Fascinating Collection of Three 1856 French News Bulletins, Moniteur Des Communes, with Focus on the Crimea War

Fascinating Collection of Three 1856 French News Bulletins, Moniteur Des Communes, with Focus on the Crimea War

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On offer are three interesting public bulletins printed by the French government during the Crimean War. The documents are entitled Moniteur Des Communes or Community Monitor. The Moniteur published official and unofficial texts of the French Second Empire, the government of France under Napoleon III. During this period, France made extensive headway in developing large-scale public works such as railroad networks and a rebuilding of Paris. Externally, France aggressively built up its foreign empire.

The Moniteur gave a brief synopsis of what was happening in various departments in the French government at a particular time. As two copies carry dates one  week apart, it is reasonable to assume that this is a weekly publication. It was published by the Ministry of the Interior. The first issue was printed on January 31st, 1856, the 2nd was printed a week later on February 7th and the 3rd was printed on October 2nd.

The first issue makes reference to Military Law, Customs, Agriculture and, of particular note, the Crimean War. At this point, France had been involved in this bloody conflict for nearly two years. An excerpt from the first issue follows:

Correspondence Particuliere de Crimee du camp-devant Sebastapol, 14 janvier la demolition des docks avance; samedi l'on a fait sauter la pan de l'un d'aux; on y a pratique ouze mines; et l'on y a employe 8,000 livres de poudre. Vers une heure et demi, le feu a ete mis a la fusee, et les officiers de genie se sont retires sur l'eminence situee derriere les docks pour attendre l'explosion. L'effet a ete on ne peut plus satisfaisant...

[Translation: Special Correspondence from Crimea from the camp before Sevastopol the demolition of the docks is advancing; Saturday we blew up the [ ] of one of them; eleven mines are laid there; and they used 8,000 pounds of powder. At around half past one, the fuse was lit on the rocket, and the engineering officers withdrew to the eminence behind the docks to await the explosion. The effect could not have been more satisfactory…].

In another section, the publication recounts that the British Ambassador to France inducted several French army and navy officers into the British Order of the Bath. Another had to do with the problems of forgeries of classifications of grains. Interestingly, there is an announcement that the Commission responsible for payments to families of soldiers and sailors who died in service was being ended. It notes that they received over 12,000 requests.

The last page contains a chart showing the price of wheat in major markets across France.

The 2nd issue is laid out in the same manner. It opens with a nearly 2-page information piece published by the Ministry of War. As noted above, France is very much involved in the Crimean War. This article is entitled Exoneration du Service Militaire or Exemption from Military Service. In it, the Minister announces that those who could afford it (approximately US$10,000) could purchase their exemption from military service and likely service in the killing fields of Crimea. This was about 5.5 to six times the average workers annual pre-tax income! One could not be faulted to conclude that this was a way for the wealthier classes of France to ensure their sons did not have to fight.

Another section deals with the Congress of Paris. This was the assembly of all of the combatants in the Crimean War and its purpose was to hammer out a peace treaty to conclude hostilities. There are sections that discuss the opening of the British Parliament, Agriculture, Grain (a very important subject) and Miscellaneous News.

The 3rd issue continues in the same vein. Sections include Manufacturing, Woods and Forests, Telegraphs and Foreign Correspondence. Of interest is one section on Savings Banks, in which it is announced that the government authorized five such banks and lists their locations. 

A table goes on to describe the amount on deposit at the end of 1854 (6,819,749 francs) and end of 1855 (7,295,068 francs) and an average interest rate paid of 7%. It is actually a quite detailed, fiscal report and offers a window into this aspect of economic life in France mid-19th century.

The final section is titled Agriculture and Commerce. It contains a chart listing the major markets across France and the average cost of wheat in each market. 

For a historian, these documents offer an excellent insight into the matters that the government of the day felt were important at that moment to bring to the attention of the citizenry. An economic historian would find the tables of wheat prices and the report on Savings Banks to be a revealing look at the local economies at that time. Of course, by implication, it also speaks to what they chose not to publicly disclose. A historian focused on the diplomatic manoeuvrings of 19th century Europe would be interested in the French governments public positions as detailed in the 2nd Moniteur.

These documents measure 10.5 inches by 7.25 inches and contain 8 pages each. The printed documents are 100% complete. The pages are in very good condition, showing some wear and slight discolouration along the edges.

Please don't hesitate to contact us for more information or to request photos. (Kindly include the SKU, listed on this page above the price, in your e-mail so we can more easily answer your questions.)

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