Cité de Carcassonne, France

CITÉ de CARCASSONNE — Les remparts vers le Château et le Grand-Hôtel

The Cité de Carcassonne is a fortified medieval city within the French city of Carcassonne. There are two sets of walls enclosing the Cité. The inner one which dominates the picture here, and the outer outer one that you can see parts of on the left. The walls were originally built in the Roman era, and part of that remains , but for the most part they date from the 13th century. The Château is a 12th century count’s castle. You can see its square towerstowards the back as you follow the wall.

This photo below shows the fortified city with its walls on a hill within the larger city. (The towers with orange tiles on the roof are the Gallo-Roman towers.)

“Cité de Carcassonne” from Wikipedia

As you might imagine from the building of walls and castle, Carcassonne was the site of much fighting at times:

After the Romans arrived in Gaul the settlement fell under their jurisdiction as an important Roman outpost or Colonia known as Carcasum. For centuries, Carcasum enjoyed a relatively peaceful and prosperous existence until the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century. In 453, after months of fighting the Romans finally lost Carcassonne to the Visigothic king Theodoric II, who subsequently fought-off attacks from the Franks in 508. However, in 725 the Saracens took Carcassonne from the Visigoths, who were driven out of Western Europe in the 8th century. Saracen control of Carcassonne was relatively short lived, however, as the French King Pépin le Bref recaptured the city in 760.
Cellar Tours (it had the best summary).

Then there’s a few centuries of realtive peace.

In August 1209 the crusading army of the Papal Legate, Abbot Arnaud Amalric, forced its citizens to surrender. Viscount Raymond-Roger de Trencavel was imprisoned whilst negotiating his city’s surrender and died in mysterious circumstances three months later in his own dungeon. The people of Carcassonne were allowed to leave – in effect, expelled from their city with nothing more than the shirt on their backs. Simon De Montfort was appointed the new viscount. He added to the fortifications.

In 1240, Trencavel’s son tried to reconquer his old domain, but in vain. The city submitted to the rule of the kingdom of France in 1247. Carcassonne became a border fortress between France and the Crown of Aragon under the Treaty of Corbeil (1258). King Louis IX founded the new part of the town across the river. He and his successor Philip III built the outer ramparts. Contemporary opinion still considered the fortress impregnable. During the Hundred Years’ War, Edward the Black Prince failed to take the city in 1355, although his troops destroyed the Lower Town.

Then some more centuries of peace. The walls collapsed. Then in the mid-19th century the government decided the walls had to go. A campaign was launched and in 1853 a large, long project commenced to restore the city structurally and enhanced its Medieval-aspects. It also involved destroying an adjoining structures that didn’t fit the vision, throwing people out of their homes and roofing the towers in a material and style copied from the north of France.

The Wall City of Carcassonne is an interesting website about the history of the city, the restoration and the people who lived there (there’s a link to the English version near the top of the page).

Château et Remparts de la Cité de Carcassonne (Centre des Monuments Nationaux) is aimed at visitors but it has a nice self-guided tour brochure that details the

Citadel, Sedan, France

SEDAN – La Citadelle pendant l’occupation allemande (1870-71)
Citadel during the German occupation (1870-1871)
(Card dated c.1910)

Sedan is a large town in north-east France near the Belgium border. (Google Maps.)

From “The Historic Town Of Sedan Ardennes France”:
Sedan was originally a sovereign principality presided over by the illustrious Marshall Turenne. It later became a part of France when it was surrendered back to the main state to spare the life of Frederic Maurice de La Tour d’Auvergne. He was a prominent member of the ruling family and represented a threat to the French state; he was sentenced to death.

Much more recent history records that the Emperor Napoleon III was taken prisoner along with 100,000 of his troops at Sedan during the Franco Prussian War in 1870. It was one of the early Prussian victories and led to an annual national holiday in Germany that remained until 1919. The holiday was called ‘Sedan Day’.

Sedan was occupied again by Germany for four years during the Great War. The German Crown Prince paraded his 13th Infantry Division around the town to mark their conquest.

It’s the Franco-Prussian War that the image in the postcard relates to.

From Wikipedia:
The Battle of Sedan was fought during the Franco-Prussian War from 1 to 2 September 1870. It resulted in the capture of Emperor Napoleon III and large numbers of his troops and for all intents and purposes decided the war in favour of Prussia and its allies, though fighting continued under a new French government.

The newspapers of the time, even in Australia, filled many columns with account of the battle: before, during and after, and from both sides; and descriptions of the locations. I’ve posted some extracts below. If you want to read the longer versions, click on the links. They are full of many details, if you have a need or interest in such things. Many, many details. The writer of the last article below goes on to say “There were long rows of graves which marked the exact positions of the opposing forces. On some graves were pieces of wood, chalked with the numbers of those who lay beneath. Thus I read—’Thirty-four sleep here,’ ‘One hundred rest here;’ and on scores of other mounds the numbers varied from forty to one hundred.”

On the other side of the frontier, right at our feet lay the little town of Sedan, famous for its fortifications by Vauban, and the birthplace of Turenne, the great Marshal ; known also as the place where Sedan chairs originated. As we were only about two and a quarter miles from the town, we could easily distinguish its principal edifices without the aid of our glasses.

On the left was a very pretty church, its Gothic spire of sandstone offering a conspicuous target for the Prussian guns had General Moltke thought best to bombard the town. To the right, on the south-east of the church, was a large barrack, with the fortifications of the citadel beyond it, and beyond this to the south-east again, was the old chateau of Sedan, with a picturesque group of round turreted towers of the sixteenth century, very useless, even against the four-pounder Kruppfield pieces. This building, I believe, is now an arsenal.

Beyond this was the citadel, the heart of Sedan, on a rising hill above the Meuse to the south-east, but completely commanded by hills on both sides of the river which runs in front of the citadel. The French had flooded the low meadows in the valley before coming to the railroad bridge at Bazeilles, in order to stop the Germans from advancing on the town in that direction. With their usual stupidity, for one can find no other word for it, the French had failed to mine the bridge at Bazeilles, and it was of immense service to the Prussians throughout the battle.
Sydney Mail, 29 October 1870

(A French correspondent.)
To one entering the town as I did were was no longer any battle to describe-it was first a retreat and too soon a rout. I thought myself lucky to get away from the field as I did, for an hour afterwards the rout of those forces near by was complete. Already soldiers were crushing against each other in the struggle to get inside the town. Dismounted cavalry were trying to make their way even by the ramparts, leaping down the counterscarp, others forcing their way in by the postern gates. From a nook of the ramparts, as I rested a moment, I saw also cuirassiers jumping, horse and all, into the moat, the horses breaking their legs and ribs. Men were scrambling over each other. Officers of all ranks, colonels, and even generals, in uniforms it was impossible to mistake, mixed in this shameful melee. Behind all came guns with their heavy carriages and powerful horses, forcing their way into the throngs, maiming and crushing the fugitives on foot. To add to the confusion and horror, the Prussian batteries had by this time advanced within range, and the Prussian shells began falling into the midst of the struggling mases of men. On the ramparts were the Garde Nationale, manning the guns of the town, and replying with more or less effect to the nearest Prussian batteries. It was a scene horrible enough to have pleased the fancy of Gustave Dore himself. I could form but one idea of our unhappy army that it was at the bottom of a seething cauldron.

I hurried back as best I could to my hotel, following the narrow streets where the shell were least likely to reach the ground. Wherever there was a square or open place I came upon the bodies of horses and men, quite dead, or still quivering, torn to pieces by bursting shells. Beaching my hotel, I found the street in which it stood choked, like the rest, with wagons, guns, horses, and men. Most luckily, the Prussian fire did not at this moment enfilade the street, for a train of caissons filled with powder blocked the whole way, itself unable to move backward or forward. There was every chance that these caissons would explode, the town being then on fire in two places; and I began to think that Sedan was a place more uncomfortable than even the battle-field over which a victorious enemy was swiftly advancing.
Adelaide Observer, 29 October 1870

(A German correspondent)
The small drawbridge was already let down, and a number of men and women hastened towards us, asking whether the Prussians would allow them to pass. The walls were empty ; not a soldier, to be seen on them. A peasant woman was standing like a sentry, with an umbrella under her arm, on the wall over the gate, probably seeking her sou. We passed in unmolested. “Prussians! Prussians!” was the general exclamation. The narrow, dirty streets, soaked with rain, swarmed with townspeople, from whose heart a heavy load seemed to have fallen, and with unarmed soldiers—Turcos and Zouaves, cavalry, artillery, and Line, all streamed together, and amidst the throng rushed horses who had lost their masters in the battle. It was a frightful chaos. Tho townspeople seemed happy to have escaped a bombardment. The soldiers were evidently glad to be free from their weapons. Many had thrown them into the moat. A cavalry soldier was engaged before us in thrusting his sword into a sewer. At our request soldiers were ordered to conduct us through the mud and the crowd of French troops to the citadel. As we passed through the streets no abusive word was addressed us, though we were the first Prussians who had to-day entered the place. The troops allowed us to pass peacefully. If McMahon really declared he could do nothing more with such soldiers, I endorse it. And yet on the 1st of September they had fought with great bravery. After a long promenade, in which loose horses rushed against us, and everywhere a picture of the direst confusion met our eves, we reached the citadel.

Mount Alexander Mail, 26 November 1870

The barracks have been turned into an ambulance, which is under the superintendence of Dr. McCormack and Miss Pearson. The fortifications of the citadel are of enormous strength, but they are commanded by hills in several directions. Preceding the surrender the Prussians fired shells, a few of which struck the hospital, but without doing much damage; but a large number of French soldiers were killed, and they are buried on the left of a steep plateau which leads to the highest point of the fortifications.

Sydney Mail, 3 December 1870

La Grande Roue, Paris

PARIS — La Grande Roue.

Le Village Suisse–site of the 1900 Exposition Universelle de Paris

100 metre high Ferris wheel, built in 1899 for the Exposition Universelle and dismantled 1920.

Ferris wheels were a new thing at the time. The first one was built just a few years earlier for the world’s fair in Chicago in 1893. A mere 80 metres in height.

Paris is to out-Ferris Ferris. The great Chicago wheel is to be outdone in the universal exposition of 1900. The special wonder of the French fair will be the revolving palace, designed by the eminent architect, M. Charles Devie. It is a hexagonal shaft, 350 feet in height, divided into 25 storeys. The entire palace will be coveted with nickel plate, aluminum, ornamental tiling and glass. This gorgeous structure will be illuminated by 20,000 incandescent and 5,000 arc lights of varied colours, so as to bring out clearly all the decorative lines, balconies, turrets, pillars, and statues. In the loft of the palace will be a chime of 64 bells and a powerful organ, played upon by the aid of compressed air. The entire structure will turn on a pivot, the motive power being hydraulic pressure. It will make one revolution an hour.

Coburg Leader, 22 July 1899

All the numbers:
A trial of the “Great Wheel of Paris” was made lately. It stands on Avenue de Suffern, opposite the celebrated gallery of machines of the Exposition of 1889. The idea of such a construction is due to Mr. Graydon, an officer of marines of the United States navy, who took out a patent for it in 1893. The present project emanates from an English society. The first wheel of this kind was constructed for the Chicago Exhibition, but it did not attain the dimensions of the one under consideration. The metal is steel, furnished by the Societe des Forges et Acieries de Haumont (Nord). The wheel is designed to revolve around a horizontal axis situated at 220ft. above the ground. At its periphery there is a series of cars that are carried along in the rotary motion of the apparatus. The diameter of the wheel is exactly 93 metres (305ft.). At the lowest level the cars will be 10ft. above ground, and their highest point will be 315ft. above the surface. The total weight of the wheel, inclusive of the empty cars and exclusive of the axis and frames, is 1,430,0001b. The axis weighs 79,2001b., and the two frames 873,4001b. The total weight is, therefore, 2,382,6001bs. Each car is capable of accommodating 3 Persons, and the number of cars is 41 supposing the average weight of each passenger to be 1541b., the total load upon the foundation will be 1,167 tons. The foundation is of concrete made Portland cement. Two excavations, 181 square and 39ft. deep, were made, and filled with a mixture of sand, pebbles, and pure cement, without the addition of any hydraulic lime. The wheel makes oil revolution in 20 minutes, inclusive of stoppages. Access to the cars is obtained through a system of stairways and landings so arranged that eight cars can be filled and emptied simultaneously, without any blockade, in less than one minute. Each car is 42.5ft. in length. The wheel is to be illuminated with electricity for night use.

The Australasian, 24 April 1899

From “A Soldier’s Letter”:
Next I went to the Eifell Tower. I could not go to the top on account of the war, but it is the highest in the world. Near there is the “Grande Rue” (big road), which is a huge “ferris wheel,” 400 feet high. It is the largest in the world and takes 20 minutes to go round, and from the top all Paris can be seen.
The Wyalong Advocate and Mining, Agricultural and Pastoral Gazette, 9 April 1918

More pictures.
More pictures with a focus on location, then and 2015.
Contemporary description (in French, rather awful translation).
The Paris Gigantic Wheel and Varieties Company Limited (This put the Wheel in a bigger context, in terms of the Exposition and the world in general at the time.)


Le Zeppelin abattu a Compiegne

Le Zeppelin abattu a Compiegne 17 Mars 1917

le zeppelin abattu

From New York Times:

French Anti-Aircraft Guns Reach Raider at a Height of More Than Two Miles.
Crew, After Being Hit, Throw Over Bombs, Which Fail to Explode
Some of the Crew Jump to Death

PARIS, March 17 — A Zeppelin, which probably participated in the attack on London last night, was brought down by anti-aircraft guns near Compiegne, about thirty miles from Paris, at 5.30 this morning on the return flight to its base. The giant airship, which was flying at a height of more than two miles, was sighted before dawn, and the defense guns were put into action immediately. The dirigible was hit soon after being located, and, after bursting into flame, fell swiftly to the ground. All of the crew were lost.
(Rest of news story, although you have to log-in).

From end of the article:

London Announcement on Raid
LONDON, March 17 — The air raid last night was the first visit of Zeppelins in many months, and it seemed to have been expected, as it failed to cause any excitment, even amongst the homegoing theatregoers. The raiders were favored by a dark and moonless night.