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The Law of Suspects

The outbreak of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror was cast on 17 September 1793 when the Law of Suspects was passed (it was a decree rather than a law). Up until then, the arrests, trials, and executions had been mere footnotes.


Now here is the ultimate oxymoron. This committee was first set up in April 1793 for the purpose of “protecting the newly established republic against foreign attacks and internal rebellion.” By July 1793, the committee was acting as the de facto French government and its citizen’s rights were about to become severely compromised.

The committee’s twelve members were given broad powers over military, judicial, and legislative issues. Maximilien Robespierre (1758–1794) and his radical right hand man, Louis Saint-Just (1767–1794), were appointed to the committee in July 1793 following the elimination of the moderate Girondins. Read More The Law of Suspects

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Please, No Pissoirs in Public!

You may recall reading our blog The Pee Ladies of Paris (November 7, 2015). Well, I’m going to take you on another journey into the history of public urination in Paris. Our discussion could easily take place in London or any major European city (e.g., Berlin, Stockholm, or Lisbon).

During the Middle Ages, there were no toilets (unless you were the king and queen or of high nobility), no sewer systems (other than the river and city streets), and no way to relieve oneself in public unless you were female and had your ladies-in-waiting form a circle around you to shield your actions. For the men, it was much easier. They just urinated in public—seemingly no shame in this other than the smell.

Public Urination

Public urination was banned in Paris by the 1700s. For convenience purposes, “barrels of easement” were placed on the street corners. Unfortunately, the problems—public views and the stench—were not solved. Read More Please, No Pissoirs in Public!