous exhibition with its Crystal Palace that was used to house the…

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Duel of Madame de Polignac and Marquise de Nesle

Louis François Armand de Vignerot du Plessis, better known as the Duc de Richelieu, was Louis XIV’s godson. He was also known as a man with loose morals who enjoyed numerous lovers, including the novelist Claudine Guérin de Tencin’s two sisters — Marie Louise Élisabeth d’Orléans, Duchess de Berry, and her younger sister Charlotte Aglaé…

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Napoleon’s Marriage Celebration: Burning of the Ballroom

On 1 July 1810, a fête was held in honor of Napoleon‘s marriage to Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma and daughter of Francis II of Austria. The fête was given by Prince Joseph Schwarzenberg, a subject of Francis II, to honor Marie Louise. It was held at the Austrian Embassy on the Chausée d’Antin and…

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Robert Brothers and the First Balloon Flight of Over 100km

The first flight of more than 100 km (about 63 miles) took place on Sunday, 19 September 1784. It was conducted by two brothers — Anne-Jean Robert and Nicolas-Louis Robert — known collectively as Les Frères Robert (Robert brothers). Their aerostatic experiment, as it was called, launched from the royal gardens of the Tuileries Palace.…

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Bernadette Soubirous and the Healing Waters of Lourdes

Bernadette Soubirous was the daughter of a miller and laundress born on 7 January 1844. She lived in Lourdes in the south of France, and, on 11 February 1858, at the age of fourteen, she, her younger sister, and a friend were gathering wood in an area near some poplars. At one point they came…

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Assassination Attempt of King Louis XV by Robert-François Damiens

Robert-François Damiens was born in the tiny hamlet of La Thieuloye, France, on 9 January 1715 to Peter Joseph Damiens (a poor hard-working man) and Mary Guillemant. From infancy, he was said to have been “untoward and perverse” in disposition which, as an adult, earned him the epithet, Robert the Devil. Before Damiens turned 15…

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Dance Craze of the Late Eighteenth Century

At the close of the eighteenth century, after 40,000 executions and the birth of the French Directory—a period between 1795 and 1799 when a body of five directors held executive power in France that constituted the second to last stage of the French Revolution—”all the wit, the grace, and the refinement of France had disappeared.”…

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