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Caricatures of the Franco Prussian War and the Paris Commune

The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 redefined the European political map and facilitated the founding of the German Empire on 18 January 1871. Having wavered since 1789 between republicanism, restored monarchy and Napoleonic empire, only in September 1870 did France become a republic for good. In the spring of 1871, France would implode into civil war with the new regime defeating the radical Paris Commune.

Franco-German caricatures of the War and the Commune were soon collected and assembled by booksellers such as Frederick Justen from Dulau & Co (who donated 6 volumes to Cambridge UL in 1906); and Francis Harvey, both based in London; or preserved by individual collectors such as M. Quentin Bauchart in Paris.

The images provide key visual material on the war and the ensuing political turmoil in France. Produced in their thousands, they make fun of politicians and public figures of the time, soldiers and civil populations during the war, the siege of Paris by the Germans, and the civil war that followed.

Anthony Chapman-Joy (Royal Holloway, University of London) 

Marion Glaumaud-Carbonnier (University of Cambridge; Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, European Commission) 

Irène Fabry-Tehranchi (Cambridge University Library) 

Nick White (University of Cambridge)