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Medieval Paris

We are very close to having the first two books ready to go to print. For those of you new to my blog site, these two books are walking tours of Paris based on the French Revolution. I take you to buildings, places, and sites that were significant to the events surrounding the Revolution. In Volume one (Versailles to the Faubourgs), we begin in Versailles with the convening of the Estates-General and end with two walking tours in Paris. Volume two (Marie Antoinette’s Last Ride) centers on the events from 1792 to 1794. In other words, the time frame when the Revolution got very ugly.

So I have some time on my hands. Well, not really. I’ve begun to write the third book, Where Did They Burn the Last Grandmaster of the Knights Templar?—A Walking Tour of Medieval Paris (987–1547). Just so I don’t get bored, I decided to begin the research on the fourth book, Where Did They Put the Gestapo Headquarters?—A Walking Tour of Nazi Occupied Paris (1940–1944). All along this process, I’m collecting the names of interesting people who are buried in the Paris cemeteries. Why?—because the fifth book will be a walking tour of the Paris cemeteries (Where Did They Bury Jim Morrison, the Lizard King?).

Heads in Cluny Museum Photo by Guillaume Speurt

As I write the book on medieval Paris, it strikes me how many sights there are to take you to. Despite Baron Haussmann’s efforts and the urbanization of the 1970s, there are a lot of places to see evidence of medieval Paris (beyond ABC—Another Beautiful Church). One of our stops will be the Musée national du Moyen ge (the National Museum of the Middle Ages—formerly known as the Cluny Museum). The building represents one of four remaining residences left in Paris that was actually built in the Middle Ages. Built in 1334 over the 3rd century Gallo–Roman baths, the building was originally used as the residence for the abbots of Cluny. Today, it houses artifacts from the Middle Ages including the six tapestries of the Lady and the Unicorn. It also has the heads of the statues from Notre Dame that were cut off during the French Revolution. Read More Medieval Paris

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What I Learned about Taxes from Revolutionary Paris

054April, our traditional tax month

I spent one full weekend pulling all my information together just so I could hand it over to the CPA and they could fill out some forms (and then charge me $850). Now I don’t expect you to feel sorry for me but I really did spend all my time compiling information that weekend (from when I got up in the morning until I went to bed). You see, I have four tax entities to prepare (Stew & Sandy, Southeast Business Forums, Yooper Publications, and our HOA).

As I’m sitting at the dining room table doing all of this, I got to thinking about France, the three estates, and the French tax situation back in 1789. I decided I was part of the 99% known as the Third Estate. The other two estates—the clergy and the nobility—did not pay any taxes. Now I’m certainly not part of the clergy. And although I do own land (that was one of the prerequisites for being a noble), I still live from paycheck to paycheck. So that really does eliminate me from the nobility class.

So I guess I’m just a poor peasant or a member of the Third Estate

I suppose the kings figured out the clergy (or the first Estate) were non-profits even back then. I think it may also have been they didn’t want to get on the bad side of the pope. But the real reason for the clergy not paying taxes was the fact that they did perform necessary services for the folks in their respective parishes and therefore took that burden off the monarch’s shoulders (and treasury).

Now the nobility on the other hand, didn’t pay taxes because they were expected to bear arms and join the king whenever he declared war on someone. This was the quid-pro-quo of the day. That may have worked in medieval France, but by 1789 the king couldn’t afford to go to war. The days of the Crusades were over and all the Third Estate saw were the nobility prancing around in their fancy clothes, fast carriages, and going to endless parties. Read More What I Learned about Taxes from Revolutionary Paris