1830 In France, the concept of popular sovereignty and king Louis Philippe gradually fell into disfavour with the French public. The king had outlawed all political gathering in 1830. The liberals found an alternative in private fund raising banquets. These became much popular and provided a platform for political discussion. These banquets were also outlawed when they became too vocal. The liberals protested this act.
The protests of the liberals soon gathered strength and it culminated in the February revolution. In February 1848, the monarchy was overthrown. The liberals set up a provisional government which marked the establishment of the second French Republic.
One of the most important steps that this government took was granting the universal male suffrage which vastly increased its vote pool. It enshrined the right to work in its constitution. To tackle the problem of unemployment national workshops were set up all over Paris. It engaged laborers for such work as the construction of roads, planting of trees etc.
The national workshops became hugely popular. People from all over France began to migrate to Paris in search of work. However, paying the wages soon became a problem. The government levied additional taxes mostly on land. This alienated the gentry while a large section of rural France simply refused to pay. The new government was standing on the brink of financial disaster.
When the provisional government was facing both political and financial threat, the conservatives formed their party of order. They were the majority in the government. They decided to close the national workshops. The labour class protested and violence broke out. This is known as the June rebellion.
The Second Empire
The government faced an election for the President in December 1848. the people elected Louis Napoleon Bonaparte III by an overwhelming majority. He soon seized absolute power and declared himself emperor in December 1851.
The wave of industrialization reached France by this time. The French intelligentsia emerged from the "grandes écoles" which were institutes outside the broad frame of universities. Social infrastructure and transport were modernized while large industries were set up.
In Mallemort, though, one visionary built a rural and Communist "ish" version of the national workshops a modern community for their workers. A series of farms were set up employing arts and crafts architecture and modern agricultural techniques.
Portrait of a socialist Visionary
1891 - 1913
Chaumard Julie was a bright and cultivated rural girl - daughter of Chaumard François - a wealthy liberal industrialist from Carpentras - France.
In 1896, Chaumard’s family moved to the countryside in the unusual hamlet of Notre Dame - in Provence - A typical Cookies box type Provencal landscape with lavender and sunflowers fields. Julie was then 5 years old.
Inspired by the model of the Parisian national workshops, her dad - Chaumard François - designed a rural version. He designed a whole community of farms and set a model for the agricultural production expansion.
Chaumard François was not only being Philanthropic he believed a well house workforce meant happy employees, leading to increase production.
His youngest daughter - Julie - was opinionated - and not always in accordance with her father’s visions - she grew-up as a socialist.
At the age of 17 she met the man who would become the love of her life - Marius Danne.
Marius was the son of one of the community’s farmer family. As it was custom at that time, he enrolled in the army for an education and to make a career.
Julie and Marius started a frenzied correspondence, they exchanged letters and postcards for years to compensate the distances. In those letters, she portrayed her hopes and how she imagined her future ... soon to become theirs ...
When she inherited the Notre Dame Hamlet - as a bride dowry - she undertook some changes into the hamlet management and politics for the best of the community - from there, workers cottages had quarter of an acre or a pig pen or even an orchard. The utopian Idea was to build a community where residents would all participate in the life of the Hamlet. They would exchange goods and share their harvest. They would also mutually help each other and share skills. The Hamlet was a self-contained and independent community.
For Julie, the high living standards and happy residents were an ambition too.
Regrettably, Julie died at 23 years old, giving birth to her son - Leaving Marius - her husband and theirs only boy child to pursue her project.
Chaumard ’s Dream may have faded, but her vision still lives on in some form…
Alas the experiment didn’t last forever. 1926 the economic crash hits the countryside as much as the city. And by 1952 the entire estate has been disbanded. But the building did survive. Whether they were pig pens, sheep sheds, they have all been converted into rather imaginative private homes.
Worker's cottage :
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