Saturday, November 24, 2012

Merian Map of Paris (more about the city walls)

Becket, November 24, 2012

Paris was a walled city for much of its history.  Other than for the last hundred years or so (let's say that the absurd Ligne Maginot completed in 1939 was 300 miles to the east so it doesn't really count as a city wall) Paris wasn't encircled by a defensive wall only between 1670--Louis XIV felt powerful enough to order the demolition of the fortifications built by his father--and 1785 when the Ferme générale began construction of an enclosure for tax purposes.

Can you picture the enormity of the resources these walls took?!

There is this beautiful map of 1615 (known as the Merian map, after its author, the Swiss engraver Matthäus Merian,) really a bird-eye view, that shows Paris as a heavily fortified city.  On the foreground, Merian actually shows two walls, an outer wall with the characteristic bastions of the period, built in the 1630's by Louis XIII, and an innner wall with a more conventional, linear profile built in the 1300's by Charles V and his succesor, Charles VI.

Yes, the demolition of these walls opened the area for the construction of the first great generation of Parisian Boulevards, Louis XIV's Nouveau Cours built between 1668 and 1705.

No comments :

Post a Comment