Paris History

Ernest Hemmingway, the famous American novelist and Nobel laureate once said “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast.” Such is the beauty and splendor of the city.

Paris was founded towards the end of the third century BC by the Celtic Gaul tribes who settled in a region called Île de la Cité. This is where the modern day Paris is located. Paris derives its name from its settlers who were called the Parisii.

The city was taken over by Julius Caesar, the Roman emperor in 52 BC. The Romans built their city Lutetia on the left bank of the river Seine, which later came to be known as the Latin Quarter. They continued to rule till the fifth century AD largely influencing the culture. The Roman influence started waning around 400 AD following German invasions and by 508 AD the Romans were completely gone.

In 512 AD Clovis of the Franks, established his kingdom and made Paris its capital. He was considered by the French to be their first king. In 987 AD, Hugh Capet, the count of Paris became the king of France and Paris gained reputation as the hub of the French government.

Work on the Notre Dame cathedral was started in this period. The Sorbonne learning university and the Louvre museum was opened around the 13th century.

As a result of the ongoing hundred Years war Paris was seized by the English rulers in 1420. However, under the able leadership of Joan of Arc the English forces were expelled in 1429. Paris flourished during the Renaissance period where it saw burgeoning growth in art, architecture, trade and literature.

King Louis XIV reigned as the king of France from 1643 till his death in 1715. He increased the power of France in Europe but unfortunately emptied the exchequer with his penchant for fighting and by sponsoring buildings like the Palace de Versailles.

Close on the heels of the French Revolution that overthrew the monarchy in the 1700s, Napoleon Bonaparte swept to power. But his zeal for expansion caused the downfall of the city after his exile. In the 1800s Napoleon’s nephew named himself Napoleon III and revived Paris. During his 17 year rule Paris prospered but the people of France demanding a Republic overthrew their King.

With that, the Republic of France was created and Paris went on to become a place rich in culture, art and architecture. Today, Paris is a major cosmopolitan center and also the most visited city in the world.

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